Why job interviews don’t work

Posted on November 6, 2013

My colleague, Tim Wilson, has long advocated that the psychology department at the University of Virginia stop interviewing potential graduate students or job applicants.

We conduct unstructured interviews, as most departments do, meaning the candidate meets with an individual for 20 or 30 minutes and chats.

You do end feeling as though you have a richer impression of the person than that gleaned from the stark facts on a resume. But there’s no evidence that interviews prompt better decisions.

A new study gives us some understanding of why.

The information on a resume is limited but mostly valuable: it reliably predicts future job performance. The information in an interview is abundant–too abundant actually. Some of it will have to be ignored. So the question is whether people ignore irrelevant information and pick out the useful. The hypothesis that they don’t is called dilution. The useful information is diluted by noise.

Dana and colleagues also examined a second possible mechanism. Given people’s general propensity for sense-making, they thought that interviewers might have a tendency to try to weave all information into a coherent story, rather than to discard what was quirky or incoherent.


Source material from Washington Post


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