It’s becoming more common, especially with smaller businesses with a startup atmosphere, to have a casual interview where the conversation is allowed to go wherever. But while we’d all like for our job interviews to become a meeting of minds, inspiring and informative, research suggests your informal atmosphere may be shooting yourself in the foot.
In the New York Times, Jason Dana lists some of the studies showing not only the uselessness of these interviews, but how they can actually be detrimental to your hiring process.
In one experiment, we had student subjects interview other students and then predict their grade point averages for the following semester. The prediction was to be based on the interview, the student’s course schedule and his or her past G.P.A. (We explained that past G.P.A. was historically the best predictor of future grades at their school.)
In addition to predicting the G.P.A. of the interviewee, our subjects also predicted the performance of a student they did not meet, based only on that student’s course schedule and past G.P.A. In the end, our subjects’ G.P.A. predictions were significantly more accurate for the students they did not meet. The interviews had been counterproductive.
In the above example, some of the answers were actually random — and none of the interviewers noticed a difference.
Of course, there’s something to be said for making sure your applicant will fit into the company culture, which is something the research ignores. Just make sure you’re not just looking for a culture fit, but someone who’ll actively add to your culture. Sometimes a little discomfort can be good.
You can read the more in-depth research here: