Interview – most commonly used employee selection method

Using traditional unstructured interview was called into question because if fails to predicts candidate’s abilities – the metric characteristics of these methods are rather low. In fact, it does not measure what it’s supposed to measure…

Interview is a form of conversation in which (at least two) people participate in verbal and non-verbal communication in order to reach a predestined goal.
Interview has been used for a long time for the selection purposes. You could say that it is the most popular and wide-spread selection method. When compared to other selection methods the interview serves to fill out the blanks left by information obtain from other sources, examines the physical characteristics and the way the person communicates (verbally and nonverbally). The interview is a means of attracting the candidates because it enables them to get information on the company.

In the selection process, the basic division is into the traditional unstructured interview and structured interview.

While the unstructured interview relies on the subjective impression the examiner gets on whether the candidate is suitable or not and on using closed or suggestive questions, the structured interview focuses on factors connected with work and implies open-ended questions. It is important to stress that in the case of the structured interview every candidate is asked the same question (which contributes to the fact that this kind of interview is more reliable than the traditional unstructured interview). This way we ensure the method is just, which protects the employers from lawsuits.

Using traditional unstructured interview was called into question because it fails to predict the candidate’s abilities – the metric characteristics of these methods are rather low. Actually, it doesn’t measure what it’s supposed to – does a candidate have the ability to perform a certain task. The structured interview’s metric characteristics are better and this is why it should be used (more often). Cooper and Robertson (2007.) claim that the usual validity coefficient is less than 0,2, while in the case of a structured interview it is 0,44. So, the validity of a structured interview is twice as high than the validity of an unstructured interview! Despite, the fact that the traditional interview is used to widely is surprising.

The advantage of a structured interview is that it is based on work analysis, so the questions are representative of work related behavior. The probability that the candidate will be discriminated is less (whether on the basis of race, sex or age). Also, the structured interview is less susceptible to interviewer’s bias such as:

  • Fundamental attribution error (is the tendency to attribute the cause of a person’s behavior to that person as an individual, rather than to situational factors – for example, a candidate who is nervous during the interview we can, because of fundamental attribution error, see as a person who is usually nervous, and maybe the person is nervous simply because of the situation they are in);
  • Premature judgment (forming opinion on the candidate before the interview or in the first couple of minutes of the interview);
  • Emphasizing the negative (implies that the interviewer is more influenced by the negative information about the candidate);
  • Not knowing enough about the workplace (the consequence is the wrong idea of the ideal worker, so the worker selected does not actually meet the criteria of the workplace in question).

Objective information gained through relevant questions lead to the increase of the validity of the interview, because the interviewer relies on them and so decreases the influence of above-mentioned bias. The influence of this bias is also possible to reduce by talking more to each candidate.

When creating a structured interview, besides the questions, we are also creating a key for evaluating behavior, in order to provide reliability and validity of the judgment of the candidates. So, without the key, there is usually no difference between the structured and unstructured interview.

Despite the standardization, leading the interview is an important skill of the person doing the employment. In order to improve the assessment of the interview, they have to be trained to do the interview. They should be trained “in observing, interpersonal relations, skills, judging skills, leading the interview and asking questions “(Cooper i Robertson, 2007.).

In short, the interview can be improved by educating the interviewer, using numeral assessments, writing notes and through more interviewers participating in the interview at the same time (Cook and Criormatipps, 2009.).

A couple of types of the structured interview have been developed and the most popular so far have been the situational interview and behavior description interviews (Cook and Cripps, 2009.).

In a special way the interview can contribute to decreasing costs because of a worker leaving the workplace. In fact, during the interview the candidate has the opportunity to ask what he wants to know about the organization and the very job he applied for. It is less likely that a well-informed candidate will leave the workplace after being hired, if he got information on the job before hand (Cooper and Robertson, 2007.). This is why it is recommended, at the end of the interview, to ask the candidate does he have any questions and to give him all the details on the job.

There are some “unacceptable” questions which cannot be asked in a job interview, which is determined in the Labour Act. In the article „Questions for the selection interview “in this webpage you can find the article of the Labour Law referring to this.

It is important to emphasize that is it not recommended to use the interview as the only selection method!! In fact, the more information on the candidate we get, the more likely it is we will make a good choice.