Interview Coaching – how prepared are SMEs’?

A whole industry has mushroomed around interview coaching on how to prepare candidates for interviews. Candidates are being prepped and polished to impress the organisation, prior to attending interviews. Interview coaching before an interview is not an effort to manipulate the process; the focus is to ensure that the candidate provides the interviewer with the most relevant information, promote their value proposition and make the link between their background and experience and what the organisation is looking for.

Are your organisation’s interviewers equipped to interview these well-prepared candidates? Can they filter out the sales pitch and work with the information provided, in order to rate the questions objectively andmake sound selection decisions?

It is estimated that only a third to a half of all employers are using competency interviews as part of their recruitment process ( premise of competency-based interviews is that past behaviour predicts future behaviour, which increases the structure and validity of the interview process. Research has shown that highly structured interviews have an average validity coefficient of around .5, whereas those with little structure have coefficients of only around .2 (

No matter how large or small your organisation, structured interviews improve validity and fairness, as every candidate interviewed for a particular job, is posed the same questions (i.e. job-related questions), in the same order, asked in the same manner and rated by the same interview panel. This is a drastic shift away from the “let’s go for a beer and I’ll tell you whether I’ll appoint you” syndrome, which, based on above research quoted, has very little predictive validity. The structured interview allows the process to focus on the job at hand, compares candidates to the criteria and produces both quantitative and qualitative information to be used as part of the selection process.

Based on research conducted by Schmidt and Hunter (1998) ––predictive validity of selection processes are ranked as follows:

  • Best predictor is work sample tests (i.e. simulations) – 29% of performance can be explained based on these assessments.
  • Next are both tests of general cognitive ability and structured interviews at 26%.

Unstructured interviews can only explain 14% of performance, reference checks 7% and numbers of years of work experience 3%.

Interview coaching assists candidates but it can also be invaluable in assisting interviewers. These statistics present a strong business case to introduce structure and science into your selection process in order to equip you to compete with the larger organisations to select the best of the best.



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