When Hiring, Prioritize Assignments Over Interviews | Harvard Business Review

Talent Acquisition

The job interview is the most widely used selection practice for assessing candidates. Still, it has long been viewed by industrial and organizational psychologists and HR professionals as generally inconsistent and unreliable. Many factors detract from the job interview’s effectiveness as a predictor of performance, such as:

  • interviewer biases that permeate the assessment process,
  • job candidates who are adept at interviewing effectively but don’t have the skills to perform the job at a high level,
  • or conversely, job candidates who have the skills and experience to be a top performer in the role but don’t perform well in interviews.

These are just a few of several factors that can undermine the validity and reliability of job interviews.

This article argues that rather than over-rely on interviews when hiring, organizations should try giving candidates who make it past an initial screening a small assignment to demonstrate the primary skill the job requires. “Similar to how startups create a minimum viable product, or MVP, to test consumer demand for a concept before investing in building a polished version, recruiters could use a similar tactic (e.g., ask a coder to solve a small coding project).” While having candidates demonstrate their skills through a real assignment or simulated exercise is not new, it has increased relevance considering how organizations are trying to move more toward skills-based talent practices and away from legacy selection criteria, such as academic credentials or requiring a certain number of years of experience in a specific industry. The ‘interview’ should not be eliminated and should be continuously improved to be more effective; AND, including a small assignment as part of an organization’s selection process could provide incremental value in hiring the best candidate.