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American University in Cairo

Management Development Institute

Human Resource Diploma 9

Selection Interview
Interviews & Interviewing Skills
Research Paper

Presented By:

Tarek Hassan Abdul Motaleb

Under the Supervision of :

Dr. Mohamed Rifaat Wahba

June 2001
Table of Content

Subject Page No.

Introduction 3-4
- Purpose of this paper
- Structure of this paper
Part one 5-12
- Types of Interviews
- Selection Interview
Part Two 13-15
- Factors can undermine Interview Usefulness
Part Three 16-22
- How to conduct a useful interview
- Tips and Guidelines
- Training Highlights
Conclusion 23
References 24-26
Appendix 27



Interviewing Skills & Selection Interview Research Paper

Tarek Hassan- HRD9
Interviewing became an integral part of any Human Resource

professional daily tasks. Although the interview is only one of several

selection procedures, it is the most widely used personnel selection

procedure. While companies are using other selection tools like tests,

assessment centers and references checks, it would be highly unusual for

a manager not to interview a prospective employee. Interviewing is thus

an indispensable management tool. In order for any HR professional to

conduct an effective interview, he/she has to know the common shortfalls

the interviewer may fall into. He/She has also to know how to avoid them

and how to structure a successful interview. No doubt that some people

are talent in their interviewing skills. But still such skills can be acquired

through learning and experience. Interviewing Skills are the essence of

this paper.

The purpose of this research paper:

Interviewing Skills & Selection Interview Research Paper

Tarek Hassan- HRD9
is to highlight the importance of interviewing in general , with special

emphasis on Selection interview as an effective tool for recruitment and


How does the paper handle the subject:

This paper is consisting of an introduction, main body of three parts, and

a conclusion. In addition to appendix for the Internet texts. The first part

handles the types of interviews. The second part handles factors, which

can undermine the usefulness of an interview, while the third part

handles guidelines and tips for conducting a successful interview, in

addition to some training highlights.

Interviewing Skills & Selection Interview Research Paper

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An interview is a procedure designed to obtain information from a

persons’ oral responses to oral inquires.

Historically the interview was criticized as having low validity. However,

more recent reviews have been more favorable and an interview-

assuming it is conducted properly- can be a much better predictor of

performance than previously thought and is comparable with many other

selection techniques. (1)

Types of Interviews:

The seven main types of interviews used at work are:

1- Structured

2- Nonstructured

3- Situational

4- Sequential

5- Panel

6- Stress

7- Appraisal

Each of this type can be classified in one or more of four ways according


1- How structured they are

2- Their purpose

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3- Their content (the types of questions they contain)

4- The way they are administered

First: Structured vs. Unstructured interviews:

Interviews can be classified according to the degree to which they are

structured as follows:

In an unstructured or nondirective type of interview: the interviewer asks

questions as they come to his mind. There is generally no set format to

follow, so the interview can take various directions. While questions can

be specified in advance, they usually are not, and there is seldom a

formalized guide for scoring the quality of each answer. Interviewees for

the same job thus may or may not be asked the same or similar questions.

Furthermore, the lack of structure allows the interviewer to ask follow-up

questions, based on the candidate’s last statement, and to pursue points of

interest as they develop.

In the structured or directive interview:

The questions and acceptable responses are specified in advance and the

responses are rated for appropriateness of content. The interviewer

usually follows a printed form to ask a series of questions. The comments

can be printed beneath the questions. This will guide the interviewer in

evaluating the acceptability of the answers. One of the advantages of the

structured interviews that all applicants are generally asked all the same

required questions by all interviewers, therefore structured interviews are

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more liable and valid. Also this type of interviews can help those

interviewers that may be less comfortable interviewing to ask questions

and conduct more useful interviews. Standardizing the administration of

the interview also increases consistency across candidates, enhances job

relatedness, reduces overall subjectivity (and thus the potential for bias),

and may, as a result, enhance the ability to withstand legal challenge. On

the other hand structured interviews do not always leave flexibility to

pursue points of interest as they develop. (2)

In practice, not all structured interviews go so far as to specify acceptable

answers. Basing the questions on a job analysis, consciously limiting the

follow-up questions (to make sure that all interviewees are asked only the

same questions), using a larger number of questions, and prohibiting

questions from candidates until after the interview are some other “

structuring examples”. (3)

The purpose of the interview: (4)

Employment –related interviews can also be classified according to their

purpose. Thus a selection interview is a type of interview designed to

predict future job performance on the basis of applicants’ oral responses

to oral inquires as follows:

1- Stress Interview:

It is a special type of selection interview in which the applicant is made

uncomfortable by a series of sometimes rude questions. The aim of the

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stress interview is supposedly to help identify sensitive applicants and

those with low or high stress tolerance. The stress approach can be a good

way to identify hypersensitive applications who might be expected to

overreact to mild criticism with anger and abuse. On the other hand the

stress interview’s invasive and ethically questionable nature demands that

the interviewer be both skilled in its use and sure that an ability to handle

stress are really required for the job. Stress interview is definitely not an

approach for amateur interrogators or for those without the skills to keep

the interview under control.

2- Appraisal Interview:

It is a discussion following a performance appraisal in which supervisor

and employee discuss the employee’s rating and possible remedial


3- Exit Interview:

It is an interview, held usually by HR department, when an employee

leaves a firm for any reason. The aim of this interview is to elicit

information about the job or related matters that might give the employer

a better insight into what is right or wrong about the company. (5)

The interview’s content: (the types of questions):

Interviews can also be classified according to the nature or “content” of

their questions as follows:

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1- Situational Interview:

It is one in which the questions focus on the individual’s ability to

project what his or her behavior would be in a given situation. For

example, a candidate for a supervisor’s position may be asked how he or

she would respond to a subordinate coming to work late 3 days in a row.

The interview can be both structured and situational with predetermined

questions requiring the candidate to project what his or her behavior

would be . In a structured situational interview, the applicant could be

evaluated, say, on his or her choice between letting the subordinate off

with a warning versus suspending the subordinate for 1 week. (6)

2- Job- related interviews:

They are those in which the interviewer tries to deduce what the

applicant’s on-the-job performance will be, based on his or her answers to

questions about past behaviors. The questions here are not situational, in

that they don’t revolve around hypothetical situations or scenarios.

Instead, job-related questions are asked in order to draw conclusions

about, say, the candidate’s ability to handle the financial aspects of the job

to be filled.

3- The behavioral interview:

It is the interview, in which situations is described and interviewees are

asked how they have behaved in the past in such a situation. Thus, while

situational interviews ask interviewees to describe how they would react

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to a situation today or tomorrow, the behavioral interview asks

interviewees to describe how they did react to situations in the past.

4- Psychological interviews:

They are interviews conducted by a psychologist in which questions are

intended to assess personal traits such as dependability.

The interview may use situational, job-related or behavioral questions and

be either structured or unstructured. Psychological interviews generally

have a significant unstructured elements. (7)

Administering the interview:

Interviews can also be classified based on how they are administered:

One-on-One or by a panel of interviewers. Sequentially or all at once and

computerized or personally. As follows:

1- One-on-One interview:

Most interviews are administered one-on-one. As the name implies, two

people meet alone and one interviews the other by seeking oral responses

to oral inquiries. Most selection processes are also sequential.

2- Sequential interview:

In a sequential interview the applicant is interviewed by several persons

in a sequence before a selection decision is made. In unstructured

sequential interview each interviewer may look at the applicant from his

or her own point of view, ask different questions, and form an

independent opinion of the candidate. On the other hand, in a structured

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sequential interview, each interviewer rates the candidate on a standard

evaluation form, and the ratings are compared before the hiring decision

is made. (8)

3- Panel interview:

It means that the candidate is interviewed simultaneously by a group (or

panel) of interviewers (rather than sequentially). The group structure has

several advantages. A sequential interview often has candidates cover

basically the same ground over and over again with each interviewer. The

panel interview, on the other hand, allows each interviewer to pick up on

the candidate’s answers, much as reporters do in press conferences. This

approach may elicit deeper and more meaningful responses than are

normally produced by a series of one-on-one interviews. On the other

hand , some candidates find panel interviews more stressful, and they

may actually inhibit responses.

4- Mass interview:

In a mass interview several candidates are interviewed simultaneously by

a panel. Here the panel poses a problem to be solved and then sits back

and watches which candidate takes the lead in formulating the answer.

5- Computerized selection interview:

Here interviews aren’t administered by people at all, but are

computerized. A computerized selection interview is one in which a job

candidate’s oral and /or computerized responses are obtained in response

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to computerized oral, visual, or written questions and/or situations. The

basic idea is generally to present the applicant with a series of questions

regarding his or her background, experience, education, skills,

knowledge, and work attitudes- specific questions that relate to the job for

which the person has applied. (9)

How useful are interviews?

For many years, the ironic thing about interviews is that while used by

virtually all employers, the earlier research gave selection interviews low

marks in terms of reliability and validity. However, today studies affirm

that the interview is “generally a much better predictor of performance

than previously thought and is comparable with many other selection

techniques.” The key, however, seems to be that this is true “ especially if

(and often only if} the interview is structured.:” Generally speaking, the

research evidence suggests that structured interviews have reported

validity about twice of those of unstructured interviews.” In other words,

the key to an interview’s usefulness is the manner in which it is

administered, including (most importantly) the degree to which it is

structured. (10)

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Factors can undermine an interview’s usefulness:

1- Snap Judgments:

This is when the interviewers tend to jump to conclusions; make snap

judgments about candidates during the first few minutes of the interview

or even before the interview begins, based on test scores or resume data

or application forms and personal appearance. (11)

2- Negative Emphasis:

Jumping to conclusions is especially troublesome when the information

the interviewer has about the candidate is negative. Studies found that

interviewers who previously received unfavorable reference letters about

applicants gave the applicants less credit for past successes and held them

more personally. In other words interviewers seen to have a consistent

negative bias. They are generally more influenced by unfavorable than

favorable information about the candidate. An interviewee who starts out

with a poor rating will find it hard to overcome that first bad impression

during the interview. (12)

3- Misunderstanding the Job:

Interviewers who don’t know precisely what the job entails and what sort

of candidate is best suited for it usually make their decisions based on

incorrect stereotypes about what a good applicant is. On the other hand,

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interviewers who have a clear understanding of what the job entails hold

interviews that are more useful. (13)

4- Pressure to Hire:

Pressure to hire also undermines an interview’s usefulness.

5- Candidate-Order (Contrast) Error:

It means that the order in which you see applicants affects how you rate

them. (14)

6- Influence of Nonverbal Behavior:

Interviewers are influenced by the applicant’s nonverbal behavior. For

example, applicants who demonstrate more eye contact, head moving,

smiling, and other similar nonverbal behavior are rated higher. These

nonverbal behaviors often account for more than 80% of the applicant’s

rating. It would seem that an otherwise inferior interviewee who is trained

to “ act right” may well be appraised more highly than a more competent

applicant lacking nonverbal interviewing skills. (15)

7- Telegraphing:

Some interviewers are so anxious to fill a job that they help the applicant

respond correctly to their questions by telegraphing the expected answers.

The telegraphing is not always so obvious. For example, an interviewers’

favorable first impression of a candidate (from examining application

blanks and test scores) tends to result in a more positive interview style

by the interviewer. (16)

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8- Too Much/Too Little Talking:

Providing too much- or too little- guidance is another common mistake.

Some interviewers let the applicant dominate the interview to the point

where few substantive questions can be pursued. At the other extreme,

some interviewers stifle the applicant by talking so much that the

interviewee hasn’t sufficient time to answer questions. (17)

9- Playing District Attorney or Psychologist:

Since the interviewer often plays the role of gatekeeper in determining

whether or not the interviewee gets a job, there’s sometimes a tendency to

misuse power by playing district attorney or psychologist. Some

interviewers are probing for hidden meanings in everything the applicants

say. (18)

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How to have a successful Structured Interview:

Step 1. Job Analysis: first write a description of the job in the form of a

list of job duties, required knowledge, skills, abilities, and other worker

qualifications. (19)

Step 2. Evaluate the Job Duty Information: rate each job duty on its

importance to job success and on the amount of time required to perform

it compared to other tasks. The aim here is to identify the main duties of

the job. (20)

Step 3. Evaluate Interview Questions: The employees who list and

evaluate the job duties then develop interview questions. The interview

questions are based on the listing of job duties, with more interview

questions generated for the more important duties. The employees who

develop the questions generally state the questions in terms of critical

incidents that reflect especially good or poor performance. (21)

Step 4. Develop Benchmark Answers: develop answers and a five-point

rating scale for each questions, with specific answers developed for good

( a 5 rating), marginal ( a 3 rating), and poor ( a 1 rating).

Step 5. Appoint Interview Panel And Implement: These types of

interviews are generally conducted by a panel, rather than sequentially.

The panel should consist of 3 to 6 members, preferably the same

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employees who participated in writing the interviews and answers. Panel

members may also be supervisors of the job to be filled. The job

incumbent, peers and HR representatives. The same panel members

should interview all candidates for the job. (22)

Objectives of the interviewer: (23)

The general objectives of the interviewer in any interview are three:

relevance, validity, and reliability. Assuming that we already have clear

information objectives for a study and that we have already designed

questions relevant to these objectives, then the interviewer is responsible

for obtaining relevant, valid and reliable responses to those questions.

Guidelines for Conducting an Interview:

1- Structure the interview: The following actions can help in

enhancing the interview’ structure:

a- Base interview questions on a job analysis. This will prevent

interviewers from basing questions on inaccurate beliefs about the job’s

requirements. It will also reduce the likelihood of bias.

b- Use objective, specific, and behaviorally-oriented questions and

criteria for evaluating the interviewee’s responses. Doing so can

reduce the overall subjectivity of the process and thereby the

interpretation required and the bias that such interpretation may breed.

c- Train interviewers: Training may also improve the job relatedness

of the interview and the interview’s objectivity. For instance: train

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them to avoid irrelevant or potentially discriminatory questions. Also

train them to base their ratings on job-related information .

Any training and development for the interviewers should move from an

assessment of need, through the development of the program, to

evaluation of what has been achieved. So what specific knowledge and

skill do interviewers need? What are the common pitfalls for the

inexperienced? What problems do even experienced interviewers have

that training might address? A book concerned with interviewer training

and published by the IPM (Hackett, 1990) lists a number of pitfalls for

the inexperienced:

Lack of clarity about the objectives of the interview

Failure to work out which topics are likely to elicit most useful


Failure to structure the interview properly

Failure to provide the right physical setting

Failure to ask the right questions, in the right way

Talking too much

Not listening

Jumping to conclusions

Failure to probe, especially in what look like areas of weakness

Low recall of information

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Bias or prejudice in evaluation

A tendency to try and assess the interviewee as a whole rather than

building up a picture systematically

Concentration on personality traits rather than results and behavior

 (24)
Lack of effective follow-up

Use the same questions with all candidates: using the same questions

with all candidates can reduce bias “ because of the obvious fairness of

giving all the candidates the exact same opportunity and limit many

sources of potential bias in the interview”. (25)

Use rating scales to rate interviewees’ answers: rating scales can reduce

bias and increase the interview’s reliability by ensuring that all

interviewers are basically using the same criteria. (26)

Use multiple interviewers or panel interviews: This can reduce bias by

canceling out one or two interviewers’ idiosyncratic opinions and by

bringing more points of view to bear before the hiring decision is

made. (27)

d- Use better questions: Questions are better that are more objective

and work oriented ( regardless of whether of not you conduct a job

analysis) (28)

e- Plan the Interview:

Prior to the interview do the following:

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a- Review the candidate’s application and resume and note any areas

that are vague or that may indicate strengths or weaknesses.

b- Review the job specification and plan to start the interview with a

clear picture of the traits of an ideal candidate.

c- Use a structured form. At a minimum, write out your questions

prior to the interview.

d- Prepare the site of the interview. The interview should take place in

a private room where telephone calls are not accepted and

interruptions can be minimized.

The selection of an appropriate place for the interview can minimize the

competing time demands. This statement may appear to be a

contradiction of terms in that it proposes to deal with the time dimension

by manipulation of the space dimension. This is possible only because

places contain people, things and interests that might compete with

interview time. Although the aphorism “ out of sight, out of mind” is not

completely true, there is a tendency in this direction. (29)

Plan on keeping a record of the interview, and review this record after the

interview. Make your decision then. (30)

The sensitive interviewer who detects the respondent’s concern about

seeing the interviewers taking notes, can discover what is bothering him

and give the appropriate explanation. Often the interviewee is satisfied by

the interviewer’s offer to show him the notes. This offer should not be

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made if the interviewer cannot follow through without endangering

rapport. ) (31)

Establish rapport: The main reason for the interview is to find out about

the applicant. To do this, start by putting the person at ease. Greet the

candidate and start the interview by asking a non-controversial question.

2- Ask questions: Try to follow your structured interview guide or the

questions you wrote out ahead of time.

The open question is the most valuable of all questioning techniques

available to the recruitment/selection interviewer. Used to get the

interviewee talking freely about a topic area, it is an essential component

of successful selection interviewing. It can take several forms, for

“ According to your CV, this is your third job since leaving

university two years ago. Describe to me your reasons for changing.”

“ You said few minutes ago that your preference is for working

outdoors. What makes you say this?.”

“ Can you tell me something about your reasons for applying for
this vacancy?.”
Close the interview: Toward the close of the interview, leave time

to answer any questions the candidate may have and, if appropriate, to

advocate your firm to the candidate. Try to end all interviews on a

positive note. The applicant should be told whether there is an interest

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and, if so, what the next step will be. Similarly, rejections should be

made diplomatically. If your policy is to inform candidates of their

status in writing, do so within a few days of the interview.

3- Review the interview: Once the candidate leaves, review your

interview notes. Fill in the structured interview guide and review the

interview while it is still fresh in your mind. Remember that snap

judgments and negative emphasis are two common interviewing

mistakes. Reviewing the interview shortly after the candidate has left

can help you minimize these two problems. Some employers find

videotaping interviews can be an effective way to review the top

candidates. (33)

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As shown in this research paper, interview can be an effective tool in

Human Resources functions, if the interviewer masters the basic

interviewing skills and avoids the factors, which may undermine its


Four skills are essential for nearly all types of interviews: (1) asking well-

designed primary questions, (2) listening carefully to answers to detect

clues or problems, (3) asking carefully crafted secondary questions to

probe into clues for valuable information or to resolve problems with

answers, and (4) being patient and persistent until you have the

information needed. These skills do not come usually naturally and need

development and refinement before you can apply them successfully in

any type of interviews.

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1- Human Resource Management, Gary Dessler , 8th Edition. 1999

2- Interviewing Principles and Practices, Charles J. Stewart, 9th

Edition. 1999

3- Successful Selection Interviewing, Neil Anderson & Vivian

Shackleton, 1993

4- Interviewing: Strategy, Techniques, and Tactics, Raymond. L.

Gorden, 3rd Edition, 1980



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1- Dessler – P. 216

2- Dessler – P. 219

3- Dessler- P. 216

4- Dessler – P. 220

5- Dessler- P. 220

6- Dessler- P. 220

7- Dessler- P. 221

8- Dessler- P. 221

9- Dessler- P. 222

10- Dessler- P. 223

11- Dessler- P. 224

12- Dessler- P. 225

13- Dessler- P. 225

14- Dessler- P. 226

15- Dessler- P. 226

16- Dessler- P. 228

17- Dessler- P. 228

18- Dessler- P. 228

19- Dessler- P: 229

20- Dessler- P: 229

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21- Dessler- P. 229

22- Dessler-P. 230

23- Gordon- P. 77

24- Anderson & shackleton- P. 175-176

25- Dessler- P. 230

26- Dessler- P. 231

27- Dessler- P. 231

28- Dessler- P. 231

29- Gordon- P. 199

30- Dessler- P. 233

31- Gorden - P. 397

32- Anderson & Shackleton -P. 119

33- Dessler- P. 234

34- Stewart- P. 19

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