Here’s a scenario for you to try out: One of your management team rushes into your office one cold Monday morning all out of breath. She is one of your sharper managers and she seems to be very excited about something. She pulls up just short of your desk and, after several sharp intakes of air, she announces, “I want to implement a new human resources practice here at Widgets Inc., one that we will use to make the most important people decisions we make, who to hire and who to promote! It’s only good at predicting success regarding those two decisions about 50% of the time, and the experts in the HR field say that is likely due to luck as much as good practice – but I have always thought of myself as a good people manager and I would never think of hiring someone without using this practice.”
Despite the fact you are upset because her unscheduled assault on your office has made you tear yourself away from the Dilbert cartoon you were reading, you decide to play along a little bit.
“Hmm, only good one out of every two times, and that is really more likely to be a fluke rather than testimony to good skills, sounds like our kind of tool. Pray tell me, what is this amazing new HR practice?”
“Interviews. I’ve only just heard about them in that management seminar you sent me to, you know the one where I was supposed to learn how to deal with overly aggressive, insensitive team members without sounding like a b..!”
“Yes,” you interject quickly, “I remember that course.”
“Well, anyway” she continues somewhat put out by your obvious attempt to distract her. “They told us all about how we need to manage our people practices more scientifically, to select people based on objective criteria and to avoid possible lawsuits by doing these interviews. They take about an hour to an hour and a half, even though all the research shows that we really only need about the first three minutes to make up our minds, but then we need to ask all these important questions that will help us predict how successful someone will be in their new job, even though the research shows that none of the questions really do that, so we really need to sit there for the whole time. Oh, and we need to hold about ten to fifteen of these interview things for every position we fill, so that takes about two days of actual interviews and then, apparently, we are supposed to talk among ourselves after the interview to make sure we apply all of our criteria to the decision, even though the experts mentioned something about that having been shown to create dissatisfaction with the result six to eight weeks after we make our decision, but they really didn’t want to go into that in detail. Anyway, I think we should do this for every vacant position in the company – what do you think?”
Well, what do you think?