Candidates and recruiters would both agree that job interviews are not an easy thing. Candidates want to make a positive and competent impression, while getting to know your company and people. Interviewers need to get an idea of whether the candidates are suitable for the position, while assessing their fit with the company.
Interviewers, however, have a very special task to fulfill … or should we say: they have several very special tasks to fulfill. They are not only the interviewer, but the evaluator and the representative of the company all in one person.
So how can you as a recruiter best meet these challenges? We have selected three pitfalls and provide possible solutions.
Challenge 1: Ensuring warm conversation and social interaction
Anyone who has ever conducted an interview, given training or has done a business talk at a trade fair, knows that this can be quite exhausting. Why? Because social interactions require attention, awareness and self-control. These are not infinite mental resources, but rather, very finite resources.
The exhaustion resulting from this is called ego depletion by social psychologists (Baumeister et al. , 1998). This depletion will lead to a decrease in concentration and performance in solving or recognising more complex problems.
Tip: Try to install a pleasant conversation atmosphere. Start with asking icebreaker questions that make the candidate feel comfortable. Think of providing drinks and having a convenient room temperature, especially in summer. If there is too much discomfort, the attrition process (diminishing one’s strength) will be accelerated and the interview quality (and results) will be reduced quickly.
Challenge 2: Your short-term memory is limited
One should consider the distinction between short and long-term memories. The intellectual instances of processing short-term information is what psychologists call „working memory“, which, as we know today, is very limited in scope and in duration.
Unfortunately, the amount of information exchanged during an interview, which ultimately serves as a basis for decision-making, is much more than limited working memory can digest. Anyone who doubts this should go try to record in detail an interview that they recently conducted. Whoever succeeds here may also be capable of memorising an entire phonebook by heart. Whoever does not succeed with this, do not worry — welcome to the reality of limited human possibilities.
- Take notes: At least the most important key elements of an interview should be recorded in note form. This supports recollection and reconstruction after the interview, which are needed to make a conclusive decision.
- Use an interview guide: conducting an interview while taking notes is already challenging enough. In addition, further mental resources are necessary to memorise the questions you want to ask in the interview, then this makes the interview even more challenging, with results more doubtful, as well.
Challenge 3: Practice, practice, practice
Practice is still an overall premise to conducting job interviews that lead to valid selection decisions. Why? Because automatisms require less mental resources than things you do less regularly. For example, people who just got their driving license concentrate more on driving than on leading a conversation while driving. Experienced drivers, on the other hand, are much more inclined to talking as driving has become almost second-nature to them.
Thus, when it comes to job interviews, experienced interviewers have more mental capacity avalaible to focus on what is important in an interview. Accordingly, they weigh obtained information differently than novice interviewers. However, old habits are not so easy to shake off: If you have always evaluated candidate answers in the wrong way, then you will do so even after several hundred job interviews. Therefore, experienced interviewers, per se, are not always better in decision-making than their inexperienced peers.
Tip: Interview training with role-playing games are essential to make inexperienced interviewers ready for the job. They should conduct their first couple of interviews with experienced colleagues in order to avoid misevaluation.
What about video or telephone interviews?
When conducting telephone or video interviews, the cognitive and social requirements differ significantly.
However, if you use pre-recorded video interviewing, the decision quality increases significantly through different evaluators arriving at the same conclusions about a candidate’s suitability, because the structured format of pre-recorded video interviews allows them to concentrate solely on evaluation. They are, therefore, able to focus their resources on one single aspect at a time (candidate evaluation).
Would you like to know more about how pre-recorded, automated video interviews can help you make better hiring decisions? We’d be happy to tell you more in a personal demo presentation.