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工作面试骗了我们

更新时间:2017-4-12 19:33:49 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews
工作面试骗了我们

A friend of mine once had a curious experience with a job interview. Excited about the possible position, she arrived five minutes early and was immediately ushered into the interview by the receptionist. Following an amicable discussion with a panel of interviewers, she was offered the job.

我的一个朋友曾有过一次奇特的面试经历。因为对可能获得职位感到兴奋,她提前五分钟到达,然后便马上被接待员领着去接受面试。与几位面试官进行了友好的交谈之后,她拿到了这个职位。

Afterward, one of the interviewers remarked how impressed she was that my friend could be so composed after showing up 25 minutes late to the interview. As it turned out, my friend had been told the wrong start time by half an hour; she had remained composed because she did not know she was late.

后来,其中一位面试官说她对我的朋友印象十分深刻,因为她在迟到25分钟后还能表现得那么镇定自若。原来,我的朋友被告知的面试时间是错的,整整晚了半个小时;她之所以镇定,是因为不知道自己迟到了。

My friend is not the type of person who would have remained cool had she known she was late, but the interviewers reached the opposite conclusion. Of course, they also could have concluded that her calm reflected a flippant attitude, which is also not a trait of hers. Either way, they would have been wrong to assume that her behavior in the interview was indicative of her future performance at the job.

我的朋友不是那种知道自己迟到了还能保持冷静的人,但面试官们却得出了相反的结论。当然,他们本来也可以由此认定她的镇静反映出一种轻率无礼的态度,这也同样不是她的性格特点。不管是哪种情况,他们认为可以从她在面试中的反应看出她未来的工作表现,都是错误的。

This is a widespread problem. Employers like to use free-form, unstructured interviews in an attempt to “get to know” a job candidate. Such interviews are also increasingly popular with admissions officers at universities looking to move away from test scores and other standardized measures of student quality. But as in my friend’s case, interviewers typically form strong but unwarranted impressions about interviewees, often revealing more about themselves than the candidates.

这是一个普遍存在的问题。雇主们喜欢通过随意的、闲聊式的面试来“了解”应聘者。这种面试也越来越受到一些大学招生负责人的欢迎,他们想要告别考试分数和其他标准化的学生素质衡量指标。然而,就像我朋友的例子一样,面试者往往会对应试者形成强烈但并不合理的印象,其中更多揭示的是他们自身,而非求职者的情况。

People who study personnel psychology have long understood this. In 1979, for example, the Texas Legislature required the University of Texas Medical School at Houston to increase its incoming class size by 50 students late in the season. The additional 50 students that the school admitted had reached the interview phase of the application process but initially, following their interviews, were rejected. A team of researchers later found that these students did just as well as their other classmates in terms of attrition, academic performance, clinical performance (which involves rapport with patients and supervisors) and honors earned. The judgment of the interviewers, in other words, added nothing of relevance to the admissions process.

研究人事心理学的人早就知道这一点。比如在1979年,德克萨斯州议会(Texas Legislature)曾要求德克萨斯大学休斯顿医学院(University of Texas Medical School at Houston)在季末将即将入学的班级人数增加50人。这多出的50名学生之前已经走到了申请程序的面试阶段,但他们在面试后遭到拒绝。一组研究人员后来发现,就面试表现、学习成绩、临床表现(与病人和指导者的融洽程度)及所获荣誉而言,这些学生的表现和其他学生一样好。换句话说,面试官们的看法没有给录取程序增添任何有意义的内容。

Research that my colleagues and I have conducted shows that the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance: They can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.

我和同事展开的研究显示,这些面试的问题还不止于无关紧要:它们有可能损害和削弱有关应试者的其他更有价值的信息的影响。

In one experiment, we had student subjects interview other students and then predict their grade point averages for the following semester. The prediction was to be based on the interview, the student’s course schedule and his or her past G.P.A. (We explained that past G.P.A. was historically the best predictor of future grades at their school.) In addition to predicting the G.P.A. of the interviewee, our subjects also predicted the performance of a student they did not meet, based only on that student’s course schedule and past G.P.A.

在其中一项实验中,我们让一些作为实验对象的学生面试其他学生,然后预测被面试者在接下里这个学期的平均绩点(GPA)。预测是基于这次面试、学生的课程安排和他或她过去的GPA(我们解释说以前的GPA是从历史角度预测他们未来在学校成绩的最佳指标)。除了预测应试者的GPA,我们的实验对象还要预测一名他们不曾谋面的学生的成绩,只能依靠这名学生的课程安排和过去的GPA。

In the end, our subjects’ G.P.A. predictions were significantly more accurate for the students they did not meet. The interviews had been counterproductive.

结果,我们的实验对象对他们没见到的学生的GPA预测要准确得多。这些面试可以说适得其反。

It gets worse. Unbeknown to our subjects, we had instructed some of the interviewees to respond randomly to their questions. Though many of our interviewers were allowed to ask any questions they wanted, some were told to ask only yes/no or this/that questions. In half of these interviews, the interviewees were instructed to answer honestly. But in the other half, the interviewees were instructed to answer randomly. Specifically, they were told to note the first letter of each of the last two words of any question, and to see which category, A-M or N-Z, each letter fell into. If both letters were in the same category, the interviewee answered “yes” or took the “this” option; if the letters were in different categories, the interviewee answered “no” or took the “that” option.

不仅如此。这些实验对象也不知道,我们有要求一些应试者随机回答他们的问题。尽管许多面试者可以问自己想问的任何问题,但有些被告知只能问非对即错或非此即彼的问题。在一半的采访中,被采访者被要求诚实作答。但在另一半中,采访者被要求随机作答。具体而言,他们被告知记下每个问题最后两个单词的首字母,看看它们属于A-M还是N-Z。如果两个字母同属一类,就回答“对”,或选“此”;如果两个字母不属于一类,就选择“错”或“彼”选项。

Strikingly, not one interviewer reported noticing that he or she was conducting a random interview. More striking still, the students who conducted random interviews rated the degree to which they “got to know” the interviewee slightly higher on average than those who conducted honest interviews.

惊人的是,没有一个面试者表示注意到他或她主持的面试是随机作答的。更让人吃惊的是,主持随机作答面试的学生,对自己对应试者“了解”程度的平均评分,竟略高于主持诚实作答面试的人。

The key psychological insight here is that people have no trouble turning any information into a coherent narrative. This is true when, as in the case of my friend, the information (i.e., her tardiness) is incorrect. And this is true, as in our experiments, when the information is random. People can’t help seeing signals, even in noise.

这里有一个关键的心理发现是,人们可以毫不费力地将任何信息变成连贯的叙述。当信息就像我朋友的例子一样是错误的(比如她的迟到),情况是如此。当信息像我们的实验中一样是随机选择的,情况也是如此。人们会情不自禁地寻找信号,哪怕是在一片噪声之中。

There was a final twist in our experiment. We explained what we had done, and what our findings were, to another group of student subjects. Then we asked them to rank the information they would like to have when making a G.P.A. prediction: honest interviews, random interviews, or no interviews at all. They most often ranked no interview last. In other words, a majority felt they would rather base their predictions on an interview they knew to be random than to have to base their predictions on background information alone.

我们的实验最后出现了一个意想不到的转折。我们向另一组参加实验的学生解释了我们所做的事和我们的发现。然后请他们对自己希望用以做GPA预测的面试方式做一个排序:诚实作答的面试、随机作答的面试,或压根不进行面试。他们大多将不安排面试排在了最后。换句话说,大多数人都觉得,他们宁愿将预测建立在一场他们知道可能是随机作答的面试上,也不愿单单凭借背景信息做预测。

So great is people’s confidence in their ability to glean valuable information from a face to face conversation that they feel they can do so even if they know they are not being dealt with squarely. But they are wrong.

人们对自己从面对面的交谈中搜集有价值信息能力如此有信心,以致他们觉得即便知道对方没有坦诚面对自己,他们也可以拿到信息。但他们错了。

What can be done? One option is to structure interviews so that all candidates receive the same questions, a procedure that has been shown to make interviews more reliable and modestly more predictive of job success. Alternatively, you can use interviews to test job-related skills, rather than idly chatting or asking personal questions.

那我们该怎么做?一种选择是对面试进行安排,让所有的应试者接到同样的问题,这是一种被证明可以让面试更可靠、也略微更能预测职场成功的程序。或者,你可以利用面试的机会测试与工作有关的技能,而非随意闲谈或问一些个人问题。

Realistically, unstructured interviews aren’t going away anytime soon. Until then, we should be humble about the likelihood that our impressions will provide a reliable guide to a candidate’s future performance.

现实地看,闲聊式的面试不会很快消失。在那之前,我们不应高估自己凭借印象对求职者的未来表现做出可靠预测的能力。

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