Designing and conducting an effective interview

There are two basic ways to avoid the interview problems. One is obvious: Keep them in mind and avoid them (don’t make snap judgments, for instance). The second is not quite so obvious: be careful how you design and structure the interview. Structured interview: Structured interviews can minimize many of the problems. Therefore look next at structuring the interview and at some guidelines for effective interviews.

The structured situational interview:

There is little doubt that the structured situational interview – a series of job oriented questions with predetermined answers that interviewers ask of all applicants for the job – produces superior results. The basic idea is to write situational (what would you do) or behavioral (what did you do), or job knowledge questions, and have job experts (like those supervising the job) also write answers rated from good to poor. The raters typically use descriptively anchored rating scale answer sheets to rate the interviewee answers. These use short descriptions to illustrate good, average or poor performance.

Structured employment interviews using either situational questions or behavioral questions tend to yield high validities. However, structured interviews with situational question formats yield the higher ratings. This may be because interviewers get more consistent (reliable) responses with situational questions (which force all applicants to apply the same scenario) than they do with behavioral questions (which require each applicant to find applicable experiences). In creating structured situational interviews, people familiar what the job develop questions based on the job’s actual duties. They then reach consensus on what are and are not acceptable answers. The procedure is as follows:

Step 1: Job analysis: Write a job description with a list of job duties, required knowledge, skills, abilities, and other worker qualifications.

Step 2: rate the Job’s Main Duties: Identify the job’s main duties. To do so, rate each job duty based on its importance to job success and on the time required to perform it compared to other tasks.

Step 3: Create Interview Questions: Create Interview questions based on actual job duties with more questions for the important duties.

Structural situational interviews may actually contain several types of questions. Situational questions pose a hypothetical job situation, such as what would you do if the machine suddenly began heating up? Job knowledge questions assess knowledge essential to job performance. These often deal with technical aspects of a job (such as is HTML?)

Willingness questions gauge the applicant’s willingness and motivation to meet the job’s requirements – to do repetitive physical work or to travel, for instance. Behavioral questions of course ask candidates how they’ve handled similar situations.

The people who create the questions usually write them in terms of critical incidents. For example, for a supervisory candidate the interviewer might ask this situational question:

Your spouse and two teenage children are sick in bed with colds. There are no relatives or friends available to look in on them. Your shift starts in three hours. What would you do in this situation?

Step 4: Create Benchmark Answers: Next, for each question, develop several descriptive and five point rating scale for each, with ideal answers for good (a rating 5) marginal (a rating 3) and poor (a rating 1).

Step 5: Appoint the Interview Panel and Conduct Interviews: employers generally conduct structured situational interviews using a panel, rather than one-on-one or sequentially. The panel usually consists of three to six members, preferably the same ones who wrote the questions and answers. It may also include the job’s supervisor and / or incumbent and an HR representative. The same panel interviews all candidates for the job.

The panel members generally review the job description questions and benchmark answers before the interview. One panel member usually introduces the applicant and asks all questions of all applicants in this and succeeding interviews (to ensure consistency). However, all panel members record and rate the applicant’s answers on the rating scale sheet. They do this by indicating where the candidate’s answer to each question falls relative to the ideal poor marginal or good answers. At the end of the interview, someone explains the follow up procedure and answers any questions of the applicant.

Web based programs help interviewers design and organize behavior based selection interviews. For example SelectPro enables interviewers to create behavior based selection interviews, custom interview guides, and automated online interviews.