This one practice will double your hiring success!

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Research from 65 years ago shows that impressions made of a job candidate during the first four minutes of an interview play a dominant role in shaping an interviewer’s hiring decision. First impressions establish a bias, which colors all subsequent interviewer-interviewee interaction.[i]  A recent study found that an interviewer’s first impression judgments are made in the first ten seconds, and the hiring manger spends the rest of the interview trying to confirm their first impression.[ii]

This is very unfortunate because it often leads to bad hiring decisions!

In many ways, an interview is a search for negative information. A single unfavorable impression is followed by a hiring rejection decision 90% of the time.[iii]  First impressions are influenced considerably by non-verbal cues, such as greater direct eye contact, smiling, attentive posture, smaller interpersonal distance, and a direct body orientation.[iv]

Although it is important during an interview to judge a candidate’s social skills, interviewers must not make the mistake of spending the rest of the interview trying to confirm or prove their first impression. When hiring decisions are made solely on first impressions, an interview is virtually useless. What interviewers should really focus on is the candidate’s background, skill set, decision-making process, ethics and match with the company’s culture. This can only be achieved when an interviewer knows what he or she is looking for and can ask the right questions —based on the work to be done!

Implementing structured Interviews can double the success of your interviews!

Studies have shown that unstructured interviews and poorly prepared interviewers make bad hiring decisions – not much better than a coin toss. Structured interviews, on the other hand, are two times more effective at predicting job performance. A meta-analysis of published and unpublished literature worldwide showed that structured interviews produced mean validity coefficients twice as high as unstructured interviews. In addition, interview questions that were based on a formal job analysis were even more successful.[v] Other studies have shown the strength of structured interviews over unstructured interviews, including a meta-analysis by Hunter and Schmidt[vi] and another by McDanile, Whetzel, Schmidt, and Maurer.[vii]

Research also shows that interviewers who are trained in structural interviewing techniques do better! They make more accurate, consistent predictions about a candidate’s future job performance than do untrained interviewers.[viii]

Structured interviews are more likely to win in court than unstructured interviews

A study of 158 cases in U.S. Federal Court involving hiring discrimination from 1978 to 1997 showed that unstructured interview processes were challenged in court more than any other employee selection tool. Remarkably, structured interviews survived 100% of legal challenges, while unstructured interviews survived only 59% of challenges.[ix]

Has your company implemented structured interviews? Did you have to overcome organizational resistance first?  How did you do it?

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and executive coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, and other strategic initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, and flexible workplace. Contact Victor for a free one-hour strategy session on how to implement structured interviews to improve your hiring decisions. You can contact Victor at Visit Victor’s website at to download free whitepapers and to read more of his blogs!

[i] B. M. Springbett. (1954) “Series effects in the employment interview.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation. McGill University. Discussed in Wayne Casio. (1978) Applied Psychology in Personal Management. Reston Publishing Company. Reston, Virginia, U.S.A.

[ii] J. T. Pricket, N. Gada-Jain, and F. J. Bernieri. (2000) “The Importance of First Impressions in a Job Interview,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL. Discovered in Lazlo Bock (2105) Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google that Will Transform How You Live and Lead. Hatchet Book Group. New York, N.Y.

[iii] B. I. Bolster and B. M. Springbett. (1961) “The reaction of interviewers to favorable and unfavorable information.” Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol. 45, 97-103.

[iv] A. S. Imada and B. W. Hamstra. (1972) “Influence of nonverbal communication and rater proximity on impressions and decisions in simulated employment interviews.” Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol 62, 295-300.

[v] Willi H. Wiesner and Steven, F Cronshaw. (1988) “A meta-analytic investigation of the impact of interview format and degree of structure on the validity of the employment interview.” Journal of Occupational Psychology, 1988, 61, 275-290. Great Britain.

[vi] Hunter and Schmidt (1982) “Quantifying the Effects of Psychological Interventions on Employee Job Performance and Work-Force Productivity,” American Psychologists, Vol. 38, 473-474.

[vii]M. A. McDaniel, D. L. Whetzel, F.L. Schmidt, and S.D. Maurer (1994) “The validity of employment interviews: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 599-616.

[viii] A. I. Huffcutt and D. J. Woehr. (1999), “Further analysis of employment interview validity: a quantitative evaluation of interviewer-related structuring methods,” Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 20, 549-560.

[ix] D. A. Terpstra, A. A. Mohamed, and R. B. Kethley (1999), “An analysis of federal court cases involving nine selection devices,” International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Vol. 7(1), 26-34.

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