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Telephone Interviewing and Equal Employment Law Essay


This paper aims to critically review an article on behavior-based telephone interviewing. The paper will also discuss how the article applies to equal employment laws and present five non-discriminatory interview questions that can be asked during a screening telephone interview.


The article by Oliphant, Hansen, and Oliphant (2008) titled “A Review of a Telephone-Administered Behaviour-Based Interview Technique” discusses the findings of a study that explores the impact of behavior-based interviews on performance and retention of a workforce. The article is written for human resource (HR) practitioners who are interested in improving hiring practices in their organizations. Oliphant et al. (2008) discuss the importance of selection tools in the area of recruitment and emphasize that when compared to unstructured approaches to interviewing, structured interviews are more effective in predicting employment outcomes.

The scholars maintain that behavioral interviewing is one of the most popular techniques utilized by many experienced employers. The employment tool is based on the notion that past behaviors can be used to predict future behaviors of an employee (Oliphant et al., 2008). The researchers evaluated the employment outcomes of salespeople hired by a consulting company with the help of behavior-based telephone interviews. The results of the study revealed that employees who had been hired with the help of the technique were more likely to show better performance across several key measures (Oliphant et al., 2008). The scholars conclude that behavior-based telephone interviews can be effectively used to decrease hiring costs.


The authors conducted the study to understand whether a behavior-based interview method developed by the consulting company is effective in predicting employment outcomes. The use of the method is predicated on the findings of extensive academic research that suggest that the administration of structured interviews is associated with a higher predictive validity than that of unstructured interviews (Oliphant et al., 2008). Another reason for conducting the study was to explain why interviewing is “the most popular employee selection method among practitioners” (Oliphant et al., 2008, p. 383).

Despite the paucity of evidence presented in the article, it is hard to disagree with the conclusion reached by the authors. Numerous studies point to the fact that structured interviews are extremely effective in reducing interviewer bias (Levashina, Hartwell, Morgeson, & Campion, 2014). Furthermore, structured interviews allow hiring professionals to measure applicants’ personalities. Many interviewers include questions aimed at the assessment of key dimensions of consciousness—“initiative, work ethic, and thoroughness” (Levashina et al., 2014, p. 243). Interviews with a high level of structure can be used by employers to recognize whether candidates fit not only job demands but also an organization’s culture. Some hiring specialists go so far as to say that cultural fit is more important than analytical “thinking and communication” (Rivera, 2012, p. 1007). Another study conducted by Huffcutt, Culertson, and Weyhrauch (2013) reveals that structured interviews are characterized by a high level of interrater reliability. It means that the authors of the article under discussion are correct in assuming that a high-structure interview is a reliable employment selection instrument.

The authors’ supposition that behavior-based interviews are effective in predicting the future behavior of applicants is confirmed by a large body of research (Berko, Wolvin, Wolvin, & Aitken, 2016). However, what is more, important is to understand why employers rely on interviews in the first place. A candidate interview is a key element of the hiring process in many organizations (Arthur, 2012). HR professionals who know how to properly conduct interviews can ensure that an applicant’s values, views, experience, skills, and personality meet a position’s requirements. The same is true for the corporate culture, which increasingly plays an important part in the hiring process. Essentially, the main functions of an interview are to determine whether a candidate is capable of effectively performing a job and assess their person-culture fit (Arthur, 2012). It should be noted that interviewing can also help employers to better understand their workers, thereby reducing turnover rates.

The assessment of the behavioral consequences of hiring is especially important because candidates’ intentions do not always match their behaviors. By asking candidates to discuss their behavior patterns, it is possible to understand how they can affect teamwork, which is instrumental in every applicant’s ability to succeed (Arthur, 2012). It can be argued that behavior-based interviews conducted via the telephone can be as effective as their face-to-face counterparts. It has to do with the fact that HR practitioners who are willing to hire their employees in a non-discriminatory manner prefer using structured interviews (Arthur, 2012). Such employment selection tools help to avoid a wide range of biases through the control of extraneous information that can be introduced into a decision-making process. By conducting structured behavior-based interviews via telephone, it is possible to further reduce interviewer biases, thereby making the hiring process more effective.

The main reason for conducting behavior-based interviews is to understand how a candidate reacted to work-related situations in the past. Such interviews are usually highly-structured which helps an HR practitioner to avoid discrimination against certain types of applicants. The use of telephone interviews helps to make the hiring process even more equitable and just, thereby making sure that candidates are not discriminated based on characteristics specified in equal employment laws. These characteristics are ethnic origin, race, sex, gender, pregnancy, age, religion, and disability among others (EEOC, n.d.). Because an interviewer is not able to distinguish some of these characteristics during a telephone interview, they cannot prevent an applicant from filling a position. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that an HR practitioner avoids direct or indirect references to the protected characteristics during the hiring process.

The article’s focus is on structured behavior-based interviews. Such interviews are recognized for their emphasis on fair employment practices (Huffcutt et al., 2013). It has to do with the fact that the assessment of previous behaviors of applicants encourages employers to make their recruitment decisions based on candidate’s qualifications, experiences, and values rather than on their membership in a certain group (Arthur, 2012). It follows that by dealing with the topic of behavior-based telephone interviewing, the article demonstrates fair employment features.


The paper has critically reviewed an article on the telephone-delivered behavior-based interviewing technique. It has been argued that the article’s content is aligned with the principles of equal employment laws. The paper has also discussed the importance of employment interviews and outlined five non-discriminatory interview questions.


  1. Tell me about a goal you reached and how you achieved it.
  2. Describe a mistake you made and how you handled it.
  3. Provide an example of how you worked under pressure
  4. How do you deal with schedule interruptions?
  5. Describe a time when you disagreed with company policy. How did you deal with it?


Arthur, D. (2012). Recruiting, interviewing, selecting & orienting new employees. New York, NY: AMACOM

Berko, R., Wolvin, A., Wolvin, D., & Aitken, J. (2016). Communicating: A social, career, and cultural focus. London, England: Routledge.

EEOC. (n.d.). Laws enforced by EEOC. Web.

Huffcutt, A., Culertson, S., & Weyhrauch, W. (2013). Employment interview reliability: New meta-analytic estimates by structure and format. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 21(3), 264-276.

Levashina, J., Hartwell, C., Morgeson, F., & Campion, M. (2014). The structured employment interview: Narrative and quantitative review of the research literature. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 241-293.

Oliphant, G., Hansen, K., & Oliphant, B. (2008). A review of a telephone-administered behaviour-based interview technique. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 71(3), 383-386.

Rivera, L. (2012). Hiring as cultural matching: The case of elite professional service firms. American Sociological Review, 76(6), 999-1022.

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