Are Job Interviews Really Useless?

John Krautzel
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Job interviews may not be as accurate a predictor of employee success as once thought, especially when they are unstructured. During a job interview, hiring managers generally form opinions of candidates based on their answers to job-related questions. However, the answers candidates provide during a face-to-face interview isn't necessarily a reliable indicator of a candidate's future performance on the job.

Research Results

Jason Dana, an assistant professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management, notes that past research and research he conducted with his colleagues reveals that job interviews can actually be harmful and undercut the impact of more valuable details about candidates. In one study, Dana and his colleagues had students interview other students to gauge estimated grade point averages for the following semester. GPAs for some students were predicted based on the results of an interview along with information provided about their course schedules and past GPA. For other students, future GPAs were predicted based on just the course schedule and past GPA information. Results showed that the predicted GPAs were more accurate for the students who did not participate in an interview. The interviews did nothing to help with predictions. In fact, they may have made the predicted GPAs even lower.

Random Answers to Questions

In the same study, Dana and his colleagues also had the interviewees answer questions randomly. The interviewers didn't realize students were answering randomly. In fact, the interviewers felt they got to know the students who answered randomly better than the students who answered honestly. Even though the information interviewees provided during the interview wasn't true, the interviewers felt more of a connection with them. People assume that a face-to-face job interview is going to give them insight into a person's real character, but that may not be the case at all.

The Importance of Consistency

Job interviews are a stressful yet inevitable part of the job search process. Candidates prepare themselves by trying to guess what hiring managers will ask, practicing their answers and showing their very best self. If employers want to have a consistent and reliable hiring process that is predictive of job success, they need to structure interviews in a way that treats each candidate in the same manner. For example, hiring managers can give every candidate the same questions. They can also have candidates participate in tasks or activities that test their job-related skills to see how they perform. These strategies provide more insight into a candidate's character and skills than idle chitchat or random personal questions.

Job interviews will most likely continue to be a part of the hiring process, but employers can structure them in a way to better predict employee success. Employers must recognize that job interviews may not give them enough information about a candidate, and they must be innovative when attempting to gather more details about candidates.

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