I have some research to share with you: This method is not a good predictor of job performance.
Read Pfeffer and Sutton’s “Hard Facts, Dangerous Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management” for the details. It may have been published in 2006, but that just makes our current practices even more embarrassing. They provide data that suggest picking one of your top resumes at random is approximately just as likely to predict job performance than your interview process. Just think of the time you’d save!
So what should we do instead?
How about watching a recruit at work? I know an association that was hiring for a customer service position in the membership department. As part of the “interview” process, they brought candidates in for most of a day, giving them a 3-hour briefing on the association and the membership before putting them on the phone for a period of time, answering real calls from real members. The one they hired really stood out. At one point, she got a question she couldn’t answer (not surprisingly, as she’d been “working” there for all of 3 hours), so she politely put the member on hold and just stood up and said “Who has the answer to this question?” Someone raised their hand and she went over, got the answer and then gave the answer to the member. When she was done, she went on the association’s intranet/messaging platform and posted the answer in case anyone else got a similar question. That’s awesome, and I don’t think that would have come out in an interview.
One of the case studies in my book starts with a group interview where candidates complete tasks. In the next round, the potential employees go to work for $10/hour for a day in the office. Getting past that stage only earns you a 3-month contract before you’re hired full-time.
I’m not saying these are the only ways to do it, but let’s start experimenting with some new processes. Let’s get more data into the equation and put culture front and center as a criterion. We don’t have to be perfect in our hiring process, but we can’t keep doing it the way we’ve always done it.