Inspiring Success Leadership

Human Resources| No Place for Interview Rookies: Joseph Sefcik


Joseph T. Sefcik is the founder and president of Employment Technologies. He is a thought leader in simulation and virtual interview technology for talent prediction.
Joseph T. Sefcik is the founder
and president of Employment Technologies. He is a thought leader in simulation and virtual interview technology for talent prediction.

Interviews are the most commonly used component of employee selection and hiring. With 99 percent of all organizations using hiring interviews, it follows that we should all be excellent at interviewing and making the right hiring decisions. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case.

Many interviewers are rendered ineffective by the following issues:

  • Lack of training – Only a third of all interviewers are trained and certified, so the untrained two-thirds are making the majority of critical hiring decisions.
  • Inconsistency – Lack of a consistent structure and process undermines interview fairness and accuracy in selecting the best candidates.
  • Biases – Quick judgments and general impressions interfere with the quality and objectivity of assessing applicants.
  • Inefficiency – Interviewers often ask the wrong questions and use inadequate evaluation techniques.

To improve interview results, science can and should be applied to the process. Effective interviewing takes careful planning and effort so that hiring decisions are based on relevant and sound information, not superficial cues or first impressions.


Create structure for the interview.
A random process produces random results. To create structure, start by defining the key requirements of the job. Once you have identified the job requirements, create standard interview questions based on these requirements. Use the same questions for all applicants for that position. If there is more than one interviewer, all questions should be consistent and target the same job requirements. Individual interviewers sometimes have their own “pet questions.” These should either be eliminated or reviewed for inclusion in the standard interview. This will increase objectivity and improve the accuracy of your ratings.


Establish minimum standards for non-verbal cues.
Body language, posture, mannerisms and appearance impact our decisions. Our judgment is influenced by what we see. Non-verbal cues cause us to perceive people more positively or negatively depending on our interpretation. We may find these clues helpful in making a decision, but they are easy to manipulate and can be easily misjudged. To avoid biases and personal judgments, establish clear standards for non-verbal cues which are reasonable for your business culture. While today’s norms are somewhat relaxed, there are still acceptable and unacceptable norms. Once you’ve determined that the applicant meets the minimum standards, focus your attention on the substance of his or her responses.


Manage interviewer consistency.
Interviewers are not all equally effective. Most interviewers have never been trained, yet those same interviewers are proven to be overconfident and to overestimate their ability to effectively interview. People naturally default to their comfort zone when conducting and evaluating interviews. During the interview, some may ask questions and acquire information better than others. When evaluating interview responses, some interviewers may be very detail oriented and systematically process responses, while others may apply more global judgments. To improve consistency, interviewers should cite specific statements and examples from the interview. Avoid interviewer opinions or impressions. Interviewers should use examples, not hunches, to support ratings.


Judge applicants on performance not on promises or prior experience.
Applicants want to make the best impression possible. Applicants anticipate what you want to see and what you want to hear. Their goal is to convince you that they are the best person for the job. They want to look good to you and will promise that they can deliver. Recognize that during the interview, applicants are probably the best they will ever be. Promises and past experience are not a guarantee of future performance. You can reduce the smokescreen by asking questions that target actual performance results. Ask applicants if the results are their own, or team/workgroup results. If the job lends itself to a work sample, ask for one.


Provide applicants with information about your company.
Applicants leave an interview with their own impressions and judgments. While you are making a choice about them, they are making a choice about the job and your company. Interviewers need to provide information, yet only a limited amount can be absorbed. It is helpful to supplement the interview with written or online information, and more importantly, to provide for follow-up questions to be answered.

By applying these 5 principles, you will not only improve the efficiency and consistency of your interview process — you will dramatically increase your accuracy in selecting the best people for the job.

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i4 Business

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