Hypothetical Interviews: Ineffective Evaluations

If anything, people are consistent…

I have recently taken up running triathlons. Though I really do enjoy the sport, I don’t do it out of a deep-seated love of swimming, biking, and running.  Truth be told, any kind of regular exercise is a struggle for me – it is just not something I have made a habit of doing, or rather, my habit of sleeping late is more ingrained.  That is why triathlons are so great for me; I have a firm race date that I need to prepare for, and the fear of embarrassing myself in front of my friends and family will get me out of bed in the morning to train.  Left on my own, I will just stay in bed.

Exercise was just never a habit of mine.  I envy my friends who have had a lifetime of good exercise habits, established in childhood and continuing into adulthood.  I know that when these friends wake up in the morning, they work out – not necessarily because they want to, but because exercise is part of their ingrained behavior.  It’s simply what they do when they wake up.   Not me – it still takes a lot of effort for me to get out of bed to work out.  I am working on making exercise a built-in part of my daily routine – someday soon.

It was this perspective that made me smile when I read the article, “In Canada, KPMG’s New Tests Are as Much Branding as They Are Tests,” by Todd Raphael.  It’s about some new recruiting methods KPMG is using. The article describes a system KPMG developed that simulates what it looks like to work at the company and presents candidates with real-life scenarios.  The system analyzes how candidates perform certain tasks and informs managers of specific areas to look at during face-to-face interviews.

I don’t think this is an effective method of evaluating candidates.  Just because someone knows what to do, it doesn’t mean they will do it.  That is why I don’t like hypothetical interviews.  I want to be more fit and lose some weight and I know exactly how to do it.  But my patterns of behavior make me more likely to hit the snooze button 5 or 6 times.  Without the deadline of an impending race, that is exactly what I’ll do.

The same truth applies for interviews – just because a potential employee knows what to do, it doesn’t mean he or she will actually do it when push comes to shove.  To get a full understanding of how a candidate is likely to perform I look at what they have already done.  Examining prior actions is the only way to accurately judge future performance.

For more on the interview method we use here at Wall Street Services, take look at this blog post on Behavioral Based Interviewing.

Peter Laughter
Wall Street Services