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9th, January, 2013


Organizations rely on talented employees to compete favourably in this current era of knowledge economy. In order to identify such employees, who will maintain a competitive advantage of the organization; effective tools of selection are necessary. Interviews have over a long period, served as the most popular employee selection tools. However, interviews vary from company to company, depending on their structures, as well as complexity. Before obtaining the suitable candidates for advertised jobs, a company will undertake two major processes of recruitment and selection. Recruitment and selection are different terms, which refer to varying processes. Recruitment is the process through which the management of a company is presented with a considerable number of candidates who are considered suitable for a specific job. The management in this case will then choose the candidates who have more suitable qualifications for the job (“CIPD” 2012). On the other hand, the process of selection comes after the recruitment process. At this stage, the management of a company will further evaluate and assess the previously shortlisted candidates, in a bid to identify the most qualified and suitable candidates. Different companies have different methods, which they use to assess these individuals (Torrington et al, 2011). The primary objective of the recruitment and selection processes is to identify and obtain candidates who meet the company’s standards in terms of skills, experience, and qualifications for the job vacancy that is advertised. The selection interview therefore, remains the most popular method of employee selection by companies, despite the criticism it has faced in the past.

In a selection interview process, the selector, who is the interviewer, is presented with a considerable number of individuals from which they have to select the most qualifying individuals, based on assessment of behaviour and qualifications of the individuals, among other factors, depending on the company standards, and the requirements of the advertised job. The selection interview mainly aims at collecting and assessing behaviours of the potential candidates in order to determine how they will act in future if given the job. However, the main problem with behaviour assessment in selection interviews is that some candidates may present a different impression to the selector, which is not their real characteristic. This is why it is of importance for selectors to supplement behavioural assessments with other methods during selection interviews to avoid bias (Billsberry 2008).

According to Brittain (2012), there are five main forms of interviews, including conversional interviews, pseudo-clinical survey interviews, unstructured interviews, structured competency interviews, and extended interviews based on career history. The structured competency interview type is one that is popularly used in the UK. This is suitable for hiring individuals for entry-level jobs as well as middle-management jobs, but unsuitable for senior jobs. Comparing this interview type with the unstructured interview, the structured interview is more reliable than the unstructured interview. This interview type mainly comprises a series of questions, which are meant to determine the candidates’ competencies, behaviours, and capabilities. The main reason behind unique questions for each candidate in this interview is that each candidate has unique past experiences in different areas of their life, including career. This type of interview can be successful if the interviewers can develop unique questions for each interviewee, basing on the information provided in their curriculum vitae. The main advantage of structured competency interview is that even inexperienced interviewers can administer it (Moscoso 2000).

The extended interview based on career history is a form of interview that is least used in UK. This interview form is suitable for middle-level management jobs as well as senior management job positions. In this interview form, the questions asked provide guidance to the candidates in the explanation of their career path, as well as key achievements in their career history. The interviewer will therefore, be interested in the candidates’ career achievements, how they attained the achievement, the failures they have experienced in their career life, and how those failures have shaped, or transformed their career (Moscoso 2000). This way, the interviewer will understand the behavioural sequence of the candidates, which is responsible for the success of their career life. Additionally, this helps interviewers to determine the behaviour of the candidates, if faced with similar career challenges in future. This type of interview favours the interviewees, as most individuals tend to feel more comfortable talking about themselves; their achievements, and failures. On the contrast, it is time-consuming since it seeks elaborate information from the candidates, including the need for the analysis of information provided by candidates. Nonetheless, this type of interview provides high-quality, useful, and rich information on the candidates’ career life (Brittain 2012).

The pseudo-clinical psychology interview is a more costly interview type, as consultants specifically conduct it. With regard to this, most organizations rarely deploy this type of interview, except for the two or three top-most senior positions in the organization. This form of interview bases on the notion that an individual’s childhood experiences form the basis for their behaviour at the workplace (Brittain 2012: Woods, West & Michael 2010). The interviewers therefore, draw attention to the major childhood experiences and events in the candidates’ childhood. By explaining their childhood memories, the interviewees help to present themes that are in line with their adult behaviour. Today, this interview form is least used, even by companies that used it in the past. This is mainly because of the various complaints individuals launched concerning this interview form. The major concern is that this interview does not solely address job-related issues directly, as job applicants might expect (Searle 2003).

The conversational interview on the other hand is becoming more popular among organizations that have previously used the structured competency interview form. This is because of its stability as compared to other interview forms. Just like the structural competency and extended interview, the conversational interview bases on key aspects, putting the interviewees at easy thus, presenting a positive employer image (Brittain 2012). As the name suggests, this interview is mainly a conversation between the interviewer and interviewee, and not necessarily an interrogation. During the interview, the interviewer shows interest in the roles and aspirations of the interviewees, making them be at ease, thus allowing for a natural flow of conversation between the two parties. This interview has the capability of producing relevant data related to the past and recent career experiences of the candidates. However, the interviewer needs to be highly skilled in order to manipulate the conversation in a way that helps in the gathering of relevant information. This makes it hard for inexperienced interviewers to be able to conduct this interview, thus, making most companies hire external consultants to carry out this form of interviews (Hackett 1998).

In the United Kingdom, the selection interview process persists, as a big number of organizations use the selection interview process in hiring new employees. The structured interview format is popular among different organizations. However, research shows that more than 60 per cent of organizations use the low structured interview format. This is because it is a less complex interview method used on low-level jobs.

For instance, the Herrington & Carmichael Company in the UK is a law firm, which undertakes extensive selection interviews in order to obtain employees that are talented and those that meet the company qualification and standards. This company is keen on getting the best employees, and therefore invests highly in the selection process. Job specification is necessary for this company as part of its selection process. This ensures that the right information is presented to candidates before they make their applications. The company website plays an important role of presenting the company image to the public, as well as the applicants. Here, interested candidates in any advertised jobs can submit their applications. The recruitment process for this company begins with screening of applications to select individuals meeting the minimum qualifications for the job. The line manager, together with the HR manager are responsible for conducting the first stage of the interview, which bases on the interview questions that are scripted. In addition, psychometric tests come to play at this stage; together with assessing candidates on how fit, they are for the job, through behavioural assessments. This company specifically uses practical intelligence tests to test the candidates’ ability to think faster. The recruitment of trainee candidates in this company is a slightly different procedure. Here, successful applicants are involved in the first screening by performing practical intelligence and psychometric tests. They also are familiarized with the company at this stage. Shortlisted candidates participate in a group interview during the second phase of selection process. In this stage, the presentation and research skills of the candidates are put to test as they are expected to make a presentation of a relevant topic of their choice. From here, the successful candidates meet the line manager for a one-on-one interview (“CIPD” 2010).

The concepts of reliability and validity are critical in determining the suitability of interviews, as these are used as tools to measure interview methods. Validity refers to consistency in performance of the selection process, as well as in the job. On the other hand, reliability ensures the consistency of interview methods, the tests, and results involved. If an interview method is reliable, it should produce the same result in different selection methods. Both validity and reliability are dependent on each other, where reliability is a requirement for validity. However, measuring of validity of selection interviews is challenging.

The reliability of selection interviews stands at the criterion values of .51; however, when psychometric tests are incorporated in selection interviews, the reliability rises to .63. However, situational styles of selection interviews register the highest reliability of (.61). Selection interviews that are job-related are next with a reliability of (.60), while the psychological selection interviews are the least reliable, with a criterion value of .26. Situational interviews are most reliable due to their simplistic nature and procedures, and the fact that they are applied in jobs that rank low. However, behavioural interviews are mostly preferred in senior jobs, as these allow extensive probing of candidates’ behaviour inside and outside the job, to determine their suitability for the job. Many studies show that high structured interviews are selection tools with sound validity and that can lead to better selection decisions by reducing interviewers’ biases in judgement (Yen-Chun, Wei-Chi & Changya 2008). However, most companies totalling 60 per cent have neglected this fact and instead turned to low structured interviews, which exhibit a lower level of validity as compared to high structured interviews. This has raised a concern, considering the level of discrepancy between the validity of high structured interviews and low structured interviews (Gatewood, & Feild & Barrick 2010).

On the contrast, selection interview has its own limiting factors, which make it a less suitable method for employee selection, hence the criticism. This limitation largely occurs in the form of misjudgement and bias on the side of the interviewers. Being human beings, interviewers are prone to exhibit some level of biasness, which without doubt lowers the reliability and validity of the interview as an employee selection tool (Edenborough 2007).

Bias and misjudgement in interviews is enhanced by factors such as gender, race, physical appearance, non-verbal behaviour, attitude, age, job market factors, and physical setting. Interviewers may be biased toward people who look or act like them, or those with whom they share certain elements, in form of ideologies or physical elements. In interviews also, interviewers put more weight on positive information and neglect the negative information. In addition, the effects of primacy and recency, in relation to the candidates’ order are a source of bias in interviews (Dayan, Fox & Kasten 2008). On the other hand, the halo effect in interviews leads to unfair favouring of specific candidates, while the horns effect results in misjudgement of other candidates. In the halo effect, one positive aspect of a candidate may overshadow their flaws hence, making the interviewer to favour them and overlook their weaknesses. In the horns effect, a negative aspect of a candidate may overshadow their positive aspects, and make the interviewer to view them in the negative light. This may lead to misjudgement of a deserving candidate (Seijts & Kyei-Poku 2010). Generalization as an aspect of horns effect in interviews is another factor, which lessens the reliability of interviews as an effective tool for employee selection. This happens when the interviewer judges candidates based on their physical appearance or outward behaviour. For instance, most interviewers judge overweight candidates as lazy and greedy people who lack self-control as well as social capabilities. On the other hand, nervous people may be judged as having nervousness as part of their personality, while the candidates who exhibit courage may be considered skilful in different areas (Drummond 2010).

The validity and reliability of interviews can still be restored through various ways. First is the minimizing of bias and misjudgement by interviewers. This can be achieved through comprehensive training of interviewers on interviewing skills. However, the bias and misjudgement in interviews can only be minimized and not eliminated.  Therefore, validity and reliability of interviews may be high, but may not necessarily reach 100 per cent. What is important is that the selectors and interviewers must be qualified in handling the whole interview process. This is inclusive of how they communicate and interact with the candidates as well as the other interview colleagues (Chien-Cheng, Wen-Fen & Wei-Chih 2010).

In conclusion, the selection interview remains the most preferred and effective tool of employee selection, despite the considerable criticism it faces.  The main reason behind this is its strengths, which supersede its weaknesses. Selection interview presents interviewers with an opportunity to select the most suitable candidates by observing the behaviours of the candidates, while at the same time assessing them to determine how they can fit in the job and the company. In selection interviews, it is also easy for interviewers to determine the future behaviours of the candidates in the job, mainly through the assessment and evaluation of the candidates’ behavioural patterns during the interview process. Another strong point of selection interview that makes it stand out is the ability of interviewers to use image management in determining the suitability of candidates. Since the competitiveness of an organization depends on the nature of its employees, organizations need to obtain talented employees to ensure effective operations. Talented employees can only be identified through their physical presentation, evaluation, and assessment of their observed behavioural patterns. This therefore, makes selection interviews to be the best option for employee selection as they meet all the conditions necessary for identification of talented employees.


Works Cited

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