At the end of last year I attended one of Bill Boorman's recruitment unconferences. The basic concept is an open and unstructured forum where recruiters can discuss and debate topics. The very nature of the set-up attracts some interesting characters including a gentleman called Kevin Wheeler who offered a controversial idea that interviewing candidates is a complete waste of time.

 

My initial reaction was what a load of tosh. Interviewing is at the very heart of what we recruiters do. If you don’t interview a candidate, how can you tell if they are right for the job ? What about the right culture fit? What about the candidate’s motivation?

 

He went on explain that the results of an interview is worthless in comparison to other recruitment techniques such as profiling, skills testing, psych testing, referencing etc. In his opinion most people who interview don’t do it very well and it allows for personal judgement and opinion to get in the way of more measurable, reliable, consistent and less subjective results. At best, an interview adds no value to the selection process and at worse it leads to the wrong result. He painted a picture of the not too distant future whereby companies would map the background of their most successful employees which would form the basis of a software program into which a candidate’s information could be entered. The individual would be scored against some pre-determined criteria and along with testing and referencing this would be enough to make a hiring decision. No interview– just see them on day 1.

 

He made some valid points. If you have ever had the perfect candidate rejected because the hiring manager ‘just wasn’t sure about something’ in the interview, then the idea of getting rid of this subjectivity sounds great. It would certainly be a lot easier to punch a bunch of information into a programme and let it churn out the best candidate whist I made a cup of tea. It would also be a much cheaper way to hire. By the end of the discussion Mr Wheeler seemed to have convinced most people in the room, all experienced recruiters, that interviewing was pointless.

 

On the other hand I was far from convinced. If the interview is done by an experienced professional who knows what they are looking for, has the ability to ask the right questions, and get beyond the fluffy stuff they will come away with justified reasons as to why an individual either is or isn’t suitable. It will likely tell you much more than any test will. A good interview also serves to personally engage with the candidates and build some rapport. I wouldn’t accept a job having not met, or at least spoken to my manager and seen the environment. Without the opportunity to engage the candidate in this manner, they may not be convinced your company is where they want to work. All the test results and algorithms in the world won’t change that.

 

It was to my surprise that Mr Wheeler convinced nearly everyone in the discussion that interviewing is a waste of time. What do you think? Would you be happy to employ someone having not met or spoken to them ? Does the human element just get in the way of logic and scientific reasoning ?

Views: 1111

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 17, 2012 at 6:55pm

This is an example of group think being dangerous. What if this is a customer facing position in a conservative law firm, yet this system hires someone dressed like Lady Gaga complete with facial tattoos and piercings? That's just one way things could go horribly wrong... go with your first instinct - it is a load of tosh (which I understand to be a "pile of crap")

Comment by Bill Schultz on January 17, 2012 at 7:35pm

I had a load of Tosh once.  It tasted like Reggae.

But seriously folks, Amy makes a good point.  In addition, where is the love?  In other words, how is the candidate romanced and evangelized through this robotic process?   How does s/he learn about would be office mates and get a feel for the culture?  The interview process is a 2 way street.  this idea is a dead end.  

Comment by Amanda Selleck on January 17, 2012 at 7:45pm

Having a software program we enter values into is a simple way of cloning your best employees. Whilst this may be well and good, who wants to work with clones of themselves. What a boring workplace if everyone were the same. I believe the interview is a critical element in the recruitment process. As Bill said it is a two way street enabling both the candidate and interviewer to interact on a more personal level, selling themselves to one another to ensure a perfect fit. 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 17, 2012 at 10:38pm

Do ya think ole Kevie just might peddle skills and psyche tests?  If a bunch of recruiters got convinced that interviewing is a waste of time they are either looking for some easy way to be a recruiter who does not talk to people or they couldn't place a Dallas Hoe at a Shrine convention. 

 

Wonder how many agencies he hooked up to buy his tests?

Comment by Tina Guth on January 17, 2012 at 11:26pm

Sounds like somebody doesn't like communicating with humans anymore.

Wheeler's non-interviewing algorithmic mapping programme will likely be equivalent to Klout.  It'll be a lot of tosh and yes I understand tosh the same as Amy Ala

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 18, 2012 at 12:41am
In Texas we have cow chip throwing contests. The winners and members of the public who throw around a lot bullshit are called "Chip champs". Maybe Wheeler should be nominated for the "Top Tosh Tosser" award. Right up there with one of the learned Piled Higher and deepers who recently postulated that Klout Scores might be taken into consideration when making hiring decisions.

Wouldn't recruiters love that. If a candidate doesn't get hired we don't have to worry about telling them it was because their breath smells like turkey dukey. We could just say, sorry Charlie, you had the lowest klout score. Go tweet these keywords 500 times and see if you can get that old score up there, might want to set up a bunch of phony profiles and recommend yourself 20 or thirty times. Don't you get it this is the late morning of Social Media Influence where the fun wears off. Tosh is tosh
Comment by Luke Collard on January 18, 2012 at 1:11am

Thanks for the comments everyone. In the interest of fairness I wanted to publish Kevin Wheelers comments (which he posted on my personal blog www.lukecollard.blogspot.com) :

A fair summarization of my thoughts. I am against the many, lengthy interviews candidates are usually subjected to, given by inadequately trained and harried recruiters. They are subjective and inconsistent. I do believe that a final interview with the hiring manager is appropriate and needed as a final judge of cultural fit and compatibility. Interviews with recruiters are not needed.

I think the general consensus is that the process of hiring is about people so people need ot be involved in the final decision. And well done all on knowing what "tosh" is ....I wanted to keep it clean on RBC so reverted to my posh Englishness !

Comment by Craig Watson on January 18, 2012 at 4:15am

Nice work Lukie!!! @Sandra 'couldn't place a Dallas Hoe at a Shrine convention..' GOLD!!!  RBC how I have missed you so!!!

Comment by Ken Forrester on January 18, 2012 at 8:52am

I agree with KW,  based on Luke's experience alone.  Times are changing, people are changing; technology is playing a role in recruiting that didn't exist years ago.

I recently witness a friend accepted a position, made a deposit on an apartment and relocated to a different State where she had no connection.  She did this without meeting anyone in-person or visiting the area.

I also saw a high level candidate did a Skype interview and accepted a new position in under two weeks.

Maybe looking at a person's social media profile has more value than recruiters think they have?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 18, 2012 at 10:02am

I agree that an endless interview loop is a waste of time - in my company the recruiter does a phone interview, sets up an in-person w/ the hiring manager (recruiter meets with them in person for 15 min or so before the "official" interview) and if absolutely necessary a 2nd interview with the HM's boss and/or additional team members if appropriate. If the HM wants more than that we push back hard. Each interview should end in a hire/no hire decision. Period.

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