Interview is the oral examination of candidates for employment. This is the most 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. Interview gives the recruiter an opportunity to:
i. size up the interviewee’s agreeableness;
ii. ask questions that are not covered in tests;
iii. obtain as much pertinent information as possible;
iv. assess subjective aspects of the candidate – facial expressions, appearance,
nervousness and so forth;
v. make judgements on interviewee’s enthusiasm and intelligence;
vi. give facts to the candidate regarding the company, its policies, programmes, etc.,
and promote goodwill towards the company.
Types of Interviews
Several types of interviews are commonly used depending on the nature and importance of the position to be filled within an organisation.
i. The non-directive interview: In a non-directive interview 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 nondirective
interview include keeping it job related and obtaining comparable data on
various applicants.
ii. The 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 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.
iii. The 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.
iv The 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 situation, for example, how he disciplined an employee who was smoking inside the factory premises.
Stress interview: In stress interview, the interviewer attempts to find how applicants would respond to aggressive, embarrassing, rude and insulting questions. The whole exercise is meant to see whether the applicant can cope with highly stress-producing, anxious and demanding situations while at work, in a calm and composed manner. Such an approach may backfire also, because the typical applicant is already somewhat anxious in any interview. So, the applicant that the firm wants to hire might even turn down the job offer under such trying conditions.
vi. 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.
Common Interviewing Mistakes
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:
i. favour applicants who share his own attitudes;
ii. find it difficult to establish rapport with interviewees, because he himself does not
possess good interpersonal skills;
iii. not be asking right questions and hence not getting relevant responses;
iv. 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;
v. may have forgotten much of the interview’s content within minutes after its
vi. may have awarded high scores by showing leniency (leniency);
vii. 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;
viii. 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!
ix. may allow the ratings to be influenced by his own likes and dislikes (bias)

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