When I heard that my upcoming, first-ever-grad-assessment-day was going to involve “speed dating with a difference”, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry… It was for an internship in a PR agency for the summer, so I figured things would be less formal than say a banking job, but speed dating, really?! Panic struck.
After I calmed myself down, I started to research and ask around about this speed-style interview technique; turns out there’s quite a lot of hype and debate about it. I guess the point is to get to know you as a person, and speed interviewing is the most time effective way of doing this without putting a major strain on corporate resources; the interviewer ultimately wants to know whether they can picture themselves working alongside you in the work-place. I predict a lot of companies and organisations may hop on this speedy bandwagon, so I thought I’d put together some background information and pros and cons of the method for you to peruse if you find yourself in a similar situation!
A little less conversation
Ok, so the concept of speed interviewing is based on psychological research into ‘thin slicing’, started by John Gottman in the 1980s. This was done with videotaped interactions between married couples. By analysing and coding particular facial expressions and body language, Gottman found that he could predict how long the marriage would last, with an accuracy rate of 95%. All this with just 15 minutes of videotape, and next to no speech! The technique was even found to be successful with 3 minutes of footage, but with a lower (yet still acceptable!) accuracy rate of 80%. All this works due to the subconscious mind being overall more methodical and rational than the conscious mind, therefore often leading to more accurate decisions.
So bringing it back to speed interviewing, this energizing yet nerve-wracking technique has brought about a whole load of controversy. Whilst some say it is an accurate measure of judging a person’s natural personality and best for getting ‘off-the-cuff’ responses, others find that making snap subconscious judgements is inviting discrimination. First I’ll look at some of the pros…
It offers immediate comparison between candidates; this may be seen as either a pro or con, but I guess if you performed well then it works in your favour! You’ll be at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind when they interview further candidates.
The speed dating technique can also be seen as being compatible with the ‘next generation’ (our generation, I suppose!) in that attention spans nowadays aren’t half what they used to be; people get bored more easily and the world is a lot more fast-paced. I think this is why they may stick around – they’re convenient and take next to no time to achieve what may have taken a good hour in a bog standard interview.
So this all sounds perfect, right? You sit down and in less than 5 minutes you’re getting up again; great for those of you that get really nervous in interviews and feel flustered at the thought of being grilled Lord Sugar style. However there are of course some draw-backs to this technique.
First of all it is inviting a large amount of discrimination on looks, I believe. If the person interviewing you didn’t get what they wanted from you in terms of what you said, then they may well (even subconsciously) make their decision based on what you looked like at the time of interview. Maybe you woke up that morning with a delightful trifle-esque spot on the end of your nose, or you forgot to check in between your teeth after lunch. Beauty discrimination rears its head at the most unfair of situations.
Another con may be the fact that the interview is over so quickly you don’t get chance to ask any questions you had prepared, or you don’t get to shine half as much as you’d have liked if you’d been given the opportunity to fight your case with an hour left on the clock. There’s always going to be the regret of “oh I should’ve mentioned this” or “why did I talk about that when I should have talked about this”. But maybe these gut-wrenching feelings are amplified in this type of situation.
So to sum up, speed interviewing may be becoming more and more popular amongst employers as they are continuously trying to find better ways to cut costs and save resources. And as research has shown, making snap judgements can lead to the right decisions being made due to our subconscious playing a key role. However, what happens when their subconscious is wrong, and the wrong person gets hired, leaving the right person to drift through the net of employment (i.e. you)? Maybe I’m reading into this too much, and the answer is a lot simpler than this; but when my future may lie in the hands of someone who’s spoken to me for 5 minutes, aren’t I allowed to get a little angsty?