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Is it okay to hire by only using interviews?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, answers the timely question: Is it okay to hire by only using interviews?

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No. No, they're not even close, I'm afraid. Um, so let's take a step back. First of all, interviews versus psychometric tests. First of all, it's a, it's a false dichotomy because in my opinion, an interview is a psychometric test. Okay. A psychometric test is just any assessment designed to measure some sort of psychological construct.

And almost certainly you have certain key behaviors, skills, traits, competencies that you're looking to measure with the interview, making it a psychometric test. So immediately it's a false dichotomy. Now the real question is how useful are interviews? How useful are the other psychometric tests? Can you get away with an interview only recruitment process? What are the benefits ultimately? Um, and the research behind interviews is a really mixed bag. Okay? Interviews when done well, when you have a really structured interview, okay? One where you outline all the questions, the probing questions, you have very clear scoring methodology.

Everything is repeatable and every candidate gets the same experience. People struggle with this often because they feel, they come out of conversational interviews, and that's the opposite, non-structured conversational interview where you are just chatting with someone. Now people come out of those feeling better because they've just had a nice chat with someone.

You know? Ultimately, it doesn't measure much when it comes to job performance, and unfortunately, that's what the research shows. That's the worst way to interview someone from a, a predictive validity perspective. Because everyone gets different questions depending on your mood. You grill someone really hard or you go easy on them.

You come out of it feeling good and then you pat yourself on the back thinking you're really good at interviewing but that's the worst way of doing it. Okay? You, when you come out of a test feeling really good, that's when you should be worried. Okay? And that's how it works with interviews. When you have a really structured, thoroughly designed, probably carefully validated using, you know, using pretty traditional psychometric, um, techniques and approaches. That's when you have a decent interview and the evidence is very clear. That's a really powerful way to predict performance, but it is limited both in terms of scope and in terms of scalability. So in terms of scope, what do interviews even measure?

It's almost a mystery to us in occupational psychology. We know what they don't measure, and that's basically everything we've looked at. You know, if you have a, an interview that you ask, you know, an interview question you ask someone, and it's a looking at resilience, for example, we know it doesn't measure resilience.

Okay. Work ethic, definitely not. Integrity, definitely not. Anything intrapersonal is just not expressed through an interview. Why would it be? Fundamentally, you're just talking to someone, you know? What does happen, of course, is people with the good social skills, uh, they tend to do quite well on interviews.

It seems to be very, seems to be mediated, at least by social skills and interpersonal skills. And so if you ask someone a question about their resilience and they do it very well, you know, they're probably really good at communicating, but it's got nothing to do with their resilience. And so they're really limited in scope.

They're not gonna capture a great deal of the competency framework that you've designed. It's only the interpersonal component, which matters for sure, and it's worth doing, especially if it's structured. Uh, but it isn't, it isn't the be all, end all, and you are leaving so much at the table. When it comes to predictive validity, when it comes to quality of hire, so much at the table omitting, using psychometric assessments, particularly cognitive ability assessments, aptitude tests, and then personality questionnaires, behavioral assessments, each one of those on their own are at least as powerful as an interview.

And so you're, you're effectively doubling, tripling the predictive validity of a selection process by including those assessments. The next issue is scalability. Now, this matters a lot when it comes to grads, interns, management trainees, early stage talent, you know, emerging talent more generally, because there's a lot of them.

And if you have a thousand applicants and you are relying on, I mean, could you imagine trying to interview a thousand applicants thoroughly, properly with structured interview, it's just not feasible. It's not feasible, and it's not cost effective. You need to do something. And what typically happens is, If they don't have assessments, they use CV sifting.

They use the old school, going through the resume, going through the CV, looking at the personal statement, looking for spelling errors. And with grads, look, there's no real experience there. 'cause they often have never had a job, certainly not a real one. And so there's nothing to be learned there. And so the predictive validity of that approach is literally zero.

Um, and consequently you're just pulling CVs out of hats, picking people at random. That's a huge missed opportunity there. Because the top performers will be gone. Okay? The odds of you picking a top performer are as, as good as anyone else, and so that's a really, really wasteful approach with what would otherwise be some really quality applicants.

And as a result you end up with mediocre applicants because you know if you use CV sifting, and then use that to decide who you interview. If that's a conversational interview, again that's offering very little validity as well. You're basically picking people at random. You may as well do that. You'd save time.

And it wouldn't really boost the quality of hire one way or the other. However, when you are using appli--, when you're using quality psychometric assessments for the applicants, particularly cognitive ability assessments at graduate level, culture fits less of an issue with grads realistically, because they're, they're blank slates.

And so if you can get the smart ones, the trainable ones, ones that make decisions well, Can solve problems quickly, learn effectively, retain, absorb, you know, apply information. Those are the quality candidates. Okay? And that matters more at graduate level than almost any other stage until things get really cognitively complex down the line.

And so it just makes sense to use that to screen people and not rely solely on interviews, which will just omit most of that stuff. So ultimately, yes. Um, ultimately, although it's kind of a false dichotomy in that ultimately, interviews are just psychometric tests, you do need to include the more classical psychometric assessments in recruitment. There's no role where that wouldn't be effective. There's no role where that wouldn't be more scalable. It just makes sense and you're leaving so much to the table if you don't do it.