Getting it right at the interview

In the second part of a four-part series on the recruitment industry Noel Dyson examines the question of whether the interview or a psychological test should count for more in the hiring process.

WHETHER the interview is more important than a psychological test when hiring new staff is a question increasingly asked by the human resources community.

The general feeling among human resources experts seems to be that the interview is more important, although both have their place.

Recruiting is a process like any other business function and, in its simplest forms, it can be broken down to: reading the candidates’ resumes; creating the shortlist; conducting the interviews; having the candidates undergo psychological testing; and reference checking.

Beilby CEO Rob Smith said a client’s resume really made up 50 per cent of the process.

“The interview is really just confirming the CV,” he said.

“You know at this point that the person could do the job but you don’t know how far the person could go beyond the job. This is where the psychological testing comes in.”

“The fourth, and most important, thing is reference checking.

“The psychological testing leaves you armed with some specialist knowledge about the person’s behaviour that you can use in the reference checking.”

Mr Smith said Beilby had been conducting psychological testing for the past 30 years and offered a 12-month to two-year guarantee on its recruitment process. director Richard Hazlewood said the interview was the most important part of recruitment.

“The psychological test is more to raise issues that may need further checking,” he said.

Mr Hazlewood said psychological testing could be valuable in the team building process or as a diagnostic tool but should not play a major role in the recruitment process.

“In terms of interviewing, you can do a good interview or a bad one. You should never ask people closed questions,” he said.

“You are looking at behaviours, competencies and the outcomes the person has achieved.”

Mr Hazlewood also said reference checking was a vital part of the process.

People Innovations executive director Tim Ford said the psychological test should never take the place of the interview.

“I think the interview is by far more important. Psychological testing is just an add-on,” he said.

“It’s the type of interview that can make the difference. People who are not trained can conduct an interview but end up doing all the talking themselves.”

Modal board review specialist Sue Jauncey said the psychological test had its place in the recruitment process but should not outweigh the interview.

“The question of balance between psychological testing and interviewing is one I’ve been hearing a lot lately,” she said.

“Would you do a psychological test online and not interview the candidate?”

Ms Jauncey said several things could affect the outcome of a psychological test, such as how much sleep the candidate had before the test or whether he or she had a major change in their life recently.

She said there was a scientific way to help make a decision on a candidate.

Ms Jauncey recommends creating a matrix with the key competencies of the position on the top such as skills, attitudes and traits that the position requires.

The candidates’ names are put down the side of the matrix and each is scored on how well they meet these competencies.

The scoring for these competencies can be drawn from interviewing, psychological testing and reference checking.

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