Archives: Feb 2013

The value of the past in interviews. The STAR method

For many people, looking back to the past has been an important way of predicting the future. Centuries ago, the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 B.C. – 479 B.C.) advised humankind to “heed the past to see what the future holds”. His words of advice have been followed by many people and in a number of fields of activity and knowledge. For example, stock market specialists use “Technical Analysis” to predict future stock market movements, anticipating future share prices on the basis of current and past ones.

In the field of Human Resources, and particularly in the area of Selection, many businesses use competency-based interviews, i.e. structured interviews that set out to identify critical incidents, resting on the basic assumption that a person’s past performance is the best indicator of his or her future performance.

In this kind of interview, the Selection Specialist asks the candidate about real Situations that define Tasks, Actions and Results. This is known as the STAR method.

Drawing on your own personal experience in job interviews, do you think that the situations that you faced in the past serve are a reliable indicator of how you are likely to act in the future? Or do you think that more factors need to be taken into consideration, such as specific circumstances, situations or moments, or an individual’s physical and mental state?

Ramón Rodríguez Lago
ACCIONA Selection Manager

IQ Scores: Myth or reality?

Back in 1904, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon drew up the world’s very first intelligence test. The test provided a score by dividing the subject’s mental age by his or her chronological age and then multiplying it by 100. They called this score Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Since then countless other tests have been developed that provide IQs in many areas such as performance predictions in classrooms and the workplace.

However, the recent Príncipe de Asturias award winner, Howard Gardner, claims that intelligence is not a quantity that can be measured by a number and he proposes a Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In other words, he says, there is no such thing as a single intelligence but rather there are 8 cognitive skills. Along similar lines, an article that appeared on 20 December 2012 in the prestigious journal Neuron published the findings of a study carried out at Canada’s Western University which analyzed the results of 100,000 participants and arrived at the conclusion that there is no single element capable of quantifying human intelligence and that the latter is a multifactor phenomenon.

If intelligence tests evaluate the individual in a narrow range of a series of concrete subjects, leaving out other possible analysis filters, do you think they are an accurate predictor of an individual’s intelligence? Or, on the contrary, do you think that they provide information that is relevant to determining an individual’s level of intelligence?

Some thinkers go a step further and wonder if intelligence tests are really biased by Western thinking and culture. Other cultures value highly aspects such as creativity and social intelligence. Do you think that other filters should be introduced to make a more accurate prediction of an individual’s intelligence?

Ramón Rodríguez Lago
ACCIONA Selection Manager