“Interviews are a waste of time” ??

At the end of last year I attended one of Bill Boorman‘s recruitment unconferences.   The basic concept is an open  and unstructured forum where recruiters can discuss and debate topics. The very  nature of the set-up attracts some interesting characters including a gentleman called Kevin Wheeler who offered a controversial idea that interviewing candidates is a complete waste of time.
My initial reaction was what a load of tosh. Interviewing is at the very heart of what we recruiters do.  If you don’t interview a candidate, how can you tell if they are right for the job ? What about the right culture fit? What about the candidate’s motivation?
He  went on explain that the results of an interview is worthless in  comparison to other recruitment techniques such as profiling, skills testing, psych testing, referencing etc. In his opinion most people who interview don’t do it very well and it allows for personal judgement and opinion to get in the way of more measurable, reliable, consistent  and less subjective results. At best, an interview adds no value to the selection process and at worse it leads to the wrong result. He painted a picture of the not too distant future whereby companies would map the background of their most successful employees which would form the basis of a software program into which a candidate’s information could be entered. The individual would be  scored against some pre-determined criteria and along with testing and referencing this would be enough to make a hiring decision. No interview– just see them on day 1.
He made some valid points.  If you have ever had the perfect candidate rejected because the hiring manager ‘just wasn’t sure about something’ in the interview, then the idea of getting rid of this subjectivity sounds great. It would certainly be a lot easier to punch a bunch of information into a programme and let it churn out the best candidate whist I made a cup of tea. It would also be a much cheaper way to hire. By the end of the discussion Mr Wheeler seemed to have convinced most people in the room, all experienced recruiters, that interviewing was pointless.
On the other hand I was far from convinced. If the interview is done by an experienced professional who knows what they are looking for, has the ability to ask the right questions, and get beyond the fluffy stuff they will come away with justified reasons as to why an individual either is or isn’t suitable. It will likely tell you much more than any test will. A good interview also serves to personally engage with the candidates and build some rapport.  I wouldn’t accept a job having not met, or at least spoken to my manager and seen the environment. Without the opportunity to engage the candidate in this manner, they may not be convinced your company is where they want to work. All the test results and algorithms in the world won’t change that.
It was to my surprise that Mr Wheeler convinced nearly everyone in the discussion that interviewing is a waste of time. What do you think? Would you be happy to employ someone having not met or spoken to them ? Does the human element just get in the way of logic and scientific reasoning ?
Luke Collard


One thought on ““Interviews are a waste of time” ??

  1. Terry on Reply

    Interesting article. I agree with the writer, nothing can replace a meeting between humans, because that is what we’re dealing with. Humans are more than a collection of data, algorithms and profile scores. The interview gives the candidate the opportunity to assess the organisation as well as vice versa.

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