Based on Human Resource Management (4th Edition) by Alan Price -
published by Cengage
The interview is a social ritual which is expected by all participants,
including applicants. It is such a 'normal' feature of filling vacancies that candidates for a
job would be extremely surprised not to be interviewed at least once.
Many employers invite applicants for informal interviews prior to the main selection procedure.
These interviews are useful for information exchange, particularly in the case of professionals.
They provide an opportunity to discuss the full nature of the job,
the working environment, prospects for further development and promotion.
(...) There seems to be some ambiguity as to whether informal interviews should be used as
part of the pre-selection process by the employer rather than self-selection by the candidate.
The crux of the issue depends on what interviewees have been told. If they have been led to believe
that it is a truly informal information session they will not consider the process to be fair
if they are subsequently told that they have not been shortlisted as a result.
Despite the existence of alternative methods of selection most employers regard the formal selection interview as the most important source of evidence in making the final decision. A selection interview can be neatly defined as a conversation with a purpose, but not infrequently
the purpose is obscure to the point of invisibility. More often than not, pointless chat would be nearer the mark. (...) the interview has
attracted severe criticism for a very long time - being attacked on the grounds of its subjective nature, questionable validity and unreliability.
New Views on Interviews
Having had a 'bad press' for decades there has been something of a change of attitudes on the subject of interviews.
There are interviews ... and interviews. Specifically, there are unstructured and structured interviews. The former come within the description of
pointless chat whereas the latter are more systematic and thought through. Not surprisingly, structured interviews tend to produce the best
Training and Interviews
Managers who are rarely involved in selection, perhaps only conducting interviews once or
twice a year, are at a disadvantage against trained applicants. Interview coaching is similar in
principle to training politicians for television appearances. Astute trainees can learn how to
mask insincerity and to promise the earth with apparent conviction.
Against trained interviewers, the most useful tactic for applicants is to become familiar
with the company they are applying to join. This requires research on the company’s history,
products or services and its reported strategy. Knowledge of the industry or sector in
which it operates is also valuable. (...)
There are significant variations in the way employers conduct interviews. The most common
method is the ‘singleton’ interview when the candidate’s fate is determined by one session
with a single interviewer. For obvious reasons, this method is likely to be regarded as unfair by interviewees who are not selected. There is no check or record of bias on the part
of the interviewer who may have made a judgement on a complete whim. A long-standing method which attempts to overcome this problem is the panel or board interview (...)
As with many other aspects of selection, interviewing has been formalized and packaged
into training programmes available for both selectors and candidates. Untrained assessors
are likely to conduct interviews in an unstructured way. Interview training is a useful component
of management training. The best training programmes encourage people to become
aware of their body language and questioning styles, helping them to develop interview
techniques that open up fresh areas of evidence. Many junior managers and job club participants
have had the opportunity to see themselves ‘in action’ on video, taking part in mock
interviews. Initially demoralizing (for most), it is an invaluable method of feedback.
Packaged training methods have led to a certain sameness, however, and seasoned job (...)
(See Human Resource Management [Price, 2011] for a full discussion.)