Job Interviews—What Really Works?

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Job Interviews—What Really Works?

Is there a best way to interview? Panel or one-person, telephone or video, structured or unstructured?  These are just some of the variables involved with developing a fair and effective method of interviewing job candidates.

The talent marketplace is tight and job interviews are being used by candidates as well as hiring managers to make their best decisions.

On the surface, it does not seem like hiring someone should be that difficult.   You are looking for someone to do a job—you put out the word, sift through the returns, maybe make some phone calls, and send out some invites for a sit-down.  But it is not that easy.

Most of the time, your job opening relates to a particular set of hard and soft skills, plus experience.  As former recruiters, we know the hiring cycle begins with a job description and closes with a handshake.  While effective staffing software sources the talent pools most likely to suit your need, your interview process altogether may not gain you the information you need.

In a recent piece in The New York Times, the uselessness of job interviews was the topic of conversation.  Or more exactly, the uselessness of the conversation during job interviews was the point.  Research cited in the article found that even random responses in unstructured interviews made sense to interviewers who were not strictly comparing answers across interviewees.

How does that relate?  Despite the resume on the table and possibly a PowerPoint portfolio presentation, unstructured interviews leave too much to the imagination of the interviewer, including unconscious or even conscious bias.  So what interviewing tactics are being used right now to assess skills, personality fit, and experience—other than a resume and a free-form conversation?

Interviewing—what you can expect, what you can use 

Information about interviews at top IT companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon reveal a pretty rigorous interview program.  Consider:

  • Amazon: At Amazon, candidates might have one or more phone interviews that involve general background questions, knowledge of the company mandate, and specific skills questions about their area of expertise.  Onsite interviews can involve multiple 1:1 interviews over several hours of time.   Candidates can expect to answer general questions on leadership skills.  Based on reported interview experience, Amazon seems to run a structured, sometimes lengthy recruiting cycle that seeks similar information from all candidates.
  • Google: Google is upfront about their interviewing process and has dispensed with most of the free-thinking brainteaser questions for which they are well known.  Google notes, “Our data showed that brainteaser questions didn’t predict how well someone would do on the job so we no longer ask them.”  The company asks structured interview questions and requests that candidates perform sample tasks and tests.
  • Facebook: For IT positions, phone screening centers on skills evaluation and knowledge testing. The emphasis in reported interviews was on the evaluation of hard skills and experience.

Although skewed toward large companies hiring for specialized technical skills, these companies offer good overall examples of structured hiring processes that evaluate on demonstrated capability and experience.  Job trials, testing, and work samples are all options for assessing whether your candidate can deliver on the skills described on his or her resume.

Whatever  your industry, improve your options for a successful hire by seeking the right talent pools, offering a straightforward screening and interview process, and responding to the questions and concerns of your candidates.

The best interview process?  Whatever the size of your company, it is the method that predictably improves your productivity, workforce engagement, and retention.

When looking for the right candidates, BrightMove can help you with staffing, onboarding, and recruiting software.  Contact us today.

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