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Talent Selection Processes & Tools

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By Sim Bock San & Nasser Ismail

CBI yields significantly better results

The job interview still remains the primary choice of talent selection tool used by most organisations. There are a number of variations of the interview that organisations can choose from.

Firstly is of course the Traditional / unstructured interview . This method of interview allows for questions that can be changed at the discretion of the interviewer with no fixed or specific questions. This is the most common form of job interviewing. Unfortunately it is also the least reliable form of interviewing with a reliability estimated in the range of 20-37% [1]. This means almost two thirds of hiring decisions based on traditional unstructured interviews produce poor selections.

Graphic by Tumisu
Graphic by Tumisu

Next is Situational Interviewing, this is where candidates are asked questions based on a set of circumstances and then asked to indicate how they would respond in that situation; i.e. the questions are future oriented. Although these types of interviews create some form of consistency whereby all candidates are asked similar questions, they are poor estimates of past behaviours and subsequently future behaviour. As they are primarily concerned with how a candidate responds to a particular scenario, they do not give a clear indication of how a candidate has behaved in the past. What they say and what they would do may be very different.

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Another variation of interviewing is the Guesstimate Interview which was made popular by Microsoft which asks candidates to solve on the spot brainteasers like “How would you move Mount Fuji?” [2] . These interviews are more concerned with how the candidates work out the solution under pressure rather than actually getting the right answer, i.e. their thought processes. This is a good method for determining if a candidate has good cognitive skills but has limited value in identifying other behaviour based competencies such as customer focus or ability to delegate.

The interview technique which has proven to be the most reliable and consistent is competency based or behaviour based interviewing that is structured. Competency Based Interviewing (CBI) focuses on experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. It is based on the belief that past behaviour and performance predicts future behaviour and performance. Structured interviews are estimated to have a reliability of 57% based on research conducted. [3]

Based on the above, of the 4 types of interviews, the most common variation, the unstructured interview yields the worst results with up to 4 out of 5 hiring decision turning out badly. The best interview technique, CBI yields significantly better results which are up to 37 percentage points higher!

All editorial content are owned by respective intellectual property owners and are protected by applicable copyright laws.  Re-use of any part of the content for commercial purposes without permission is strictly prohibited.

© 2015, Monde Journal.



[1]  Conway, J. M., Jako, R. A., & Goodman, D. F. (1995). A meta-analysis of interrater and Internal consistency reliability of selection interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, (p565-579)

[2] Poundstone, W. (2003), How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle – How the World’s Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers

[3] Huffcutt, A. I., & Arthur W., Jr. (1994). Hunter and Hunter (1994) Revisited: Interview validity for entry-level jobs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, (p184-190)


About the Authors:

Sim Bock San

Sim has more than 20 years’ experience in Leadership and Talent Assessment, Needs Analysis, Training and Development using Assessment Centre (AC) methodology, Simulations, Competency Based Interviewing tools and approaches.  He has extensive experience and exposure in the field of human performance, developing and implementing human resource development systems for local and global MNCs including some of the leading Fortune 500 companies.

Sim is a DDI-certified Master Trainer for Targeted Selection (Selection and Assessment), Skills for an Empowered Workforce (Leadership Development and Workforce Effectiveness Training) and Maximizing Performance (Performance Management). He is the co-author of 3 publications and articles on topics such as Recruitment & Selection, Performance Management, Leadership Bench-marking and has presented similar topics at several conferences and seminars, locally and regionally. Sim holds a B.Commerce (with a double major in Finance & Economics) from the University of Toronto, Canada.

For enquiries, please email Sim at sim@simconsulting.biz


Nasser Bin Ismail

The former Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications at the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). He was one of the pioneer member responsible for setting up the IRDA Strategic Communications Division.

He has 15 years of extensive experience in the communication profession.  As a firm believer in “every manager is a HR manager”,  he is a trained CBI interviewer and Performance Management System (PMS) practitioner with experience in its implementation in both the private and public sector. As a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), he sits on the board of the Malaysian chapter of the IABC

Nasser Ismail is an economics graduate of the London School of Economics and also holds a Master’s Degree in International Business.

For enquiries, please email Nasser at nasser@nasserismail.com


All editorial content are owned by respective intellectual property owners and are protected by applicable copyright laws.  Re-use of any part of the content for commercial purposes without permission is strictly prohibited.

© 2015, Monde Journal.



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