Basic features of Interviews

An interview is a procedure designed to obtain information from a person through oral responses to oral inquiries; a selection interview, is a selection procedure designed to predict future job performance on the basis of applicants’ oral responses to oral inquiries.

Since the interview is only one of several selection tools, you could reasonably ask, why devote a chapter to this one tool? The answer for this is that the interview is the most widely used personnel selection procedure. While not all employers use tests or even reference checks, it would be highly unusual for a manager not to interview someone before hiring them. Interviewing is thus an indispensable management tool. Second, most people tend to think they’re better interviewers than they really are. In one study, less than 34% of interviewers had formal interview training, but interviewers were confident that they could identify the best candidates regardless of the amount of interviews structure employed.

As we’ll see below experts have criticized the interview for its low validity. However, recent reviews have been more favorable and an interview – at least one done property – can be a much better predictor of performance and is comparable with many other selection techniques.

Types of interviews:

Managers use several types of interviews in the work setting. For example there are selection, appraisal and exit interviews. An appraisal interview is a discussion, following a performance appraisal, in which supervisor and employee discuss the employee’s rating and possible remedial actions. When an employee leaves a firm for any reason, one often conducts an exit interview. This interview aims at eliciting information that might give the employer some insight into what’s right or wrong about the firm. Many techniques in this apply equally to appraisal and exit interviews. However, we’ll postpone a complete explanation of these types of interviews so that we can focus here on selection interviews. We can classify selection interviews according to (1) how structured they are, (2) their content – the types of questions they contain and (3) how the firm administers the interview’s look at these.

Structured Versus Unstructured Interviews:

Unstructured or un-directive interview: An unstructured style interview in which the interviewer pursues points of interest as they come up in response to questions.

Structured or directive interview: An interview following a set sequence of questions.

In un-structure or nondirective interviews, the manager generally follows no set format. The lack of structure allows the interviewer to ask follow up questions and pursue points of interest as they develop. Interviewees for the same job may or may not get the same or similar questions. A few questions might be specified in advance, but they’re usually not, and there is seldom and formal guide for scoring answers. This type of interview could even be described as little more than a general conversation.

At the other extreme, in structured or directive interviews, the employer specifies the questions ahead of time, and may also list and rate possible answers for appropriateness. McMurray’s patterned interview was one early example. The interviewer followed a printed form to ask a series of questions, such as how was the person’s present job obtained? Comments printed beneath the questions (such as has he/she shown self reliance in getting his /her jobs?) then guide the interviewer in evaluating the answers.

Some experts restrict the term structured interviews to those interviews based on carefully selected job oriented questions with predetermined answers that interviewers ask of all applicants. But in practice the choice isn’t unstructured versus structured instead, structured is a matter of degree. Sometimes, for instance the manager may just want to make sure he or she ask standard set of questions to ask, so he or she does not in advertently skip any questions. Here the interviewer might just choose questions from a list.

Structural and Nonstructural interviews each have pros and cons. In structured interviews, all interviewers generally ask all applicants the same questions. Partly because of this, these interviews end to be more reliable and valid. Structured interviews can also help less talented interviewers conduct better interviews. Standardizing the interviews also increases consistency across candidates, enhances job, reduces overall subjectivity (and thus the potential for bias) and may enhance the ability to withstand legal challenge. However structured interviews don’t always provide enough opportunity to pursue interest as they develop.