Leadership IQ found that and astounding 46% of all new hires fail within 18 months. Google research found that the unstructured interviews used by most simply don’t predict on-the-job performance: “Interviews are a terrible predictor of performance.”

“Many managers, recruiters, and HR staffers think they have a special ability to sniff out talent. They’re wrong… It’s a complete random mess… We found a zero relationship.”

                                                         (Laszlo Bock

And in addition, research at Google demonstrated that beyond four interviews, little value is added. They also found that the commonly used “brainteaser questions” that were made famous by Microsoft also provide no predictive value. Even the most common types of questions, behavioural interview questions, have proven to be problematic because these types of questions unfairly favor those that are good at telling stories and those that shamelessly take credit for the work of others.


 new alternative interview and assessment approaches are both effective and exciting.

According to Dr. John Sullivan, as a start, it’s important to educate interviewers about the many problems associated with the interview process.

And also consider alternative assessment approaches that can’t be as easily gamed and also make sure that the interview questions that you use accurately predict performance on the job, even if they are known in advance.

The top 10 new and emerging interview alternatives


1. Shifting to a data-driven interview process because of its high impact 

There are three critical assessment components within the hiring process; resume screening, interviews, and reference checking.

With the refinement of ATS software, the resume screening component of the hiring process has become much more accurate and objective. The accuracy of the third process component, reference checking, has also improved as a result of the wide availability of social media/Internet candidate information and 360° reference checking.

And that makes the middle assessment component, interviewing, the most impactful but the least accurate of the three elements.

As a result, companies adopt a data-driven model that relies on data and predictive algorithms.

Google is the best example, but other firms are now using data to determine critical interview components, including who should interview, whether training helps, how many interviews are needed, which knockout factors should not be used and what specific interview questions or assessment approaches accurately predict on-the-job success.

Google even used data to discover that hiring managers almost universally make poor candidate assessments, so they don’t allow individual hiring managers to make final hiring decisions. Instead, they use trained and experienced hiring committees that have a much higher success rate (e.g. some HireVue data found that hiring managers get as many as 80% of their assessments wrong).


2. Video interviews provide many advantages

Video interviews are becoming mainstream, and many firms are conducting Skype interviews and there are also numerous solutions that can help you conduct live “interview from anywhere” sessions that are video recorded. Because these interviews are recorded, managers can review them many times and those that can’t be at the original session can also view them at any time.

And because video interviews are fully documented, there can be no doubt about whether illegal questions were asked.

Firms like Goldman Sachs and Zappos have even encouraged candidates to submit their own self-designed videos.

Some firms are already using artificial intelligence to more thoroughly assess candidate performance on these recorded interviews.

3. Measuring the quality of hire improves both interview and hiring results

As the use of data becomes more prevalent in recruiting, more firms are beginning to fully understand the critical need for measuring quality-of-hire.

Comparing what top-performing hires have in common (and weak performers don’t have) can reveal important insights, including, which skills and competencies can’t accurately be assessed during interviews and which specific interview questions accurately predict future on-the-job performance.

4. In addition to interview questions, give them a real problem to solve 

The standard interview questions don’t accurately reflect “doing the job.” And the problem becomes exacerbated when interviewers know the right answers to the questions in advance. So a superior alternative is to give the candidate a current problem from the job to solve.

Tech firms like Google and Tesla have led the way in providing candidates with real problems to solve either during or separate from the interview. The candidate is then assessed not just on their solution, but on which steps they include or omit in their problem-solving process. Typical scenarios can include outlining their learning action steps for their first month or finding an error or problem in a current flawed process.

A growing number of tech firms and the startups are using “whiteboard tests.” Which is where a candidate is asked to spontaneously solve a problem on a whiteboard and they are then evaluated on both their solution and how well they communicate.


5. Minimize unconscious bias in order to increase diversity hiring

The recent revelation of the tremendous economic value added by diversity hiring has put an added focus on minimizing the biases that occur naturally during interviews.

Other approaches that reduce biases because faces and voices can’t be seen, include questionnaire interviews and text interviewing.

Data has shown that the assessment of fit is so subjective that it routinely eliminates otherwise qualified diversity hires.

Requiring interviewers to use, fill out, and turn in interview “scoring sheets” can also help because it keeps interviewers exclusively focused on the most critical job-related factors.

Offering unconscious bias training to interviewers has also proven to be effective at firms like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, and PwC.

6. Online skills, voice and personality assessments

There has been a growth in the number of available online technical skill tests that firms can offer.

There are a wide array of tests that cover commonly needed skills like programming, customer service, and accounting. There are even voice stress assessment tests (VSA’s) that can tell if a candidate’s voice will be engaging to customers. However, it cannot yet accurately assess deception during interviews.

Personality tests are also available, but they can’t improve your quality of hire until you know for sure which personality traits accurately predict on-the-job performance.

7. Artificial intelligence assessments are already here 

Frms like HireVue, Facebook and IBM are already offering some combination of AI technology, deep machine learning, and facial recognition software to assess taped interviews.

Technology allows the assessment to go beyond the actual answers and to assess phrases, facial expressions and even subtle physical movements that humans simply couldn’t catch.

8. Improving the candidate experience impacts current and future hiring

Data has shown that a negative candidate experience – spread the word about their negative experience on social media – can directly affect both your future recruiting and product sales.

In order to improve the candidate experience, firms like Blackberry and Google have provided detailed information to candidates about the upcoming interview process, so that candidates know what to expect. This reduces anxiety and therefore it improves a candidate’s interview performance.

Google also offers candidate coaching to ensure that qualified candidates aren’t eliminated as a result of inconsequential errors. Other firms are improving the candidate experience by offering more convenient night/weekend and interviews at professional conferences, fewer interviews, and fewer repeat questions.

Some firms are also offering “speed interviews” that allow a candidate to interview with multiple managers of the firm within an hour’s time.

9. The sales components of interviews are becoming more important

As the competition for talent continues to increase, it becomes harder and harder to sell top prospects on accepting a job. As a result, the sales components of interviews are now reaching the same level of importance as candidate skill assessment.

As a result, smart firms are consciously allocating a larger percentage of interview time towards selling the candidate on the job in the company.

10. Move beyond traditional skills and assess highly desirable advanced skills 

Many firms are realizing that in addition to the assessment of traditional skills, there are some advanced skills that are highly desirable in new hires. As a result, interviewers have begun to focus on identifying strategic thinkers, innovators, mature adults and the self-motivated.

Google already assesses the “career trajectory” of candidates and their ability to do “this as well as the next higher job.” Data from Google and others have revealed that the most important skill across all jobs is rapid learning and candidates with a “growth mindset”.

Don’t be surprised when you encounter these advanced approaches

In the future, there will continue to be many advances and developments in the area of interviewing and assessment. For example, don’t be surprised if firms begin paying top candidates for interviews (the tech firms in New Zealand now offer an all-expenses paid four-day trip to New Zealand just for agreeing to be interviewed).

In the future, expect the use of technology to assess transcribed interviews in order to determine if the information provided matches the answers provided by previous high-quality hires.

Internet problem-solving contests in order to identify, attract, and assess potential candidates. Although they are still in development stages, amazingly realistic virtual reality assessment scenarios are on the horizon.

Also, expect firms to begin assessing the accuracy of individual interviewers by showing them a series of both good and bad videotaped interviews in order to uncover the accuracy of their assessments.

And even though it, unfortunately, isn’t currently common, expect increasing legal challenges to force recruiting leaders to statistically “validate” their overall interview and assessment process, as well as each interview question. Finally, realize that virtual reality simulations will eventually dominate assessment. These simulations have already been implemented by U.S. Army and KPMG.

Finally, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, Emotional intelligence (EQ) will be one of the top ten most wanted job skills in 2020.


4  Tactics to Screen Candidates for Emotional Intelligence

According to , faced with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and an ever-changing workforce, employees will have to develop the skills that AI and computers can’t replicate (yet). And, emotional intelligence falls into that category.

The question is:

how do you hire for emotional intelligence?

Here are four suggestions to help recruiters hire for emotional intelligence.

Ask candidate’s references the right questions

References are a great way to gain insight into a candidate’s soft skills. But, hiring managers often make the mistake of asking questions, like “can you describe the candidate’s work performance?” or “what are the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?” By doing so, they miss a key determinant of how the candidate manages themself and others.

The staffing company, Office Team, found reference checks were the most common way companies gauged job applicants’ emotional intelligence, beating out interview questions and personality tests.

Try asking:

  • Can you tell me about a time the candidate made a mistake? How did he or she handle it?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how well did the candidate get along with other candidates? Why do you think that was?
  • What do you think motivates this candidate?

These questions assess a candidate’s accountability, social skills, and internal motivations and the answers can help predict how the candidate will behave in the future.

Analyze how the candidate interacts outside of the official interview   

For onsite interviews, you can enlist the help of your building’s front desk person, receptionist, or even the valet to help you gauge for soft skills.

Was the candidate friendly and polite?

Did the candidate talk down to someone?

If he or she can easily engage in conversation and show respect to others, that’s a good indicator of emotional intelligence.

Another way to accomplish this is by inviting the candidate to a meal. Charles Schwab’s CEO, Walt Bettinger, famously takes candidates to breakfast—and asks the restaurant to mess up their order.

Bettinger pays attention to how they respond.

Are they frustrated?


All telltale signs of someone’s emotional intelligence.

Consider “job auditions” first

Candidates can be great at interviewing, but not so great when it comes to actually doing the job. Plus, references can be inaccurate or biased. So, if you’re looking for a more objective way to review a candidate’s soft skills, consider utilizing a temp agency, hiring candidates for a short-term project or holding job auditions before bringing them on full-time. This allows you to assess job skills, cultural fit, and emotional intelligence in real-time.

WordPress does all their hiring with “job auditions,” . Candidates go through a contracted trial process where they are assigned actual work that they would be performing. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, CEO Matt Mullenweg says of the process, “there’s nothing like being in the trenches with someone, working with them day by day. It tells you something you can’t learn from resumes, interviews, or reference checks.” That something includes EQ levels.

Have candidates take personality assessments   

Personality assessments can also offer insight into a candidate’s EQ levels. Some employers use job simulations and role-playing exercises to measure a candidate’s problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

For example, Amtrak has potential employees take a 104 multiple-choice assessment called Amtrak’s Culture Fit Assessment. This assessment is meant to evaluate “how likely a job candidate will perform certain behaviors on the job that support [the] Amtrak culture.”

Koru, uses machine learning, “predictive hiring,” and analytics to predict whether candidates are a right fit for a company. Applicants take a 20-minute online test that measures for different personality traits.

While personality assessments can be helpful, it’s important to note they shouldn’t be looked at as an end-all, be-all. Instead, consider them an additional variable to factor in, along with reference checks and interviews.

Recruiters and hiring managers can use these techniques to gauge a candidate’s emotional intelligence.

BP created a cheerful and informative “Candidate Support” video to remove some of the fear associated with interviewing and walk candidates through the recruitment process.

Employing a friendly animation and upbeat music, the video provides tips to help candidates prepare for and excel in the interview, as well as letting them know what they can expect before, during, and after their interview stage.

BP’s recruitment video is a useful and encouraging tool to support both applicants at the early stages of their career and those who have not interviewed for some time. By ensuring candidates are better prepared for and more relaxed during interviews, recruiters can use the time more wisely to have more meaningful conversations.

“What works” and “What doesn’t work” in the interview process.

Dr. John Sullivan, concludes that with all of the recent advances in interviewing and assessment approaches and technologies, suggests that now is an opportune time to re-examine every aspect of your current interview process.

Re-examination is also necessary because candidate knowledge and candidate preparation for interviews has reached such a level that what occurs in most interviews can no longer be treated as effective.


Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally-known HR thought leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.