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By APTMetrics‘ Marianna Horn, Ph.D.

There is recent buzz in the popular media regarding the lack of utility in using job interviews. Many of the examples used in such articles (for an example, see this recent piece from the New York Times and the author’s recent research article)   provide negative experiences in which the job candidate felt the interview process was detrimental to the overall selection experience and portrayed the hiring organization in a negative light. What many of these examples fail to delineate is a key distinction between structured and unstructured interviews.

Anecdotal evidence of poor unstructured interview questions abound. Most HR professionals have been told by a friend or acquaintance about seemingly non-job-related questions during an interview. These anecdotes often include examples such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?” At the crux of such questions is what both I/O psychologists and HR professionals work to dispel: these questions’ lack of job relatedness.

As HR partners, we have the opportunity to inform our stakeholders of the importance of structured interviews. Specifically, this is a key opportunity to highlight the criticality of job relatedness and structure during the interview process. The following are the key components of a successful structured interview:

1.      Data driven, job-related content: Conduct a job analysis as the foundation for interview content. To establish job relatedness, it is necessary to identify the key competencies required for success on the job and to ask questions that assess those competencies.

2.      Consistent questions across interviewees: A fair, job-related structured interview contains the same interview questions based on the same key competencies for all interviewees. Additionally, interview questions should be behaviorally based and probe examples from the candidate’s previous work experience.

3.      Consistent rating process across interviewers: Using a rating scale that is based on job analysis and using the same scale across interviewers is critical for fairness. Additionally, rating scales should provide behavioral examples of different levels of performance for critical competencies.

As HR professionals, we have unique insight into the purpose and importance of job interviews. As partners to our clients, we can dispel the myth and mystery around the interview process and improve the impressions of candidates who come through our doors.

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