Workforce.com

A Comparison of Different Kinds of Interviews

October 22, 1999
Matthew O'Connell, of Select International, gives his view on the plusses and minuses of different kinds of interviews.

"Past behavior interviews are good predictors of future behavior, they are flexible and they are easy to administer. However, they are not consistent or accurate, they penalize for lack of experience and they encourage ‘halo error’ where a good answer in one area can make the interviewer feel the candidate did well in other areas even when they are perhaps average or even poor. They also take a long time. You simply cannot evaluate ten competencies in 30 minutes. You’re only evaluating whether or not you like the candidate. That doesn’t reveal anything about their work habits.

"Situational interviews can be highly structured. That allows everyone to use the same criteria, and lack of experience isn’t a problem. However, they are not as flexible for interviewers because you have to write everything out first and apply to the situation. Secondly, candidates can fake their responses. There’s no way to know for sure if they’d do what they say they would do.

"Personality inventories are reliable because we know that personality does influence job performance, particularly if someone is a negative person. It doesn’t matter who scores the test. The results will be the same. A broad range of personality data can be obtained easily and quickly, and there’s low adverse impact. The downside is that the results can be faked, but even then it shows that the candidate understands the desired behaviors and can emulate them in the workplace. A desire for social desirability is not a negative trait.

"Simulations actually illustrate performance, they are hard to fake and they offer the highest validity: from .30 to .70. However, they are difficult to administer and aren’t always reliable." Simulations that are not automated are subject to human error in both observation and final assessment. There is also the change error in correlating the simulation with actual job performance.

"Behavioral interviews test for job fit. Job fit helps predict turnover, particularly in call centers and retail stores where turnover is very high. It’s best not to try and sell them on the job. Instead, see if you can get a sense of what they really want.

SOURCE: From a speech by Matthew O’Connell, co-founder of Select International, at a conference on Recruiting & Hiring in a Tight Labor Market: New Practices in Recruitment & Selection, May 5-6, 1999.