Are Interviews a Thing of the Past?

For the last century, interviews have been a quintessential part of the hiring process.  Thomas Edison invented them in the early nineteenth century, frustrated by the fact that a great education alone didn’t necessarily qualify an applicant to do the level of work that he expected.  Turns out, he was right – education level isn’t the most accurate predictor of employee success.

However, interviews themselves are at risk of becoming outdated.  Research shows that employers will often choose candidates based on irrelevant information like their height, their looks, or even what sports team they root for. With growing awareness about unconscious bias in the hiring sphere, we’re seeing more and more companies turn to more evidence-based hiring practices and to start questioning the effectiveness of some of the hiring mainstays such as the unstructured interview.

Here are a few reasons that hiring professionals are turning a skeptical eye towards the unstructured interview:

1. People often exaggerate during interviews

If you’ve ever conducted an interview and suspected a candidate was stretching the truth, you were probably right.  Surveys have found that a whopping 81% of job seekers have lied during an interview.  With so many new (and more accurate) hiring tools available, it’s unwise to rely too heavily on interviews when half of the information you receive might not even be true.

2. Interviewers rely heavily on intuition when making decisions

During an unstructured interview, it’s tough not to be swayed towards hiring an employee simply because you like them.  If not purposeful, this bias can be unconscious.  While ideally, your new hire should be a good personality fit, focusing too much on this aspect can cause you to overlook candidates who you may not want to be best friends with, but possess the skills and/or mental capacity to make them a major asset to your organization.

3. Unstructured interviews aren’t that predictive of job performance

While unstructured interviews can give you some idea of how a candidate will perform in a role, objective data is much more useful at predicting success.  Studies show that structured interviews and pre-employment tests are more predictive of performance when compared to unstructured interviews.  So while it’s smarter to evaluate a candidate more so on their interview than their degree, it’s an even better idea to opt for new hiring technology to determine if a candidate is a great fit.

4. Oftentimes, candidates know the questions in advance.

Most of the time, job applicants are aware of what questions you’ll ask them before they even step in the door.  Most companies ask similar questions, and even companies that ask unique questions often find that these questions end up all over sites like Glassdoor.  This allows interviewees to prepare ahead of time and memorize scripted answers, thwarting employers’ attempt to determine whether they’re quick on their feet and making the interview less authentic.

We know your company probably isn’t going to suddenly give up on unstructured interviews entirely – 95% of businesses still use them, and they can provide you with some useful information regarding candidate personality and job fit.  However, consider relying more heavily on more predictive hiring methods.  Ensure that all of your questions are job-related and consider conducting structured interviews, or interviews based on a pre-determined set of questions that each candidate is asked.  These are proven to be significantly more accurate than unstructured interviews because they evaluate applicants on a more even platform.  Ideally, use more objective tools like pre-employment tests in conjunction with your interviews.  With new, more data-driven hiring tools available, don’t let your hiring process get stuck in the past.