Science Says This Interview Tactic Will Make Sure You Hire the Right Candidate


You do not hire for the sake of hiring. It is a risky business because so much of the company’s resources are at stake when it comes to bringing in new people to the workplace. Bad hires can only cost companies money but also their productivity, reputation, and company members’ morale.


Because of this, companies do various interviewing techniques to make sure that they hire the right people. But even with these techniques, people still get hired even though they’re a bad fit for the job description and the values and culture of the company.


So the question now is: How can companies make sure that they hire the right people? Science, finally, has the answer to the million dollar HR question:


Never let a single interviewer check the candidates. Why? Here’s how they got to this conclusion.


Group reviewers’ success.

A study made by the Behavioural Insights Team, a British company that aims to apply behavioral science to social problems, determined whether a group of interviewers can select the best candidate to hire. They asked 398 reviewers, sourced through Mechanical Turk, to rate interview responses to questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you used your initiative to resolve a difficult situation?”. They gave the reviewers with some guidelines on what constitutes a good answer.

Their first finding was that a huge plethora of reviewers can almost always choose the best person for the job. However, companies will not subject the candidates to hundreds of interviewers. So what is a more doable number of interviews?


Finding the right number of people.

Kate Glazebrook, the principal advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team, wrote that they ‘ran statistical simulations to estimate the probability that a given group could correctly select the best candidate.’ The team created 1,000 combinations of reviewers in teams of different sizes, ranging from one to seven people. Then, they combined the estimates by the size of the group and averaged the chances of selecting the right candidate.


Surprising findings.

What they found out about this experiment is that in ‘easy’ cases (where there’s a significant gap in quality between the best and the second best responses), there’s a 16 percent chance that a sole interviewer will select the wrong person. However, with three interviewers, the percentage will fall to 6 percent. By five interviewers, they will almost make no mistake (1%).

In ‘hard’ cases (where the candidates are quite similar), just one interviewer made the right choice half of the time (49%), while three interviewers made the right choice 72 percent of the time.


What does it all boil down to?

To conclude all this, Behavioural Insights Team recommends getting at least three interviewers to check the candidates. “This can significantly improve the odds of making the best hire,” wrote Glazebrook.

Now, always note that not all hiring process is perfect in itself. However, there are still good techniques – like this science-backed interview style – available on the net that you can use to better your hiring process.

Likewise, when it comes to people management, studying better ways to understand and connect with your fellow employees is the key to an efficient and successful production. It would also not hurt anyone to consult a trusted company about unfamiliar or difficult situations.


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