I’ve known about Seth Godin for a long time now and don’t read his stuff nearly as much as I should. CNet mentioned a recent post on his blog that declares job interviews being a thing of the past. It’s well worth the read, and a few of the points stuck out to me.
I’ve been to thousands of job interviews (thankfully as an interviewer mostly) and I have come to the conclusion that the entire effort is a waste of time.
At least half the interview finds the interviewer giving an unplanned and not very good overview of what the applicant should expect from this job. Unlike most of the marketing communications the organization does, this spiel is unvetted, unnatural and unmeasured. No one has ever sat down and said, “when we say X, is it likely the applicant understands what we mean? Are we putting our best foot forward? Does it make it more likely that the right people will want to work here, for the right reasons?” […]
The other half is dedicated to figuring out whether the applicant is good at job interviews or not.
I should have learned this lesson in 1981, when my partner and I (and three of our managers) hired Susan, who was perhaps the best interviewer I have ever met. And one of the worst employees we ever hired. Too bad we didn’t have a division that sold interviews. [sethgodin]
Godin goes on to basically say that the best way to interview some one for a job is to actually make them do the task you are hiring for. It’s the only, true way that you can assure yourself that you are hiring the right person for your company.
I’ve gone to a good number of interviews since coming to Vancouver, but my immigration status has prevented me from getting a handful of jobs. That doesn’t mean I won’t apply for a job. Getting an interview is always worth the time, if not making valuable contact with people you wouldn’t mind hiring you when the time comes.
I am comfortable going into a job interview. However, I dislike them so much for this exact reason. I never feel like I can portray my abilities through a question and answer session.
I have a very technical resume. I have some accomplishments that I’m quite proud of. Ask me questions about them, and you can bet that I am going to get flustered, forget details, screw up the technical jargon, and look like I have no idea what I am saying. And quite often, I don’t have a clue as to talking the talk. Plain and simple, I can be bad at this.
If I were put to the task of going on the job at a coffee shop for a few weeks, I’m fairly confident that I could be a good, long-term employee. I’m not saying that it’s an easy job, and all my work experience up to this point in my life shows nothing in the way of being a good person to work in such a place. I have some customer relation experience, working in parking booths as a part-time job in college, but that’s about it. I haven’t a clue as to how to make a latte, and the coffee I make at home can be a bit of an adventure.
However, I have strong problem solving skills that have saved me more times than I can remember. That teaches you for the next time you are faced with a task, and you do it better the next time. No one is ever perfect at the job from the starting line. Getting good means getting learned.
Being on the board of directors at a college radio station for three years[krui], I learned a lot about how interviewing can be difficult and costly. There were a lot of people that came through the interviews who talked big and did little to nothing with the directorships they wanted to occupy. When that happened, other directors would try to fill the gaps, only to let the rest of their duties suffer. That led to an overall quality factor to the station, not to mention strain among the fellow staff and directors. Lessons like that stick with you.
Yes, people change after you hire them. They always do. But do they change more after an unrealistic office interview or after you’ve actually watched them get in the cage and tame a lion? [sethgodin]
I have to say that I completely agree with what Godin is saying. On paper and in an interview, people will be one thing and turn into a completely different body once they become an employee. Instead, let them try out actually being an employee. It might actually save some time and money because “on-the-job-interviews” keep productivity flowing and less time is spent on Q&A sessions where the employer stops everything to find some one out of a sea of people.