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How to design an interview that predicts future job success

Over 15 years of staffing and recruiting I've come to realization that knowing who's going to be good at their job is an extremely difficult thing to predict. The correlation between who does really well in the interview process and who performs really well at work can, at times, be weak.


Interviewing should be thought of as information gathering.  The interviewer must consciously design the process to be the most predictive of future job performance.


Since it’s impossible to know someone’s actual job performance until they are hired and work with you, we have to measure other skills.  None of the individual measurements are very predictive by themselves, however, taken in aggregate they can be predictive.


There are both good and bad interview measurements and it’s up to the hiring manager to select the measurements that matter most.  Since we can’t measure actual job performance, we need to measure other skills.  Following are some guidelines:


•Avoid unstructured interviews, they are almost always useless and subject to the interviewers’ confirmation bias, rather than predictors of future success.  Structured formal interviews involving multiple clear steps and face-to-face communication are optimal.  This includes video conferencing when in person meetings are impossible.

• You want the highest amount of information in the shortest amount of time that correlates directly to future job performance.  The best way to achieve this is to design the interview to make the candidate talk as much as possible.  Besides time for introductions and asking interview questions, the candidate should do 80%-90% of the talking, not the interviewer.  Every minute the interviewer spends talking is opportunity cost.

•While the candidate should be doing most of the talking it is incumbent upon the interviewer to drive the discussion and keep things on track.  If a candidate is talking about something and veers into tangential territory, it’s up to the interviewer to bring it back to focus as quickly as possible.

•Questions like “what are your weaknesses” or “what is your superpower” are silly. A good answer just means the candidate is verbal and can ramble on the spot. It favors verbally extroverted people without reflecting on their actual skills.  Instead focus on questions about a candidates’ past process for accomplishing specific tasks within the scope of the job description.  And also ask about the specific results that were produced. 

•Instead of long problems that rely on knowing a certain trick, it is more useful to have many short interview questions that rely on knowing specific information.  If you can go through 20 such problems in one single interview you increase the probability of predicting future success.  Don’t spend more than 2 minutes on any single question.


If you would like a complimentary review of your interview or hiring process I would love to hear from you.

Please contact Dave Drohan at 470-239-4842 or email