Having sat on both sides of the interview table during the past 30 years I feel I can speak to the issue with some clarity. If you think about it, most interviews can be categorized into several areas. The two that seem to be predominant are the let’s “just visit” interview and the interview where the job candidate is told and sold.

Not much worthwhile is gleaned from the “just visit” interview. I have watched managers and interviewers conduct their interviews in a very loose and unstructured manner. Occasionally, the manager may ask a few general questions, but it is most times a freewheeling, tell me about yourself interview. This type of interview rarely provides any helpful information to make an informed hiring decision.

I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to watch managers with whom I have worked go into what I call the “sell them into the business” interview. This is a sight to behold as a manager tells and sells the job candidate on every aspect of the job and company. Then the same manager says, “Now, I have some questions for you.” Then you hear questions like, “How do you see yourself doing this job?” If the candidate is reasonably bright, he/she will parrot back to the manager what he/she has just heard about the job. This type of interview occurs more than any of us care to imagine. The results less than helpful because the candidate has been spoon-fed all the right answers.

Interviews by themselves have been and continue to be mostly ineffective in their ability to predict job success. Today we hear the “buzz” words “structured interviews.” It is the most desired form of interviewing. However, structured interviews by themselves are not strong predictors of future performance. Even though the questions may be directly related to the job and performance on the job. In fact, research suggests that their ability to predict success is quite limited. This becomes even more evident in today’s work environment with so much information relating to the hiring process available to job candidates. Books are available by the hundreds and multi-media that explain how to win in the interview, what to expect in an interview, including a structured interview. Consider a recently updated book, “The 100 Best Answers to the 100 Toughest Interview Questions.”

The question you must ask yourself during the interview is: Are these the candidate’s personal answers to the interview questions or are they someone’s “book” answers. Does it make a difference where their answer comes from? Absolutely! What if it isn’t their personal answer and you hire the person based on his/her “book” answers? The odds of the person not being able to perform the job adequately just increased dramatically.

Companies and organizations think the interview is the least expensive part of the selection process when in reality they are often the most expensive. Interviews are expensive from a cost of time versus results and expensive due to the risk of making a poor hire.

Today, there are more predictive methods of making an informed hiring decision. They are called assessments. The best assessments are those that are validated against actual job performance and have the ability to predict the potential for job success.

Good assessments consist of measuring the factors that contribute to job success. Psychologists conduct well-constructed job studies to determine the competencies that contribute to job success. They gather data of on-the-job performance for top and bottom-performing job incumbents, along with performance ratings of supervisors and managers.

Why collect data for a validation study on top and bottom performers? Good question! A well-validated assessment can predict potential job success, as well as the potential for job failure.

This is why a “one test fits all” mentality comes into question. Different jobs have different success patterns. One test cannot come close to measuring the varied and numerous traits and abilities necessary to perform a given job successfully.

I often hear the question, “Are assessments legal?” The short answer is, yes! When you compare your present process of mostly subjective interview techniques and the lack of a structured interview process to avoid what is called a “soft interview.” This is where candidates for the same job are asked different questions by the interviewers. Interview questions that are not criterion and face validated. A significant problem area is hiring to jobs that do not have defined job requirements.

Compare those legal issues to an assessment where the job has been researched and defined. Assessments where validation studies conducted by licensed psychologists have identified the competencies and personality traits that contribute to job success. Assessments that have been constructed to identify those competencies and personality traits and predict the candidate’s probability of success on the job are the type of assessments you’ll want to use.

I point out to my prospects and clients that a well-constructed and validated assessment is the most objective part of an organization’s selection process. A good assessment never has a “bad day,” it never looks to see if a candidate’s shoes are shined, it is never impressed by a candidate’s “pat” answer, it never gives the candidate the answer before it asks the question, and it never produces a result based on the subjective gathering of information.

When it is time for the assessment to deliver its report on the candidate, it is based on validated information that has been designed for just one purpose, to predict a candidate’s potential for success in a given job.

Assessments pay for themselves by reducing the turnover in an organization while helping organizations hire more top performers.

Bill Schult is the President of Maximum Potential Inc. and owner of Essential Insights LLC., our intellectual property holder.  He is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst and developer of Proception2 and Business Motivators. To learn how we can help you attract, identify, select, develop and retain successful employees, call us at 651-452-8256 or E-mail us at: info@maximumpotential.com