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Me? Biased? Why Assessments Trump Interviews for Making Better Hiring Decisions

September 29, 2015

Wow.  I saw two articles on hiring a few days ago and thought nobody would really take them seriously.  One offered four “disarming questions” and the other suggested “there are only three questions that really matter” to make a good hiring decision.
While it is nice to have interview questions to break the ice, the fact is that even the best and most well-trained interviewers are biased and cannot help themselves.  Many said that you make your decisions on hiring if you “like” them, but do you really know what your brain is doing when you come up with that feeling of liking?  I would suggest everyone reading this article to this take time to look at the work coming out by David Rock on Breaking Bias.  We have over 30 different bias problems and mind quirks that we cannot help.   Better yet read the book Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People and you will realize that without objective assessment to back up what you think you feel in an interview, you are kidding yourself.  Without objective assessment to really target your interviews, you are not really uncovering the truth of what you need to know about the individual.  Predicting success off of three questions and an even an hour of interviewing is not only ill-advised, but I would not want to stake my job on it.

shutterstock_259832516-blogThis article is simple … it sounds good … it seems to make sense on the surface.  Our brains like simple, because deep thinking takes work, but this article lacks the substance needed to make good hiring decisions. It lacks research to support the use of these questions.  Just because something is easy, doesn’t make it right.  Just because it is the way things have been done, doesn’t mean that it is the way things should always be done.  Take the old experiment with five monkeys in a room that learn if they try for the bananas hanging over a ladder, they will get hosed.  As the monkeys are replaced one by one, each one is attacked when they try for the bananas, they know nothing about being hosed, but eventually a room with all new monkeys will continue to follow the old rules, even though they are out of date.

If it is directed at those interviewing, they should be asking, why are they only asking these types of questions, and what questions should I be asking them?  Getting a job should be a two way street.  It is important to know yourself well enough that you know your ideal work environment and you should be asking the questions to make sure that the environment you need exists in the company you are interviewing for.  Read up on your Blindspots, it will change the way you go about making judgments and do business!

I have been using assessments in coaching and staffing for the past 12 years and they have helped me with personal growth and made me a better coach.  They have helped my clients to understand themselves better and how to improve their performance.  More importantly, they have helped all of the companies that are looking for a new executive team member to understand their own strengths and limits first, before seeking the new member, so that they know exactly what they need and they know the types of questions to ask to ensure a better fit.  The assessments add the objectivity to the staffing and interviewing process so that both parties know exactly what to expect, they improve the onboarding process, as well as the deeper understanding allows for targeted training and coaching that can bring a new person up to speed faster.

This blog post was written by Michael Bouton and originally appeared here.