Traditional job interviews don’t do the job, pun intended. Top companies are finding smarter ways to let candidates showcase their talent. Enter the age of Talent Trials.
First of all, we interview the wrong people
The laws of physics prevent us from interviewing every applicant. So instead, recruiters invented this thing called screening, an evil process by which we are supposed to 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 just interview them. But if there are 200, we probably only want to meet five, or ten at most. So we guess our way to a shortlist by finding reasons to rule people out.
Alarmingly, screening is a process that favors the privileged. Candidates from fortunate backgrounds, especially those who attended “the best schools”, and especially men, find it easier to get interviews. Women of colour from lower income backgrounds have the hardest time.
Meanwhile, the litany of awesome, capable, 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
According to Richard Nisbett, Professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, interviews are totally useless:
“When it comes to choosing a candidate, [traditional] interviews are as much use as flipping a coin.”
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We’re asking to be lied to because candidates just tell us what we want to hear. The good ones even know what we’re going to ask because we 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”. It’s nonsense.
Do we really expect this process to help us understand how someone will perform? Do we really think we can truly understand what someone is really like in a work environment by asking silly questions? How they’ll perform under pressure? How they’ll treat their team, or build relationships?
Apparently many of us fool ourselves into thinking we can still use interviews to predict performance. In a New York Times article, Jason Dana, Assistant Professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management, wrote that most people choose to believe this myth even when deep down they know they are being lied to.
“So great is people’s confidence in their ability to glean valuable information from a face to face conversation that they feel they can do so even if they know they are not being dealt with squarely. But they are wrong.”
It simply doesn’t work.
Candidates want to showcase their talent
Let’s bust a myth. The objective of every applicant is to get an interview. Why? Because that’s what comes next. But that doesn’t mean for one second that candidates actually want to be interviewed.
What candidates really want is an opportunity to show what they are great at. To showcase their talent.
Instead, candidates know they have to play the game. A game that 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 A 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.
Like elite athletes on the field, candidates want to let their work do the talking.
Why Talent Trials are better for both employers and candidates
If we care about merit – who can actually do the job – then we need to build a hiring process around people’s actual, real-time performance, not their claimed performance.
We 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. We need to do that with everyone, not just the privileged who pass screening.
The most innovative companies have already realized that interviews suck and replaced interviews with job auditions. In her LinkedIn article Job Auditions Are the Hot New Way to Assess Potential Hires, Samantha McLaren described 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.”
We’ve taken that to the next level and introduced Talent Trials.
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 come and spend a few days working with a prospective employer. Only they can be done at scale for hundreds, or even thousands, of candidates simultaneously and under the same conditions.
By making the showcasing of skills and attitude the focus of the hiring process, employers can start predicting, and stop guessing, who will do a great job. And candidates can stop trying to game résumés and interviews and show who they really are and, importantly what they bring to the table.