Imagine if baseball GMs, ignoring batting statistics, took potential players out for a beer at Applebee’s to test their culture fit.
That’s what leaders do by using interviews to pluck out the best candidates. But interviews are less predictive of job performance than work samples, job-knowledge tests and peer ratings of past job performance.
The University of Texas Medical School tested the value of interviews in 1979 during the admissions process. The school interviewed the top 800 applicants, scored them and admitted the top interviewees. Then, unexpectedly, the Texas Legislature required the medical school to accept 50 more students. The only ones available by that time were the dregs of the interviewees.
No one at the school knew which group was which. So in a blind test, which group performed better? Neither. Both graduated and received honors at the same rate. Furthermore, both groups performed equally well in the first year of residency.
The interviews correlated with nothing other than the ability to interview.
Lesson: Rather than relying on a 30-minute conversation, figure out whether a job applicant can do the work. If you’re hiring a graphic designer, have the applicant design something. If you’re hiring a salesperson, ask the candidate to sell you something.
— Adapted from “Why It May Be Wiser To Hire People Without Meeting Them,” Dan Heath and Chip Heath, Fast Company.
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