Evaluating Major League Talent
Major League Baseball is currently rolling out a new technology that tracks each player's on-field performance second by second. The result is a digital catalogue of virtually every movement in a Major League Baseball game. FIELDf/x technology is already in use in San Francisco and will be coming to a ballpark near you by 2012.
This amazing motion-capture system uses four high-speed cameras positioned above the field to record the action while special software identifies each player as well as the ball. More than 2.5 million records are generated during a single game—everything from the ball’s trajectory to the distance a player runs. These unassailable stats are sure to change the way players are scouted, evaluated, and paid.
That's because baseball pros can now look not just at what happened but how. By separating the results of a play from its quality, the real strengths and weaknesses of a player are revealed. And the quality of the play isn't influenced by human biases and misperceptions.
So what does this have to do with our Effective Interviewing!® methodology? More than you might think.
For 29 years we’ve provided techniques that help elicit "snapshots of behavior" from job candidates. Using these snapshots, the interviewer can begin to construct a pattern of past behavior and make a reasonable prediction about future performance.
Our methodology works the same way as FIELDf/x, but interviewers capture a candidate's behavior on paper, not high-speed film. And before making a decision, interviewers review several pages of notes, not an enormous database. Yet the results are similar. Using our approach, an interviewer can piece together enough snapshots to feel confident that she's seeing the real person emerge during the interview. What's more, the twin risks of interviewer bias and candidate misrepresentation are greatly reduced.
On the other hand, when an interviewer asks a candidate for just one or two examples of on-the-job behavior—the equivalent of looking at one or two pitches or swings of the bat—not only does she get an incomplete and usually erroneous picture of the candidate, she also can inadvertently telegraph the expected answers.
The plain fact is, "Give me an example" questions don't work precisely because they signal the answer the interviewer is seeking. It's as if the pitcher not only told a batter what kind of pitch he was going to throw, but gave him some batting tips, too. It's no wonder even D-League candidates can hit these questions out of the park.
Our goal is to avoid this simplistic and often counterproductive approach by teaching interviewers how to move from understanding what candidates did to understanding how and why they did it. Just as with FIELDf/x, this leads to better hiring decisions—but without spending millions on technology.