Friday, August 14, 2009

Interviews vs. Work Samples

OK, I thought I was pretty radical, but Dan & Chip Heath, authors of the "Made to Stick" column in Fast Company magazine and the book of the same name have exceeded me in dissing interviews in their article: "Hold the Interview: Why it may be wiser to hire people without meeting them."

Their citation of a study at the University of Texas Medical School is compelling, and parallels the findings at the University of Michigan Law School sited by Malcolm Gladwell in his video (see link with discussion here). I love the following quote:
With so little proof that interviews work, why do we rely on them so much? Because we all think we're good at it. We are Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace, taking the measure of the person. Psychologist Richard Nisbett calls this the "interview illusion"--our certainty that we're learning more in an interview than we really are.
The brothers Heath then go on to laud the merits of work samples, which are more valid predictors of job success.

We can do a better job of interviewing through the use of performance-based interviewing techniques. But the Heath article strikes an appropriate cautionary note: We would be wise to place less weight in the examining process on even the best of interviews.

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