Definition of a Job Interview
Job interviews are as old as employment itself. During the early years of the working man, an interview was as simple as coming up to Farmer Dan and asking him if he had a job open. He would respond “I need a cowhand. Can you do that?” A simple yes from the other person and a handshake were all it took to close the deal. But that was during simpler times.
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These days, job interviews are highly evolved and calculated selection processes that are geared towards finding the person who can do the required job the best from a pool of hopefuls who mostly have the same training and job experience. This is normally done by asking job applicants a preset group of questions and basing their capabilities on their oral responses.
A more thorough definition of a job interview is presented by McDaniel, Whetzel, Schimidt, and Maurer (1994) in the article ” The Validity Of Employment Interviews: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-Analysis” as published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. They state that:
The interview is a selection procedure designed to predict future job performance on the basis of applicant’s oral responses to oral inquiries. Interviews are one of the most frequently used selection procedures, perhaps because of their intuitive appear for hiring authorities…
Managers and personnel officials, especially those who are interviewers, tend t o believe that the interview is valid for predicting future job performance. (McDaniel, Whetzel, Schimidt, and Maurer, p. 1)
Job interviews are used to make hiring decisions through a verbal evaluation of the candidate after having narrowed down the list of potential applicants using their submitted resume’s. It also allows the candidate to get an overview of the job he is expected to do and the type of corporate atmosphere that he will be required to participate in.
Interviews As Part of the Job Selection Process
The Human Resources Department of any corporation or company has a very difficult task on hand. It is their job to make sure that there is a constant stream of reliable and efficient people manning the desks at the company.
Without these reliable and efficient people, the company functions could come to a screeching halt. Which is why they must be highly selective of the people whom they interview for open positions.
Most Human Resources representatives have a complete picture of the employee that they require for a specific position. So they use the oral interview as a tool for judging the personality of the applicant and to decide whether or not the applicant is right for the job. Aside from the specifics that they look for in the applicants, they also look for some standard personality traits such as the following:
- Presence – as we all know, first impressions count a lot. Most specially during job interviews. The interviewer looks for an applicant who exudes positivism, manners, and the ability to properly conduct himself in public…
- The Ability To Communicate – interviewers generally want their applicant to keep on talking in order to get a better idea of what the client knows about the job he is applying for and what possible traits the applicant may have which will benefit the company but did not originally appear in the testing process for applicants…
- Motivation – oral interviews also allow the interviewer to detect the motivation of the applicant for the job. Is he somebody who will do the job because he likes doing it, or is he just doing it because he needs the money. In any case, the motivation, once it appears in the interview can help the applicant get or lose the job…
- Intelligence – during a job interview, questions are asked by the interviewer and answered by the interviewee. This part of the job interview helps in determining the creative and imaginative capabilities of the applicant in relation to work related scenarios. Although one may have graduated at the top of his class, grades are not normally considered by the Human Resources department to be considered as a reliable job success indicator…
- Energy Levels and General Alertness – this basically sums up all of the traits that an interviewer is looking for in a job applicant and is easily determined using the first 4 interviewee traits. ( Nebraska Health and Human Services, Importance Of The Interview. p. 1)
Job interviews usually last a few rounds and requires a hierarchical level of interviewees as the candidate gets closer and closer to being hired for the job. This is done in order to determine if the candidate is totally acceptable to all of the people in charge whom he shall be working with.
Once all candidates have passed through the rigors of job interviews, the hiring panel will then sit down and select the best candidate from the job based upon his resume and interview results.
Costs and Benefits Associated With Job Interviews
As a job applicant, one is often left wondering as to why an oral interview is necessary after passing a written exam. The reason for this is actually quite simple, a written test can tell the human resources department all about your intelligence quotient. but very little about your on the job skills.
An oral interview will give them a chance to observe the applicant in a potentially stressful atmosphere and how he handles the situation. This is why corporations spend time and money in properly assessing their job applicants.
According to David Ngo’s article Advantages and Disadvantages of Job analysis Interview (2009), through the use of job interviews, job candidates are given the chance to present themselves in the most positive light as the best candidate for the job by adding information that they feel is important for the interviewer to know regarding their job experience and capabilities.
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At the same time, potential employees can let their potential employers know exactly how much they know about the job and the employer can let them know about how the specific position that needs to be filled works in the grander scheme of things in their corporation.
Job interviews also help the interviewer get to know more about the abilities and activities that the applicant may have. This is a very important part of the interview as not all of the capabilities and shortcomings of potential employees will be reflected in written exams.
If necessary, the applicant may be asked to explain certain answers he may have provided in the written form of the exam in an effort to further assess his qualifications as a potential employee. (Ngo, David, p.1)
But just like any other form of analysis, a job interview also has some drawbacks. Some of which may prove detrimental to the work force and work scheme of the corporation.
Ngo (2009) further explains that job interviews rely heavily on the interviewers ability to ask the right questions and continue probing in order to get the correct answers out of the applicants. Therefore, the results of the interview may prove to be false positive, allowing the company to hire someone totally unsuitable for the job simple because he knew how to give the right answers.
Applicants who are not confident in their ability to land the job may tend to exaggerate their actual job roles and positions. This kind of job distortion could lead to the hiring of incompetent people, therefore, the human resources department must be sure to verify any and all information as provided to them by the applicant either through documentation or verbally.
It is because of this hair’s breath thin dividing line between the costs and the benefits of job interviews that the human resources departments must insure that they constantly tread that fine line with the most positive results for their employers.
As I mentioned earlier, there have been some questions regarding the validity of the oral job interview as part or the job selection process. Which is why hiring panels for corporations have recently began adding an oral presentation to the interview process.
This helps to verify the answers the applicant gave in his interview and assesses his actual capability to do the job before they actually hire him or her. This procedure is included as a part of one of the many rounds of oral interviews that an applicant must pass through before hiring.
It easy to understand why a company would add an oral presentation to the oral job interview. These days, successful hired applicants need to be trained before actually putting them on the job. Choosing the wrong candidate due to an ill performed interview can cost the company severance pay, and loss of productivity. Not to mention the impact on the office morale, cost of hiring a new person for the job, etc.
Types of Job Interviews
There are actually quite a number of different types of job interviews which an applicant can find him or her self going through. The applicant will not know what kind of interview he will undergo before hand which is why it is often best if the applicant familiarizes him or her self with the various types of job interviews.
After submitting your resume to a corporation, it will normally pass through a preliminary screening process. During this time, your resume is analyzed in reference to the qualifications of the position one is applying for. If the applicant is deemed to be qualified, a telephone interview sometimes follows.
Carl Mueller (2010) of the website Find-Your-Dream-Career.com came up with a basic listing and description of the various job interviews that are used by hiring managers these days. An applicant can be interviewed in any one of the following ways:
Telephone / Screening Interview
The telephone interview is usually the first step in the job screening process. Although such a choice for interviewing does not seem to make sense to the applicants, there are actually 3 main reasons as to why this works for the screening panel.
First of all, it allows the hiring manager to whittle down his list to a small group by simply giving short interviews over the phone. Normally, candidates who manage to present themselves professionally over the phone get called in for a face to face interview.
Secondly, this method of interview is used when considering an applicant who lives out of town and it would be impossible to have them come in for a preliminary face to face interview. And lastly, a telephone interview can be used as a screening interview wherein one can quickly compare the answers of the candidates and only ask those with the correct technical and communication skills to come in for an interview.
Panel / Group Interview
Group Interviews openly pit the job applicants against each other in a panel interview like atmosphere. In this type of interview, the applicants are given the same question to answer. The questions are posed by members of the panel who are normally senior or junior managers at the company.
Under this type of interview, the panel can immediately gauge whom among the candidates gave the best answers and possibly presented him or herself in the best possible light when put up in comparison to the other candidates. So that by the end of the panel interview, everyone already has a pretty good idea as to who will possibly get hired for the job.
The panel members oftentimes ask the applicant to present himself to the panel in a specific way. For example, in a presentation format, the applicant may be asked to present a generic topic pertaining to the main line of business of the firm. So this can usually be expected of academic or sales related companies.
There is also the role format wherein the panelists ask the applicant about position duty specific questions and how they might handle such situations. If the panel really wants to put the candidate to the ultimate test, they might use the Skeet Shoot format where in the panel fires of questions in rapid succession, just to see how the applicant handles himself in high stress situations that are normally attached to the position.
The Stress Interview
Some jobs are known to have high stress levels and therefore requires a special kind of employee to undertake the tasks of the position. It is because of these kinds of positions that the Stress interview was created. The main objective of this type of interview is to accurately predict how an applicant conducts himself in high stress situations.
Applicants are not told beforehand that they will be undergoing a stress interview in order to get the most accurate response out of the person. These will be job related scenarios that you will be expected to deal with on a daily basis so don’t expect the interview to be conducted like a regular interview where sane minds prevail.
Stress interviews could be conducted in various ways. One of the ways it can be done is by rapidly firing questions at the candidate in the hope of confusing the candidate by not giving him or her enough time to think of an answer.
Sometimes, there is an interview panel whose sole task is to take turns grilling the applicant in such a manner that will have them thoroughly confusing the applicant in an effort have the applicant mix up their answers and make serious errors while on the job.
A stress interview is like the boot camp of all interviews. It is designed to test the applicant’s mental and emotional endurance in a high stress job. Some interviewer’s opt to have an open door policy during the interview wherein people can take turns in coming into the interview room to rattle the applicant without giving the applicant time to rest between interviewers.
This is not a normal test as it requires the applicant to answer questions which do not seem related to the job they are applying for. Questions like riddles and situational questions often arise. The main point of the interview is to see how well the candidate handles the situation by taking control and then resolving it in the soonest possible time.
Stress interviews are specifically designed to get on the nerves of the applicant. The interviewers are expected to be mean, arrogant, sarcastic, and even argumentative. They will show a total lack of respect for the applicant and will employ any method necessary to unnerve the applicant. The successful stress test applicants are usually those who manage to stare down their interviewer and gain the upper hand in the situation.
Internal Job Interview
An internal job interview is conducted within the firm for job openings exclusively opened to those who are already working for the office. It is a type of building from within which has a specific set of hiring protocols because the people applying for the position are already familiar with the inner workings of the company and therefore do not need to be grilled as heavily as an external applicant.
Back in 2001, USA Today also came out with an additional listing of job interview types. Their listing includes the following:
One on One Interview
One on one interviews are usually the most relaxed type of interview that an applicant can undergo. In this scenario, the applicant has already undergone the other types of testing in order to fully assess his qualification for this position. The interviewer is usually a person of a high position in the company, possibly the person whom the applicant will answer to once he is hired for the position. This kind of interview only requires the applicant to assure the interviewer that the company will best benefit from hiring him for the job.
Lunch interviews are normally reserved for the more executive position openings in companies and corporations. These interviews are normally held outside of the office setting. Normally in a casual restaurant setting where business lunches often occurs. During this interview, an applicant is expected to find some commonalities with his interviewer and further discuss the benefits of hiring him or her for the job. In these instances, the applicant is expected to take his cue from the interviewer and follow suit always.
The set up of a committee interview is highly similar to the group or panel interviews in the sense that the interview is conducted by a panel of executives who have the final say in the hiring process. This time, the applicant faces them alone and he has the opportunity to answer each question in a personalized manner by answering the person who questioned him directly. The interviewers may be expected to test the applicants problem solving skills by expecting him to solve real life or office based scenarios.
Specialized Interview Types
There are also two other types of interviews that have not been included in the regular lists because of their specialized formats. Certain industries, such as the information technology sector and the management consulting and investment banking fields have a totally different requirement for their employees As such, they require a different kind of job interview process. These industry specific job interviews, according to Wikipedia (2011) are known as the Case Interviews and the Microsoft Technical Interviews.
Case interviews are often used to screen management consulting and investment banking jobs. Candidates are given specific work scenarios which need a speedy and foolproof solution. These problems are usually work related and are specific to the job requirement.
Management consulting and investment banking industries benefit from this particular type of interview because it offers the hiring officer a chance to see how the logical and sequential procedures of the applicant’s brain functions.
It also gives the applicant a deeper insight into what the work expectations of the company will be of him and vice versa.
The objective of a case interview is not to find the candidate with the perfect candidate with all the solutions, but rather, to find the applicant that has the ability to properly approach work problems without endangering the bottom-line of the corporation or company. Some of the abilities tested by this interview are the reasoning, presentation, communication, business, and commercial awareness skills of the candidate.
Microsoft Technical Interview
Microsoft Corporation, the leading information technology company in the world realized early on that they were involved in a line of business that required a special breed of employees. Which is why they developed a specific type of interview for their potential employee candidates. This job interview was a pioneer in its field and was eventually picked up as a standard platform by other corporations like Google.
The Microsoft Technical Interview is all about technical know how. It tests the problem solving and creative abilities of the candidate. It does not test for goals and weaknesses, which is what the standard job interviews test the candidates for.
Joel Spolsky (2011) explained that the Microsoft Technical Interview actually tested applicants in order to determine:
… people who are smart and get things done while separating them from people who are smart but don’t get things done and people who get things done but are not smart. (Microsoft Technical Interview, Wikipedia. 2011)
The main purpose of a job interview is to help the company or corporation predict whom among all the candidates for the open position will be best suited for the job. The interview should be able to tell the powers that be who should be able to help the company further progress in terms of business growth by performing his job well.
However, even with the unstructured approach of oral job interviews, there is no evidence that these interviews actually save the corporations money and helps to lower their cost of operations.
A job interview cannot predict the honest and integrity of an applicant. A job interview is such a competitive process that it has the potential to promote dishonest among the candidates. Which is why there is a question as to the validity of the results of a job interview process.
There have been many discussions as to the validity or an oral job interview in determining the most qualified candidate for a job. because of it’s potential to help a candidate fabricate lies about his actual job abilities and qualifications. However, it is still considered to be the most cost effective hiring tool of corporations today.
McDaniel, Michael A., Whetzel, Deborah L., Schimdt, Frank L., Maurer, Steven D. “The Validity Of Employment Interviews: A Comprehensive And Meta-Analysis”. Journal of Applied Psychology. 79.4 (1994). 1-18. Web.
Mueller, Carl. “The Job Interview: Types of Job Interviews”. Find-Your-Dream- Career.com. 2010. Web.
Ngo, David. “Advantages And Disadvantages Of Job Analysis Interview”. HumanResources.hrvinet.com. 2009. 2009. 27 April 2011. Web.
“Job Interview”. Wikipedia. 6 April 2011. Web..
“Types of Job Interviews”. Career and Workplace. USA Today. 29 January 2001. Web.
“The Importance Of The interview”. Nebraska Department Of Health And Human Services. 2011. Web.