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Why the Job Interview is the Worst Selection Tool

Editorial Team
26/08/2019 9:13 AM

The job interview seems to be the
most popular selection tool in Zimbabwe. However, most people who love this
selection method are not aware that the interview is an unreliable selection
method. Research has consistently shown that unstructured interviews are the
most unreliable selection method.

Research shows that the interview
methods on average only explains 8% of the variation in performance. This means
that if you hire 100 people using an interview there is a chance you will find
only 8 of these people being good performers despite your interview results
have confirmed all the 100 candidates as performers.  Given the low reliability and validity of the
interview, most people still prefer it when hiring.  The question is; why is the interview method
so popular despite the documented shortcomings?

The reason why the interview
method is generally popular is that it is easy for managers to manipulate the
process and the results to suit a certain outcome. If you have attended
interviews as interviewee, sometimes the candidate who eventually gets the job
shocks you. Untrained raters are easily influenced to favor a certain candidate
.Interviewers can typically over inflate ratings for certain candidates even if
there is no evidence of competency. Interviewers are rarely asked to justify
their ratings with evidence. We have heard of scandals locally related to how
organisations end up hiring incompetent people due to a number of factors.

Most of the interviews you see on
the market are unstructured. This means they are unstandardized; meaning the
questions being asked may not be core to the job. This can also mean that the
answers expected from each question are not agreed in advance. Interviewers due
to the unstructured nature of the questioning and responses can rate candidates
based on their own preference instead of the requirements of the job.

Some of the factors that tend to
make the interview unreliable and less valid as a selection tool are; interviewers
tend to ask questions that are not related to the job. The interview process is
affected  by biases.  Some of the common useless interview
questions  often asked are: How old are
you? Are you married? What is your religion? There many more demographic related
questions that are asked but have no relationship to performance in the target

In some instances, you find that
interviewers are biased. For example, research shows that smartly dressed
candidates tend to be rated higher in interviews even if they do not have the
competencies for the job. Overconfident candidates also tend to get higher
ratings in interviews even in cases where they do not have the necessary
competencies for the job. Others factors often smuggled as a criterion in an
interview are race, tribe, religion, gender even though research has
consistently shown that these factors have zero relationships with performance
on the job.

The biggest driver for people to
prefer the interview method over other more reliable methods is that it is easy
to manipulate the process. The process structure of most interviews in this
country is flawed. It allows managers to hire relatives, political colleagues,
and many other incompetent individuals. Most people who prefer this method over
known effective methods{supported by a wealth of scientific evidence} such as
psychometric tests are not interested in the success of the organisations but
are more interested in furthering their own interests ahead of the organisation’s
interest.  This is the tragedy of the
modern-day Zimbabwe organisations.

The wrong usage of interviews is
compounded by the fact that most organisations do the selection process in
reverse order hence the poor quality of candidates they end up hiring. Once
candidates have been shortlisted for interviews {through meeting minimum
education and experience} the next stage is for them to go through psychometric
tests.  However, because other managers
may have hidden agendas they start with interviews immediately after
shortlisting. This is a sure way to get the wrong candidates.

For those who love the interview
method use it only after the candidates have passed through psychometric tests.
With that approach, you ensure that you only interview candidates with the
right cognitive ability for the job.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com  or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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