It’s the conversation nearly everyone dreads: the job interview. Having snuck away from the office, dressed in your nicest suit, you sit at a conference room table and try to please the people with the power to hire you. In just a short period, your task is to convince these strangers how good you’d be at this job.
But behind this uncomfortable ritual, so essential to securing employment, admission to school, and other plum rewards, is an even more discomfiting fact: As a tool for picking the best candidates, it’s almost entirely useless. Social scientists have argued in vain for years that the standard open-ended, unstructured interview does essentially nothing to improve the quality of the candidates selected. In fact, a new study now suggests, unstructured interviews aren’t just a waste of time—they may actually harm companies’ and schools’ ability to select the right people.