One of Hung’s arguments is that, for technical roles at least, a face-to-face interview is pointless. They’re conducted because it’s a case of, “we’ve always done it this way”. Again, with technical roles at least, Hung is of the opinion we should do away with face-to-face interviews all together and have solely role related tests / practical assessments in their stead to assess a candidate’s suitability for a technical position.
I argued, technical role or not, the face-to-face interview, if done well is still, and will always be a vital piece of the selection puzzle – if only at a very basic, elementary level of checking team, cultural and or ethical compatibility. An IT programmer could be the best coder on the planet. If he / she doesn’t have the skills and attitude to compliment the team and proceeds to negatively impact the group’s dynamics – motivation, moral and productivity of the individual and / or team could be disastrously impacted. This is just one element a face-to-face will always help you get closer to understanding. It’s not the be-all-and-end-all of assessing team / cultural suitability but combine this with behavioural profiling and other group assessments and you’ll significantly improve the probability of recruiting someone who helps the teams dynamics as opposed to hindering it.
I won’t go into further details of the conversation I had with Hung as he’s in the processes of publishing the recorded Skype conversation. I’ll let you know when it’s up and where to find it. (unless I come across as a complete arse. In which case I’ll deny any such interview ever took place… What interview? [*eyes shifting left to right*])
It has got me thinking though. A face-to-face interview is one of many instruments availble in your selection tool kit. Like many tools, if you’re not trained on how to use it or don’t use it properly the results are usually pretty shoddy.
For many it’s a case of picking up a CV two minutes before walking into an interview, sitting in front of a candidate, ask them some BS questions along the lines of strengths and weaknesses and instantly making a clear cut judgement about whether that individual is suited to the role they’re recruiting for. (*shuddering at the thought*). The chances are that by using this method you’ll probably strike it lucky and make a decent hire now-and-again but this will be mainly down to luck than anything else.
I’m not going to sit here and preach about all the different interview methodologies, techniques and theories one could adopt to improve their interviewing skills. There are literally thousands of books and blogs etc on the subject. What I am going to do though is
preach about ahem, share some tips and disciplines that, if followed, could increase not only the objectivity of your face-to-face interviews but the probability of you looking for / assessing the right things when a candidate is sat in front of you:
I’m sure we’ve all had experiences we’re we’ve hired someone because we got on with them at the interview stage. Then, six months into the role, he or she were still great people but couldn’t / struggled to achieve what was required of them in the first place.
1) Getting the job traits – articulate, amiable, assertive, appearance, good hand shake etc.
2) Doing the job traits– leadership, drive, time management, hitting targets and objectives, organisational, and planning skills, problem solving, motivating others etc.
Be conscious of this and ensure you’re not basing you’re recruitment decision purely on the former. If you do the chances are you’ll employ someone solely based on their presentation skills. Which is great if you’re looking for a presenter but i’m guessing, on most occasions, you’ll be looking for someone with more strings to their bow.
My challenge to you? Be really disciplined on this one. Take those first impressions (we’re all human after all and can’t switch off this natural reaction) but park them. Write them down somewhere at the beginning of the interview and refer to it again at the end to compare with your final thoughts. Unless the candidate is a complete and utter no-no, don’t make a decision about them until after the 1st half-an-hour of meeting them.
Obviously there are many other ways to improve the quality and objectivity of your interview but for me, keeping these select few front of mind really helped step-change by ability to conduct more robust, objective interviews and make some excellent hires. I’ll admit, I’ve made the odd clanger as well. Show me a recruiter who hasn’t but when I have it’s usually because I’ve dropped one of the balls described above.
What are the techniques you use to ensure your interviews are assessing the correct qualities in the candidates you meet? Let’s share best practice, ideas and tips in the comments section below.
Also, do you agree with Hung? Do you believe interviews are rather passe’ and don’t have a place in today’s recruitment society or, like me do you believe they still play an integral part in the process. Again, you know where to go. Leave your comments below.
Hungry for more? Check me out at www.trecknowledgy.com - training and coaching through recruitment complexities. Follow on Twitter @TRecKnowledgy