How are you hiring? You may be doing it wrong.


There was an interesting article in the New York Times called, “The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews.” The article described research showing that “unstructured interviews” are of no predictive value in making good hires and may sometimes actually be counterproductive. The article goes on to say that, even when presented with this information, people still believe that their intuition is superior.

I have two thoughts on this research:

First, a great friend and colleague, Tamsen Wassell, has been saying this for years: the best an unstructured interview can produce is about a 45 percent rate of hiring good people, which is not good.

Wassell persuasively argues that using analytic methodologies, particularly a “profiler” to define the requirements for success in a job and how well a candidate aligns with these requirements can move the hiring number up to over 75 percent. Wassell will be thrilled at the validation of her work.

Second, we are often asked if our approach can be used in interviews, by putting more “structure” in the “unstructured.” Our approach is based on reverse engineering expertise.

Here’s how it works:

We put the star performer’s purpose statement in front of candidates and watch for their reaction. We are looking to see if the purpose creates a sense of resonance. If people share the underlying values, they get excited and say, “I really like this way of thinking.” Those are the people who will be more likely to be a good fit for the job.

If people don’t share the value, they give the interviewer a look of “what is this about?” This means they don’t understand or share the core compelling purpose and therefore aren’t a good fit.

Next, we put the star performer’s Path to Mastery in front of the candidates, describing it as their ramp-up program and we look for similar responses. If the performers get excited, great. If not, pass.

From a pure science perspective, what Wassell is doing is much better, but people still want to interview.

I think an optimum approach is to combine the two approaches. Use Wassell’s profiler prior to the interview along with our approach, almost more as validation, during the interview.

How are you hiring?

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