Research shows that hiring selections based on unstructured interviews are only slightly more accurate than flipping a coin! (Hunter & Schmidt, American Psychologist, 1983)
Hiring selections left to chance often come back to haunt an employer. However, a structured board interview more accurately assesses a candidate’s fit for a job. The structured board interview is conducted by a board of four people in a systematic way that results in sound selection decisions.
To get the lowdown on this selection process, 15dots interviewed *Barb May and **Paul Dolson, two retired Human Resources managers with vast experience conducting 15dots’ structured board interviews. Barb and Paul bust ten myths about board interviews. Here’s what they have to say.
Myth 1. Interviewing as a board is awkward and uncomfortable.
Paul: When we first began using the board interview, some feared that it would make the candidate very nervous. This has not proven to be the case. Candidates adapt well in this environment. As for the board, there’s a lot of camaraderie. You work as a team, and the process works well.
Myth 2. You don’t need a team to make hiring decisions.
Barb: The most positive part of the structured board interview is having a team involved. These were group decisions, so there wasn’t any finger pointing afterwards, that so-and-so picked that employee. The most critical part of the structured board interviews is to get employee buy-in.
Paul: The interview team realizes there’s a lot at stake, and they have a lot of responsibility. They’re going to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the candidates, so they want to make the best selection decisions.
Myth 3. There’s less chance of bias in a one-on-one interview.
Barb: A group interview eliminates bias. You might dislike someone for whatever reason, and other members of the board may challenge your view.
Paul: Everyone has blind spots. They may perceive something that the others don’t. Having four sets of eyes, instead of just one, can help mitigate mistakes in hiring.
Myth 4. A group interview setting is more intimidating for a candidate.
Paul: It’s natural for a job candidate to be nervous in any type of interview setting, but there are ways to calm their jitters. The candidate should do 95 percent of the talking, so the more you create a conversation, the better the interview atmosphere.
Myth 5. A candidate selected in a one-on-one interview has the same advantages of one selected by a board.
Barb: If they are hired, candidates know the four faces of the interview team, which helps them adjust to their new roles. Plus, participants on the board have a vested interest in seeing the employee succeed. Even if the employee didn’t work in their division, they would go out of their way to support the new hire. No one wanted to hire a crummy employee.
Paul: The candidate gets to ask questions of different people in the organization face-to-face. They’ll ask, “What’s it like to work here?”
Myth 6. Without the same lead interviewer each time, the interview process falls apart.
(In a structured board interview, the lead interview and note-taker roles rotate.)
Barb: If you’re doing a bunch of interviews in a row, rotating the leadership role prevents you from doing interviews by rote. Also, it prevents a hierarchy from forming on the board.
Myth 7. An interview team chosen by random selection is best.
Barb: We liked to include people from various levels, to get their viewpoint, and we wanted union members and key stakeholders. We asked for volunteers and whittled it down.
Paul: You want folks that are vested in the success of the person you hire because the candidate might work with the organization for 20 years.
Myth 8. A single interviewer can conduct an interview as thoroughly as a group.
Barb: In an individual interview, you might miss a comment that was made or a visual clue. You’re busy writing down answers and not just watching the candidate.
Myth 9. Job interview scores aren’t necessary – gut instinct is better.
Barb: Most interviewers believe they have a phenomenal gut instinct. But the more you use the system, the more it makes sense to you. You start listening to people on the board and throw out gut feeling to reach a consensus. (In a structured board interview, the interviewers independently rate candidates on a 9-point scale on 10 interview dimensions and then form a consensus.)
Paul: When a candidate walks into an interview, they’re a 5 in the back of your mind. They go up or down as the interview progresses Once you go through a couple of interviews, you get accustomed to the process.
Myth 10. Group interviews often result in bad selections and regrets.
Barb: It worked for us incredibly well, and I say that being very skeptical coming into this. People on the floor saw a difference in the caliber of people hired. I noticed it.
Paul: For the most part, I’m sold on the process. We made some really good decisions. Some of the hires grew with the company and advanced into upper management.
Structured Board Interview Training
Although a free-wheeling interview may be quicker and easier to conduct, a structured board interview yields better, more reliable results, according to our two experts. Basically, group interviews are an integral part of any effective selection process.
The ability to conduct effective, standardized interviews is a teachable skill. Thus, 15dots offers expert-led Virtual Structured Board Interview training sessions in which participants gain the confidence and learn the techniques necessary to be effective interviewers. Contact us to register or to learn more.
About our interview myth busters:
* Barb May retired as Human Resources manager at a Domtar paper mill after a 30-year career in Human Resources. She earned a Master's Degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
** Paul Dolson retired as Training Manager from Georgia Pacific after a 35-year career in Human Resources. He earned a Master’s Degree in Labor and Industrial Relations at Michigan State.