Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The 13 fatal errors of interviewing

Interviews: they're so popular, but so much can go wrong!

There is plenty of apparently authoritative research in support of the claim that traditional selection interviewers are poor predictors of future job performance. Anderson and Shackleton 1993 drew on a wide range of academic studies from several countries and effectively summarized the reasons why in particular unstructured interviews have been criticized for the poor predictive validity.

So, dear readers of HR Case Studies, here's a handy summary of the myriad of pitfalls that can be encountered when interviewing. Please feel free to add a few favourites of your own!

The expectancy effect: Giving undue influence to positive or negative expectations of a candidate formed from the CV or application form.
The self-fulfilling prophecy effect: Asking questions designed to confirm initial impressions of candidates gained either before the interview or in its early stages.
The primacy effect: Putting too much emphasis on impressions gained and information assimilated early in the interview.
The stereotyping effect: Assuming that particular characteristics are typical of members of a particular group. In the case of sex, race, disability, etc. decisions made on this basis are often illegal.
The prototyping effect: Looking for a particular type of personality regardless of job-related factors.
The halo and horns effect: Interviewers sometimes rate candidates as “good” or “bad” across the board and this reach unbalanced conclusions.
The contrast effect: Allowing the experience of interviewing one candidate to affect the way others who are seen later in the selection process are interviewed.
Negative information bias effects: Giving more weight to perceived negative points about candidates than to those that are most positive.
The similar-to-me effect: Giving preference to candidates perceived as having a similar background, career history, personality or attitudes to the interviewer.
The personal liking effect: Making decisions on the basis of whether they personally like or dislike the candidate.
The information overload effect: Forming judgements on the basis of only a fraction of the data available on each individual candidate.
The fundamental attribution error effect: Incorrectly assuming that some action on the part of the candidate is or was caused by an aspect of his or her personality rather than by a simple response to events.
The temporal extension effect: Assuming that a candidate’s behaviour at interview (e.g. nervousness) is typical of his or her general disposition.
Source: Anderson and Shackleton: Successful Selection Interviewing (1993)

So the Big Question: Is it actually the case that the traditional interview is faulty, or does the fault actually lie at the door of the dodgy and untrained interviewer?

1 comment:

  1. Let’s face it; interviewing isn’t rocket science its common sense! Be clear on what you are looking for, ask sensible/relevant questions, listen to the answers and probe for further info as and when required. The key is being able to cut through the bull and get to the truth. Simples!

    As for other pitfalls how about:

    The ‘Oh my word, you’re gorgeous’ effect: Giving preference to candidates because they float your boat, or conversely deselecting candidates because ‘him in doors’ would never believe you when you had to work late (again)!!

    The football effect: Same as ‘similar-to-me’ but purely based on the colour of your team.

    The bums on seats effect: Allowing your desperation to fill the role to reduce your selection criteria to 1) having a pulse and 2) being able to string a sentence together.

    Whilst I know recruitment mistakes can be costly, I do think we are a little hard on ourselves regarding selection blunders.

    After all, if we think about it, people often make major decisions with less effort than it takes to prepare for and conduct a decent selection interview. People put offers in on houses after one visit; buy a car after a five minute drive round the block and some crazy people even pick their life partners after one glance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s life.