Interviewing for a new position, project or opportunity or seeking to add to or replace a team member provides opportunities for many surprises. One of the most frequent surprises is not being sure of what is happening during the interview process.
Although there are an infinite number of variables or answers to that situation, you should be prepared for the type of interview that you face. I tend to regard the interview styles in a broad sense composed of three basic styles. They are structured, unstructured and panel interviews.
Here are a few suggestions:
Structured interviewing requires a pre-planned agenda. The interviewer knows the questions ahead of time. The structured interview style generally provides the interviewer with all the information needed to make the hiring decision. It is also important as a defense against discrimination in hiring and selection, because all applicants are asked the same questions.
In an unstructured interview, the interviewer does not have prepared question and relies upon experience to decide which questions to ask. This style of interviewing does not always provide the interviewer with the necessary information. In addition, the lack of structure makes it difficult to compare and rank applicants because they are not responding to the same questions.
In a panel interview, more than one person interviews the applicant. Generally, the interviewers take turns asking questions. Panel interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Although the three interviewing styles are different, each must meet the same minimum requirements. Each style must encourage open discussions within legal constraints, but will cover the information on the employment application from a somewhat different vantage point.
Facilitating Open Discussion as the Interviewer
Interviewers must gain as much information as possible from applicants. The easiest way to accomplish this is by creating an atmosphere that allows the applicant to speak freely.
The following are suggestions for fostering an atmosphere that is conducive to open discussion:
1. Try to establish rapport and put the applicant at ease at the beginning of the interview. If the applicant feels comfortable they will be more likely to freely share information with you. Some opening remarks or questions are:
• Did you have any difficulties or problems with my directions?
• Has any aspect of your career planning changed since our telephone interview?
2. If you find that the applicant freezes on a particular question, you may want to go on to another question. It takes time for some applicants to relax and feel comfortable with the interviewing process.
3. Try to ask questions that will facilitate discussion. Avoid questions that require a yes or no answer..
Examine these comparisons:
Closed question: Do you like your present job? Alternative question: Tell me what you liked most about your last job?
Closed question: Were you fairly compensated in your last job?
Describe how the compensation program was applied to you in your last job?
4. Don’t ask leading questions that give or indicate the answer that you want. Ask open-ended questions so that the applicant has the opportunity to speak freely.
5. Be sure to ask only job-related questions. Example:
Not Job Related: Do you have a car to get to work?
Job Related: This job requires you to start at 8:00 a.m. Can you meet that schedule on an acceptable and consistent basis?
Federal law regulates certain areas of questions that can be asked during an interview. For example, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA) prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, and religion. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits questions about a person’s age. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), among other things, protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment.
Professionals and other managers who conduct interviews should be well-versed in the laws that regulate the types of questions that may be asked in an employment interview. If you are unsure about the legality of a question, consult the human resources department or your legal counsel.
Related Articles:What’s Not in a Job Description? and Interview Questions … zany types of the third kind!
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