Junk the interview for a talent trial

Talent trials allow a candidate to show what they can truly do. (rawpixel.com)

First of all, companies interview the wrong people. The laws of physics prevent them from interviewing every applicant.

So recruiters invented screening, a process by which they arbitrarily eliminate people without having the faintest clue whether they can do the job.

If there are only two applicants for a role, it’s easy to interview them. But if there are 200, you preferably only want to meet five, or ten at most. So you guess your way to a shortlist by finding reasons to rule people out.

Alarmingly, screening is a process that favours the privileged and candidates from fortunate backgrounds, especially those who attended “the best schools”.

Men also find it easier to get interviews. Women of colour from lower income backgrounds have the hardest time.

Meanwhile, the many capable and passionate candidates who don’t always look good on paper miss out. These “hidden gems” end up struggling to get a foot in the door.

Interviews don’t predict performance

Richard Nisbett, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, says interviews are totally useless:

“When it comes to choosing a candidate, traditional interviews are as much use as flipping a coin.”

You’re asking to be lied to because candidates tell you what you want to hear. The good ones even know what you’re going to ask because you ask the same silly questions every time.

Questions like “tell me about a time when”, “what are your weaknesses?” and “tell me about your biggest failure in your last job” are all nonsense.

Do you really expect this process to help you understand how someone will perform?

Do you really think you can truly understand what someone is like in a work environment by asking silly questions? How they’ll perform under pressure? How they’ll treat their team, or build relationships?

Interviews do not predict performance. Jason Dana, assistant professor of management and marketing, Yale School of Management, writes that most people choose to believe this myth even when they know they are being lied to.

“People’s confidence in their ability to glean valuable information from a face to face conversation is very high.

They feel that way even if they know they are not being dealt with honestly. But they are wrong.”

Job candidates are eager to show their capabilities to potential employers. (rawpixel.com)

Candidates want to showcase their talent

The objective of every applicant is to get an interview. But that doesn’t mean for one second that candidates actually want to be interviewed.

What candidates really want is an opportunity to showcase their talent. Instead, they know they have to play the game.

This game requires them to window dress their résumé in the hope of making the cut, and then sit through mind-numbing interviews that still don’t give them a chance to show their prowess.

How can a graphic designer bring her best game to an interview? Or a sales rep? How can a software developer? These are complex crafts that need to be shown, not told. No amount of chit chat will do the job.

Like elite athletes on the field, candidates want to let their work do the talking.

Why talent trials are better for both employer and candidate

If you care about who can actually do the job, then you need to build a hiring process around people’s actual, real-time performance, not their claimed performance.

You need to put people in the situations they are likely to face on the job and give them an opportunity to show what they can do. It’s that simple.

And here’s the real kicker. You need to do that with everyone, not just the privileged few who pass screening.

The most innovative companies have already realised that interviews suck and replaced them with job auditions.

Samantha McLaren describes job auditions perfectly:

“They help companies understand how candidates will actually perform in the role and help them measure candidates’ skills and traits in scenarios relevant to the job they’ll be doing.”

Talent trials take that to the next level

Talent trials are online job auditions that give candidates an opportunity to showcase their talent.

They’re just like job trials where a preferred candidate is asked to spend a few days working with a prospective employer.

Talent trials can be done at scale for hundreds, or even thousands of candidates simultaneously and under the same conditions.

By making the showcase of skills and attitude the focus of the hiring process, you can start predicting who will do a great job.

Candidates can stop trying to pad résumés and ace interviews to show who they really are and, more importantly, what they bring to the table.

This article first appeared in Vervoe.com.

At Vervoe, our mission is to fundamentally transform the hiring process from mediocracy to meritocracy.