Why Do Some Excel in the Interviews, But, Fail on the Job and How HR Can Fix This?

How HR Managers are vexed by the Problem of Good Interview Candidates

Research has shown that there are many instances of jobseekers excelling in the interviews, but, failing on the job, once they are recruited and placed in projects.

While this problem has been around for a while, in recent years, it has become so acute that Human Resources or HR Manages are trying to find ways to solve this problem.

Indeed, the term Good Interview Candidates, is an apt description of how many employees who show immense potential in the interviews, often fail on the job.

This is mainly because either these candidates have stellar academic and professional qualifications or are good at communication and smooth presentation skills.

These qualities make recruiters and interviewers give them the go ahead for selection in addition to their passing the Aptitude Tests with decent grades.

However, these same candidates fail to translate or convert their supposed potential to on the job performance, leading to many HR Managers as well as Project Managers scratching their heads on what went wrong.

Of course, there are ways to fix this and some of them include changing the interview formats.

How Silicon Valley Firms Address the Problem and What Indian Corporates Can Learn

For instance, in many Western countries, and especially the Silicon Valley firms, it is common to have multi round interviews that sometimes take place over an entire day to test all the abilities and skills as well as practical and real world and on the job skills.

Indeed, the problem of Good Interview Candidates can be solved if a broad range of skills are tested, instead of testing aptitude and communication skills alone.

In other words, conducting interviews spread over a day or more and including Case Study Solving, Coding Tests, and a Deep Domain Knowledge Testing rounds can help firms in determining the eligibility of candidates for selection.

However, many Asian firms, including in India, often have a couple of rounds of interviews, and that too, spanning less than an hour or so, where the basic skills are tested. If these firms follow the Silicon Valley Model of Interviewing, then they can solve the problem of good interview candidates failing on the job.

The point to note here is that Real World and On the Job Performance depends on a wide gamut of skills that are sometimes quite different from what are tested during the interviews and aptitude tests.

Academic Qualifications Do Not Always Correlate or Translate to On the Job Performance

Having said that, we are not suggesting that the Indian Model of Interviewing is flawed or defective and found wanting.

Indeed, the success of the Indian IT or Information Technology Sector and the wider Indian Corporates indicates that they have developed a Robust and Rigorous Model of Recruitment and Placement.

Rather, the fault lies with attaching too much importance to On the Paper Skills and Accomplishments.

In other words, one can be from a reputed institute and can have worked in Big Firms and at the same time, lack skills for particular projects of situations.

Moreover, one can be an excellent communicator, but, a poor people manager as well as have difficulties in getting around with others.

The only way out of this paradox would be to test Skills and Real World Attributes instead of testing academic performance alone.

In addition, often On the Job Performance involves the ability to work well under pressure, not give up easily, and the ability to innovate and improvise.

These skills are sometimes acquired through real world experience and hence, recruiters and interviewers might well do to test how well candidates are equipped in this regard. This can be done through broad basing interviews.

How Consultancies and Investment Banks Have Internships and Elaborate Courtships

On the other hand, even Management Professionals sometimes find it hard to adjust to their jobs despite having done well in interviews.

This is mainly because the interviewers would have gone by their academic performance and past professional experience ignoring how they have achieved and instead, focusing on what they have achieved.

There is a crucial and critical difference between these two in terms of having skills that can be translated into On the Job Performance.

This is the reason why many American Consultancies and Investment Banks often have an elaborate Courtship process wherein Management Grads are interviewed over a month’s long process that focuses on a Broad Array of Suitability and Fitment Abilities.

Even many Indian firms now recruit Management Students for Summer Placements and Internships so as to test their On the Job Performance rather than going by their academic qualifications alone.

The point to note is that more often than not Academic Qualifications do not fully prepare grads for Real World Performance and Past Professional Experience might not have prepared them for a particular firm’s specific On the Job Skills.

Therefore, it is our argument that Interviews must be Broad Based to test a multitude of skills.

Trial Periods

Last, in our professional experience, we have realized that our academic performance is enough to get us selected, but not enough to take us further once selected.

Moreover, we have also realized that while a majority of the skills are transferable, each organization needs particular skill sets that demand the ability to adapt and adjust.

Therefore, a Trail Period where fitment is determined can be an answer to the problem of Good Interview Candidates.

To conclude, as the world moves to a Skill Based Job Performance rather than academic and theoretical skill needs, it is imperative to change interview formats.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


Human Resource Management