The Pros and Cons of Job Interviews

Job interviews consistently make the list of top stress-inducing activities. As a potential employee, you have to prepare for any possible questions, choose an outfit that expresses professionalism and personality, then have a conversation with somebody—or multiple somebodies—you do not know well. All this, while also being acutely aware that every word you say is being analyzed for later dissection. No wonder the result is often an acute sense of dread.

But, what if we didn’t need job interviews after all? What if they aren’t indicative of someone’s potential? Organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argues that this practice is outdated and unnecessary. In a recent article published in Fast Company, he asked, “What If We Killed the Job Interview?” Chamorro-Premuzic lists three points that demonstrate why job interviews should become a practice of the past.

The Gut’s Not Always Trustworthy

When interviewers come into a room with a potential employee, they’re gauging whether they feel this person will be a good fit in the position they’ve applied for and the company itself. But in doing so, it’s easy for interviewers to tap into their own biases. Age, race and gender can play into an interviewer’s view of an interviewee, and, no matter how subconscious it may be, that can have an effect on the outcome of the interview. Says Chamorro-Premuzic, “the more we try to ignore these qualities, the more present they’ll be in our minds.”

On top of this, interviewers who are aware of their biases may actively bring them to the interview and apply them to whomever they are interviewing. These interviewers are better able to hide their true feelings and dismiss the candidate for a different, more “legitimate” reason.

Artificial Intelligence Can Remove Bias

Emerging artificial intelligence technology could help eliminate the problem of bias. AI is capable of judging interviews based on what interviewees say and do and can create performance scores for each interview. This can, in turn, allow employers to compare interviews by looking at data rather than subjectively judging on their own. AI can be programmed to avoid biases surrounding race, age and gender, thus computing a result that has nothing to do with pre-existing notions.

Add to this score the results of skill tests and surveys and the outcome is much less likely to be swayed by more subjective criteria.

Interviews Differ from Performance

The final point Chamorro-Premuzic drives home is that performance in interviews does not correlate to performance in a position. While certain interviews may feel more positive due to the confidence of the interviewee—especially in customer service and sales positions—not all uncomfortable interviews indicate that a potential employee will be unfit for a role. Factoring in nerves and introversion can go a long way to leveling the playing field. And not all roles require advanced personal communication skills.

Another important reminder is that certain personality traits can be hidden by confidence. “So-called ‘dark side’ personality traits, such as narcissism and psychopathy, are found among people with otherwise strong social skills, at least in short-term interactions, which makes them perform rather well on interviews,” explains Chamorro-Premuzic. This can result in charming employees who are parasitic, taking credit for others’ work and hoarding resources to climb a ladder that stronger employees have been working toward for a much longer time.

The Future of Job Interviews

Chamorro-Premuzic concedes that job interviews will not be disappearing anytime soon. In fact, some interviewees like the chance to learn more about a company face-to-face, and studies show most people generally find interviews to be fair. But he emphasizes that it’s possible to have a conversation, rather than a formal sit-down grilling.

The other reason you may continue to face your potential employer across the table? “It’s hard for recruiters to accept that their natural talents for identifying potential aren’t as strong as they may think,” Chamorro-Premuzic says.