The unstructured interview is particularly notorious. This is where the interviewer is asked questions, which bear little or no apparent significance to the job in question. So, for example, if an interviewee is asked questions such as ‘what is your favourite book and why? ‘ (Under the pretext of ‘apparently’ inferring some aspect of the candidates nature and his/her fit for the organization) this would be termed as an unstructured interview. Managers at many organizations still use unstructured interviews even though their HR departments have adopted behavioural or structured interviews.
According to HR strategy magazine, the likelihood of hiring the best candidate from an applicant pool using the unstructured interview is about as successful as a random selection: that is, picking the name of the successful applicant out of a hat. An unstructured interview lacks preparation, direction and consistency and their validity (whether the interview actually measures what it is supposed to) and reliability (whether the interview is free from unsystematic error), two common measures of selection methods, are very low indeed.
Arvey, 79 and Chao, 82, for example, estimated the validity of this kind of interview at . 19 was below typical validity. The many disadvantages of unstructured interviews include the making of subjective evaluations, interviewers forming stereotypes concerning the characteristics required for success on the job, negative information being given more weight, decisions being made within the first few minutes of the interview etc. The list goes on and on.
It is therefore true that structured interviews, which often include competency-based interviews, are a vast improvement over unstructured interviews and there has been consistent evidence that structured interview formats produce better criterion-related validity than unstructured interviews. (McDaniel, Whetzel, Schmidt and Maurer, 94 fount that the overall mean validity for all types of interview was 0. 2 and showed that the validity for structured interviews, 0. 24 was better than 0.
18 for unstructured interviews. ) Structured interviews tend to be more job related and evaluate all candidates on the same grounds. In fact, it seems likely that one important function of structure is to focus the interviewer’s attention on particularly salient features, so that candidate attributes that are irrelevant to job success do not intrude and influence decision-making. (Robertson, 96). However, though by far better than unstructured interviews, structured interviews by no means go unscathed.
On the surface, structured or competency interviews seem pretty thorough. Unfortunately, applicants can easily obtain and prepare answers to questions from a variety of sources including books and the Internet and be well prepared for all the questions. Another emerging problem with structured behavioural or competency interviews is that they often evaluate applicants based on previous work experience, as opposed to applicants’ abilities to apply their knowledge and experience to the performance of the new job.
And since applicants can self-select any situation or scenario when they answer a structured or competency question, they wisely select answers that put them in the best possible light (HR Strategy magazine). On the whole therefore interviews appear to offer positive but low validity in relation to work success and relying solely on the interviewing process as a means of judging future work performance yields results that are only marginal. Next step forward: Overcoming The Problems of interviews
Considering all the potential problems associated with selection interviews, it seems rather surprising that the procedure remains the most popular method for assessing candidates for jobs. (SHL Group, 2001) However, due to the constant pressure for companies to keep their costs down in the face of global competition it seems likely that since the interview process is an ‘effective’ marriage between practicality and cost-effectiveness, it is likely to remain with us for a very long time indeed.
It is no wonder that there seems to be more and more of a reliance on the interview as a mode of selection despite its marginal validity. Such evidence therefore suggests that rather than assessing whether or not the interview process is being relied upon too much, we must accept it and find ways to reduce the inaccuracy brought about by this mode of selection rather than focusing on the lost battle of trying to alienate it. This suggests that analysing the job and coming up with structured, competency based interviews as well as situational/work sample type interviews is the best way forward.
Though this is unlikely to result in dramatic improvements over the traditionally unstructured interview, it is still better (According to Handler, 2002 this means that these interviews are able to predict job performance with between 12 and 36% accuracy as opposed to less than 10% accuracy). Better still, the organization that can go the extra mile and use other forms of selection in collaboration with interviews can expect to be more than 50% accurate in the selection of new employees. Conclusion
It cannot be denied that too much reliance is placed on interviews in the selection process. However, this is not necessarily bad news if the interview is well structured with proper direction and specific competency based questions are asked to assess the potential employee’s fit for the particular job and consequently reduce biases from interviewer-effects, etc. It must be remembered that no one method of selection is uniformly the best and trade-offs invariably have to be made. (Cooper, Robertson eds.
1986) However, employers necessarily cannot afford to only look at one form of selection. – It is almost as if as a judge, one only hears one side of a particular story and not the both sides before making a final decision. It is true that like in the courtroom, no matter how much the case has been exhausted, some critical information may never be known but at least, using different modes of selection surely increases the reliability of the verdict and hence, in our case, the reliability of the predictor of the true performance of the potential employee.