Is the Interview Effective?

Interviewing Job applicants:

Every manager needs to develop his or her interviewing skills. The following discussion highlights the key behaviors associated with these skills.

Steps in practicing the skill:

Review the job description and job specification: Reviewing pertinent information about the job provides valuable information about how to assess the candidate. Furthermore, relevant job requirements help to eliminate interview bias.

Prepare a structured set of questions to ask all applicants for the job: By having a set of prepared questions, you ensure that the information you wish to elicit is attainable. Furthermore, if you ask them all similar questions, you are able to better compare candidates’ answers on a common base.

Before meeting a candidate review his or her application form and resume. Doing so helps you to create a complete picture of the candidate in terms of what is represented on the resume or application and what the job requires. You will also begin to identify areas to explore in the interview. That is, areas that are not clearly defined on the resume or application but that are essential for the job will become a focal point of your discussion with the candidate.

Open the interview by putting the applicant at ease and by providing a brief preview of the topics to be discussed: Interviews are stressful for job candidates. By opening with small talk (e.g. the weather) you give the candidate time to adjust to the interview setting. By providing a preview of topics to come, you are giving the candidates an agenda that helps the candidates to begin framing what he or she will say to your questions.

Ask your questions and listen carefully to the applicant’s answers: Select follow up questions that naturally flow from the answers given. Focus on the response as they relate to information you need to ensure that the candidate meets your job requirements. Any uncertainty you may still have requires a follow up question to probe for the information.

Close the interview by telling the applicant what is going to happen next: Applicants are anxious about the status of your hiring decision. Be honest with the candidate regarding others who will be interviewed and the remaining steps in the hiring process. If you plan to make a decision in two weeks or so, let the candidate know what you intend to do. In addition, tell the applicant how you will let him or her know about your decision.

Write your evaluation of the applicant while the interview is still fresh in your mind: Don’t wait until the end of your day, after interviewing several candidates, to write your analysis of a candidate. Memory can fail you. The sooner yon complete your write up after an interview, the better chance you have of accurately recording what occurred in the interview.

The interview, along with the application form, is an almost universal selection device. Few of us have ever gotten a job without undergoing one or more interviews. The irony of this fact is that the value of the interview as a selection device has been the subject of considerable debate.

Interviews can be reliable and valid selection tools, but too often they are not. When interviews are structured and well organized and when interviewers are held to relevant questioning, interviews are effective predictors. But those conditions do not characterize many interviews. The typical interview in which applicants are asked a varying set of essentially random questions in an informal setting often provides little in the way of valuable information.

All kinds of potential biases can creep into interviews if they are not well structured and standardized. To illustrated, a review of the research leads us to the following conclusions:

1) Prior knowledge about the applicant will bias the interviewer’s evaluation.
2) The interviewer ends to hold a stereotype of what represents a good applicant.
3) The interviewer tends to favor applicants who share his or her own attitudes
4) The order in which applicants are interviewed will influence evaluations.
5) The order in which information is elicited during the interview will influence evaluations
6) Negative information is given unduly high weight.
7) The interviewer may take a decision concerning the applicant’s suitability within the first four or five minutes of he interview.
8) The interviewers may forget much of the interview’s content within minutes after its conclusion.
9) The interview is most valid in determining an applicant’s intelligence, level of motivation, and interpersonal skills.
10) Structured and well organized interviews are more reliable than unstructured and unorganized ones.

What can managers do to make interviews more valid and reliable? A number of suggestions have been made over the years. We list some in Developing Your Interviewing Skills.

One last modification to interviews that is becoming popular in contemporary organizations is the behavioral or situation interview. In this type of interview, candidates are observed, not only for what they say but also how they behave. Candidates are presented with situations often complex problems involving role playing and they are to deal with the situation. This type of interview provides an opportunity for interviewers to see how a potential employee will behave and how he or she will react under stress. Proponents of behavioral interviewing indicate such a process is much more indicative of a candidate’s performance than simply having the candidate tell the interviewer what he or she has done. In fact, research in this area indicates that behavioral interviews are nearly eight times more effective for predicting successful job performance.