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Can someone have a bad interview, but still be the best choice for a role?

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Can someone have a bad interview, but still be the best choice for a role?

Absolutely. Here’s why.

Often, the best fit will interview well. When people know their stuff and they’re at ease, they’ll normally perform well.

But, that’s the point: they must be at ease.

And people are rarely at ease in interviews.

Interviews are awkward and artificial situations that make many people – including me – anxious.

And anxiety undermines performance. Quite literally. When we’re anxious, our bodies prioritise fight and flight responses, not higher order thinking.

Our memory and clarity of thought are impaired.

Plus, false positives are a risk. Some chronic underperformers accumulate extensive job interview experience. This repetitive practice can allow them to appear better suited than they are.

So, instead of seeing the interviews as the ultimate test of someone’s fit, we need to see them as a lens through which we look at someone, to consider their fit.

Yes, there are some roles that require people to perform well under stressful situations. So, their ability to perform in a stressful interview may be a relevant test of their fit. But most roles don’t require this.

Instead, try and do the following when you’re interviewing people:

  • Design the interview to put people at ease (e.g. organise the seating so they’re sitting shoulder to shoulder with someone, ask an ice-breaker question first etc.)
  • Be mindful of people’s nervousness. When you notice they’re nervous, try to put them at ease. You will get the clearest look at their fit when they’re able to relax
  • When assessing someone’s suitability, try and look past their nervousness

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