A few years ago, it wasn't uncommon for managers to bring people in for multiple interviews over multiple days. It was also common for managers to drag out the hiring process. It made candidates' lives stressful--never quite knowing if this interview was the final one or not. And even after going through all of this, you might well get ghosted--that is, neither the recruiter nor hiring manager would ever get back to you to tell you that you weren't hired.

And so, it amused me greatly when companies started complaining that candidates were ghosting them. It's a candidate's job market right now, and if you snooze you lose. And to beat that, The Wall Street Journal reports that some companies are hiring sight unseen--after you fill out an application and have a phone interview, they make the decision on the spot. You can start a job without having ever met with a human face-to-face--or even Skype-to-Skype.

While most of the jobs profiled by the WSJ are retail or other entry-level jobs, some are skilled and professional jobs. And this all makes sense to me--I've worked for Inc.com as a freelancer for almost six years and I've never once met a single person who works there. I've talked on the phone and Skyped but I've never been to their offices and no one seems willing to fly to Switzerland to meet me. 

You should probably consider speeding up your hiring process, even if it doesn't mean skipping the face-to-face interview. Here's why:

You stink at interviewing.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Peter Capelli, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania, as saying that most companies are "so bad at interviewing, and the interviews are so full of bias, that it's not crazy to just ignore them altogether."

He's right. From managers that ask crazy questions to our unconscious bias peeking through and influencing our decisions, our interview skills are not great. You can be a great manager and a great person and still be terrible at interviewing because it's a skill that you don't use often.

You don't have a lot to lose.

We sometimes take hiring decisions more seriously than we should. Almost all employment in the United States is at will. You can fire someone who doesn't work out. This is not to say that you should just fire people right and left, but it means you aren't stuck with a bad choice forever.

Candidates, on the other hand, have a lot more to lose than you do. Most likely, they are leaving their current job for you or are turning down other offers. A job that only lasts a few months looks far worse on their résumé​ than it does on your Glassdoor review. They are the person taking the greater risk.

Interviewing rarely relates to the actual job skill.

This job requires that I sit at a computer, analyze information, and write about it in a coherent and entertaining fashion (hopefully with as few typos as possible). An accountant's job is to make sure that all laws are followed and all numbers balance out. A computer coder's job is to write clear, clean code. None of these jobs require great interview skills on a daily basis. Someone who is great at interviewing may not be all that great at doing the actual job, and vice versa.

We place tons of emphasis on the interview when there are other ways to test actual skills. Looking at portfolios, short assignments, and actual tests can all help indicate if this person has what it takes to do the work--in many cases, far better than asking the candidate to share her strengths and weaknesses with you.

Should you hire sight unseen?

I'm not going to advocate for going straight from phone screen to job offer for most jobs, but shortening your hiring process is highly recommended. Don't drag things out. Keep the interview rounds limited and make your decision and move forward. If not, you may miss out on the best and the brightest who have just been hired by your competitors. 

Published on: Nov 19, 2018