While most organizations use interviews in employment
decision making, many have not maximized the effectiveness of their interviewing
process. In the section on Types
of Employment Tests, the advantages and disadvantages of interviews were presented.
In this section, we discuss what distinguishes an effective interview from an
ineffective one. Research has been fairly conclusive in showing that
structuring an interviewmaking sure that the characteristics to be evaluated
are clearly identified, that all interviewers ask the same questions of all
candidates, that interviewers are well trained, and that interviewee performance
is evaluated using well-developed rating scalesleads to a more effective
The following tips can help managers create an effective
1. Identify the candidate characteristics that should be
assessed during the interview.
Employers must consider a number of factors in
deciding what candidate characteristics will be evaluated in the interview.
Questions to be considered include: Is this a knowledge, skill, or
characteristic that is important to success on the job or to some outcome of
interest (e.g., low turnover)? Is the interview the best way to assess
this important knowledge skill or ability? How much overlap would be best
between the interview and other tests used in the decision-making process?
Once the areas to be evaluated are identified,
interview questions should be created that will be used with all candidates for
a particular position. Past behavior is one of the best predictors of
future behavior. Interview questions should be designed so that candidates
describe things they actually did or said in a previous situation and the
outcome of their actions. This information often predicts very well how
candidates are likely to respond to a similar situation in the future. While
questions about hypothetical situations (what would you do if . . .) can be
useful also, these questions need to worded and used carefully within any
interview to get the maximum benefit from them. For example, asking an
individual about whether he/she would apply a skill in a particular situation
can result in his/her giving an obvious, socially desirable response.
3. Plan likely probes and follow-up questions
Organizations may find that an
interview process that was designed to be one in which all interviewees are
treated the same and asked the same questions becomes one in which people are
asked dramatically different things because interviewers vary widely in what
they do in follow-up questions or probing. If interviewers are not
allowed to probe, however, often key information is not elicited.
Thus, the interview should be designed to give interviewers the freedom to ask
follow-up questions but also to guide them in the types of follow-up questions
that would be most appropriate for the given interview structure. A
suggested list of possible probes can accompany the list of interview questions,
and/or training in effective probing be provided to interviewers.
responses using anchored scales
A systematic evaluation of
individuals responses to interview questions is helpful for several reasons.
It allows for a comparison across candidates who are often interviewed by
different individuals or even by the same individual across a wide time span.
It requires the interviewer to evaluate the candidate on the job-relevant
characteristics identified as important, not on any idiosyncratic set of
criteria. Standardization in rating scales provides documentation that all
candidates were evaluated on the same basis.
Despite the beliefs of many
individuals that they are good judges of others, interviewer training has
been demonstrated to be effective in improving the judgments of interviewers, in
ensuring that all candidates are treated similarly, and in calibrating
interviewers with one another.
the legal parameters.
Using business-related job
requirements as the foundation for creating interview questions usually means
the interview will be in compliance with the law. In deciding which
questions to ask in an interview, understanding the legal requirements for
selection will help the interviewer avoid asking inappropriate questions.
For example in the U.S., laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964),
the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967 outline several areas of concern with regard to
employment discrimination. These characteristics include race, color,
gender, religion, national origin, age (over 40), and disabilities. Generally,
questions directly about these characteristics will be problematic, but
questions that ask about a job requirement may relate to a characteristic and be
acceptable. For example, one cannot ask Are you a member of a religion that
holds services on Saturday? but one can ask, This job requires overtime
work on the weekends. Can you work on Saturdays and Sundays?
In other countries, and in specific jurisdictions within the U.S., other issues
may be of concern. Contact your local governmental agency for lists of
questions to avoid.
the interview to provide a realistic job preview.
Interviews are not just
opportunities to learn more about candidates; they are also opportunities for
managers to help candidates learn more about the job. When candidates have a
realistic understanding of their job, their expectations are more likely to be
met. When a job fails to live up to an individuals expectations, he/she is
more likely to be dissatisfied and ultimately leave the position. When
encountering tight labor markets, managers may be inclined to only relay the
positive aspects of a job to candidates. Although this approach may result in
short-term success, ultimately more time is spent hiring as candidates
continually leave the position.
the interview as a selling opportunity.
To increase the chances of
hiring a good candidate, use the interview experience to sell the job and the
company. Prior to the interview, talk to employees in the company and find out
what they like best about the organization. Then, when talking to candidates
about what they are looking for in a work experience, relay how the job and the
organization can meet their needs. To make the most of this selling opportunity,
think about the interview experience from the candidates perspective. A
candidates experience in the interview process affects his/her opinions about
the organization. Being treated professionally and talking with a well-prepared
interviewer creates a positive impression and experience.
Developing an effective interview process is
challenging. The Society for Industrial and Organization Psychology as
well as the psychology and business departments of your local college or
university are excellent resources for consultants that can answer any questions
about interview development.
Employment Testing Table