Whether you’re applying for scholarships, internships, grad school, summer work or the first job in your career, you’ll probably have to go to an interview. You’ll get dressed up, put on a “business” face, mind your manners, and hope to God they don’t see you sweat.
The interview is an investment for both parties, but is it worth it?
It’s important to note that both sides of the interview process wonder whether or not the interview is worth their effort. Forbes published an article on it’s website entitled, “Stop Being Deceived by Interviews When You’re Hiring,” aimed at employers, and The New York Times recently published a similar article written by Yale University Management professor Jason Dana that is geared toward job seekers.
Both articles have similar messages: the interview can be counter-productive. It can cause employers to hire a less-qualified, less-capable employee. And this makes sense.
Interviewers don’t always ask every candidate the same questions. So different candidates could have very different interviews, but the employer uses these mismatched data sets to compare.
Moreover, the interview can negate the employer’s thoughts on your other qualifications, causing them to incorrectly predict how you will perform on the job. The Times article states, “the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance: They can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.”
My Intro to Marketing professor stressed to us the importance of self-marketing, and a job interview is an exercise in this. But unless the actual job involves marketing, the standard, getting-to-know-you interview isn’t really a good way to measure your abilities.
The candidate’s physical features could also influence employers. Your looks could even prevent you from being invited to an interview. According to Business Insider, an Italian study found that attractive women had a 54 percent callback rate and attractive men had a 47 percent callback rate. This is compared to an average callback rate of 30 percent.
The Business Insider article stated that attractiveness can prevent some people from landing an interview, and also before it was popular to send a photo with your application (or before the age of LinkedIn), attractiveness was a factor during the interview itself.
And employers were not always biased in favor of attractive candidates. In some scenarios, being attractive could harm a candidate’s chances.
So what can be done to improve the job hunt (or employee hunt) for both sides of the table?
It seems that data might be the answer. The Forbes article recommends a standard intelligence test, but implementing such a test seems like it could be more beneficial for testing companies than for employers. And with a continuing debate on the efficacy of standardized tests, maybe we shouldn’t be developing more of them.
The Times article recommends that employers ditch unstructured interviews, which often ask chatty, personal questions. Instead, they should use the interview time to test relevant job skills. However, on a large scale, it seems like this solution could evolve to look more like a standardized test over time.
With the current scenario causing frustration for everyone, hopefully a workable solution will be found that ensures the most capable candidate who desires the job gets it, without his or her physical appearance influencing the employer’s decision.