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It’s time to phase out unstructured job interviews once and for all

Hear us out – we’re not saying get rid of all interviews forever. But the unstructured interviews consisting of questions fired at an applicant for forty minutes need to be scrapped. Aside from the fact they’re messy, chaotic, and stressful (usually for everyone involved), they give a very narrow, or completely false, window into the person sat on the other side of the table.

People lie. A lot.

After not getting a job at a design firm that I had particularly wanted a while back, I lamented to my friend that it was probably due to the fact that my Adobe Creative skills weren’t as good as they should have been. “That’s why you lie,” she said. “Say you can then learn on the job.”

The thought of lying in an interview hadn’t really occurred to me. I always sort of assumed that if I had said I could do a particular thing when I couldn’t, and I tried to wing it, I’d eventually get caught out in some Peep Show-esque string of shenanigans. And that always seemed like it contained more variables than by just saying I couldn’t.

But just a quick Google search about lying in interviews brings up an array of articles aimed at job interviewers, with tips on how to catch someone lying in an interview, and tips for interviewees on how to successfully lie during interviews. Unless they’re sweating, wringing their hands, and their eyes are darting around like a Saturday morning cartoon villain, you probably won’t be able to tell. The entirety of an interview hinges on the hope that the person sat in front of you is being completely honest, but with an estimated 81% confirming they lie in job interviews, you start to wonder if the person sat across from you is telling the truth.

You’ve probably already made your mind up about them.

Job interviews are rigged in the sense that generally an employer will have already made up their mind about the candidate. Candidates can be judged, even subconsciously, for a variety of reasons, before the interview has even started. Candidates who are more attractive and have a deeper voice are generally preferred. Those who are thinner are also favoured, with those being on the heavier side judged for being “lazy”. When it comes to leadership roles, those that are taller have a higher chance of getting the position.

Those who are introverted, or are neurodiverse, also tend to struggle in job interviews, as employers generally look for those who are more extroverted, even if it really has very little to do with the position and does not have an impact on how well the person performs. As mentioned before, with interviews it’s highly likely you’re not getting the bigger picture.

SHOW NOT TELL.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is of course, nothing wrong with a thirty minute coffee and chat interview just to make sure there’s nothing completely wrong. But from there, it’s good to give them a task to complete. Are you hiring for a PR/communications role? Get them to write a press release based off some preliminary information. Tech job? Have them write out a bit of code. Is it a job that requires teamwork? Make candidates form a group to complete a task, and see if they play nicely with others.

Generally, getting applicants to showcase their work, however that may be, will yield stronger indications of whether they’re fit for the role rather than just speaking to them in a setting where they may very well not be at their best that day. And for those looking for jobs, send in examples of your work if you have it. Even if you haven’t been asked, send it in anyway, and it might stand you in good stead.

 

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