Want to Revolutionize Recruiting? Then Switch to the “3 Minute Hire”

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Let’s look at how 95 percent of people are hired.

Besides a little variability, almost every person, at some point in their career, has been hired in this manner: Interview someone for an hour. If you like them, you make them an offer.

Sound about right? Sure you might actually add some other steps, like phone screening first, a second one hour interview with someone else later, but your reality is that it’s an hour interview and the decision is made!

We’ve perfected and expanded the one-hour interview

We’ve taken the one-hour interview and expanded it with science. We add pre-employment screens, cognitive testing, background screens, personality profiles, etc.

But, we still go back to the one-hour interview: “Well, Tim tested off the charts, all the data says, he will be a rock star, but I didn’t connect with him in the one hour interview. I don’t want to hire him.

We allow our hiring managers to do this, often.

A much better way to hire would be to have the actual candidate work with you for like four to six weeks before you actually hire them. Yes, an extended job tryout. Pay them to come interview with you for four weeks.

That would actually be a better way, but it would probably limit your options for candidates. It would leave you with people who are unemployed, the under-employed, those working in consultant or temporary type of jobs, or those people who love your brand so much they would be willing to risk it all to prove to you that they are the one you really want.

Or, you can continue on the one-hour interview platform.

Why not hire off initial impression interviews?

But take away all the other stuff. In fact, take away the one hour and just do an initial impression interview. It might take about three minute: “Initially I really liked Tim! Let’s do this.”

You would virtually get the same exact candidate as you do with your one hour process, but you would save so much time, effort, and resources. Your hiring quality and retention would almost remain unchanged.

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It really comes down to this:

  1. Extended job tryout hire; or,
  2. Three (3) minute first impression hire.

Three minutes vs. one hour? It makes no difference

The reality is that most of us would be more willing to do the “Three minute first impression hire” than the “Extended job tryout hire” even though one leads to actual better hires, and the other does exactly what you have now.

We fear that changing to something we view as “radical” will be worse than what we have — even though we know it won’t. So, we keep doing what we do., scheduling one hour interviews and hiring those people who we “felt” the best connection with.

If I was you, I’d go with the three-minute interview.

It’s simple. It’s the same. And, your hiring managers will actually like the new process.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


13 Comments on “Want to Revolutionize Recruiting? Then Switch to the “3 Minute Hire”

  1. I can’t tell if you’re being facetious here. if not, do you have any statistics to back up that there’s “no difference” between 3 minutes and 1 hour?

      1. I can be even more facetious – let’s get no interview vs. 1 hour interview. You’ll see no difference, or very little difference in how well you select. The point is, if you’re going to build a great big interview process, then still let your hiring managers decide with their gut – it’s less than worthless.

  2. Or, you could actually train your hiring managers to conduct a decent interview to make a decision. Interviews can be one of the most valid predictors of job performance if done right. I hate to be harsh, but the 3 minute interview is the worst idea I’ve seen presented in a blog in some time. This site looses credibility in my mind for even publishing this blog.

    1. VOCS –

      You are right it is an awful idea – which was the point. I don’t know if you’ve trained hiring managers to interview better – I have – the data shows very little actually changes.


      1. What data? Sorry but I have to throw the BS flag on this until you give us context? We can all get “data” that suits our bias.

        Step up and give us your study, and then show us how your data set and samples prove you out on the absurdly general (across markets & industries) level that your article seemed very much to imply.

        As an actual hands on recruiting expert in the technology industry with the track record to prove it,……I’m publicly calling you out to prove your argument with your data.

        So are you sure or were you just being cleaver and trying to up your page views?

  3. Really, it does sounds appealing, and it sounds about right for some of the time. But I also have experiences of liking poeple at the start of the 1 hour interview and hating them by the end. an insight that we would miss out in a 3 min interview. Of-course I also have experience of loving people throughout and then they turn out to be rotten employees! Undoubtedly, for some candidates the results would be the same, but overall? Has anyone actually tried this?

    1. I do know of a company that ditched interviews all together and just used the skills testing and selection science to make offers, as a test to see if they would be better or worse from their interview process. They actually got better in terms of tenure and performance! We ‘leaders’ tend to think we know more than we know! 😉

  4. This piece of advice is not only false (there is abundant evidence pointing the limitations of intuition based decision making) but most likely illegal. From a discrimination point of view, you will be on the losing side if you follow this advice. Remember the average payout is 1.5 million usd.

    So no, don’t do a 3 min interview. Hire slow, and smart

    1. Felipe –

      The point was not to interview in 3 min. The point was most companies follow your advice to hire slow and smart, then go ahead and use their gut anyway. If that is the case, you might as well just make a hire decision from first impression – you’ll save your organization a lot of resources.

      BTW – making a hiring decision in 3 minutes is not against the law. Discriminating in your hiring decision is against the law – big difference.


  5. This is a silly article. Tim I usually like your stuff, but maybe you spending a little bit of time again in the trenches would be a good idea. This one of the more unrealistic ideas I’ve see in a great while. What’s next, no resume or background check?

    Any serious candidate that is truly worthwhile would RUN from this type of vetting process. Very out of the box……right off the cliff.

  6. I understand your point. In my opinion, many hiring managers reach a decision within the first few seconds regardless of the training they’ve had. I clearly remember reading some study that supports the overwhelming influence of “gut” impressions. (This is just a blog comment, so please don’t attack me for not investing time in citations.) But just like dating, there are cultural norms involved. A manager that ends an interview after three minutes would violate those norms. I wouldn’t want to work for (or do business with an organization) that is so clueless about or disrespectful of cultural norms.

  7. You could not bring them in for a 3 minute interview and just set the candidate up with a short automated video interview. This will save even more time for the candidate and hiring manager and eliminate scheduling hassles. Review the candidate in three minutes and even compare them to other candidate videos.

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