The interview is the oral examination of candidates for employment. This is an essential step in the selection process. In this step, the interviewer tries to obtain and synthesise information about the abilities of the interviewee and the requirements of the job.
Types of Interview
Several types of interviews are commonly used depending on the nature and importance of the position to be filled within an organisation. 1. Nondirective interview: In a non-directive interviews the recruiter asks questions as they come to mind. There is no specific format to be followed. The questions can take any direction. The interviewer asks broad, open-ended questions such as ‘tell me more about what you did on your last job’ — and allows the applicant to talk freely with a minimum of interruption. Difficulties with a non-directive interview include keeping it job-related and obtaining comparable data on various applicants. 2. Directive or structured interview:In the directive interview, the recruiter uses a predetermined set of questions that are clearly job-related. Since every applicant is asked the same basic questions, comparison among applicants can be made more easily. Structured questions improve the reliability of the interview process, eliminate biases and errors and may even enhance the ability of a company to withstand a legal challenge. On the negative side, the whole process is somewhat mechanical, restricts the freedom of interviewers and may even convey disinterest to applicants who are used to more flexible interviews. Also, designing a structured interview may take a good amount of time and energy. 3. Situational interview: One variation of the structured interview is known as the situational interview. In this approach, the applicant is confronted with a hypothetical incident and asked how he or she would respond to it. The applicant’s response is then evaluated relative to pre-established benchmark standards. 4. Behavioural interview: The behavioural interview focuses on actual work incidents (as against hypothetical situations in the situational interview) in the applicant’s past. The applicant is supposed to reveal what he or she did in a given! The situation, for example, how he disciplined an employee who was smoking inside the factory premises. 5. Panel interview:In a typical panel interview, the applicant meets with three to five interviewers who take turns asking questions. After the interview, the interviewers pool their observations to arrive at a consensus about the suitability of the applicant. The panel members can ask new and incisive questions based on their expertise and experience and elicit deeper and more meaningful responses from candidates. Such an interview could also limit the impact of the personal biases of any individual interviewer. On the negative side, as an applicant, a panel interview may make you feel more stressed than usual.
The interview is a good selection tool in the hands of the person who knows how to use it. If it is not used properly or the interviewer himself is not in a positive frame of mind, mistakes may occur. The interviewer, for example, may:
1. favour applicants who share his own attitudes;
2. find it difficult to establish rapport with interviewees, because he himself does not possess good interpersonal skills;
3. not be asking right questions and hence not getting relevant responses;
4. resort to snap judgements, making a decision as to the applicant’s suitability in the first few minutes of the interview. Too often interviewers form an early impression and spend the balance of the interview looking for evidence to support it;
5. may have forgotten much of the interview’s content within minutes after its conclusion;
6. may have awarded high scores by showing leniency (leniency);
7. may have been influenced by ‘cultural noise’. To get the job, the applicants try to get past the interviewer. If they reveal wrong things about themselves, they realise that they may not get the job, so they try to give the interviewer responses that are socially acceptable, but not very revealing. These types of responses are known as cultural noise – responses the applicant believes are socially acceptable rather than facts;
8. may have allowed himself to be unduly influenced by associating a particular personality trait with a person’s origin or cultural background and that kind of stereotyping/generalising ultimately determining the scores of a candidate (stereotyping). For example, he may feel that candidates from Bihar may find it difficult to read, write and speak English language and hence not select them at all!
9. may allow the ratings to be influenced by his own likes and dislikes (bias);
10. may conclude that a poorly dressed candidate is not intelligent, attractive females are good for public dealings, etc. This is known as ‘halo effect’, where a single important trait of a candidate affects the judgement of the rater. The halo effect is present if an interviewer allows a candidate’s accomplishments in athletics to overshadow other aspects and leads the interviewer to like the applicant because ‘athletes make good sales people’;
11. have rated an applicant poorly, following the interview of very favourable or unfavourable candidates (an anomaly known as candidate-order error; the order in which you interview applicants can also affect how you rate them);
12. have been influenced more by unfavourable than favourable information about, or from, the candidate. Unfavourable information is given roughly twice the weight of favourable information. According to Dobmeyer and Dinette, a single negative characteristic may bar an individual from being accepted, whereafter no amount of positive features will guarantee a candidate’s acceptance;
13. have been under pressure to hire candidates at short notice;
14. have been influenced by the behaviour of the candidates (how he has answered, his body language), his or her dress (especially in the case of female candidates) and other physical factors that are not job-related.