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In today’s business landscape, competition for talent has increased globally. As a result, organizations find it extremely difficult to hire exceptional employees with the right skills for various designations and departments.
A Fortune 500 CEO has described the interviewing process as “The most flawed process in American business.” This issue may be because there is a lack of training for interviewing and hiring people.
A job interview is a discussion between a potential employer and an applicant regarding an available position. To gain better insight into the applicant, the interviewer will want to know about their qualifications, among other questions. Job interview processes vary among companies: some may hold one or several preliminary phone interviews before meeting face to face. During the pandemic, video interviews became the norm and continue to make up the bulk of the job application process. The bottom line is that the company representative in discussion with the applicant sets the bar for the interview.
Employers typically use an unstructured interview format, which doesn’t follow a specific pattern. Questions change depending on the flow of conversation and are usually used to evaluate a candidate’s personality.
It is interesting to note that while every major business school in the US teaches students how to handle being interviewed, not one teaches them how to conduct an interview. Furthermore, neither schools nor organizations provide interview training to their students or employees.
A few companies have formal policies regarding interviewer training. Still, most are way too casual, with candidates frequently being interviewed by a person with virtually no training in this critical area.
Think about this: Each hiring decision can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, how could this be in the company’s or candidate’s best interests? The bottom line is that the untrained interviewer most likely doesn’t even know what to look for in a candidate or how to ask practical questions or drill down for genuine answers.
The lack of interviewing training is compounded by the fact that Interviewers are rarely critiqued on their performance because most interviews are done in private with no monitoring. So, mistakes will often go unseen, and will happen repeatedly.
Here is an example:
Soon after Jack is hired, his boss Dan hands him a resumé and informs him that he will interview a prospective hire named Sally. Dan casually asks him to talk to Sally and see what he thinks about her. Jack assumes that Dan has confidence in his ability to handle the new task and is reluctant to acknowledge his total lack of interviewing skills. However, because he has been through many interviews, he figures he knows what to do.
His preparation consists of reading Sally’s resumé and writing down simple questions such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or “Give me an example when you showed you were a team player.”
Once Jack gets into the interview, he finds he’s getting short answers and learning nothing that isn’t already on Sally’s resumé. So, he chooses to switch gears. Jack chats about the job and what it’s like to work at the company. He’s now started selling to her, and the selection interview is over. Jack, who enjoys doing all the talking, doesn’t even realize it.
After the interview, Jack’s manager Dan asks him what he thinks of Sally. Unfortunately, Jack has no structured system to provide valuable feedback, so he gets away by replying with a few brief comments. “She looks good; I think we should hire her.” Or “I’m not sure; I wasn’t impressed.” As a result, there is no realistic way to determine what happened during the interview and what mistakes were made.
Most interviewers do not understand or value the importance of behavior-based interviewing. They tend to focus exclusively on the experience, knowledge and education required for a position and don’t assess important behavioral qualities. As a result, they form an impression of whether they “like” or “could work with” the candidate.
This can be particularly valid when interviewing candidates for technical positions. Because these candidates’ skills are specific and they are being hired to do a particular function, interviewers think they need only probe for the technical competence to do their job.
A candidate’s skills, education, and experience are essential in screening. But interviewing doesn’t stop there. It’s not just a case of whether a particular candidate can do the job but also how and why. Without these facts, you cannot predict on-the-job performance and behavior in the future, which is a critical part of the selection process.
Finally, it’s important to note that untrained or poorly trained interviewers aren’t the only factor affecting the interviewing process. The overall stakes are higher today. A global talent scarcity, growing diversity in the workforce, more savvy candidates, and declining candidate authenticity all impact interviewing.
Job interviews are stressful. People can spend hours reviewing possible questions, rehearsing well-crafted answers, and picking perfect outfits to make a great first impression. But what if all that effort is for naught?
Our expert team at ALIGN can help guide you through the interviewing process. Give us a call. We look forward to chatting.