Definitions

job candidate

Job interview

A job interview is a process in which a potential employee is evaluated by an employer for prospective employment in their company, organization, or firm, it was established in the late 16th century.

Role

A job interview typically precedes the hiring decision, and is used to evaluate the candidate. Interviews are usually preceded by the evaluation of supplied résumés, selecting a small number of candidates for interviews are considered to be one of the most useful tools for evaluating potential employees, they also demand significant resources from the employer and have been demonstrated to be notoriously unreliable in identifying the optimal person for the job.

Multiple rounds of job interviews may be used where there are many candidates or the job is particularly challenging or desirable; earlier rounds may involve fewer staff from the employers and will typically be much shorter and less in-depth. A common initial interview form is the phone interview, a job interview conducted over the telephone. This is especially common when the candidates do not live near the employer and has the advantage of keeping costs low for both sides.

Once all candidates have had job interviews, the employer typically selects the most desirable candidate and begins the negotiation of a job offer.

Preparation

It is very important to be well prepared for an interview. According to the University of Delaware's career center, a common reason employers gave for not hiring an applicant, is the inability of the applicant to fully explain the contents of his or her résumé. Therefore it is paramount to be able to discuss in detail every item listed on one's resume, and if possible to give examples when appropriate. It is also wise to research the company before the interview. To avoid being nervous, practice answering difficult questions. A good source of interview questions can be found by searching the Internet.

Process

A typical job interview has a single candidate meeting with between one and three persons representing the employer; the potential supervisor of the employee is usually involved in the interview process. A larger interview panel will often have a specialized human resources worker. The meeting can be as short as 15 minutes; job interviews usually last less than two hours. The bulk of the job interview will be the interviewers asking the candidate questions about their history, personality, work style and other relevant factors to the job. The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. Questions are strongly encouraged, not only do they allow the interviewee to acquire more information but they also demonstrate the candidate's strong interest in the position and company. A candidate should follow up the interview with a thank you letter expressing their appreciation for the opportunity of meeting with the company representative. The thank you letter ensures that the candidate will stay fresh in the interviewer's mind. The primary purpose of the job interview is to assess the candidate's suitability for the job, although the candidate will also be assessing the corporate culture and demands of the job on offer.

Lower paid and lower skilled positions tend to have much simpler job interviews than more prestigious positions; a lawyer's job interview will be much more demanding than that of a retail cashier. Most job interviews are formal; the larger the firm, the more formal and structured the interview will tend to be. Candidates generally dress slightly better than they would for work, with a suit being appropriate for a white-collar job interview.

Additionally, some professions have specific types of job interviews; for performing artists, this is an audition where the emphasis is placed on the performance ability of the candidate.

In many companies Assessment Days are increasingly being used, particularly for graduate positions, which may include analysis tasks, group activities, presentation exercises and Psychometric testing.

Types of Interview

Behavioral interview

A common type of job interview in the modern workplace is the behavioral interview or behavioral event interview. This type of interview is based on the notion that a job candidate's previous behaviors are the best indicators of future performance. In behavioral interviews, the interviewer asks candidate to recall specific instances where they were faced with a set of circumstances, and how they reacted. Typical behavioural interview questions:

  • "Tell me about a project you worked on where the requirements changed midstream. What did you do?"
  • "Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. What did you do?"
  • "Describe the worst project you worked on."
  • "Describe a time you had to work with someone you didn't like."
  • "Tell me about a time when you had to stick by a decision you had made, even though it made you very unpopular."
  • "Give us an example of something particularly innovative that you have done that made a difference in the workplace."
  • "What happened the last time you were late with a project?"

The goal of the interview is to assess the candidate's ability to respond to the sorts of situations they're likely to face in the job. The questions asked will therefore be based on the job description, the performance indicators, the skills/personal qualities required and the interviewer's knowledge of operating in the role.

A bad hiring decision nowadays can be immensely expensive for an organization – cost of the hire, training costs, severance pay, loss of productivity, impact on morale, cost of re-hiring, etc. (Gallup international place the cost of a bad hire as being 3.2 times the individual's salary). Structured selection techniques have a better track record of identifying the soundest candidate than the old-style 'biographical' interview.

Stress interview

Stress interviews are still in common use. One type of stress interview is where the employer uses a succession of interviewers (one at a time or en masse) whose mission is to intimidate the candidate and keep him/her off-balance. The ostensible purpose of this interview: to find out how the candidate handles stress. Stress interviews might involve testing applicant's behavior in a busy environment. Questions about handling work overload, dealing with multiple projects and handling conflict are typical.

Another type of stress interview may involve only a single interviewer who behaves in an uninterested or hostile style. For example, the interviewer may not give eye contact, may roll their eyes or sigh at the candidate's answers, interrupt, turn his back, take phone calls during the interview, and ask questions in a demeaning or challenging style. The goal is to assess how the interviewee handles pressure or to purposely evoke emotional responses. This technique was also used in research protocols studying Stress and Type A (coronary-prone) Behavior because it would evoke hostility and even changes in blood pressure and heart-rate in study subjects. The key to success for the candidate is to de-personalize the process. The interviewer is acting a role, deliberately and calculatedly trying to 'rattle the cage.' Once the candidate realizes that there is nothing personal behind the interviewer's approach, it is easier to handle the questions with aplomb.

Example stress interview questions:

  • Sticky situation: "If you caught a colleague cheating on his expenses, what would you do?"
  • Putting you on the spot: "How do you feel this interview is going?"
  • Popping the balloon: "(deep sigh) Well, if that's the best answer you can give ... (shakes head) Okay, what about this one ...?"
  • Oddball question: "What would you change about the design of the hockey stick?"
  • Doubting your veracity: "I don't feel like we're getting to the heart of the matter here. Start again - tell me what really makes you tick."

Candidates may also be asked to deliver a presentation as part of the selection process. The 'Platform Test' method involves having the candidate make a presentation to both the selection panel and their competitors for the job. This is obviously highly stressful and is therefore useful as a predictor of how the candidate will perform under similar circumstances on the job. Academic, Training, Airline, Legal and Teaching selection processes frequently involve presentations of this sort

Technical Interview

This kind of interview focuses on problem solving skills and creativity. The questions will aim at your problem solving skills, and likely will show your ability and creativity. Sometimes these interviews will be on a computer module with multiple choice questions.

Controversies

In many countries, employment equity laws forbid discrimination based on a number of classes, such as race, gender, age, and marital status. Asking questions about these protected areas in a job interview is generally considered discriminatory, and constitutes an illegal hiring practice. However, many employers ask questions that touch on these areas.

There is extented data which puts in question the value of job interviews as a tool for selecting employees. Where the aim of a job interview is ostensibly to choose a candidate who will perform well in the job role, other methods of selection provide greater predictive power and often lower costs. Furthermore, given the unstructured approach of most interviews they often have almost no useful predictive power of employee success.

References

See also

External links

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