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Job interviews are dead... Introducing Job Auditions

posted Mar 17, 2017, 8:40 AM by Annaleis Montgomery   [ updated May 5, 2017, 9:31 AM by Eric Plouffe ]
Job Interview Tips


What is one of the greatest lies ever told? That people don’t lie on their résumé.


We have all seen it, heard about it, or even participated in it. Why? Because we are terrified of being left behind in the whirlpool of unemployability.


That survival of the fittest mentality we all possess, explains why 81% of people lie during a job interview, according to award-winning social psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman.

Due to this alarming percentage of storytellers among us, the integrity of first impressions is called into question and an employers ability to then make an educated decision to hire their future employee, is based off of these presumptions. The outcome? Employers can’t discern between the truthful and the dishonest, resulting in blissful hiring ignorance.

Our Brains Are Biased

Employers might receive 100% honest answers from a candidate, however they will still evaluate a person at face value. Friedman explains that our brains are pre-wired with a subconscious bias. When we meet someone we determine their skills and capabilities from this first impression; drawing the below conclusions…

  • Attractive Human Being → Interpreted as more competent, intelligent and qualified in comparison to less attractive colleagues  
  • Tall Person → Exudes leadership, as opposed to shorter people. Similarly, women are regarded to share these leadership skills. Decades of data also reveal a correlation between height and salary at every age.
  • Has a deeper or lower pitched voice → Evaluated to possess strength, trustworthiness and integrity.

Caught yourself identifying with these aspects? Research suggests that we cannot help but be swayed by these factors. Friedman explains that if an interviewer interprets someone as being extroverted, they are likely to ask a question like, “Tell me your experience with group leadership”. Whereas, if interpreted as introverted, the line of questioning would change to, “Are you comfortable leading groups?”

Whilst the topic remains constant, Friedman comments that the way the question is framed reflects our assumptions of that person, leading the candidate to provide the answer the interviewer wants to hear, regardless of whether it’s true.


The answer to this mess? Job Auditions!

Friedman suggests job auditions are the way of the future. Which when you think about it, makes sense! It’s time for candidates to step up to the plate and walk the walk, instead of talk the talk.


For example, a sales representative may be asked to sell the company’s product/service to the employer, or a web designer would be tasked with an on-the-spot challenge of designing a landing page.

Regardless of the job position, an interviewer's first impression would be based on the candidate's actual capabilities rather than hearing scripted answers over and over again; similar to the nature of behavioural interviews.


CASE STUDY 1: Automatic

These are the legends behind WordPress.com, who “believe in making the Web a better place” by one ‘tryout’ at a time. (‘Tryout’: a reinvention of the traditional interview).

CEO Matt Mullenweg saw a misconnection in the industry, he writes in the Harvard Business Review, “Just like work, interviews can be "performed" without real productivity.”

Sticking to this philosophy, final candidates adopt the position they are applying to for three to eight weights under contract, working alongside their colleagues and completing real tasks. The final step of this process may be called an interview, but is no more traditional than the rest of the tryout, as it involves instant messaging between candidate and employer; aiming to get as close to a double-blind process as possible.

CASE STUDY 2: The ‘extreme interviewing’ strategy

Another alternative interview strategy that is being introduced to the workforce, is known as the ‘‘extreme interviewing’ strategy. This is a process which involves 50 candidates undergoing a series of exercises reflecting the standard type of work carried out at a company. Candidates complete a 20-minute series for a total of 3 rounds, typically alternating partners.


This is an effective strategy to evaluate whether a candidate brings out the best skills in their designated partner and can work well with others, also known as testing an individual's ‘kindergarten skills’.  


The top 3 candidates are then invited back for a paid audition day where the candidates work on real client projects within the company. The shining stars will then return for one more round of three-week paid trials.


Now, It’s Your Move

While the traditional structure of an interview may take it’s time to fade out, employers are becoming more aware of what’s going on and are reacting to it by tightening up their ‘tryouts’. Looks like the ‘Fake it 'til you make it" mantra seems to be hot air after all.


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