What Happens When You Do Unstructured Interviews?

Human decision-making processes are routinely flawed. For example, many are convinced that flying is significantly more dangerous than driving and believe they can win the lottery when the odds of getting struck by lightning are far greater. In an organizational context, hiring managers often neglect valid hiring tools and argue “I know good employees when I see ‘em.” Considering this mantra, we shouldn’t be surprised that information from unstructured interviews is perceived as more effective than standardized test scores (e.g., Terpstra, 1996; Lievens, Highhouse, & De Corte, 2005). Accordingly, we should be less surprised by the number of poor performers on most payrolls and the high employee churn rates in many industries. Overconfidence in “gut feel” leads hiring managers to rely on subjectively-assessed fit through the unstructured interview process.

While we have known for a long time that the predictive ability of unstructured interviews is low, recent research by Kausel, Culbertson, & Madrid (2016) indicates that the derived information can actually be harmful to hiring decisions. Even when standardized test scores (e.g., cognitive ability, personality) were presented, experienced managers placed exaggerated weight on unstructured interview ratings. The ratings increased the managers’ confidence but decreased their hiring accuracy. Unfortunately, most people do not weigh cues appropriately. Unstructured interviews add very little to prediction and their use dilutes the predictive power of valid selection procedures.

People are an organization’s greatest source of competitive advantage and generally the single largest investment for an organization. We know that one bad hire can cost an organization tens of thousands of dollars and good hires can significantly boost profits. Assessments can help avoid 60 to 70% of poor hiring decisions. If you aren’t using standardized tests, you might as well be throwing darts while blindfolded. Pre-employment tests generally correlate with job performance better than many medical interventions correlate with health improvement (seriously, look up the correlations between antibiotics and health improvement or taking an aspirin and heart health). Avoid making decisions based solely on “gut” by supplementing structured interviews with standardized testing.


Kausel, Culbertson, & Madrid (2016). Overconfidence in personnel selection: When and why unstructured interview information can hurt hiring decisions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 137, 27-44.

Lievens, F., Highhouse, S., & De Corte, W. (2005). The importance of traits and abilities in supervisors’ hirability decisions as a function of method of assessment. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78(3), 453–470.

Terpstra, D. E. (1996). The search for effective methods. HR Focus, 73(5), 16–17.

Author and WorkforceIC President & Chief Scientist

Noise Effect. Do You Have an Effective Digital Experience?

Have you, as a leader of your company, invested the time to click-through your digital recruiting experience? I mean really went completely through your recruiting process. Based on 70+ applications I submitted in 2016 with my own personal research, very few have tested their process with a smartphone. The process was frustrating to me. I can’t imagine that type of experience was their intent.

If your company is hiring millennials, I’m curious how they might feel about your recruiting process. My research resulted in 92% of the applications not working with a smartphone, as well as not being able to complete the required assessments in several of the applications.

Pew Research Center reported in 2015 that smartphone ownership with adults 19-49 was 80% and growing. I can’t be the only one using a smartphone for everything. Today you are living mobile with everything from banking, parking meters, job applications, and so much more.

My challenge to every leader: Go through your job application process and answer the following questions:

  1. Can your entire process can be completed on smartphone?  Yes or No
  2. Does your process feel consistent with how you treat your customers. Yes or No
  3. Are you proud of your digital experience? Yes or No

How do feel about your process? Find anything that could be improved?

Author and WorkforceIC Founder

Redefine How You Engage with Potential Candidates

Almost all employers have online job portals and post openings to online job boards. Additionally, global trends indicate that an increasing number of employers rely on unproctored online assessments to bolster their hiring decisions. As a growing number of candidates search for jobs and complete application and assessment processes from mobile devices, it’s time to unleash your brand from a desktop only approach. Enhance the candidate experience with mobile-first designs for your recruiting and hiring processes. A mobile-first approach is not mobile-exclusive, but will allow your candidates a choice when engaging with your brand.

Increasing segments of the population are mobile-savvy and seldom use a desktop computer outside of work activities. Mobile devices are always on and nearby. Apart from communication (e.g., text, instant messaging, phone), users order food, locate rides, share original content (e.g., videos and photos), and play games. Even traditional console game companies like Nintendo are jumping into the mobile arena. If you neglect this reality, you risk excluding those who almost exclusively use their mobile devices for online activities. Consequently, you will inadvertently reject a more representative and diverse candidate pool.

Read our whitepaper, “The Future is Mobile: Are your Hiring Processes Ready?” for tips on enhancing your mobile efforts and connecting with a more diverse, mobile-savvy talent pool.

How MobiScreenr by WorkforceIC Supports Your Mobile Hiring Strategy

MobiScreenr by WorkforceIC is a mobile-first assessment solution designed to enhance your screening and selection processes and improve candidate experience. Our platform enables the quick and easy collection of applicant data; and our new assessment measures Work Ethic and Friendliness, the behavioral traits that best predict job performance in the service industry. Early in the selection process, candidates can complete the assessment in less than three minutes and the results are immediately available to hiring managers and/or human resources. Please contact us to discuss your current processes or learn more about MobiScreenr and our other mobile-first workforce solutions.