There is much evidence (e.g. here and here) that interviews are a poor way of assessing a candidate’s abilities to do the job required. We tend to appoint the candidate who is best at selling themselves at interview, rather than the best person for the job. Not all candidates are good at selling themselves (for example, people on the autism spectrum, or people with learning difficulties).
There is also a risk of conscious or unconscious bias coming into play at interviews. The interviewer may have prejudices against certain groups of people, for example women, gay people or older people, which they may or may not be aware of.
The other disadvantage with interviews or assessment centres, is that it requires the candidate to travel to a specific location.
Thankfully there are alternative, and much more effective, methods available to you.
It may be more accurate to test candidates on relevant tasks that they would be expected to perform in the role. So, for example, an autistic candidate may find it difficult to articulate their expertise in coding, but could demonstrate their abilities with a test accompanied with clear and explicit instructions. A person with learning difficulties may be able to show you how they meet and greet people in a hospitality environment more easily than describe their skills to you.
This is particularly useful for people with learning difficulties, but can also be effective for other candidates. It also gives you a much more accurate picture of their abilities, potential, enthusiasm, personality and capabilities in the environment they would be working in.
Observing candidates carrying out tasks at their current place of work or educational establishment can be useful if their current work is similar to the post they are applying for.
Supported internships and training schemes
These are described in more detail in our best practice portal, but having a person work with you and be trained in your place of work with the support they require means that at the end of the programme you have a very clear and reliable idea of whether their skills match the role.
These have the benefit that they can be carried out in the candidate’s home, saving on travelling issues, and in an environment where the candidate feels more confident and hopefully has assistive technology as required.
Whilst psychometric tests have their limitations, there are new online games that can be used to measure a candidate’s behaviours. A good example of these can be found at Ipsemet, enabling candidates to “play” a game which involves making decisions and demonstrating how they react under different conditions.
There is not a “one size fits all” and not all of these methods will suit every candidate or every role, but it is useful to remember that there are alternatives to the traditional interview which can often be a more reliable predictor of future performance.
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