Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Job Interview

I have been sitting and conducting interviews for many years, and it is currently a subject of great relevance. And in the Times at the weekend was an article about the job interview, and to its enormous credit, it did not mention the Apprentice even once. What it did say was this:

Looking around, I don't think I'm alone in doubting the effectiveness of the traditional job interview. The business world wouldn't be so keen to adopt new evaluation techniques such as psychometric testing if it were satisfied. And recruiters wouldn't be forever coming up with gimmicky ways of trying to improve interviews.

So it then documents some of these new techniques:

  • Talk about the weather. If they whine about it then they will whine about work and shouldn't be hired.
  • Begin interrogations with the question: “if our roles were reversed what would you ask yourself?”
  • Interview someone in a restaurant, and see how they deal with the waiters.
Then there are those who try to tackle the predictability of job interviews by asking unconventional questions. This approach owes something to the Oxbridge entrance system, where tutors seek to bamboozle candidates with questions like: “why don't plants have brains?”

Actually that last question could be interesting for a research biologist, but I agree that a question that is "irrelevant" during an interview is likely to be irrelevant to the job too. And the Times article concludes:

Indeed, it seems there might be a good reason why the predictable and traditional job interview has survived so long: it is better than all the alternatives. [It] at least has the advantage that it requires candidates to (1) put effort into preparing answers in advance and (2) fake enthusiasm. And preparation and faking enthusiasm are the two basic skills anyone needs to succeed in business.

Broadly true. Though many managers would not like to believe it. But if I had three months to whittle twelve candidates down to one, I'd hope to find real knowledge and real enthusiasm.

1 comment:

R N B said...

Funnily enough, back in August I suggested that the two key requirements to show in interview were
integrity and enthusiasm.