Interviewing Myth #10: One or 1 1/2 Hour Interviews Are Enough

Topgraders, you know this, but for everyone else… today (any day) probably millions of hiring interviews will take place and most will last one hour and almost all the rest will last 90 minutes. Most of those interviews will be so-called Behavioral or Competency (B/C) interviews. And 75% of the hires will be less than high performers. Is 25% high performers good enough? Not to CEOs.

Only a chronological interview covering education and 10 basic questions about every full-time job can reveal everything you need to know to hire a high performer. And chronological interviews take 3 hours for a sales rep candidate, 4 hours for a managerial candidate, and 5 hours for an executive candidate. Is taking that much time for interviews “worth it?”

B/C interviews typically have the interviewer focusing on just one competency out of the typical 5 – 8 competencies companies consider essential: Integrity, Leadership, Culture Fit, Drive to Succeed, Team Player, etc. Candidates are asked the same questions, including examples of their success exhibiting that competency. Many include hypothetical questions such as “What would you do if your manager asked you to do something unethical?” Trouble is:

  1. Even 8 competencies are not enough, except for clerical jobs. Topgraders learn about 50 competencies for management jobs. For 40+ years managers in Topgrading Workshops initially complain, “50 competencies – that’s too many for me to keep track of!” Asked to remove any competencies that are not absolutely necessary, they don’t want to remove even one! Later in the workshop, they do an interview and confidently rate all 50 competencies.
  2. B/C interviews lack context, so it’s impossible to accurately rate the candidate. It’s like the story of blind people touching an elephant – one feels a tusk, another a trunk, etc. You as the interviewer really can’t have a good understanding of the circumstances, so the “examples” are hard to judge.
  3. B/C questions are super easy to fake. Forty percent of candidates have hype in their resumes and continue their untruths in interviews. Candidates know reference calls will be so lame that they can get away with hyping successes and hiding mistakes and weaker points.
  4. Companies struggle to put the B/C interviews together and make sense. All the interviewers submit reports and at the end of a day of B/C interviews the interviewers get together with the hiring manager and they get frustrated! What the candidate said about her leadership skills conflict with what she said about being a team player, for example.
  5. Reference checks rarely include candidates’ managers, so there is no way to verify much of what candidates said in interviews.
  6. A Georgia State Ph.D. dissertation shows two-thirds of companies using chronological interviews stopped using B/C interviews except for Culture Fit interviews. Why? Because B/C interviews did not produce accurate ratings of the competencies.

The results for B/C Interviews: 75%+ bad hires. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies and not one using just B/C interviews has shown better than 30% high performers hired. I met for a day with just the heads of HR for just the largest 100 companies in the world. The average success hiring high performers was only 20% and almost all (except the Topgraders) used B/C interviews. The 14 Topgraders got 80% high performers hired.

See the average improvement across dozens of companies from 26% high performers to 85%.

Why the chronological interview is more revealing:

  • It can accurately reveal dozens of competencies.
  • The context is revealed, since you learn about all the jobs and you see how the acorn evolved into the oak tree. If a candidate is explaining a leadership success, you already know a lot about the company, the job, the accountabilites, what the candidate liked and disliked, how the boss would rate overall performance… so lots of competencies can be rated for every job.
  • There is no confusion at the end of a chronological interview as there is with B/C interviews. In a chronological interview, if you are confused at all, you ask follow up questions until you can rate all the competencies involved in the topic – a success or mistake, etc.
  • Research shows dramatically higher percentage of high performers hired.

Why is the Topgrading Interview the best chronological interview? Only the Topgrading interview solves two of the biggest problems hiring — candidate dishonesty and lame reference checks. Candidates are told a final step in hiring is for them to arrange calls with managers, and those calls are made. Candidates of course tell you the whole truth, knowing that they will arrange calls with their bosses and when you conduct those reference calls it’s the best possible verification.

Conclusion: The chronological interview is more revealing than B/C interviews and the Topgrading Interview is the most revealing because it’s the most thorough, honest, and verifiable.


More Interviewing Myths Debunked:

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