Interview: Theory Meets Reality

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SitWe’ve really woven an intricate interview web, haven’t we? We’ve developed all kinds of interview methods for candidates to obsess over — structured, unstructured, phone, video, face-to-face, behavioral, stress, technical, panel, case, peer, group, lunch, brunch — and, as a result, we’re giving them headaches.

Interviews spark fear in 92 percent of the talent pool, and that apprehension could result in poor interview performance, regardless of a candidate’s qualifications. Those with great experience and the right skill sets might bomb interviews, and underqualified candidates might ace them, thanks to natural extroversion.

How, then, can recruiters help the best candidates shine above the rest when it comes to interviews? There’s a lot of talk about interviewing best practices, but what do actual recruiters do? Jonathan Campbell (@socialtalent), CEO and founder of Social Talent, recently took to Facebook to ask recruiters what interview methods they use. Here’s what people had to say:

“Broadly speaking, we define competencies before the interview and question openly enough to see these demonstrated. It’s lightweight and not formal (i.e.[,] no scoring matrix). Feedback is conducted on the same day in a roundtable, with as little as possible discussion beforehand.” — Matt Buckland (@ElSatanico), head of talent at Forward Partners

“With my clients[,] I am seeing a trend towards strengths-based filtering and interviewing. However, the reality is they are filtering on situational judgement and then interviewing on competencies defined in a framework which is generic across their organizations.

“Competency frameworks do in general work[,] as long as the scoring matrices are defined on each individual role and weighted accordingly. The other caveat is this needs to be continually looked at and adjusted depending on the company’s strategic direction [and] the talent gap they have.” — Lisa Scales (@LisaScales), cofounder of TribePad

“I haven’t seen data that is really, really hard that one method is far superior than the other because A/B testing hasn’t met our standards or controls in the data we have reviewed. However, it’s clear that a structured and planned interviewing process where candidates feel they can present their skills and abilities and the hiring manager is formally engaged in a structured and deliberate process increases candidate experience and reduces the perception of discrimination.” — Andrew Gadomski (@AndrewGadomski), founder of Aspen Advisors

“I use a mix of different interview techniques and methodologies. I think the key factor for any interview is a desire to understand person in front of you: his/her wishes, fears, what he/she likes and dislikes to do, etc.” — Anna Miroshnichenko, recruiter at Sigma Ukraine

“Any method that does not systematically collect, audit[,] and assess interview data (behavioral or otherwise) longitudinally is like comparing chemistry to alchemy. Even then[,] the research shows that interviews alone without other assessment methodology ha[ve] at best a 1 percent advantage over chance. I can tell you that if, after the interview, the candidate believes the recruiter/hiring manager provided them the opportunity to ‘fairly compete’ for the job, their NPS scores are statistically higher. That does not mean the best candidate was selected. It does mean that those silver-medalists not selected are much more likely to refer others, reapply[,] and maintain their customer relationship[s] with the firm.” Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), cofounder of CareerXroads Colloquium

There were a lot of different answers to Campbell’s question, including everything from personas, to analytics, to statistics. It goes to show that no one method works for everyone or every situation.

“We do strength-based exercises and responsiveness testing, which is a fancy pants way of saying we keep an eye on how quick candidates answer us and with how much clarity during the scheduling phase.” — Me (Maren Hogan!) (@MarenHogan), CEO of Red Branch Media 

How do you interview? Have any methods worked wonders in your organization? Sound off in the comments below!

By Maren Hogan