Time to get rid of the job interview

Two experts on the top reasons why job interviews are useless and not a great predictor of future performance.
Farhan Thawar, CTO and Co-founder of Helpful.com says that technical job interviews are useless. So at his company they do things a little differently. 1:00

This segment first aired in November, 2017.

We've all been there. The job interview. The nerve wracking, nail biting, dry-mouth-inducing job interview.

We've all had job interviews that left us second guessing ourselves. Was that anecdote about my paper route really applicable? Is it possible they misunderstood my analogy comparing the company with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Clearly I meant the 1967 Leafs.

But what if we could skip the job interview process altogether?

Farhan Thawar
Farhan Thawar is the CTO and Co-Founder of Helpful.com. He believes job interviews aren't helpful at all and are a poor predictor of future job performance. Instead, "you're capturing people who are good at interviews," he says. Specifically, Farhan is referring to the long technical interviews common at tech companies.

If you really want to know how he feels, all you have to do is read the headline of an article he wrote recently: Technical interviews are garbage. Here's what we do instead.

Helpful.com doesn't use technical interviews in their hiring process. Instead, they hire job candidates on a 90 day probationary period and spend time coaching during that trial period.

Farhan says the best way to figure out if someone's a good race car driver is to "put them on a race track."

"We ascertain are they communicative, are they empathetic, are they able to write high quality code, and we use that real data to determine whether they're a fit for the company instead of the interview data," says Farhan.  

He believes this hiring method also reduces the problem of unconscious bias in interviewing, an issue he calls "the Nickelback problem."

He explains that if someone on a dating site says they are a fan of Nickelback, you may make a snap judgement and swipe past them, even though that person has lots of other great qualities. "You don't try to bring something that's irrelevant into the conversation that might make you discount somebody," says Farhan. 

So throwing the technical interview in the garbage is working for one tech company.

But what about more unstructured interviews? You know, those getting to know you, free-form interviews that are used to really get a sense of someone?

It turns out those kind of first impressions are probably not the best impressions either.

Jason Dana
Jason Dana is an Assistant Professor of Management and Marketing at the Yale School of Management who's done some research to look at the validity of  unstructured interviews as a screening tool.

Jason's study was called Belief in the unstructured interview: The persistence of an illusion. It looked into why unstructured interviews aren't very predictive of future ability, as well as why interviewers still tend to favour them so much.

Jason believes that one of the reasons is simply hubris. "People really believe in their capacity to read a person and figure somebody out."

As far as an unstructured interview predicting job performance, Jason says, "I've never seen any good data pointing to the interview as being particularly predictive."   



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