Traditionally, interviews with employers involve asking candidates about their qualifications, work experience and skills. These interviews often come to resemble a conversation where the candidate walks a prospective employer through their experience and the interviewer may choose to drill down on certain areas that they find particularly interesting or relatable. And there it is – bias.

Overall, traditional interviews can be prone to bias, may not provide a complete picture of the candidate’s abilities, and may not be a reliable predictor of job performance. As a result, organizations may benefit from using additional assessment tools, such as competency or behavioural interviews, to supplement traditional interviews and gain a more accurate assessment of candidates and reduce bias.

Behavioural interviewing was developed in the 1970s by industrial psychologists and is grounded in the theory that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Additionally, structuring interviews with behavioural questions gives candidates the opportunity to share concrete examples of what they have done and works to reduce hiring biases. Using competency or behavioural interview questions can help organizations make better hiring decisions and select candidates who are a good fit for the job and the organization as a whole.

The Downside of Traditional Interview Methods:

  1. Limited Scope: Often, traditional interview questions can be very closed-ended and can limit the interviewer’s ability to get further information. Traditional interview techniques may focus only on the candidates work experience and skills, which may not provide a complete picture of the candidate’s abilities or potential.
  2. Confirmation Bias: Interviewers may have preconceived notions about what makes a good candidate and may inadvertently seek out information that confirms their biases.
  3. Inconsistency: If there are changes in the interview panel, different candidates may get asked different questions creating inequitable information collection. Inconsistencies in the process can lead to inconsistent and unreliable evaluations.
  4. Lack of Structure: Traditional interviews may lack a standardized approach, making it difficult to compare candidates fairly.
  5. Inability to Predict Job Performance: Traditional interviews may not be a reliable predictor of how well a candidate will perform on the job, as they may not reflect the actual tasks and challenges of the position.

The Benefits of Competency Based Interviews:

  1. They help assess candidates’ past behaviour: these types of questions are designed to elicit specific examples of how a candidate has handled situations in the past. By exploring the candidate’s past experiences, the interviewer can get a sense of how the candidate is likely to perform in the future. From a candidate’s perspective, it provides them the opportunity to share real life examples of great work they have done, or times that they have faced challenges and overcome them. This ensures candidates provide concrete examples of when they have demonstrated the skills required for the job rather than allow interviewers to draw inferences based on the roles or experience the candidate has listed on their resume.
  2. They help assess candidates’ abilities and skills: Competency or behavioural questions can be tailored to the specific skills and abilities required for the job. This means that the interviewer can gain a better understanding of the candidate’s abilities in areas such as problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and leadership.
  3. They help minimize bias: Competency or behavioral questions are based on specific examples from the candidate’s past, which means that the interviewer is less likely to be influenced by their own biases or preconceptions.
  4. They help identify the best candidate: By using competency or behavioural questions, the interviewer can identify the candidate who has the best combination of skills, abilities and past experience to succeed in the role.

Preparation Tips for Interviewers

It is important to plan ahead in order to effectively eliminate bias in the interview process. By taking the time to map out the key competencies of your role and setting a group of standardized questions to reflect each competency, you will ensure equitable treatment of interviewees. Consider what skills are necessary to do the job on day one and ask candidates about times where they have demonstrated those skills. Then, consider what areas you are expecting to train on and make sure you do not eliminate candidates because of a lack of experience in those areas. By adding a grading key you will also ensure that, at the evaluation stage, all candidates are compared on the same scale.

When we partner with clients we collaborate with you to develop interview guides to assist you in creating an interview process that promotes equitable hiring practices. Creating a structured interview guide and related processes does take time and effort but the benefits are well worth the time invested. Be part of the change you want to see in your organization!