Why Interviewing is Often Faulty and Misleading

Studies have shown that interviewing a candidate for a job position is only 14% effective in determining “job fit”. That isn’t a very high percentage of success when you think that you are hiring someone who could affect your company or organization in a negative way. Organizations need to hire talented individuals who fit the job they are to do. You can’t win without talent. Let’s explore a couple of scenarios as to why the
interview process alone is not the best way to hire someone.

Recruiting, interviewing, hiring and firing are very similar to dating, courting, marriage and divorce. Think about it. When you were dating, you were searching for someone who you could feel comfortable with, wanted to spend a lot of time with, and were good for each other and maybe even soul mates. If two people feel that way about each other, they enter the courting stage. Let’s recall when we were courting our spouses. We were on our best behavior, we were nice to her mother, bought flowers, didn’t burp at the table, whispered sweet nothings into her ear (good thing she didn’t write them down or remembered them or we’d be in deep trouble now). Now she might think, “Well, he’s not perfect, but when I marry him I’ll change him!” Yeah, right. So they marry and then the bride wakes up on their honeymoon (or soon thereafter) and says, “Who is this masked man? He surely isn’t the same guy that courted me.” The wife will try to change him to meet her image of a perfect, or at least, acceptable, husband. If it turns out to be too much of an obstacle to overcome, the couple goes through a separation and then a divorce. Divorce is a process that is very
emotional and often very costly. Divorce, after all, usually comes down to economics (money).

Let’s compare the marriage process to the hiring process. When a company has an opening, it advertises for candidates to fill the position. This is just like dating. The company is looking at many candidates to see if it can find a few to interview and then eventually hire to fill the position. After sorting through applications, resumes (a very trustworthy document), and maybe some initial phone interviews, those remaining after this purging are called in for a face-to-face interview. Now the courting begins. The candidate is on her or his best behavior. They’ve done their research on the company, know what questions will probably be asked, say all the right things, practice mirroring the interviewer, well, you get the picture. Now the interviewer, being very astute, says, “well she’s not perfect but I’ll train her when I hire her”. Sound familiar? Have you ever regretted hiring someone on the very first day? It hurts, doesn’t it? Or someone on your staff asks you, “Who is the idiot that hired that person? Any four-year old could have recognized that the person was wrong for the job!” Ouch! Well, you don’t give up yet. You spend money on training, trying to get the person to do the job which she probably will never do well. So you begin the process of terminating the employee. This is a very emotional and often costly process. Now, where did I read that before? And with such a litigious society today, it can be very costly.

I call it hiring rabbits to swim and fish to run. You might teach that rabbit to swim, but how effective will that rabbit swim? Why not hire the rabbit to run and leave the swimming to the fish. Hire the rabbit into a running job and then train it to run faster and more effectively. In other words, hire to the rabbit’s strengths or “job-fit”.

When I conduct workshops on hiring, I will ask the participants to list the things they would like to have in the ideal candidate that they want to hire. They will offer a list such as the following:

Good people person
Hard working
Gets along with everyone
Work Ethic