Job Interview Problems & Solutions

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D. of Mercer Systems, Inc.
Job interviews need to assess job applicants in two arenas: (1) Technical Knowledge & Skills and (2) Job-Related Personality Traits. 
A recent article in “eFinancialCareer News” by Beecher Tuttle lists 12 questions financial asset managers asked business school students applying for finance jobs. Of the 12 questions, nine delved into Technical Knowledge & Skills (e.g., “How do you currently keep up with the markets?”). Only three questions aimed to uncover job applicants’ on Personality Traits (e.g., “What is your biggest professional failure?”). 
The huge problem with asking mostly Technical Knowledge & Skills job interview questions is they are incredibly easy for applicants who studied finance (or any other specialty) to give you "good" answers. For example, the applicants discussed in the financial career article were business school students studying finance. Unless they slept during their finance classes and did not read textbooks (which is doubtful), don’t you think they would know the “correct” answer to Technical Knowledge & Skills questions?
In my book, “Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest,” I suggest hiring managers make a list of the 6-9 most important job-related talents they must have in a successful employee. Then, they should ask "open-ended" questions to observe how well the applicant has each of the 6-9 job-related talents. Some of those 6-9 talents can delve into Technical Knowledge & Skills, for instance, questions in “eFinancialCareer News” article. 
But, since most people applying for finance jobs (or jobs in any other specialty) will possess the Technical Knowledge & Skills, it is important to ask Personality Trait questions, also. 
Personality Trait questions may help the hiring managers get a sense of crucial personal qualities. These qualities might include the applicant’s (1) work ethic (many people are lazy!), (2) honesty, (3) teamwork and collaboration preferences, and (4) ability to "fit in" your corporate culture. 
Unfortunately, research shows most managers conducting job interviews fail to predict if the applicant interviewed with succeed or fail on-the-job. That is bad news, because every company conducts job interviews, and many do not realize the pitfalls and horribly low prediction accuracy of job interviews. 
Job interviews typically have terribly low ability to predict work success or failure for a number of reasons: Managers conducting job interviews often feel swayed in their judgments by (a) not knowing good questions to ask, (b) not knowing how to judge answers they hear, (c) ‘falling in love’ with applicants who act charming or enthusiastic, (d) incorrectly assuming seemingly relevant work experience means the applicant can do the job well, (e) the manager feeling desperate to hire someone fast, and (f) frankly, the manager being too lazy to find better applicants.
Fortunately, pre-employment personality and intelligence tests that are scientifically created can give hiring managers a more objective, realistic insight into a job applicant’s personality than job interviews. Also, such pre-hire tests can be custom-tailored for specific jobs in each company.
Research shows pre-employment tests with custom-tailored benchmarks are vastly more scientific and accurate at predicting success or failure on-the-job than even the best job interview! 
To move confidently toward hiring terrific employees, do the following. One, conduct lengthy job interviews that delve into both Technical Knowledge & Skills and Personality Traits.   But, beware of six terrible problems most job interviewers fall prey to. 
Two, use pre-employment tests: Preferably, use both pre-hire personality and intelligence tests on which you have custom-tailored benchmark scores for each job in your company. 
Michael Mercer, Ph.D., helps managers assess job applicants so they (A) hire productive people and (B) avoid expensive hiring mistakes. He devised three pre-employment tests, the FORECASTER(TM) TESTS, used by many companies to assess job applicants. Dr. Mercer also authored the book HIRE THE BEST & AVOID THE REST(TM). He conducts seminars and custom-tailors pre-employment tests for companies. You can learn more about his tests and seminars at or by calling Dr. Mercer at 847-382-0690.             

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