Why a bad interview could be costly

Reckon you're a crack interviewer? Consultancy DDI says you may be not be as good as you think...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Over-confident job interviewers may be getting their employers in hot water, according to new research by DDI. The leadership consultancy discovered that most of us think we’re great at interviewing, yet more than half wouldn’t even recognise an illegal question when we see one. DDI also claims that interviewers don’t spend enough time thinking about the candidate’s performance before making a decision, suggesting that we’re too quick to fall back on gut instinct – which doesn’t tend to stand up too well in court when you’re facing a discrimination charge…

DDI’s research, which was carried out on a global basis, found that interviewers are under no illusions about the importance of interviews. However, the consultancy reckons there’s a mismatch between their confidence in their own skills, and the harsh reality. 73% graded their technique as A or B, while 87% said the same about their hiring decisions. Yet 54% weren’t able to identify banned questions (like ‘so are you thinking of having a baby soon?’), 64% were worried that they wouldn’t notice inherent weaknesses and nearly half were concerned about not having enough information to make a decision.

Now you could argue that it’s possible to be an exceptional interviewer and still worry about these last two points (indeed, it might even be rather arrogant of you not to). Equally, it seems that many companies don’t share DDI’s outrage that 47% of interviewers spend less than 30 minutes considering candidates before making a decision. Of course it depends what the job is – hiring someone to hold up a sign on the high street probably requires less deliberation than hiring your new CEO. But it’s true that hasty decisions can be a dangerous business, not least because interviewers may fall back on gut instinct – which will sometimes contain inadvertent prejudice or bias. Not only could this produce an unfair decision, it could also result in a nasty lawsuit from one of the jilted candidates. 

Of course, in the current climate, the last thing your company wants to be doing is spending time dealing with bad hires or the consequences of bad (even illegal) decisions. So it’s probably a good time to take extra care in your interviewing and subsequent deliberations. Then again, we’re not as bad as some: about 56% of US interviewers said they relied on gut instinct to make hiring decisions. Not very clever in the world’s most litigious country...


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