The Classic Interviewing Trap and How to Avoid It

Every day in businesses across the country, a hidden trap sabotages the selection of the right candidate for the job during the interviewing process.

It’s hiding in plain sight.

This trap is created by a general misunderstanding of what interviewers are specifically interviewing for.

Even though they are hoping to determine if the candidate is “competent” to do the job, too often these job interviews focus mostly on 2 things – a discussion of the candidate’s “knowledge” and “understanding” necessary to do the function (job).

And, that can lead to problems.

Because, often, the interviewers don’t focus on overall competence for the specific function. They don’t focus sufficiently on a 3rd element – the critical proven ability to do the job.

This is caused by a misunderstanding of the 3 elements that make up “competence”.

Most interviewers believe that the two competence elements are knowledge and understanding, which is why, in the interview process, they usually look for and test for only knowledge and understanding.

But, they leave out the third and most critical element of competence, which is “proven ability”.

And, that’s the trap.

Competence is the demonstrated ability to fulfill an assigned task, using effectiveness and efficiency in equal measure. This means the competent person is not forfeiting effectiveness for efficiency or efficiency for effectiveness.

Just because a job candidate demonstrates that they have the knowledge and understanding of the function (job) to be done, it doesn’t mean they can actually DO the function.

There is HUGE GAP between “knowledge and understanding” and “ability”.

The GAP is the TRAP.

Interviewers believe that they are testing for “ability” when they call references and ask them if the person they are interviewing was able to do the job.

Unfortunately, references don’t always tell the truth (especially if they are wary of litigation) and they are actually un-vetted as a source of verification.

The only way to test for ability in the interviewing process is to step into the arena of behavior targeted interviewing.

Here’s how it works.

This process involves presenting an actual scenario that occurs in the job being interviewed for.

And, asking the candidate what they would specifically have to know, understand, and be able to do, to deal with the scenario competently.

This means that the person doing the interview must know exactly how the job has to be done in order for them to test if the candidate actually has the ability.

Behavior-targeted interviewing takes a lot of preparation and work to develop the appropriate scenarios to ensure that they will test the overall competence of the person being interviewed.

And, that’s why the test for ability is often left out of the interviewing  process – because of the work, effort and expertise to do it effectively.

Yet, to address the TRAP, it has to done.

That’s why, if you want the hire the right candidate for a job, it’s critical to test for all 3 elements of competence – knowledge, understanding, and ability.

  • Frank Converse

    I imagine some stations and groups would like their money back due to the wrong conclusions John made in his flawed research. I mean this is what you’re doing now?. Ha ha ha ha.