Structured Interviews

Structured Interviews Another way to improve personnel selection decisions is through the use of structured interviews. A structured interview is much like a standardized test in that the same information is obtained in the same situa- tion from all applicants, who are then compared on a common, relevant set of dimensions. By asking exactly the same set of questions or using the same set of tasks, employers can stop themselves from unwittingly conducting biased inter- views that merely confirm their preexisting conceptions.

Studies have shown that structured interviews are more informative than conventional interviews in the selection of insurance agents, sales clerks, and other workers. They are also more predictive than paper-and-pencil personality tests—perhaps because they are more difficult to fake. In fact, structured inter- views can be conducted by phone and later scored from a transcript, providing information that can be used to predict a future worker’s attendance rate, produc- tivity, and tenure on the job.

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Does the structured interview completely eliminate the human element that comes with conventional interviews? It appears that the answer is no. Structured interviews typically are preceded by a meet-and-greet session in which the inter- viewer and applicant engage in small talk to get acquainted before the serious questioning begins. In light of social psychology research showing that people form first impressions quickly on the basis of appearances and a thin slice of behavior, Murray Barrick and his colleagues (2010) examined whether this “preinterview” predicts the outcomes that follow. In a mock interview study of college-level accounting students, they found that the impressions interviewers formed in the initial meeting—including their sense of the applicants’ competence— were highly predictive of postinterview evaluations and of whether the applicants later received internship offers from actual accounting firms.

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