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How many interviewers does it take to spot a good candidate?

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While the internet tries to solve the number of managers it takes to screw in a lightbulb, researchers at UK-based Behavioural Insights team have identified the number of interviewers it takes to make an optimum hiring decision.

The answer? Three.

In a simple online study, the researchers including Kate Glazebrook, principal advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team, asked 398 reviewers, to independently rate interview responses from four different hypothetical, unnamed candidates to the generic recruiting question: “Tell me about a time when you used your initiative to resolve a difficult situation?”

They provided the reviewers with guidelines on what a “good” answer should include, similar to how a structured interview is set up.

In a time of increasing awareness of unconscious biases affecting recruiters’ judgment, this study found that the reviewers’ combined ratings quickly coalesced around a single “best” response, making for a clear winning candidate.

“But most organisations can’t afford to ask hundreds of people to help them select a candidate. The critical question is: at what point does the crowd become wise?,” wrote Glazebrook at the re:Work blog.

ALSO READ: The top 10 toughest interview questions of 2016

To answer the question, the researches ran statistical simulations to estimate the probability that a given group could correctly select the best candidate.

In doing so, they created 1,000 combinations of reviewers in teams ranging from one to seven people, and then pooled these by group size, to average the chances of selecting the right candidate.

The team found: with more people, you are more likely to correctly identify the best person. Or, put another way, with more people you’re less likely to accidentally pass over your best candidate.

So, what does this mean for the workplace? Getting at least three reviewers to vet each candidate can significantly improve the odds of making the best hire.

Image: Shutterstock



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