Hiring staff for your business is time-consuming and costly and the results, often based on a one-hour conversation, can significantly impact your company. The appropriate hire may improve client satisfaction and retention, word-of-mouth advertising, boost the team and even assist sales.
Make a mistake, and the incorrect candidate can have a devastating impact on your business. Hiring the wrong person can result in poor customer experience, affect staff morale, and create issues that resonate throughout the team. And then, there is the cost and difficulties involved in removing them and going through the hiring process again.
Even though some managers approach this assignment confident in their ability to identify talent, the research reveals that this competence is greatly exaggerated. In-depth interviews are, in fact, significantly different from informal conversations. Therefore, when conducting successful interviews, it’s important to remember three principles: precision, high-quality questions, and consistency.
Consistency of questions
To ensure you can decide which candidate is the correct one for your business, you need to ask each candidate the same questions. This consistent approach is fair to all and makes comparing the candidates easier.
Yes, asking the same questions might limit the interviewer’s latitude and reduces the chances of discussing the specifics of each candidate’s past. However, the benefits of a consistent approach to asking questions outweigh any meaningful information the interviewer might gain.
Imagine asking the well-known question, “Why have you applied for this job?” to one applicant and the following query, “What do you know about our company?” to the second applicant. These two questions’ wording is significantly different, even though they both attempt to gauge the applicant’s drive for the position.
Responding to the first query, an applicant might reply with a general comment, “I always wanted to work for this prominent firm” or “I think that this company matches me well.”
However, since the second question is knowledge-based, it can generate more significant stress. It could also encourage the respondent to be more detailed. If you ask the same questions, you can compare the caliber of the answers.
Quality of the questions
Consistency alone is insufficient when choosing from several candidates. Identical questions can be asked of all applicants without receiving any information crucial for making an informed choice.
It is vital to consider the type and quality of the questions posed. Relevant questions refer to expertise, experience and knowledge or to find out how candidates might respond in a specific circumstance (situational questions), such as “How do you manage an unhappy guest at the reception?”
Past behavior questions are also helpful. They call for candidates to provide specific examples of how they have handled difficult situations or behaved in the past, such as “Can you remember one of your worst shifts and how you were able to survive it?”
Accuracy in the assessment
After an interview, it’s not unusual for the interviewers to rate the candidate using a single scale. However, there are different ways to manage the evaluation. For example, the applicants’ responses to each question might be graded on a scale of one to five. This strategy forces interviewers to evaluate how each answer complies with the standards and benchmarks established by the business.
When making decisions, the human mind prefers simplicity and uses many shortcuts. For instance, many people experience what is known as the “primacy effect.” As a result, the information we gathered initially is given more weight.
An anxious applicant who gave a poor first impression while replying to the first two questions, for instance, might not be offered the position by the interviewers. However, experience shows that we cannot be sure that the candidates who perform exceptionally well in the first five minutes of the interview will be successful.
Intuition isn’t a reliable guide
We are often encouraged to go with our gut instinct and make decisions based on first impressions. However, if first impressions did not have an element of truth, we wouldn’t experience a strong sense of attachment to our views. For instance, it appears that after viewing someone’s face for 50 milliseconds, we can determine if they are extraverted or introverted more accurately than by chance.
Additionally, there is proof that students can anticipate instructor assessments from just a 30-second clip of a class.
Studies like these and numerous others have demonstrated that sometimes our first perceptions are not misleading. Why, then, would first impressions be meaningless during interviews? Although our initial thoughts or gut instincts are not wholly useless, they are less appropriate than a systematic approach and more challenging to defend.
Numerous theories might explain the weaker correlation between hiring quality and gut feeling. One is the degree to which candidates’ personalities affect our first impressions. Although there may be connections between specific personality qualities and competencies, they are not equivalent or interchangeable.
Competencies describe what people will accomplish in specific settings, whereas personality describes a consistent pattern of behavior, feelings, and thoughts across different contexts.
For example, managing stress can be viewed as a competency, whereas being prone to worry might be viewed as a personality trait. Even though there is a strong association between the two—people who worry more frequently have a more challenging time controlling their stress—the two are not the same.
The problem with some interview formats is that they may reveal to interviewers whether a candidate appears to be prone to worrying, but not necessarily how well they handle stress. This may help to explain why gut instincts are not the best way to choose successful candidates because personality is related to performance but to a smaller extent than competencies.
In an interview, people who tend to make good first impressions are extroverted candidates. Extroverted candidates will likely show more enthusiasm for a job than introverts, but that does not mean they will be more motivated, stay longer or perform better.
The ineffective use of intuition may not be related to our incapacity to discern the correct information. Instead, it is our propensity to place too much value on this type of information.
Numerous thorough empirical studies have concluded that intelligent algorithms may outperform intuition in staff selection because they will weigh information appropriately.
The issue with interviews is that because they provide access to so many characteristics of applicants (verbal responses, gestures, posture, tone of voice, smell), the human mind cannot filter this deluge of data efficiently and pick the critical signals.
The correct interview technique can be considered a calculator for mental computation. Performing calculations mentally can be just as, if not more, efficient than using a calculator. However, doing so repeatedly will significantly increase the number of errors and slow down the process.
In conclusion, if interviewers consistently ask the same questions, ask good questions, and score each answer separately, they will make fewer hiring mistakes.
The use of aids is a means of overcoming our deficiencies rather than a sign of weakness. So, for example, there is no need to place such a high value on our ability to read others when we know that our memory, planning abilities, and quantitative skills are not faultless. And in doing so, we wouldn’t see such high levels of voluntary or involuntary turnover in some businesses if so many people could appraise others correctly.
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