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Are interviews required for entry level jobs?

Submitted by karol.s on
CMCE Next Gen: The post-pandemic world of work

We are often reminded that to see different results we must do different things.  Yet as management consultants we know that change isn’t that simple.  Psychology researcher Benjamin Gardner at King’s College London explains in an article that ‘habitual behaviour is regulated by an impulsive process, and so can be elicited with minimal cognitive effort, awareness, control, or intention’.  This is why setting goals seldom stimulates the actions required to achieve them.  This was my first thought after attending CMCE’s Next Gen opening event on Clubhouse.

We were joined by a panel of five international professionals:

  1. Amena Chaudhary MCiPD, an Associate Director in HR at Patrizia, UK
  2. Ashley Smith MBA, FCCA, a Finance Director at CADA Design, UK
  3. Chido Chadoka FCCA, a Group Finance Manager, Zimbabwe
  4. Eva-Christie Bessala, the Director for Global Pricing at PwC, UK
  5. Lara Quentrall-Thomas, Chairman at Regency Recruitment, Trinidad and Tobago

During the 60-minute discussion, panellists shared their perspective and insights on the question, ‘Do entry level jobs require interviews?’

It’s a thought-provoking question.  On the one hand, if we consider the purpose of employee screenings, we would say yes, absolutely, interviews are necessary for new entrants.  But if we consider the fact that new entrants don’t yet have the skills or experience to be assessed through an interview, then is an interview truly the most effective assessment method for graduates?

The evening’s conversation began with an ice breaker question.  The host asked, ‘Tell us about your first experience of work, did you have an interview?’  Interestingly two of the five panellists did not have interviews.  Chido Chadoka from Zimbabwe explained that his literacy landed him his first job in the banking sector at the age of 19.  He had gone to the bank armed with his CV and the Bank Manager, noticing that he could articulate himself effectively, had introduced him to the HR department.  Eva-Christie Bessala from the UK also did not have an interview.  She was introduced to the world of work right out of school through an internship at her mother’s office.  I too didn’t have an interview.  My school had selected me for a placement within a conglomerate.  How about you, were you interviewed for your first role?

As the evening drew on, there were clear themes arising from the discussion.  These included:

  • A misalignment between graduate expectations and what employers are willing to offer.
  • The competition for jobs is fiercer today because more 24–25-year-olds have MBAs,
  • Investment and access to education has significantly changed the working environment.  Even in developing nations literacy rates are higher than they have ever been.
  • Conducting interviews is a skill.  It should be a conversation between two parties.
  • Although asked, there was no obvious answer on how to achieve diversity and inclusion with the traditional approaches.
  • The employer’s power dynamic in interviews can make it difficult to select the best candidates.
  • The use of virtual interviews and other pre-screening activities do aid the process.
  • There is a divide between a recruiter’s need for selecting the right talent and the accountant’s need for creating the highest business value from hired talent.

By the end of the hour, it was obvious that interviews are by no means redundant.  Yet, the entire discussion reminded me of a case study I’d heard from management innovator Fi Hills.  When call-centres were becoming mainstream in the UK she was hired to reengineer the recruitment process because corporates needed a quick way to hire a large number of operators.  They couldn’t achieve that with the traditional enrolling approach.  What Fi did was to remove the one-to-one interview process and introduce instead a system that allowed candidates to perform key requirements of the role they were being recruited for and based their candidate assessment on how well they managed to carry out a specific task.  Through role play, assessors could judge whether the candidate had a friendly disposition, could handle off-script questions or obnoxious callers.  It was only after that mass pre-screening exercise that other employment checks were performed.  This change sped up the process tremendously and kept call-centres staffed as there was a steady talent pipeline available.

I wonder what the economic impact might be if the current process was replaced, and new entrants had better access to the professional services sector, especially in management consulting?

Rhonda A. Best is the author of the recently published article ‘The Role of Intangibles in the Economic Recovery Post- COVID-19 Pandemic’ that inspired the CMCE Next Gen series of discussions on the post-pandemic world of work.

A recording of the full discussion is available here when you download the Clubhouse app on your mobile.  To attend one of the upcoming discussions in the CMCE Next Gen series follow the CMCE Club by clicking here.