Are Job Interviews A Waste of Time?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

If you are meeting with too many people or you are hiring people only to find out that they are not the right fit, your time is better spent doing something else.

So are job interviews a waste of time?* Sometimes...

We have a few proven tips to help ensure that your next experience interviewing yields the right results.  

Don’t oversell the job.

As a business owner I have been guilty of this. It’s easy to be overly enthusiastic that someone is interested in working for you that you spend the entire interview selling the job to the candidate. You cannot hide your enthusiasm! The candidate gets caught up as well and no real questions are asked. You are just so happy someone wants to work for you. Let them talk. And talk and talk. You will get more information out of a candidate if you ask a question and just wait for the true answer to be revealed.

Don't stick too closely to their resume.

Another common mistake is only going over what is on the candidate's resume. Anyone can read it, so going over it all again is just more time wasted. Basing the conversation on what is only on the resume simply completes a checklist. Nothing else. Use it as a guide or better yet, come up with some questions based on the resume. “I see that you have experience in project management, describe to me a typical project or how you like to work.” “You were at Company X for 10 years, how did you keep challenging yourself.” “You were at Company Y for only a year. How did it not meet your expectations?”

Do ask questions that uncover cultural fit.

It's easy to stick to the typical, tried-and-true, questions that may or may not have any relevance to what it is that you need. Really think about the answer that you are looking for when asking those questions. Also, beware of getting too personal so as not to violate any employment laws. People tend to just look at work history vs. potential and cultural fit. Skills can be taught. Personality and culture cannot.

What you can do to make the most of your time is to have the best candidates do assessments regarding their behavior and fit with the company. A few examples of those a DiSC assessments, Berkman, or keep it simple with StrengthFinders. The results you be that you learn a little more about how they will function within your team. You see how they really are and how they might be a fit. The candidate may also learn something about themselves.

Do spend time on their values and how they will align with your company. 

Finally, set up some questions around the values of your company. You want to know how they would solve a problem? Give them a scenario they would experience in their role. Ask how they feel about timeliness. Are they a morning person? How do they keep themselves accountable? Go deeper and ask specifically what their values are, or their work ethic. Are they saying anything close to what you believe in? Why do they want to work for you? Money? Or do they match your purpose? People want more then a job, they want a purpose, they want a reason to stay. Make sure that is a match. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep them with you and with the costs involved in hiring and firing, it is not a good investment.

Interviews do not have to be a waste of time if you are very selective with who you meet. They can actually be time well spent if that time is used to really get to know your next employee.

*This is a rebuttal piece to a recent Bloomberg article titled Job Interviews Are Useless.