Hiring People Based On Interviews Is Stupid And Counterproductive
When I've hired assistants, I've looked at writing (very important) and talked to them on the phone about a few things (like about how edited their writing was by another person).
When we talk, my main purpose is really to tell them what the job entails and to see whether that might be a problem for them. (For example, if you are a feminist and cling fervently to po-mo theory, you probably won't be happy working for me.)
However, the main judgment that goes into giving an assistant the job is a test of their editing skills and how we work together.
I do the test in a day, for which I pay the person, and then there is a trial period, in which they can decide, "Whoa, you're nuts," and/or "This is too hard." And no hard feelings.
It turns out that the interview as a way to hire people is a pretty counterproductive way to go about it. Personality psychologist Jason Dana writes in The New York Times:
People who study personnel psychology have long understood this. In 1979, for example, the Texas Legislature required the University of Texas Medical School at Houston to increase its incoming class size by 50 students late in the season. The additional 50 students that the school admitted had reached the interview phase of the application process but initially, following their interviews, were rejected. A team of researchers later found that these students did just as well as their other classmates in terms of attrition, academic performance, clinical performance (which involves rapport with patients and supervisors) and honors earned. The judgment of the interviewers, in other words, added nothing of relevance to the admissions process.
Research that my colleagues and I have conducted shows that the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance: They can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.
In one experiment, we had student subjects interview other students and then predict their grade point averages for the following semester. The prediction was to be based on the interview, the student's course schedule and his or her past G.P.A. (We explained that past G.P.A. was historically the best predictor of future grades at their school.) In addition to predicting the G.P.A. of the interviewee, our subjects also predicted the performance of a student they did not meet, based only on that student's course schedule and past G.P.A.
In the end, our subjects' G.P.A. predictions were significantly more accurate for the students they did not meet. The interviews had been counterproductive.
Much more at the link.