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Several years ago I walked into my favorite bookstore and was fascinated by a book on the shelf.What caught my eye was the bright orange cover and the band of duct tape across the cover. The book was Chip and Dan Heath’s first book titled “Made to Stick.” Since then I have been looking forward to reading their other works. It is no different for their newest work titled “Decisive.”

In Chapter 7 titled“Ooch”, they talk about a company which scheduled interviews for an open position. After the interview each candidate was asked to present an example of their work for review. In order to remove any sense of bias on the part of the interview team, the work examples were numbered as to disguise the source. When all the work examples were submitted the management reviewed the collections and made a judgment as to who would best fit their open position based on the works alone. The candidate that was ultimately chosen was the individual that those conducting the interviews, felt were least likely to do the job to company standards. They were dead wrong in their assumption based on the interview. The Heath’s make the claim that our interviews are less predictive of job performance than work sample or even peer ratings of past performance. They even state that if we provided our candidates with a simple intelligence test it would predict performance levels better than the interview.

So here is the question. As HR professionals we tell our managers, our sourcing vendors and the organization that we can adequately evaluate prospective talent based on our prowess as interviewers, because we know we are right. We know we are right because that is our job. But what if we are not right? What if we have under-served our organization because we turned away the very talent the organization needed because we did not think based on the interview that the candidate fit?

I have been through interviews during my career which in looking back made no sense as to whether I could do the job. I have to confess in my management roles when I was doing recruiting I fell into the trap of thinking my interview skills were proficient enough that I could make the right decision. Part of our tendency is to consider who we like or who we feel we can trust when we interview candidates.However if we don’t like someone does not mean that we will always find, locate and attract the diverse skills we need for the new marketplace. Some of my consultant colleagues suggest that the behavioral interview might improve the success rate but those too can be based on our views of the responses.

Email me at and let me know how accurate are your predictive skills in interviews and are you short changing your organization by eliminating skills you might need for the future.

Views: 108

Tags: Human, Human Resources, Management, Recruiting, Resources, Talent

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on December 4, 2013 at 2:27pm

Thanks, Daniel. As recruiters, we operate under the "convenient fiction" that interviewing is the best tool to get the best hires. Our managers buy into this fiction because it gives them more of a sense of control (through being able to choose) than would be the case for these other tools/methods, which may be more accurate in picking the "best". If there were a combination of tools which produced much better results but without hiring manager input, I can only imagine the resistance.





P.S. What's a "bookstore"?

Comment by Daniel T. Bloom on December 4, 2013 at 7:54pm

In this case it was Borders but it could have just as easily been Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million.


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