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How many people should be involved in the interview process?

We’ve all heard the “how many people it takes to screw in a light bulb?” jokes, but how many HR reps does it take to identify the best man for the job? Well, if the results of a new study are to be believed, the more people who conduct the interviews, the better the odds of them selecting the best job candidate. But, when told that it wasn’t feasible to have dozens of folks performing interviews, the researchers DID concede that in general, these optimum results can be achieved with at least three interviewers on the case.

In the study, researchers at the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team asked 398 individuals to rate interview responses from hypothetical candidates. Results showed that collectively, the reviewers’ combined ratings coalesced around the best candidate. However, because close to 400 individuals aren’t generally available to conduct interviews – and even if they were, any sane candidate would surely head for the hills if put in front of this type of firing squad! – they set out to determine at which point the group became “wise.” Data showed that in cases where candidates were very similar to each other, one interviewer made the best choice 49 percent of the time, but having three interviewers increased the odds of selecting the right person for the job to 63 percent and having seven interviewers increased the odds to a whopping 72 percent.

Looking, meanwhile, at cases where candidates were more varied in their skill sets, one interviewer could make the call 84 percent of the time, and if two more people were added to the interview, the odds increased to 94 percent. With seven interviewers, it was pretty much a slam dunk in terms of selecting the best candidate.

Realizing that having even seven individuals interview a candidate likely isn’t feasible for most work places, Kate Glazebrook, the principal advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team, recommended having at least three reviews to vet each job candidate, but noted that each additional person added thereafter would further improve the likelihood of a successful candidate selection.

To read the full study, click here.

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