There are two basic ways to avoid these interview problems. One is obvious: Keep them in mind and avoid them (don’t play psychologists or make snap judgments, for instance). The second is not quite so obvious: Be careful how you design and structure the interview. Let’s look next at structuring the interview, and at some guidelines for an effective interview.
There is little doubt that the structured situational interview, a series of hypothetical, job-oriented questions with predetermined answers that interviewers ask of all applicants for the job produces superior results. Structured employment interviews using either situational questions or behavioral questions tend to yield high criteria related validities. This is particularly so where the raters can use descriptively anchored rating scale answer sheets to rate the interviewees’ answers; these use short description to illustrate good, average, or poor performance. However, structured interviews with situational question formats yield the higher ratings. This may be because interviewers get more consistent (reliable) responses with situational questions which force all applicants to apply the same scenario than they do with behavioral questions which require each applicant to find applicable experiences. In creating structured situational interviews, people familiar with the job develop situational (“What would you do if … ) and job knowledge questions based on the job’s actual duties. They then reach consensus on what are and are not acceptable answers. The procedure is as follows:
Step 1: Job Analysis: Write a job description with a list of job duties, required knowledge, skills, abilities, and other worker qualifications.
Step2: Rate the Job’s main duties: Identify the job’s main duties. To do so, rate each job duty based on its importance to job success and on the time required to perform it compared to other tasks.
Step 3: Create Interview Questions: Create interview questions that are based on actual job duties, with more questions for the important duties.
Structured situational interviews may actually contain three types of questions. Situational questions pose a hypothetical job situation, such as “What would you do if the machine suddenly began heating up? Job knowledge questions assess knowledge essential to job performance. These often deal with technical aspects of a job (such as “What is HTML?”). Willingness questions gauge the applicant’s willingness and motivation to meet the job’s requirement to do repetitive physical work or to travel for instance.
The people who create the questions usually write them in terms of critical incidents. For example, for a supervisory candidate, the interviewer might ask:
Your spouse and two teenage children are sick in bed with colds. There are no relatives or friends available to look in on them. Your shift starts in three hours. What would you do in this situation?
Step 4: Create Benchmark Answers: Next for each question, develop several descriptive answers and a five-point rating scale for each, with ideal answers for good (a 5 rating), marginal (a 3 rating), and poor (a 1 rating). Consider the preceding situational questions, where the spouse and children are sick. Each member of the committee writes good, marginal, and poor answers based on things they have actually heard in an interview from people who then turned out to be good, marginal or poor (as the case may be) of the job. After a group discussion, they reach consensus on the answers to use as benchmarks for each scenario. Three benchmark answers for the example question might be, “I’d stay home – my spouse and family come first” (1) I’d phone my supervisor and explain my situation (3) and Since they only have colds, I’d come to work.
Step5: Appoint the interview Panel and Conduct Interviews: Companies generally conduct structured situational interviews using a panel, rather than sequentially. The panel usually consists off three to six members, preferably the same ones who write the questions and answers. It may also include the job’s supervisor and/or incumbent, and an HR representative. The same panel interviews all candidates for the job.The panel members generally review the job description, questions, and benchmark answers before the interview. One panel member usually introduces the applicant, and asks all questions of all applicants in this and succeeding interviews. However, all panel members record and rate the applicant’s answers on the rating scale sheet; they do this by indicating where the candidate’s answer to each question falls relative to the ideal poor, marginal, or good answers. At the end of the interview, someone explains the follow up procedure and answers any questions the applicant has.