Do Longer Interviews Better Predict Future Job Performance?

Do Longer Interviews Better Predict Future Job Performance?

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Tom Siddle.

Recruiting the right talent for organisations is critical for overall performance and continued success. Selection processes and subsequent hiring decisions, however, are not straightforward. Organisations must choose between the costs of more sophisticated assessment methodologies (e.g. Assessment Centres) and potentially less accurate but more cost-efficient recruitment tools such as interviews. In fact, the latter is by far the most common method for selecting potential employees due its relatively short length and versatility.

Although alternative selection methods are more accurate than interviews (e.g. Assessment Centres), the organisational science literature does demonstrate that structuring interviews increases how predictive they are of future job performance (Huffcutt, Culbertson, & Weyhrauch, 2014). Structuring an interview involves developing standardised interview guides, objective scoring criteria and using interviewers trained in conducting evidence-based interviews to scientifically examine past behaviour in relation to the role. Research has not only demonstrated that highly structured interviews are more accurate than traditional interviews, but also that they reduce the likelihood of biases (McCarthy, Van Iddekinge, and Campion, 2010).

Straightforward in nature and relatively short in length, interviews may appear a fairly cost-effective way of recruiting prospective employees. However, individuals within organisations who are tasked with conducting them are typically executives, managers or outsourced consultants; whose time (cost) is valuable. Not to mention this being multiplied by the number of interviews and interviewers required for each as well as the preparation and/or feedback time required by each.

With this in mind, Todd Thorsteinson, an industrial-organizational psychologist and professor at the University of Idaho, recently conducted a meta-analysis of previous selection studies to examine the importance of interview length. Particularly, Thorsteinson (2017) wanted to know whether the length of an interview (an important factor in determining the cost of the tool) determined its accuracy and/or reliability. In other words, does conducting a longer interview better predict the future job performance of candidates?

Analysing the empirical literature, including thousands of interview studies, Thorsteinson found that neither reliability nor predictive validity were related to interview length. In other words, whether the interview was generally shorter or longer had no observable impact on how accurate the interviews were or how they predicted future job performance.

Prior to this meta-analysis there was little research on interview length and how it affects the overall selection process. Organisations should be cautious of how long they spend interviewing candidates. The finding here shows that length does not necessarily predict accuracy, which means waiting to try and find a crucial piece of candidate information may simply be a waste of the interviewers (valuable) time.

Combining this research with previous evidence around interviews, a structured format should be used along with a set question guide – with the number of questions limited to ensure the interview is of reasonable length (e.g. 30 minutes). Using this methodology would provide the most robust evidence of candidate suitability whilst managing the investment for the organisation – this would be particularly important when recruiting from large applicant’s pools where the potential cost is high.

Assuming the content and structure is appropriately effective; less is more when it comes to interviews.

Practitioner Take-Home Points

  • Interviews are the most commonly used selection tool, despite other forms of assessment being more predictive of future job performance
  • Highly structured interview formats should be adopted to maximise the effectiveness of the interview process
  • Those who are charged with conducting interviews for the organisation should be trained in conducting objective, unbiased and evidence-based interviews
  • Organisations can implement shorter interviews to save time and money compared to longer interviews, without sacrificing reliability and accuracy


Front Talent supports clients with the development of structured interview methodologies, including interview guides and objective scoring systems, as well as conducting Competency-Based Interviewing Workshops to train internal interviewers.

If you would like to find out more about any of these services, please get in touch at or call the office on +971 4 253 3517.

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