Is A Job Interview Even Relevant Anymore?

Is A Job Interview Even Relevant Anymore?

interviewing-picMy last few columns focused on job interviews. And as I was writing about the stupid questions, the scripted answers, and proper preparation, I began to wonder whether a job interview is still important in the hiring process. I’m sure there are many stories where the best interviewer turned out to be the worst employee.

Looking back, I got some of my jobs without a “formal” job interview. I remember getting one job just by sending a complimentary email to the owner of the business. I got several contract jobs through some people I knew over the years. Finally, I got one of my most interesting jobs by sending the managing editor a pitch and a writing sample. And they all turned out well.

It seems like job interviews today are not as important as they were in the past. Let’s look at two reasons why.

Looking online. If the goal of the interview is to learn more about a candidate, they can look them up online. Most people have a Linkedin account where they list their past accomplishments, present projects and sometimes future goals. However, most people rarely update their account unless they are planning to make a career change.

Most young people use social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have access to their posts, you can get a glimpse of their personality, their politics, and outside interests. Some people wondered whether a person’s work ethic (or lack of it) can be gauged through their social media posts. I say inconclusive. Someone’s 600+ word rant could have been copied and pasted. People may be posting and commenting frequently for exposure and to develop natural relationships.

And finally, just google their name online. Sometimes, you might find an informative, amusing or offensive post from a message board from several years ago that the candidate forgot to delete.

Reputation. As a person’s reputation develops, an interview becomes less important. This is especially the case for older people who as a group use little to no social media and rely on traditional media and word of mouth. If someone has an excellent reputation among the local bar and the public, employers will also know this and there is little need to discuss this. If they want to know more about the candidate, they can read all of the magazines where she has been interviewed. For these people, a job interview is merely a formality where the only question is which curtain color she prefers in the corner office.

So how do people develop a good reputation? By doing good work, obviously. But it is just as important to be known for doing good work. When I meet and talk to colleagues at a cocktail party or a bar association event, I keep in mind that every conversation we have is a very informal job interview. This is important because this can lead to future clients and a referral to a colleague who is hiring.

I am not suggesting that an employer should hire someone without meeting them in person. If an employer plans to hire someone on a long-term basis, then a detailed interview is appropriate. But for a monotonous, short-term job, there is not a lot to discuss other than competency to do the work, punctuality, and remembering to practice proper hygiene before coming to the office.

Job interviews can be useful to candidates because they might be able to make an educated guess about their chances of being hired. I’ve noticed that if employers like you, they will ask less questions and make more sales pitches about the benefits of working for the company.

On the other hand, if they don’t like you, then the interview tends to turn into a cross examination and you are treated like a hostile witness. You get the feeling that the interviewers are skeptical of everything you say and are treating you with contempt. Or the interviewers might try to discourage you by portraying a more gloomy view of their company, like the large number of billable hours that must be met, and the stressful environment.

Even though employers can learn a lot about potential employees online, job interviews are still relevant in the hiring process and job hunters should prepare accordingly. But when you’re known to be the best, employers will not likely to burden you with a formal interview.

Shannon Achimalbe was a former solo practitioner for five years before deciding to sell out and get back on the corporate ladder. Shannon can be reached by email at and via Twitter: @ShanonAchimalbe.


Published at Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:42:11 +0000

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