The NFL scouting combine – the world’s most popular job interview

Author(s): Alice M. Brawley Newlin, Ph.D.

Originally posted: February 24, 2016

With the exception of perhaps the presidential election, I can’t think of a more publicized job selection process than the NFL scouting combine. Imagine if the biggest interview of your life was broadcast on television with live commentary… Yikes!

Tests/evaluations in this assessment center seem really thorough, and everyone completes:

– a 40-yard dash (finally, a job interview event you probably don’t want to wear a suit for… check out how Rich Eisen did!)

– bench pressing 225 pounds

– vertical and broad jump (when coach says jump, you should probably ask both how high and how far…)

– 20- and 60-yard shuttles and a 3-cone drill

– physical measurements, injury evaluation, and the Cybex fitness test

– drug screening

– the Wonderlic cognitive ability test (which makes I-O psychologists’ little hearts go pitter-pat, even though there’s evidence that it must be something more than “g” predicting football players’ job performance and the football players don’t seem to enjoy this part of the process…)

There are also position-specific exercises that some of these job applicants complete, like catching passes from alternating directions (probably the ultimate inbox exercise). Finally, each team is allowed sixty 15-minute interviews.

Interestingly enough, all of this scouting sometimes doesn’t pay off in terms of predicting success in the NFL. Researchers have even called this the “quarterback prediction problem” (see Wolfson, Addona, & Schmicker’s paper) – an interesting predicament for an organization that pays a hefty price for their employees.

See the complete numbers here.

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