interviewing cartoon

The next time you are asked to interview for a position, it might help to remember that the person interviewing you is likely just as anxious as you are.  And with good reason.  If they hire you and things don’t work out, guess whose neck could be on the chopping block? An interesting point that I discovered is that the hiring interview is not a very effective way to choose an employee.

I was reading the classic, “What Color is Your Parachute” by Richard Bolles and was shocked to read about the results of a survey conducted several years ago.  Mr. Bolles referenced the survey among a dozen top United Kingdom employers.  In the survey it was discovered that the chances of finding a good employee via interviewing was only 3 percent better than if names had been picked names out of a hat! In addition it was noted that if the interview was conducted by someone who would be working directly with the candidate, the success rate dropped to 2 percent below that of picking a name out of a hat.  Finally, if the interview was conducted by an “human resources expert” the success rate dropped to 10 percent below that of picking a name out of a hat.  Imagine that.

If that is in fact, the case, it might be a good idea to approach the job interview from a different perspective. An article that I read recently stated that if you have a solid performance review form, you have a solid structured interview form. I thought that was a very interesting perspective.  I assumed the writer’s thought process is that if you take a look at how your top performers score on the company’s performance review, you can take those “hot button” areas and probe your candidate.

I talk to a lot of people these days about work related issues and I am astonished by the number of companies that apparently DO NOT implement performance reviews.  If you are not providing regular feed back to your staff, how do they know whether they are performing up to par or not? I wonder if performance standards are even introduced as something to be strived for.

I took a look at an old performance review of my own to get some idea of what markers would be useful in uncovering a strong candidate via the interviewing process.  This particular review form has 6 factors: Job performance, Job Knowledge, Interpersonal skills, Attendance/Safety, and Management Skills.

By asking open-ended questions of job candidates it should become easier when you compare their answers against how your best performers grade out in the same areas.  Examples might be, “Tell me about the approach you take to meet your assigned deadlines?” or “Give me an example of a time when you had to accept feedback from your superior.  How did it make you feel?” 

Today’s job market is so hyper-competitive companies can ill-afford to misfire when it comes to attracting and hiring the best candidates. Today’s mantra is the all too familiar, “Doing more with less.” The job market is constantly changing and evolving into something that is a bit foreign for participants on both sides of the interviewing desk.

One of the best ways to understand the nature of the changing labor market is by talking to the co-founders of HireArt ( Eleonora Sharef, 27, a veteran of McKinsey; and Nick Sedlet, 28, a math whiz who left Goldman Sachs. Their start-up was designed to bridge the divide between job-seekers and job-creators.

“The market is broken on both sides,” explained Sharef. “Many applicants don’t have the skills that employers are seeking, and don’t know how to get them. But employers also … have unrealistic expectations.” They’re all “looking for purple unicorns: the perfect match. They don’t want to train you, and they expect you to be overqualified.” In the new economy, “you have to prove yourself, and we’re an avenue for candidates to do that,” said Sharef. “A degree document is no longer a proxy for the competency employers need.” Too many of the “skills you need in the workplace today are not being taught by colleges.”

The way HireArt works, explained Sharef is that clients — from big companies, like Cisco, Safeway and Airbnb, to small family firms — come with a job description and then HireArt designs online written and video tests relevant for that job. Then HireArt culls through the results and offers up the most promising applicants to the company, which chooses among them.

The HireArt method is obviously closely aligned with the agency model that we are used to.  By using technology I hope that they can be beneficial in bridging the gap between what employers are looking for and what employees are seeking.

What do you think about the interview process in today’s job market? Can you think of ideas that would be a great benefit to both employers and employees in getting what they want in today’s environment?



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