Just Say No’ to These 4 Interview Formats

Some interview formats are great, some are “innocuous but ineffective,” and some are downright destructive. In this article we will explore four formats that are most concerning, given their widespread use.
February 16, 2023
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In our work helping organizations improve their hiring and interviewing processes, we have encountered just about every interview approach you can imagine. Some interview formats are great, some are “innocuous but ineffective,” and some are downright destructive. In this article we will explore four formats that are most concerning, given their widespread use.

1. Panel interviews

What happens when multiple interviewers meet with a candidate at once? Nobody builds a good enough one-on-one connection for information to flow freely. Salesy smooth-talkers shine, while others are disadvantaged. What’s more, with so many people involved, the company burns thousands of dollars per hour in the form of panelists’ salaries and time.

Panel interviews are a natural result of a company basing hiring decisions on gut impressions rather than facts. If you and I form wildly different impressions of a candidate, it’s tempting to want to be in the same room next time. But if you and I are gathering facts in a one-on-one interview with a candidate — and taking good notes (this is critical) — there’s no need.

2. Stress interviews

Some hiring managers think it’s a good idea to deliberately pressure or “throw off” candidates in an interview. They believe this approach accurately simulates real-world work pressures, allowing hiring managers to see the “true” candidate beneath the veneer.

Unfortunately, stress interviews are unreliable. Most adults can regulate their behavior in a brief, contrived interaction — even if they might struggle under real pressures. But more importantly, stress interviews are hugely detrimental to the candidate experience, causing candidates to associate your opportunity with negative emotional states. Top performers have many alternatives to choose from and personal connections are critical — why deliberately put yourself at a disadvantage?

3. Brain teasers

Many tech companies love presenting candidates with quirky puzzles to solve. Unfortunately, they’re poor predictors of job success (as famously noted by Google’s former SVP of people operations Laszlo Bock).

It’s fine to present candidates with a business or technical problem to solve in an interview, particularly if the job in question is intellectually demanding. But if you do use this tactic, make sure it’s representative of the kinds of problems candidates will actually be facing on the job.

4. Take-home assignments

It’s understandably tempting to give candidates a sample project or work assignment for them to execute on their own time. Wouldn’t it be nice if applicants interviewed themselves, and you could wake up to a pre-vetted list of finalists?

Take-home assignments are problematic. They tip the scales against high-performing passive candidates who have limited time — and many career alternatives. They’re also impersonal, robbing both parties of an opportunity to learn about each other. And they are notoriously prone to being gamed and even posted on the web.

What’s a better approach than these problematic ones? Build a personal connection with candidates. Learn about the standout moments — positive and negative — across their careers. Dig into the relevant stories with curiosity and enthusiasm, and move fast on the less relevant ones. Keep your questions simple and open-ended, and use follow-ups to learn more.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Jordan Burton has 15 years of experience as an executive assessor and interviewing trainer, working with top VC/PE investors and high-growth startups to help them hire the best of the best. He has trained over 3,000 executives and investors on hiring and interviewing skills. He leads Talgo’s business development initiatives, managing relationships with Sequoia Capital, TH Lee, Palantir, Chainlink Labs, and over 50 venture-backed startups.

Original Article: Linkedin

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