How to Improve Interviewing Accuracy by 50 to 100 Percent
The awesome impact of the "collect and then decide" assessment technique
No matter how good a recruiter you are, your personal success rests on the
ability of your hiring manager clients to accurately assess your candidates. How
many of us have lost good candidates because somebody on the interviewing team
made an incorrect assessment? In this article, I'd like to introduce you to a
new way of looking at the interview assessment process.
The objective is to profoundly reduce assessment errors by collecting
information differently. Using the technique yourself and implementing it with
your hiring teams will not only improve overall interviewing accuracy, but also
increase your personal productivity by 50 to 100 percent.
Stop complaining about having too many assignments to handle. Instead, learn
the "collect and then decide" technique and teach it to your clients. Here are
six potential benefits you'll achieve as a result. Not all of these will apply
to everyone, so pick those you find most personally relevant:
Fifty to one hundred percent more assignments. Pick this one if you want to
become Recruiter of the Year.
An increase in your billings of 50 to 100 percent. Pick this one if you're
competitive as heck and commission-driven.
Time not wasted doing searches over again. Pick this one if you don't like
wasting your time.
Reduce hours by one-third while getting the same amount of work done. Pick
this one if you want a life.
No OFCCP, ADA, or EEO audit problems; or maximizing performance while
minimizing turnover. Pick this one if you want to make sure the best person gets
the job for the right reasons.
Reduce time to fill by 50 percent or more, while increasing candidate
quality and reducing cost per hire. Pick this one if you're a recruiting manager
or human resources executive who wants to become a hero.
There are probably some others that should be added to the list, but you get the idea. Too
many mistakes are made because most managers don't know how to conduct an
accurate assessment. Worse, when you get a bunch of interviewers together to
decide who the best candidate is, the problems are multiplied.
Here are just a few things that typically prevent the best person from
getting the job:
The views of the manager with the most authority dominate the
selection process. This stifles the debate. Not evaluating alternative
viewpoints is a surefire way to make bad decisions.
A no vote is equal to two or three yes votes. The safer
decision is saying no. One strong no, even if it's based on emotions or bad
information, can override the collective decision of two or three others who
The yes/no decision is made too soon. Most interviewers
make the decision to hire or not within the first five minutes of the interview.
They then look for information to confirm this decision. This is called the
"decide then collect" assessment technique. In this approach, interviewers use
the balance of the interview to collect information that supports their
immediate assessment. It has been
proven that when viewpoints are strongly held, contrary information is
ignored and confirming information is more valued.
Most managers don't know how to conduct a proper interview.
Even managers trained in behavioral interviewing don't use it because it's too
complicated. Instead, they substitute their emotions, gut feelings, and
intuition. Making matters worse, they don't know what they're looking for with
respect to real job needs.
Most recruiters aren't strong enough to overcome these
realities. As a result, corporate recruiters give up, complain or go
with the flow. Third-party contingency recruiters cherry-pick both jobs and
candidates to minimize these problems and maximize commissions. Retained
recruiters, on the other hand, are more influential and they tend to confront
these problems more head-on.
All of these problems can be minimized by
using a "collect then decide," rather than a "decide then collect" interviewing
assessment process. A "collect then decide" approach means that you use the
interview to collect as much information as possible before deciding whether the
candidate is good or bad. Common sense would suggest that the longer you delay
the "hire/not hire" decision, the more accurate the assessment.
In fact, it's best to not even make a final decision alone. Instead, use the
one-on-one interview just to collect information. Then share this information
with all members of the interviewing team before making the final hiring
decision. The team will arrive at a more accurate decision this way, by using
appropriate information to make the decision rather than relying on the
traditional and flawed "yes/no" voting process.
Here are some ideas you can use to implement a "collect then decide"
interviewing assessment process:
Get everyone on the hiring team to agree to real job needs ahead of
time. You might want to use
a performance profile to collect this information. It
describes what a top person needs to do to be considered successful on the job.
Managers who know real job needs before the interview starts tend to be less
judgmental. If you don't force the use of some standard for measuring job
performance, you inadvertently permit the use of emotions, biases and intuition
Eliminate the "yes/no" process in its entirety. Aside from
all of the errors noted above, this gives weak interviewers an equal vote in the
process. We use a formal 10-factor assessment process that requires all
interviewers to substantiate their rankings with factual information. Feelings
and emotions are not allowed.
Don't give any interviewer full voting rights. Instead,
assign each interviewer only a few of the ten factors to assess. As part of
this, require that they must use specific information (dates, details, examples,
names) to justify every ranking, good or bad. Some of the other ten factors
include things like job-specific problem-solving, cultural and environmental
fit, trend of growth over time, and comparable accomplishments. As you can tell,
there are plenty of topics to go around. If each interviewer knows ahead of time
that he or she is not responsible for a complete assessment, there is a natural
tendency to withhold judgment until their portion of the assessment is complete.
So this is an important practice to implement.
Certify each interviewer before trusting their assessments.
Here are the three common hiring errors that can be minimized with just a little
training: 1) eliminating good candidates for bad reasons; 2) hiring weak
candidates using a narrow range of traits; and 3) hiring good people for the
wrong jobs. If each member of the interviewing team reads and practices the
points in this ERE article I've written on
the one-question performance-based interview, they'll be 50
percent certified. If you establish a formal deliberative and information
sharing decision-making process, they'll be fully certified by their third
debriefing session. These sessions are great learning events, as you'll quickly
discover once you attend one yourself.
Measure first impressions at the end of the interview. To
increase objectivity, have each interviewer compare the candidate's first
impression measured at the end of the interview with the candidate's initial
first impression. Most people when you get to know them aren't as bad or as good
as first imagined. This exercise allows interviewers to overcome the natural
tendency to "decide then collect" confirming information. The difference in
first impressions measured this way reveals the interviewers' own biases and
Use panel interviews more frequently. A properly organized
panel interview is a great way to impose a "collect then decide" process. One
person should lead, with the other interviewers just asking fact-finding
questions for clarification. This is also a good way to train weaker
The selection of new employees should be considered a
major decision-making process. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, most
companies don't treat it formally enough. Weak interviewers get equal voting
rights. Emotions and biases dominate the selection process. Few interviewers
truly understand real job needs. A no has more value than a yes, and influence
is based more on rank than competency. For something this important, this is a
sorry state of affairs. Yet the problem is relatively easy to solve.
The key is to enforce a "collect then decide" assessment process. When each
interviewer knows that their role is limited to doing a good job of collecting
information rather than having to decide on overall competency, logic rather
than ego or emotions prevail.