How To Pick Great Employees (Who are Rubbish At Interviews)

Have you ever had a candidate turn up for an interview who was so nervous that the interview became excruciating? It was impossible to move forward, but you always wonder whether in a regular work situation they’d have been fantastic.

The traditional interview has many barriers to finding your perfect candidate.  Ron Friedman, Psychologist and Author of “The Best Place to Work” explains why:

  • Over 80% of people lie during interviews, this means the information you’re gathering is not entirely accurate
  • “We automatically jump to all kinds of erroneous assumptions about a candidate from their appearance,” he says. “Studies show we view good looking people as more competent. We perceive tall candidates as having greater leadership potential. And we assume deep- voiced candidates are more trustworthy”
  •  Not only that, our quickly-formed views affect the questions we ask and the way we phrase the question eg: if a hiring manager views you as being extroverted, they might say, “Tell me about your experience leading groups.” But if they think you’re shy or reserved, they might ask, “Are you comfortable leading groups?”

So what’s the alternative? What if your candidate is squirming and stuttering and you feel bad even asking a question?


Audition People For The Role

Friedman suggests a good alternative is to create a job audition, rather than an interview.  “Instead of asking a job candidate questions for an hour, design a job-relevant assignment that reflects the type of work the applicant will actually do, should they be hired,” he suggests.  So if you’re deciding on salespeople, have candidates sell you your product. Or if you’re hiring web designers, have them mock up a landing page. “This way your assessment is based on actual performance, not simply how charismatic a candidate is during an interview.”  Infact, Lazlo Bock from his book “Work Rules!” giving an insight into Google’s hiring practices backs this theory up.


General Cognitive Ability Tests

Lazlo Bock also mentions this as “the second-best predictor of performance”.  In contrast to case interviews and brainteasers, these are actual tests with defined right and wrong answers, similar to what you might find on an IQ test. They are predictive because general cognitive ability includes the capacity to learn, and the combination of raw intelligence and learning ability will make most people successful in most jobs.


Why Don’t More Businesses Do This?

When the time comes to fill a position, most managers are scrambling to fill a vacancy. “There’s barely time to look through résumés, let alone design an assignment. That’s why it’s a good idea to have your existing team design assignments today — not after they’ve found their next position,” he says. “This way you have an audition lined up when you need to make your next hire.”

If you’re finding your recruitment process frustrating and want to change it to find the perfect candidates, please get in touch with us at or call us on 01386 751 740.

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