Historically, job interviews have been the go-to way for companies to decide whether or not to hire certain people. But this doesn’t mean job interviews are the best way to find the right talent. To better determine the best fit for the job, companies have a wealth of other tools available to test out skills, knowledge and alignment to the brand. Nick Cromydas, CEO of Chicago-based recruiting firm Hunt Club, shares his thoughts on why job interviews are no longer the best way to find the right person for the job.
Talent Economy: Why aren’t interviews a good indicator of how an applicant will perform on the job?
Nick Cromydas: Interviews are too subjective. They require a hiring manager to assess a candidate based on their emotions, which could change based on whether they’re having a good day or week. The same goes for the interviewee. Their performance during the interview will vary based on a number of factors, including the behavior of the interviewer.
When hiring managers assess candidates using a subjective model, they can easily allow biases to get in the way. Many questions, even the most common “Tell me about a time” questions, will favor those who are more charismatic than others, even if that’s not a required skill for the position. They also allow candidates to claim the work of others with no one else to confirm the real story.
On the other hand, it’s said that first impressions are made in the first 30 seconds of meeting a new person. Those impressions tend to hold. So going back to an interviewer’s subjectivity, a candidate could easily start the conversation off on the wrong foot — even by wearing an article of clothing that rubs the interviewer the wrong way. Their initial impression will hold weight throughout the entire interview and during the rest of the hiring process.
In the end, a recruiter will end up hiring someone who isn’t necessarily the best person for the job, but someone that they like or someone they can see themselves working with from day-to-day. This is why interviews make hiring so difficult. It’s a people process, not a mechanized one.
TE: What strategies can employers use to more accurately forecast whether an applicant is a fit for the job?
Cromydas: It’s critical that hiring managers are trained properly. They need to have a clear understanding of which skills, experience and personality traits are needed to be most effective in the role. This is about going above and beyond the job description to have a strong sense of what they’re looking for in a person, whether it’s intensity or attention to detail.
Here’s an example: You’re a fast-growing software company that sells ERP systems to manufacturing plants. You’re looking to hire 50 account executives to support your company’s business development goals. There might not be 50 account executives that have sold software in a complex B2B sales environment. For this reason, you need to look beyond finding candidates with sales experience. You need to find someone who will do exceptionally well in this specific environment faced with these unique challenges. This could be someone who is more introverted but analytical and process-driven, rather than your typical extroverted seller.
My other recommendation is to come up with a strategy for fine-tuning interview criteria. Hiring managers should know exactly what they want in an interviewee based on the needs of the business. Without defining this criteria, hiring managers will end up selecting a candidate based on emotions, rather than objective benchmarks or standards.
One strategy I’ve seen increasing in popularity is testing. Giving candidates a real problem to solve that pertains to what they would be doing in the potential role. This way, recruiters can see candidates work through the problem-solving process, critical-thinking strategies or error-spotting abilities. Whiteboard tests involve giving candidates a problem to solve on a whiteboard. After solving, they are evaluated on not only their ability to come to a solution, but also the way they can communicate their process.
TE: Any tips for candidates? What steps should they take to ensure they don’t misrepresent themselves?
Cromydas: Take the time before the interview to understand “What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are my accomplishments?” and “What am I looking for in a position?” Once you define the answers to those questions, you will be more confident in how you are presenting yourself without being misleading.
Another strategy is to connect with a career coach. Although a career coach can’t open up doors to get you a job, they can get you up to a level where you’re prepared to accept a new opportunity. Before seeking outside advice, it’s crucial you understand yourself and your goals. Be prepared to consult with your coach around these two questions: “What’s my dream job?” and “Where do I want to go?” Then, your coach can guide you through the interview process and ensure you aren’t misrepresenting yourself.