Friday, June 12, 2009

Fast Company disses interviews

Those of you who know about research in personnel selection know that while interviews have been shown to be predictive of job success, several other types of selection mechanisms often out-perform them. Cognitive ability is often mentioned as the holy grail of predictors, but in terms of overall utility and defensibility, I recommend work sample exams. So do the authors of a recent article in Fast Company.

As the authors (who also penned Made to Stick) point out, interviewers are often snowed by candidate interview skills. Often only when you make them demonstrate their skills do their true strengths and weaknesses reveal themselves. (Of course if you're going to interview--and almost everyone does--make sure it's structured)

A couple strengths the authors leave out: work sample (sometimes called "performance") tests are easier to defend legally, since you're measuring an observable KSA rather than a construct like intelligence, and they give candidates a more realistic preview of the job. Heck, after doing a work sample a candidate may decide the job's not for him/her. Finally, they tend to be well received by candidates, more so than many other types of assessment.

This is my favorite quote:

"...figure out whether candidates can do the job. Research has consistently shown that one of the best predictors of job performance is a work sample. If you're hiring a graphic designer, get them to design something. If you're hiring a salesperson, ask them to sell you something. If you're hiring a chief executive, ask them to say nothing -- but reassuringly."


Geore A Guajardo said...

You are right on about this. Cognitive ability tests are great, but provide general information. Work samples are fantastic supplements for selection. Of course, this means that selection agent must have a clear grasp of the job they are selecting for (not always a given).

Further the job sample should be validated. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the use of these test is the insistence that an interview be used. To the extent that the information gleaned from interviews counter-indicates the information gleaned from other tests, how will the typical selection agent synthesize the information?

BryanB said...

Good question. I'd like to say that in most cases there is some sort of logical (mathematical) combination based on job analysis information. But in most cases the interview probably trumps the work sample--particularly if the interview doesn't go well. Of course that may depend on the order of the selection process.

Jennifer said...

I completely agree! Interview has importance but it should be a final step not a base for selection.
In fact, I believe the first step towards any recruitment is proper assessment according to the desgination and organization. As at HireLabs ( we make customized tests according to individual organization and job requirement. It really helps and fast companies are adopting it quickly!

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