Could you imagine interviewing a project manager without a CV in front of you? The CV is a document that generally shows the chronological experience a person has, everything that they have done in the past. In most cases when it comes to interviewing project managers you are actually more interested in whether they’re going to be a success in the role you’re currently interviewing for, the future. In this article I look at the role of the CV in the interview itself.
I got interested in interview bias whilst researching a chapter for a new book I’m writing. In his 2010 research paper, Allen Huffcutt talked about the seven principles for conducting employment interviews*. The paper serves to highlight the difficulties in interviewing and “by incorporating these principles, those who conduct employment interviews and/or rely on their results to make employment decisions should find an improvement in the caliber of those hired, and in the process, find greater satisfaction with the process.”
The second principle is the one which most intrigues me, Know as Little About The Candidate as Possible
Huffcutt states that before an interview – from reviewing application materials like CVs – interviewers tend to make general impressions about candidates. Within the interview itself this can lead to something called ‘impression-confirming’ which is a tendency to move away from asking objective questions which help to ‘fact find’ about the candidate. Instead interviewers who created a positive general impression about a candidate will not question objectively, ask follow-up questions or move on to selling the organisation to the candidate. The impressions made beforehand ultimately lead to selective treatment of candidates in interviews – something that each HR would frown on.
Huffcutt also mentions ‘false positives’ and ‘false negatives’.
“It is very easy to picture a candidate who looks good on paper but does not shine on the job (a false positive). The problem with a positive pre-interview impression is that the interviewer might not look deep enough to uncover that the candidate is not be as desirable as his/her paperwork suggests. Rather, they may over-focus on positive attributes that support their initial impressions.”
A false negative, someone who may not look as good on paper as other candidates, not only suffers from a negative first impression by the interviewer but also has less opportunity in the interview to try to change the interviewer’s impression due to the differential treatment they receive.
Compelling reasons for getting rid of the CV during interviews.
I think the process can be changed – and it relies heavily on the hiring organisation knowing exactly what they are looking for in a new project manager.
Imagine that the HR department – the resourcing team – understands the profile of what is needed in a new project manager. A profile – not just a job specification but a deep understanding of what is required in terms of skills, competencies, culture, personality and ambition.
The HR team are the ones responsible for reviewing and shortlisting the candidates who apply for the job. The interviews are carried out by the line manager – with no CV. All they need to know is that the HR team have reviewed them and deem them right for the job and the organisation. The interviewer focuses on the requirements of the job – this leads the discussions rather than the candidate’s CV leading the discussion. This allows the candidate to focus on the future – by forward-looking in the interview to what they could do for the organisation rather than talking about past glories.
Could it be possible? I think so. But interviewer first impressions are just one type of interview bias.
It certainly gives food for thought when thinking about the recruitment process and I’ll be looking at some of the other principles that are also needed in future posts.
*Allen I. Huffcutt (2010) From Science to Practice: Seven Principles for Conducting Employment Interviews. Applied H.R.M. Research, 2010, Volume 12, Number 1, pages 121-136