Job interviewers look for faces that fit

Employers are looking to recruit people they like rather than the people with the best skills for the job, a Recruitment Confidence Index special report has found.

The research into selection interviewing techniques among 1200 employers found that more than one in five still use gut reaction as the basis for their selection decisions.

"It's called the 'I know one when I see one' approach to job interviewing," said Colin Mercer, director of assessment and development with human resources consultancy Wickland Westcott, who sponsored the research.

"It leads to decisions based on personal bias or erroneous ideas about how people will perform in a role. There are a few rare people who are good at intuitive interviewing, but mostly it leads to expensive mistakes."

The Recruitment Confidence Index is a quarterly survey of UK directors' and managers' expectations of changes in recruitment activity and business conditions. It is produced by Cranfield School of Management and the Daily Telegraph.

Each quarter the RCI analyses a recruitment issue in more detail. This quarter's special has focused on selection interviewing for managers. The RCI asked employers about their approach to interviewing, selection tools they used, the length of time it took them to interview and recruit senior staff and the training they gave interviewers.

Commenting on the findings Shaun Tyson, professor of Human Resources at Cranfield School of Management said: "People tend to underestimate the difficulty of undertaking a good selection interview and the need for training or specialist input is often not appreciated.

"This is especially so for more senior staff who often believe these skills are automatically given to them. They think of selection interviewing as a low-level skill for which they don't need any training.

"But interviewing is just like playing tennis. Everyone needs some regular coaching and plenty of practice."

Stephanie Richards, recruitment research manager at the Daily Telegraph said: "The message seems clear: being liked by an interviewer and having a face that fits could well be more important than your skills matching the requirements of the job.

"It reinforces the idea that it's not what you know but who you know that counts. It would be interesting to find out how these decisions are affecting firms' productivity and efficiency."

The Recruitment Confidence Index is a quarterly survey of public and private sector employers that measures expected changes in recruitment activity and business conditions during the next six months.


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