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Why the Netflix CEO says Interviews Don’t Work, and What Does

Kristen Harcourt Oct 2, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Bigstock__62189552_-NetfllixIn a recent article, Netflix founder Reed Hastings said he thinks that interviews don’t work for hiring. He, and the other hiring managers at Netflix, put their faith, and effort, in another recruiting technique that he can’t believe so many managers do wrong or completely skip.

In an interview with The Independent, Hasting points to reference checking as the most important part of the hiring process. Keep reading to find out why.

"People can buffalo [trick] you in four or six hours,” Hastings said in the video interview. “Don’t pay too much attention to the interview: you really go deep on the blind references. You've got to recognize in references that people are inconsistent with their past. You have to work the network to get close, to find ways of connecting with people.

There’s no question that candidates try to put their best foot forward in an interview. And if you’re not asking the right kind of questions, they’re not effective at all. A study from Michigan State University showed that interviews are only 14% accurate when it comes to predicting future performance.

While, I think interviewing can be effective if it’s done the right way, Hastings is right when he says that reference checking is critical to the hiring process.

New Call-to-action The 5 Biggest Reference Checking Mistakes

Asking generic questions – Generic questions will only deliver generic responses. If you ask the same behavior-based questions you asked the candidate of their reference, the reference will provide the other side of the situations discussed by the candidate. After all, there are two sides to every story, right?

Not Speaking to Managers –Managers will be your best source to assess your potential hire’s past work experiences. It can be hard to reach managers, but it’s well worth the wait. Candidates don’t always provide their managers as references. That’s why it’s important to ask for the person they were reporting to when they’re giving you examples of past experience in the interview. This is part of the SARR probing method we discuss here.

Not checking at all: To some, checking references is seen as an option not a necessity. This can be especially true with employee referrals. But as the Michigan State study demonstrated, interviews are only 14 percent accurate in predicting future performance. And if you want a real-life story of what can happen when you skip references, read this

Not Probing: One of the biggest mistakes interviewers make is not probing. They ask the question – sometimes even really good behavioral interview questions – then sit back, listen to the answer and move on to the next question.  To get at the information you really want to know, sometimes you have to dig deeper. Probing for more information gives you a more complete story to base your hiring decision on. 

Passing off the job to someone else: Calling up multiple references can be both time-consuming and monotonous. Passing this job onto administrative staff can be tempting but only those present at the interview will be able to truly analyze what the reference is explaining in relation to what your candidate explained to you. Not only that, you’ll miss valuable opportunities to follow up with additional questions on red flags or discrepancies.

When done right, reference checking can be, as Hastings pointed out, an important piece of your hiring process. Remember not to make these mistakes when looking into your next hire.

Want to watch the video interview with Hastings? You can find it here

Have you made any of these reference checking mistakes? How do you reference check effectively?

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Topics: Recruitment

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.