5 Reasons Why Job Interviews Are Useless For Hiring Salespeople [Infographic]

The job interview has been the most popular method of hiring for the past 100 years. Clearly, there’s something about talking to someone in person that we find appealing.

Unfortunately, research reveals that we tend to be pretty bad at conducting job interviews. So why are interviews so terrible at predicting job performance?

Let’s look at 5 Reasons Why Job Interviews Are Useless in our infographic below:

5 reasons why job interviews are useless - Ideal Candidate

Reason #1: You’re easily impressed

A recent study on job interviews found that people higher on narcissism (i.e., manipulative, arrogant, and lacking empathy) are perceived to be more attractive as job candidates. Specifically, the researchers found that “narcissists tended to talk about themselves, make eye contact, joke around and ask the interviewers more questions.”

When these are the same behaviors that job candidates are encouraged to display during an interview, it’s obvious why we’re easily led astray.

Reason #2: You’re bad at detecting lies

Are you telling yourself, “Maybe others can be fooled during an interview, but I know when someone’s faking it“? A series of experiments found that, in general, people are bad at knowing when someone is lying to them in an interview. Job interviewers were able to correctly detect when a job candidate was lying only 13-22% of the time.

Furthermore, prior experience had no effect on accuracy: university students without any interviewing experience had the same ability to detect lies as hiring managers with up to 10 years of interviewing experience.

Reason #3: You pay attention to the wrong things

Research conducted by Professor Rivera at the Kellogg School of Management found that most hiring managers rated similarity to existing employees’ background and hobbies – such as the sport he or she played – as the most important criterion during a job interview.

This similarity attraction effect is one of biggest biases in hiring and helps explain why hiring has a 50% failure rate.

Reason #4: You ignore inconsistencies

In a clever experiment conducted by researchers at Yale University, people answered interview questions either truthfully or randomly. Not only were both the truthful and random answers rated as “somewhat informative” by the interviewers, conducting an interview in the first place led to worse predictions about someone’s future behavior.

Due to this detrimental effect, the researchers actually recommend, “Don’t use unstructured interviews at all.” Harsh.

Reason #5: You have unrealistic expectations

Industrial-Organizational Psychology Professor Highhouse argues that we’re asking too much of a job interview when it’s “supposed to simultaneously take into account ability, motivation, and person–organization fit.” That’s a lot of mental calculations and emotional judgments we’re demanding of ourselves in a limited time frame.

We already know our brain just isn’t that good at integrating that much information at once.

How to properly conduct a job interview

I’m not arguing that we should abandon job interviews forever. In fact, when conducted properly, a job interview can be a great tool for selecting job candidates. To do it correctly, you need to conduct interviews in a structured way. This means:

  1. Increasing validity by asking questions related to the knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics required for the job.
  2. Increasing reliability by asking each job candidate the same questions in the same order.
  3. Reducing error and subjectivity by recording and assessing each candidate’s answers with a quantitative rating scale.
  4. Making an objective, data-based decision by averaging these ratings and using them to compare job candidates.

Bonus: Want to prove your hiring process is strategically aligned to business outcomes? Collecting ratings of job candidates at the interview stage creates a quality of hire metric which you can then statistically link to critical outcomes like revenue.

An easier and more accurate approach to the job interview

A meta-analysis by Cortina and colleagues found that an unstructured interview added little value for predicting future job performance over getting job candidates to complete assessments of their cognitive ability and personality traits.

So instead of trying to force a job interview to be the judge, jury, and executioner of hiring decisions, you can easily assess your job candidates’ personality, skills, and values directly using a psychometric assessment.

The insights from the data are clear: stop wasting time making the same mistakes and choose a smarter sales hiring system instead.

Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min


  • Do you have any questions for us? This one tends to come up every time. Have some questions prepared. This will show you have done some research and are eager to know and learn as much as possible. You probably don’t want to ask more than 3 or 4 questions. Try and use questions that focus on you becoming an asset to the company. A generic one might be “how soon can I start if I were to get the job”. Another idea is to ask what you would be working on and how quickly they expect you to be able to be productive. Remember to ask about next steps and when you can expect to hear back.

    • Absolutely, asking questions that reveal your intelligence and interest in the position is extremely important for job candidates to make a positive impression on hiring managers.