Fret Not: Study Shows Hard Interviews Result In Better Jobs

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Bring on the hard-hitting questions! A new study by Glassdoor found that a tough interview is highly correlated with a satisfying job.

Have you ever been through a job interview that just drained you?

When you left, it felt like you'd just spent an hour on the treadmill while you had the flu. 

Okay, maybe that's extreme, but interviewing can be tough.

When you sail through an interview and walk out going, "Wow! Nailed it. That was easy," you may well have nailed it, and you may get the job, but you may not love it.

A new study by Glassdoor found that a tough interview is highly correlated with a satisfying job.

Related Article: Help Is On the Way: How to Save a Bad Job Interview

They found that employees who go through a more difficult job interview were more likely to be satisfied with the resulting job. This held true in six countries--the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and France. A 10 percent increase in job interview difficulty resulted in a 2.6 percent higher employee satisfaction in the job.

Why on earth would this be the case? Why would a hiring manager who asks the hard questions and maybe has candidates do difficult tasks make an environment that is better for the employee? Why would an employee be more satisfied in their job? Here are some ideas.

Too Easy Means a Poor Match

When I interviewed for my first job, at age 16, it was for a fast food chain. The interview was basically, "Can you breathe? Will you show up when we schedule you? You're hired!" Interestingly enough, that job stunk. Lots of people hire this way, even for jobs that are much more complex than operating a cash register in a fast food restaurant. Managers who are in a hurry to just get someone on board conduct easy interviews, just looking for the bare minimums, are likey to hire someone who is a bad fit.

Skills, for instance, are what we call a "necessary but not sufficient" criteria in hiring.  If your company is straight-laced and traditional, hiring someone who has the skills, but prefers to work from home from time to time and wear yoga pants to the office, the fit won't be right. They may accept the job because they need a paycheck, but they won't be happy.

Too Easy Means a Poor Interviewer

Lots of hiring managers ask questions that can be found on a list you Google. The problem with these questions is that they tell you little about the actual candidate, except about their ability to Google interview questions. If you ask, "what is your greatest weakness?" you're going to get the answer you deserve, but probably not something that helps you make a determination on how good a fit someone is. (Granted, if they answer, "My greatest weakness is that I work too hard!" you can just reject them because that's a stupid answer.)

If you want to know if someone is going to be a good fit for your office, you need to ask questions that are unique this job and this company. Asking generic questions don't bring unique answers. Asking questions that require the candidate to think can bring out the answers that help the hiring manager see if the person will not only be capable of doing the work but will fit into the office culture.

Too Hard Isn't Good Either

The Glassdoor survey found that the optimal interview difficulty was four on a scale of 1-5. Why were the five interviews not as successful? My guess is that an interviewer that sets out to make the interview difficult starts asking questions and assigning sample tasks, not with the goal of finding a great match, but with the goal of showing the candidate how smart the hiring manager is.

Tricky questions, or requiring candidates to go through numerous hours of grueling questions and assignments makes the candidate suffer but doesn't lead towards a better fit.

Related Article: Hiring for Attitude Over Experience: What the Numbers Show

How Can You Get a Great Fit?

Ask questions that relate to the actual job. Focus on tasks that the employee will have to solve in the position. Don't ask a candidate to do a power point presentation if presenting won't be part of the job. It adds unnecessary stress and doesn't tell you if the candidate is good at doing the actual job.

While it makes sense to ask some of the standard interview questions, only ask them if the answer will tell you something helpful. Asking where someone sees themselves in 5 years may or may not be helpful in determining the type of person you want to hire, but it can be. If you're hiring for the summer season only, you may be looking for people who have career goals beyond summer jobs, or you may be looking for people who will stay with you for summer after summer. 

If you have a history of hiring people who later turn out to be bad fits, consider asking others to help you conduct interviews. Interviewing is a talent, and a skill and ou might need some training and help. Being a bad interviewer doesn't mean you're a bad manager. They are different skills.

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