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THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS

Job Descriptions
A vacancy presents an opportunity to consider restructuring, or to reassess the requirements of the
job. This assessment is valid whether it is to fill an existing job or a new one. Ask questions such as:
has the function changed?
have work patterns, new technology or new products altered the job?
are there any changes anticipated which will require different, more flexible skills from the
jobholder?
Answers to these questions should help to clarify the actual requirements of the job and how it fits into
the rest of the organization or department. Exit interviews, or consultation with the current job-holder
and colleagues may well produce good ideas about useful changes.
Writing a good job description or job specification helps in the process of analyzing the needs of the
job.
Job description/job specification
This should detail the purpose, tasks and responsibilities of the job. A good job description should
include:
main purpose of the job - try to describe this in one sentence
main tasks of the job - use active verbs, like 'writing', 'repairing', 'machining', 'calculating',
instead of vaguer terms like 'dealing with', 'in charge of'
scope of the job - expanding on the main tasks and the importance of the job. Job importance
can be indicated by giving information such as the number of people to be supervised, the
degree of precision required and the value of any materials and equipment used.
A good job description is useful for all jobs. It can help with induction and training. It provides the basis
for drawing up a person specification - a profile of the skills and aptitudes considered essential and
desirable in the job-holder. It enables prospective applicants to assess themselves for the job and
provides a benchmark for judging achievements.
Person specification
Drawing up the person specification allows the organization to profile the ideal person to fill the job. It
is very important that the skills, aptitudes and knowledge included in the specification are related
precisely to the needs of the job; if they are inflated beyond those necessary for effective job
performance, the risk is that someone will be employed on the basis of false hopes and aspirations,
and both the employer and employee will end up disappointed in each other.
Another good reason not to set unnecessary requirements is to avoid any possibility of discrimination
against particular groups of potential applicants. The very process of writing a job and person
specification should help the employer to develop and implement a policy of equal opportunity in the
recruitment and selection of employees.
Factors
-

to consider when drawing up the specification include:


skills, knowledge, aptitudes directly related to the job
the type of experience necessary
the competencies necessary
education and training but only so far as is necessary for satisfactory job performance, unless
the person is being recruited on the basis of future potential (eg graduate trainees), when a
higher level of education may be specified
any criteria relating to personal qualities or circumstances which must be essential and directly
related to the job, and must be applied equally to all groups irrespective of age, sex, race, age,
nationality, religion or belief, disability, membership or non-membership of a trade union.

For instance, a clause requiring the successful candidate to move their place of work should be
included only when absolutely necessary, as it is likely to discourage applicants with family care
commitments.
The person specification helps the selection and subsequent interview to operate in a systematic way,
as bias-free as possible. The use of competency-based approaches can help by focusing on the 'match'

between candidate and role, but they are best used where they are an integral part of the continuing
assessment and development of staff.
Pay
After setting the job and the person specifications, consideration should be given to pay rates. Factors
such as scales, grades and negotiated agreements, as well as market rates and skills shortages, may
affect the wage or salary, and organizations should be aware of the requirements of equal pay and
discrimination legislation. Unless there is a formal system for increments or length of service, paying
the new employee a different rate from that paid to the preceding post holder may contravene the
relevant legislation. Employers must also comply with the provisions of the National Minimum Wage
Act 1998. The Agricultural Wages Board sets the minimum rates for workers in agriculture.
Attracting applicants
The search for suitable candidates now begins. The process of marketing needs to be undertaken
carefully so as to ensure the best response at the least cost. The object is to get a good selection of
good quality candidates. Possible methods to consider are:
-

internal recruitment - this method can have the advantage of building on existing staff's skills
and training, and provides opportunities for development and promotion. It is a good way to
retain valuable employees whose skills can be further enhanced. Other advantages include the
opportunity for staff to extend their competencies and skills to the benefit of both the
organization and the individual, and the enhancement of individual motivation. Use of a
consistent, clear, procedure, agreed jointly between employer and employees, has many
advantages and avoids suspicion of favoritism
Government Job Centers - will display employers' vacancies and refer potential recruits.
commercial recruitment agencies - often specialize in particular types of work, eg secretarial,
office work, industrial, computing, and may already have potential applicants registered with
them
executive search organizations - usually working in the higher management/specialist fields,
will seek out suitable candidates working in other companies by direct approach, or via
specialist advertising
national newspapers - advertising in the national press is expensive, but likely to produce a
good response for particular, specialist vacancies. Remember too there are national ethnic
group newspapers which will reach a wide audience
specialist and professional journals - less expensive than the national press, these journals can
guarantee to reach the precise group of potential applicants for specialist and professional
vacancies
internet - is beginning to emerge as a recruitment medium. It is mainly used for graduate-level
and technical jobs because it tends to target a self-selected group who are computer literate
and have access to the web at their place of study or work. Its use is likely to grow
local newspapers, radio - for less specialized jobs, or to target groups in a particular local area,
advertisements in the local media may produce a good response
local schools, colleges and the Careers Service - maintaining contact with schools, colleges and
careers advisers will ensure that the organizations needs for school/college leavers with
particular skills and abilities are known. It can be particularly useful to offer students the
opportunity to spend some time at the company, on work experience, or 'shadowing'
word of mouth - introduction via existing employees or through an employers' network. Whilst
this may be economical, it is likely to lead to a much smaller pool of suitable applicants and
does not normally satisfy equal opportunities requirements because any imbalance in the
workforce may be perpetuated. The Equality and Human Rights Commission warns against
such practices where the workforce is predominantly one sex or racial group.

Once the recruitment channel or channels are decided, the next step is to consider:
the design and content of any advertisement used
how applicants are to respond - by application form, fax, telephone, in person at the
organization or agency, by letter, by email on the internet, by tape or Braille
who is to be responsible for sifting the applications? What is the selection process going to be?
if interviews are to be held, when will they be and will everyone who needs to be involved be
available?

are selection tests to be used? Is there the expertise to administer them and ensure they are
non-discriminatory and appropriate?
are references/medicals to be requested?
are arrangements in hand to give prompt acknowledgement of applications received?

The advertisement
Any advertisement needs to be designed and presented effectively to ensure the right candidates are
attracted. Look through national, local or professional papers and see what advertisements catch the
eye. The newspaper office will often advise on suitable formats. Advertisements must be tailored to the
level of the target audience, and should always be clear and easily understood. They must be nondiscriminatory, and should avoid any gender or culturally specific language. To support this, the
organization should include in the advert its statement of commitment to equal opportunities, which
will underline the organization as one that will welcome applications from all sections of the
community.
Consider the following factors in the advertisement:
if the organization is well known, does it have a logo that could feature prominently in the
advertisement? Make the advertisement consistent with the company image
should the job title be the most prominent feature?
keep the text short and simple while giving the main aspects of the job, pay, career prospects,
location, contract length
can specific details - such as pay, qualifications and experience required - be given in a way
which will reduce the number of unsuitable applications?
is it possible to avoid generalizations such as 'attractive salary', or 'appropriate qualifications'
which may discourage valid applications?
can you provide job details on tape or in Braille and accept applications in a similar format?
is the form of reply and the closing date for applications clear? Is there a contact name and
phone number for further information and enquiries?
All advertisements should carry the same information, whether for internal or external use.
Application forms
Application forms can help the recruitment process by providing necessary and relevant information
about the applicant and their skills. The design of the form needs to be realistic and straightforward,
appropriate to the level of the job. Using application forms has the following advantages:
comparing like with like is easier. CVs can be time-consuming and may not provide the
information required
they provide the basis for an initial sift, and then for the interview
the standard of completion can be a guide to the candidate's suitability, if writing and
presentation skills are essential to the job; however, be aware of the possibility of disability
discrimination
they provide a record of qualifications, abilities and experience as stated by the applicant.
Care also needs to be taken over some less positive aspects of application forms:
-

there is a temptation to use application forms to try to extract too much information, eg
motives, values and personality characteristics. The form should concentrate on the
experience, knowledge and competencies needed for the job
some people may dislike filling in forms and so be put off applying for the job. Some very
experienced people may find the form inadequate, whilst those with little in the way of
qualifications or experience may be intimidated by large empty spaces on the form
application forms add another stage, and therefore more time, to the recruitment process.
Some candidates may be lost if they can obtain work elsewhere more quickly
application forms may inadvertently be discriminatory. For instance, to require a form to be
filled out 'in your own handwriting', where written English is not relevant to the job, may
discriminate against those for whom English is not their first language, or who may not have
well-developed literacy skills.

Any information such as title (marital status), ethnic origin or date of birth requested for monitoring
purposes (eg for compliance with the legal requirements and codes of practice on race, sex, disability
and age discrimination) should be clearly shown to be for this purpose only, and should be on a
separate sheet or tear-off section. Such information need only be provided on a voluntary basis.
Medical information should also be obtained separately and kept separate from the application form.
Additionally, the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and subsequent Codes of Practice on
recruitment and selection, employment records, monitoring at work and information on workers' health
need to be noted - if any recruitment records are to be held on computer or in a manual system, the
applicant should be advised of this and for what purposes and duration the information is to be held.
All applications should be promptly acknowledged.
EMPLOYMENT TESTING
What is an employment test?
A test can be defined two different ways. From an assessment standpoint, a test is a standardized
series of problems or questions that assess a persons knowledge, skills, abilities, or other
characteristics. When we refer to employment testing, we mean standardized tools used in hiring,
promotion, demotion, membership, referral, retention, and licensing and certification decisions.
There are different kinds of tests. Tests vary according to their mode of administration (e.g., paper and
pencil vs. Web-based), their content (e.g., interpersonal skills, mathematical ability), their level of
standardization or structure, their costs, their administrative ease, and many other factors.
When do employment tests make the most sense?
Employees affect an organizations performance and profitability. Hiring or promoting people who are
unsuitable costs time, money, and potential new business. Carefully developed and administered
employment tests can provide organizations with a way to decide systematically and accurately which
people have the ability to perform well on the job, will not turnover, wont engage in counterproductive
behaviors, or will be able to learn from training programs. Tests can also benefit individuals who are
better matched to positions for which they are suited and in which they will wish to remain.
Reasons for testing
Some of the more commonly cited reasons for testing are:
Testing leads to savings in the decision-making process. Employment tests can be a cost effective way
to pare down the applicant pool. Tests can make the decision process more efficient because less time
is spent with individuals whose characteristics, skills, and abilities do not match what is needed.
However, some tests do require more time up-front with individuals to determine who is and who isnt
qualified. In these cases, tests can still result in savings from not training and compensating
individuals whose productivity would be low or who would not remain on the job.
The costs of making a wrong decision are high. For certain employment decisions, a wrong decision
can be very costly in terms of training costs, errors made by a poor performer, costs of replacement,
etc. For these types of decisions, investing in testing may be seen as a particularly worthwhile
endeavor if testing reduces the number of wrong decisions.
The job requires attributes that are hard to develop or change. Tests are often used for assessing
characteristics that cannot be developed through training but are acquired over long periods of time or
even a lifetime (e.g., personality traits, in-depth knowledge of a profession).
Hard-to-get information can be obtained more easily and efficiently. One important advantage of
using employment tests is that they can often provide information about an individual that is not easily
obtained using other methods, or that would be much more costly to obtain by other means.
Individuals are treated consistently. Using standardized tools in employment decision-making ensures
that the same information is gathered on each individual and used in a similar way in decisions.
Employers often turn to testing because of the unfairness of less standardized processes, in which
individuals are not all treated in a similar way and similar information is not gathered on all individuals.
Subjective biases can easily creep into decisions if the process for making decisions is unstandardized.

There are a lot of applicants. Sometimes the sheer number of individuals to consider for an
employment decision leads an employer to choose testing as the most efficient and fair means of
making a decision in a timely manner.
Reasons for NOT testing
Some of the most commonly cited reasons for not testing are:
Costs. While tests vary in their costs (e.g., developing customized tools costs more than purchasing
off-the-shelf products, extensive assessments typically cost more), the cost of testing may be easily
offset when considering costs of low productivity, errors, retraining times, and turnover. For example,
conservative estimates of the cost of turnover range from 1/3-1/2 of the annual salary of the employee
that is being replaced. The costs of replacing management, executive and highly skilled talent can
easily be 1-2 times the annual incumbents salary. Further, the costs associated with hiring a wrong
employee who makes mistakes can be quite high. Testing can be a valuable investment for
organizations to make in hiring and retaining talent.
Fear of legal action. Sometimes concerns are raised about the legality of using tests in hiring. As
with any other method of making employment decisions, tests can be scrutinized if there is a belief
that discrimination in employment decisions has occurred. Adverse impact exists when the selection
rate of a given demographic group (e.g., females vs. males, whites vs. blacks, etc.) is substantially
lower than the selection rate of the majority group. While any selection procedure may show score
differences that result in exclusionary effects upon a group, some types of tests (e.g., physical ability,
cognitive ability) are more likely to show such score differences. Despite these differences, these tests
are often accurate predictors of job performance and other outcomes of interest. Before using a test, it
is important to anticipate whether or not adverse impact might occur and to consider ways that
minimize any exclusionary effects while preserving the ability to make valid inferences based on test
scores. If adverse impact does occur, it is important to demonstrate that the inferences made based
on test scores are appropriate. Employers should have clear documentation regarding any tools they
use in employment decision-making.
Practical constraints. Tests may not be the best choice if not many individuals are being considered in
a particular employment decision, if the resources to properly administer the test are not available, or
if the timing and logistics of the decision-making process preclude the use of an appropriate test.
The current decision-making process would not be improved upon by the addition of a test. Employers
may believe they already have a quality decision-making process in place and a test would simply add
costs and time with no gain in decision accuracy. Often, however, this belief has not been wellassessed, as organizations do not always track the information necessary to actually evaluate how well
their employment decision-making processes are working. A proper evaluation of a decision-making
process may reveal room for improvement, and often a test is a cost-effective and efficient way to
improve the process.
Tests are useful decision making tools in employment contexts. Deciding whether a test is the right
solution in a given situation may require professional advice from someone with knowledge of both
testing and employment situations. Industrial-organizational psychologists may be helpful in such a
situation.
Types of Employee Tests

1. Assessment Centers

Assessment centers can be designed to measure many different types of job related skills and
abilities, but are often used to assess interpersonal skills, communication skills, planning and
organizing, and analytical skills. The assessment center typically consists of exercises that reflect
job content and types of problems faced on the job. For example, individuals might be evaluated
on their ability to make a sales presentation or on their behavior in a simulated meeting. In
addition to these simulation exercises, assessment centers often include other kinds of tests such
as cognitive ability tests, personality inventories, and job knowledge tests. The assessment
center typically uses multiple raters who are trained to observe, classify, and evaluate
behaviors. At the end of the assessment center, the raters meet to make overall judgments
about peoples performance in the center.

Advantages

2.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes (e.g., promotion rates).
Can reduce business costs by
identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.
May be viewed positively by test
takers who see the close
relationship between the test and
the job.

Can provide useful feedback to


test takers regarding needed
training and development.

Focus more heavily on behavior


demonstration than simply
assessing characteristics.

Use trained raters.

Are typically less likely to differ in


results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Disadvantages

Can be costly to create and


administer.

Require more labor (e.g.,


assessors, role-players, etc.) to
administer than most other
methods.

Require more time to administer


than most other methods.

Can be difficult to keep calibrated


or standardized across time and
locations.

Biographical Data
The content of biographical data instruments varies widely, and may include such areas as
leadership, teamwork skills, specific job knowledge and specific skills (e.g., knowledge of certain
software, specific mechanical tool use), interpersonal skills, extraversion, creativity, etc.
Biographical data typically uses questions about education, training, work experience, and
interests to predict success on the job. Some biographical data instruments also ask about an
individuals attitudes, personal assessments of skills, and personality.
Advantages

Can be administered via paper


and pencil or computerized
methods easily to large numbers.

Can be cost effective to


administer.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes (e.g., turnover,
performance).

Disadvantages

May lead to individuals responding


in a way to create a positive
decision outcome rather than how
they really are (i.e., they may try
to positively manage their
impression or even fake their
response).

Do not always provide sufficient


information for developmental
feedback (i.e., individuals cannot
change their past).

Can be time-consuming to develop

3.

Are typically less likely to differ in


results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Does not require skilled


administrators.

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.

if not purchased off-the-shelf.

Cognitive Ability Tests


Cognitive ability tests typically use questions or problems to measure ability to learn quickly, logic,
reasoning, reading comprehension and other enduring mental abilities that are fundamental to
success in many different jobs. Cognitive ability tests assess a persons aptitude or potential to
solve job-related problems by providing information about their mental abilities such as verbal or
mathematical reasoning and perceptual abilities like speed in recognizing letters of the alphabet.
Advantages

4.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes (e.g., performance,
success in training).

Have been demonstrated to


predict job performance
particularly for more complex jobs.

Can be administered via paper


and pencil or computerized
methods easily to large numbers.

Can be cost effective to


administer.

Does not typically require skilled


administrators.

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.

Will not be influenced by test taker


attempts to impression manage or
fake responses.

Integrity Tests

Disadvantages

Are typically more likely to differ


in results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Can be time-consuming to develop


if not purchased off-the-shelf.

Integrity tests assess attitudes and experiences related to a persons honesty, dependability,
trustworthiness, reliability, and pro-social behavior. These tests typically ask direct questions about
previous experiences related to ethics and integrity OR ask questions about preferences and interests
from which inferences are drawn about future behavior in these areas. Integrity tests are used to
identify individuals who are likely to engage in inappropriate, dishonest, and antisocial behavior at
work.
Advantages

5.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes (e.g., performance,
inventory shrinkage difficulties in
dealing with supervision).

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals who are less
likely to be absent, or engage in
other counterproductive behavior.

Send the message to test takers


that integrity is an important
corporate value.

Are typically less likely to differ in


results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Can be administered via paper


and pencil or computerized
methods easily to large numbers.

Can be cost effective to


administer.

Does not require skilled


administrators.

Disadvantages

May lead to individuals responding


in a way to create a positive
decision outcome rather than how
they really are (i.e., they may try
to positively manage their
impression or even fake their
response).

May be disliked by test takers if


questions are intrusive or seen as
unrelated to the job.

Interviews
Interviews vary greatly in their content, but are often used to assess such things as interpersonal
skills, communication skills, and teamwork skills, and can be used to assess job knowledge. Welldesigned interviews typically use a standard set of questions to evaluate knowledge, skills,
abilities, and other qualities required for the job. The interview is the most commonly used type of
test. Employers generally conduct interviews either face-to-face or by phone. (For more
information on this topic, see the article entitled, Effective Employee Interviews).
Advantages

Are expected and accepted by


many job applicants.

Provide an opportunity for a twoway exchange of information.

Disadvantages

May be affected by different kinds


of rating errors and biases by
interviewers.

Are often more time-consuming to


administer than paper and pencil

6.

or computerized tools.

Provide a measure of skills such as


oral communication skills not
measured via paper and pencil or
computerized tools.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes, if properly developed
and administered

May be practically less useful


when a large number of
individuals must be evaluated
because of administration time.

Can be costly to train interviewers.

May be difficult to keep


interviewers calibrated and the
interview process standardized.

May lead to individuals responding


in a way to create a positive
decision outcome rather than how
they really are (i.e., they may try
to positively manage their
impression or even fake their
response).

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.
Are typically less likely to differ in
results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Job Knowledge Tests


Job knowledge tests typically use multiple choice questions or essay type items to evaluate
technical or professional expertise and knowledge required for specific jobs or professions.
Examples of job knowledge tests include tests of basic accounting principles, A+/Net+
programming, and blueprint reading.
Advantages

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes, such as job
performance.
Can reduce business costs by
identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.

Are typically less likely to differ in


results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

May be viewed positively by test


takers who see the close
relationship between the test and
the job.

Will not be influenced by test taker


attempts to impression manage or
fake responses.

Can provide useful feedback to

Disadvantages

May require frequent updates to


ensure test is current with the job.

May be inappropriate for jobs


where knowledge may be obtained
via a short training period.

Can be costly and time-consuming


to develop, unless purchased offthe-shelf.

test takers regarding needed


training and development.

7.

Personality Tests

Some commonly measured personality traits in work settings are extraversion, conscientiousness,
openness to new experiences, optimism, agreeableness, service orientation, stress tolerance,
emotional stability, and initiative or proactivity. Personality tests typically measure traits related to
behavior at work, interpersonal interactions, and satisfaction with different aspects of work.
Personality tests are often used to assess whether individuals have the potential to be successful in
jobs where performance requires a great deal of interpersonal interaction or work in team settings.
Advantages

8.

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences for a
number of organizational
outcomes.

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who
possess the needed skills and
abilities.

Are typically less likely to differ in


results by gender and race than
other types of tests.

Can be administered via paper


and pencil or computerized
methods easily to large numbers.

Can be cost effective to


administer.

Does not require skilled


administrators.

Disadvantages

May contain questions that do


not appear job related or seem
intrusive if not well developed.

May lead to individuals


responding in a way to create a
positive decision outcome rather
than how they really are (i.e.,
they may try to positively
manage their impression or even
fake their response).

May be problematic for use in


employee selection if the test is
one used to diagnose medical
conditions (i.e., mental disorders)
rather than simply to assess
work-related personality traits.

Physical Ability Tests


Physical ability tests typically use tasks or exercises that require physical ability to
perform. These tests typically measure physical attributes and capabilities, such as
strength, balance, and speed.
Advantages

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences
regarding performance of
physically demanding tasks.

Can identify applicants who are

Disadvantages

Are typically more likely to differ


in results by gender than other
types of tests.

May be problematic for use in


employee selection if the test is

physically unable to perform


essential job functions.

9.

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who
possess the needed skills and
abilities, by minimizing the risk of
physical injury to employees and
others on the job, and by
decreasing disability/medical,
insurance, and workers
compensation costs.

one used to diagnose medical


conditions (i.e., a physical
disability) rather than simply to
assess ability to perform a
particular job-related task.

Can be expensive to purchase


equipment and administer.

May be time consuming to


administer.

May be inappropriate or difficult


to administer in typical
employment offices.

Will not be influenced by test


taker attempts to impression
manage or fake responses.

Work Samples and Simulations


These tests typically focus on measuring specific job skills or job knowledge, but can also assess
more general skills such as organizational skill, analytic skills, and interpersonal skills. Work
samples and simulations typically require performance of tasks that are the same or similar to
those performed on the job to assess their level of skill or competence. For example, work
samples might involve installing a telephone line, creating a document in Word, or tuning an
engine.
Advantages

Disadvantages

Have been demonstrated to


produce valid inferences regarding
ability to perform the job.

Does not assess aptitude to


perform more complex tasks that
may be encountered on the job.

Can reduce business costs by


identifying individuals for hiring,
promotion or training who possess
the needed skills and abilities.

May not assess the ability to learn


new tasks quickly.

Often not conducive to group


administration.

May require some level of job


knowledge and therefore may be
inappropriate for jobs where
knowledge may be obtained via a
short training period.

May be difficult to keep updated.

May be expensive to administer.

May be time consuming to develop


and to administer.

Are less likely to differ in results by


gender and race than other types
of tests (depends on particular
skills being assessed).
May be more accepted by test
takers due to the obvious link
between the test and the job.
Less likely to be influenced by test
taker attempts to impression
manage or fake responses.

Can be used to provide specific


developmental feedback.

Can provide test takers with a


realistic preview of the job and the
organization.

Effective Interviews
While most organizations use interviews in employment decision making, many have not maximized
the effectiveness of their interviewing process. In the section on Types of Employment Tests, the
advantages and disadvantages of interviews were presented. In this section, we discuss what
distinguishes an effective interview from an ineffective one. Research has been fairly conclusive in
showing that structuring an interview making sure that the characteristics to be evaluated are clearly
identified, that all interviewers ask the same questions of all candidates, that interviewers are well
trained, and that interviewee performance is evaluated using well-developed rating scales, leads to a
more effective interview process.
The following tips can help managers create an effective interview.
1. Identify the candidate characteristics that should be assessed during the interview.
Employers must consider a number of factors in deciding what candidate characteristics will be
evaluated in the interview. Questions to be considered include: Is this a knowledge, skill, or
characteristic that is important to success on the job or to some outcome of interest (e.g., low
turnover)? Is the interview the best way to assess this important knowledge skill or ability? How much
overlap would be best between the interview and other tests used in the decision-making process?
2. Develop interview questions.
Once the areas to be evaluated are identified, interview questions should be created that will be used
with all candidates for a particular position. Past behavior is one of the best predictors of future
behavior. Interview questions should be designed so that candidates describe things they actually did
or said in a previous situation and the outcome of their actions. This information often predicts very
well how candidates are likely to respond to a similar situation in the future. While questions about
hypothetical situations (what would you do if . . .) can be useful also, these questions need to worded
and used carefully within any interview to get the maximum benefit from them. For example, asking
an individual about whether he/she would apply a skill in a particular situation can result in his/her
giving an obvious, socially desirable response.
3. Plan likely probes and follow-up questions.
Organizations may find that an interview process that was designed to be one in which all interviewees
are treated the same and asked the same questions becomes one in which people are asked
dramatically different things because interviewers vary widely in what they do in follow-up questions
or probing. If interviewers are not allowed to probe, however, often key information is not elicited.
Thus, the interview should be designed to give interviewers the freedom to ask follow-up questions but
also to guide them in the types of follow-up questions that would be most appropriate for the given
interview structure. A suggested list of possible probes can accompany the list of interview questions,
and/or training in effective probing be provided to interviewers.
4. Evaluate responses using anchored scales.
A systematic evaluation of individuals responses to interview questions is helpful for several reasons.
It allows for a comparison across candidates who are often interviewed by different individuals or even
by the same individual across a wide time span. It requires the interviewer to evaluate the candidate
on the job-relevant characteristics identified as important, not on any idiosyncratic set of criteria.
Standardization in rating scales provides documentation that all candidates were evaluated on the
same basis.
5. Train interviewers.
Despite the beliefs of many individuals that they are good judges of others, interviewer training has
been demonstrated to be effective in improving the judgments of interviewers, in ensuring that all
candidates are treated similarly, and in calibrating interviewers with one another.

6. Understand the legal parameters.


Using business-related job requirements as the foundation for creating interview questions usually
means the interview will be in compliance with the law. In deciding which questions to ask in an
interview, understanding the legal requirements for selection will help the interviewer avoid asking
inappropriate questions. For example in the U.S., laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964),
the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
outline several areas of concern with regard to employment discrimination. These characteristics
include race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age (over 40), and disabilities. Generally,
questions directly about these characteristics will be problematic, but questions that ask about a job
requirement may relate to a characteristic and be acceptable. For example, one cannot ask Are you a
member of a religion that holds services on Saturday? but one can ask, This job requires overtime work
on the weekends. Can you work on Saturdays and Sundays?
7. Use the interview to provide a realistic job preview.
Interviews are not just opportunities to learn more about candidates; they are also opportunities for
managers to help candidates learn more about the job. When candidates have a realistic
understanding of their job, their expectations are more likely to be met. When a job fails to live up to
an individuals expectations, he/she is more likely to be dissatisfied and ultimately leave the position.
When encountering tight labor markets, managers may be inclined to only relay the positive aspects of
a job to candidates. Although this approach may result in short-term success, ultimately more time is
spent hiring as candidates continually leave the position.
8. Use the interview as a selling opportunity.
To increase the chances of hiring a good candidate, use the interview experience to sell the job and the
company. Prior to the interview, talk to employees in the company and find out what they like best
about the organization. Then, when talking to candidates about what they are looking for in a work
experience, relay how the job and the organization can meet their needs. To make the most of this
selling opportunity, think about the interview experience from the candidates perspective. A
candidates experience in the interview process affects his/her opinions about the organization. Being
treated professionally and talking with a well-prepared interviewer creates a positive impression and
experience.
25 Qualities Employers Look for in a Candidate
When youre job hunting, you need the right skills, education, and experience. But thats not all you
need. Employers are also looking for a host of other qualities.
1. Energy. Humans are drawn to energetic people because energy is contagious and an upper. Job
interviewers are human.
2. Good manners. Dressing appropriately, sitting erect, maintaining eye contact, waiting to sit until
your interviewer is seatedthese things all show respect for the person and the situation.
3. Maturity. Mature people know how to focus on the needs of others. Immature people are just
wrapped up in themselves. Employers really prefer the first one.
4. Judgment. When interviewers start questions with tell me about a time when you, thats your
opening to bring up examples of when you showed excellent judgment.
5. Problem-solving skills. The tell me about a time question is also an opportunity to talk about how
you effectively approach problems.
6. Loyalty. Employers seek candidates who can demonstrate loyalty to somethinga cause,
colleagues, a company, your profession.
7. Cheerful nature. A positive attitude, a smile, and an easygoing attitude tell an employer you will be
a pleasure to have around. Thats important.
8. Good health. Employers need to believe that you can physically do the job. If you have visible
health issues, you might consider preemptively addressing them.
9. Financial responsibility. Lots of jobs involve a credit check. So if you have a problem in this area,
start working now to fix it!

10. Demonstration that you finish what you start. This is one reason many employers require a college
degree. If you dont have one, look for other examples of your stick-to-it-iveness.
11. Follow-through. Not quite the same as #10. Follow-through is a habit of mind highly valued at most
companies. A good example is writing a thank-you note after the interview.
12. Demonstration of an ability to go above and beyond. Employers dream about these kinds of
employees. Think of a time youve shown this quality and find a way to talk about it.
13. Ability to handle criticism. When interviewers ask about your greatest weakness, they want to
see that youre capable of recognizing you do have weaknesses, and that youre willing to put in
the work to correct them.
14. Ability to cooperate with others. Be nice to receptionists/assistants/colleagues. Show that you
would be an asset to the team.
15. Intelligence. For example, in interviews, employers notice how well you appear to understand
questions and whether you answer them clearly, in complete sentences, using reasonably good
grammar.
16. Demonstration that you know something about the employers business. A no-brainer. At least it
should be.
17. Have you reached a level commensurate with your age and qualifications? Dont let the
interviewer wonder. If this is an issue for you, tackle it head-on.
18. A career trajectory that makes sense. Learn to talk about your career in a way that shows you have
a plan. Ideally, youll be able to show continuous improvement.
19. Long-term goals and objectives. What you want to do here is demonstrate that you are a
thoughtful person with goals, and the smarts to pursue those goals. It ties in with #18.
20. Solid, thought-through reasons for leaving past jobs. Even if youve had 10 jobs in the past six
years, it doesnt have to hurt you if you can show good smart reasons for why.
21. Punctuality. The reason you need to be on time for interviews is that this is the employers first
clue that you can meet a deadline.
22. Resilience. Can you still perform when the going gets tough? Think of examples from your personal
and work life, and try to work them into the interview.
23. Attention to detail. Your resume is the classic platform for showing an employer that you can
produce a meticulously accurate product.
24. Flexibility/adaptability. Interviewers sometimes ask an unexpected or even crazy question just to
see how you react. This is a time to be at your most unflappable.
25. Some evidence of achievement and commitment in your personal life. Employers ask about your
hobbies and passions as a way of getting to know you, and because they like to see some success
here, too.