Do Interviews Really Tell Us Anything?

This article struck me as interesting.

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In 1979, the University of Texas Medical School interviewed the top 800 applicants and scored them on a seven-point scale. These ratings played a key role in the admissions decision, in addition to the students’ grades and the quality of their undergraduate schools. UT admitted only those students who ranked higher than 350 (out of 800) on the interview.

Then, unexpectedly, the Texas legislature required the medical school to accept 50 more students. Unfortunately, by the time the school was told to admit more students, the only ones still available were the dregs of the interviewees. So the school admitted 50 of these bottom-dwellers, who’d ranked between 700 and 800.

Fortunately, no one at the school was aware who were the 700s and who were the 100s, so fate had created a perfectly designed horse race between the good interviewees and the lousy ones. And the performance difference? Nada. Both groups graduated and received honors at the same rate.

Well, sure, you scoff. The dregs might do fine in the coursework, but a good interviewer picks up on social skills! So once the dregs started working in a real hospital, where relationships matter, it would become abundantly clear who was Meredith Grey and who was Quasimodo.

Nope, didn’t happen. Both groups performed equally well in the first year of residency. The interviews correlated with nothing other than, well, the ability to interview.

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