Tech Insights: How Technology Impacts the Art of the Interview

Editor’s note: This is the first of an occasional series from longtime HR analyst David Creelman about the latest in HR technology.

One of the more useful applications I saw at HR Tech was interviewing technology.

SPARC had a small module that tracks and shares questions that hiring managers ask in interviews. Instead of wondering, “What should I ask an IT auditor?”, the hiring manager can search the database for previously asked questions.

The obvious payoff is that you will save time and ask better questions. Furthermore, there is no real extra work in creating the database of questions; managers are already coming up with questions, so it is just a matter of capturing them.

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What is interesting

  • We live in a world where capturing and sharing everything is becoming standard operating procedure. The tool was first developed for internal use at SPARC because it is self-evident that it does not make sense to recreate questions for every interview.
  • While you can keep questions private to your company, the default position is that you share them with other companies on the platform. In the old world, sharing information outside the company walls was considered a daring idea; in the new world, it seems like the natural choice unless something is particularly confidential.
  • This is a lovely example of how our presumptions about work are changing. It used to be that the default involved doing your own work behind your office walls, and the organization doing its own work behind the company wall. Capturing and sharing data was a conscious decision. Now, the starting point involves automatically capturing information and sharing it widely.

Cautions and the real value-add

  • As an HR professional, my first twinge of anxiety comes from my preference to have an industrial-organizational psychologist design all interview questions. However, given that this is probably not happening now, it is a good idea to make it easier for hiring managers to share questions.
  • On a positive note, as an HR professional, I want to see what managers are actually asking in interviews, or think they should be asking. I can make sure that they are not asking ineffective or illegal questions. I can also get some insight into what is on their mind. If they ask a lot of questions about working to meet impossible deadlines, then I know a bit more about what is going on in that department.
  • As the manager once removed (the hiring manager’s boss). I would also be curious about what types of questions are being asked and if those questions reflect the kind of organization I am trying to build.

Consultants throw around ideas about “social,” “big data,” “transparency,” and so on. Sometimes it is hard to know what they really mean.

The interview software case shows the promise of social, more (if not exactly big) data, and transparency. It is a great example of the future of work.

David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, is a globally recognized thinker on people analytics and talent management. Some of his more interesting projects included:

  • Conducted workshops around the world on the practical aspects of people analytics
  • Took business leaders from Japan’s Recruit Co. on a tour of US tech companies (Recruit eventually bought for $1 billion)
  • Studied the relationship between Boards and HR (won Walker Award)
  • Spoke at the World Bank in Paris on HR reporting
  • Co-authored Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. The book was endorsed by the CHROs of IBM, LinkedIn and Starbucks.
  • Worked with Dr. Wanda Wallace on “Leading when you are not the expert” which topped the “Most Popular List” on the Harvard Business Review’s blog.
  • Worked with Dr. Henry Mintzberg on peer coaching, David’s learning modules are among the most popular topics.

Currently David is helping organizations to get on-track with people analytics.

This work led to him being made a Fellow for the Centre of Evidence-based Management (Netherlands) for his contributions to the field.



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