You’ll Never Achieve Great Hiring Until You Better Document Your Interviews

46% of hires fail, and Google found interviews can have a lower predictive value than a coin flip. Also, research by Gallup found that “Companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.” In my experience, you can fairly blame the common hiring interview for many of these hiring failures.

Interviews are the most dominant and, at the same time, the most flawed candidate assessment tool. The most common interview flaws that should be documented range from untrained interviewers, illegal questions, not keeping track of interviewer scores, and an interview process that has no built-in process for continuous improvement.

Moreover, everyone knows that without adequate documentation, you can’t continually improve using failure analysis to determine the root causes of most interview failures. Both statistical correlations and AI are ineffective without documenting data covering what specific factors accurately predicted the new-hire’s on-the-job performance.

Unfortunately, very few interview processes, whether in corporate or small businesses, keep more than the most basic documentation and data after the candidate starts the job. Without that documentation in important areas like the scores given by each interviewer, the questions asked, and the answers provided. No one will be able to go back and find the flaws that occurred. And then fix them for upcoming interviews.

In this brief article, I am highlighting the many areas where hiring interviews should be better documented and why it’s necessary.

Part A – Which Interview Factors Need To Be Better Documented And Why

You need to document each of the job factors that are covered in interviews that accurately predict job performance, as well as the ones that don’t. Initially, you may not know for sure what these factors are. But listed below are the common ones that should, in most cases, be documented. Within this list, the ones that are normally found to be the most predictive are listed first.

  • The interview questions with the highest prediction value – Focus on documenting which questions were actually asked. Especially those covering skills, knowledge, or experience that are essential for successful performance in this job family. At the same time, it makes sense to document the use of any questions that have no impact, as eliminating them will save time and shorten time-to-fill. Finally, you should be dropping questions that, for no job-related reason, have a negative impact on the candidate’s interview score. Restricting interview questions exclusively to pre-approved ones for this job that accurately predict job performance is a best practice (Google does this).
  • Interview using employees that are accurate predictors of new-hire performance – Document the individuals who participated in the interviews for each candidate. Avoid allowing interviewers to participate that don’t accurately score the best candidates. In the, not unusual, cases where it’s the hiring manager that is an inaccurate predictor. Let them observe during the interview, but don’t allow them to participate in the scoring/choosing of the candidate.
  • Use videos to encourage everyone to adhere to the interview rules – It turns out that the mere fact that interviewers know that they are being videotaped will, by itself, keep most of the interviewers on the straight and narrow. If, later, there is any accusation of unfairness or discrimination, it can be proved or unproved by viewing the recording.
  • Require each interviewer to provide a numerical score – Statistical correlations are more predictive if everyone rates the candidate with a number. Require each interviewer to rate the candidate on a 1 to 100 scale. And make sure that those numbers for each interview for this candidate are recorded for each interviewer. Use these scores to determine how predictive this employee’s interview scores are.
  • Require each interviewer to use a scoring checklist – The best way to ensure that everything that is assessed during an interview is job-related is to require the use of a scorecard for each job family and limit questions to items covered on the scorecard. The scorecard should cover each of the job requirements. Its required use, combined with the total assigned numerical interview score will have one of the highest impacts on improving interviewing accuracy.
  • Use videos to document the provided answers – The best hiring teams provide each interviewer with a range of acceptable answers for each allowed question. Interview notes are normally sporadic, often unreadable, and are often kept only by the interviewer. Videotaping all remote and in-person interviews is a good way to ensure that you know which questions were asked. And for each question, the answer each candidate provides for each question. It’s also important to note that with the widespread use of video in everyone’s life. It is no longer accurate to assert that candidates change their behavior when they know that they are being video recorded. Video-recorded interviews can also be re-watched in order to verify individuals’ initial assessment. And as an added benefit, they can be watched at a later time by those team members that could not be present during the live interview.
  • Document candidate experience feedback – A good candidate experience is an important part of your external employer brand. Document both positive and negative comments that any candidate relays to any interviewer and use them to improve the overall interview process.
  • Documenting each interviewer’s accuracy will increase employee participation in interviews – You will likely get many more employees to volunteer for interview duty if they know in advance (from your documentation) that they are among the few accurate assessors. And therefore, their frequent participation in interviewing will really make a positive difference in building a strong team.
  • Document elements that can be used for interviewer training – One of the best predictors of accurate interview scores is whether the interviewer has recently gone through interview training. And when you also video record all of your interviews. You can splice out examples of the best and worst practices for use during interview training. And if this training is required, it may be able to significantly contribute to the improvement of the accuracy of overall interview scores.

Part B – Measuring The Performance Of Each New-Hire – The Final Step For Continuous Improvement

Let’s begin with the primary purpose of interviews, which is to use a two-way verbal conversation between each candidate and the hiring team to accurately predict which specific candidate will be the highest performer when they are on the job. And maintaining a process that has a strong predictive value requires continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement hinges on having at least one consistent measure of new-hire performance. This measure of new-hire performance will be the foundation number used to determine which interview factors correlate with it. Some of the easiest-to-use new-hire performance measurement approaches you should consider are listed below. With the easiest performance measures appearing first. 

  1. Would you re-hire them – Would the hiring manager in a survey unhesitatingly hire them again after they worked six months on this job? Or would they want to see other candidates first? Instant rehires would be classified as above-average performers.
  2. The manager’s subjective performance rating – You simply survey each hiring manager and ask them to determine if they would rate the new hire as above, average, or below on their job performance. Then the analyst would look for interview factors that correlated with an above-average rating.
  3. Their performance appraisal ranking – When the new hire is given their first performance appraisal by their manager. How does it score compared to the performance appraisal number assigned to other new hires in this job?
  4. The ranking of the new-hire’s output – In cases where the performance of every employee in the new-hire’s job is already numerically measured. When you compare their output to other recent hires, does the new-hire’s average output number over six months rank them in the above, average, or below-average performance category?

After an acceptable and easy-to-use measure of new-hire on-the-job performance is agreed upon. Data analysts can use simple statistical correlations (or machine learning algorithms, etc.) to determine, over time, which interview factors (e.g., questions/answers, interviews) accurately predict top performers and which have no, or negative, predictive value.

Want more details? If you’re interested in learning more details about interview hiring flaws. You can find a list of the top 50 most common interview problems by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

In my research, I have found interviews rank second only to employee performance appraisals as the most commonly used, but thoroughly flawed HR assessment tool. By improving documentation and assessment processes, companies can enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of their hiring interviews.

Author’s Note

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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