Interview Techniques

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SLMtitle.png Learning Objectives

Understanding the purpose behind the interview process.

Knowing the different types of interviews

Identifying the characteristics of and procedures during Job interviews

Understanding preparation techniques before the interview

Learning to perform during a job interview

SLMtitle.png Introduction

The Interview is a face-to-face interpersonal communication in which a candidate is asked questions to assess his capability for the recruitment, promotion or the expected situation. It is a systematized method used to assess a person, usually by a panel of experts. The evaluation could be for employment or promotion.Interview consists of verbal responses between two persons or between several persons.

A job interview is a pre-arranged and planned conversation with a definite purpose and informality. It is said to be the most intense dyadic communication that is communication involving two people seeking to exchange information. Success in job interview depends on knowledge, self-confidence ,good speaking skills ,good study of the job profile and using the proper strategies. Recruitment experts believe that a job interview provides the best opportunity to examine the knowledge and experience of a candidate and thus makes it an effective technique for evaluating the suitability of a candidate.

It is a challenge for any organization to get the right person into the job. Within the stipulated time of the interview, the interviewer has to make a correct evaluation of the candidate. Hence new and more effective techniques have been devised for the correct evaluation of the candidate. Today, the demands of the job market are changing, the competition on the job scenario is increasing, the jobs demand specializations and the focus on the personal qualities of a candidate is increasing rather than mere qualifications; as a result of all these, the interviewing process has included more effective techniques to judge the suitability of a candidate.

Importance of the Interview method

Information is collected through face-to-face contact.Since interview is a direct technique of collecting data ,lot of information can be collected from the respondents.The interviews conducted for research purpose serve as a device to help identify variables and relations. Interviews help to assess the qualitative facts found in the form of ideas,feelings,beliefs etc. Interviews can be used to assess persons at all levels, irrespective of level of intelligence. Also the information supplied by the candidate in the resume can be verified in the interview.Depending on the requirement,interviews could be with the group or with an individual.

SLMtitle.png Types of Interviews

1)Clinical Interview:These Interviews are conducted to identify certain behaviour abnormalities.It is used by the counsellors or medical professionals.These help to decide the line of treatment for the candidates. It is essential for the interviewer to give a patient listening to the affected.

2)Selection Interview: To select a person on the basis of certain qualities the interview is conducted by a single expert or usually a panel of experts.This type of interview is also called as 'job interview' or 'employment interview'.The main objective is to select the right candidate for the right position.Job interview is a pre-arranged and planned activity for better results.

3)Appraisal Interview: This interview is conducted for the employees already in the job. This process is used on the regular basis to evaluate the performance of an employee. The discussion during such interview may include past performance, targets for the future, prospective plans of the organization and the role of the employees in it. It helps the employer to share his/her views on the performance of the employee with the employee himself/herself.

4)Exit Interview:In any organization,an employee may leave the job for better prospects or because of lack of satisfaction with the work-culture or the inter personal relations. An interview conducted while the employee is leaving gives an opportunity to the employee to give his/her frank opinions about the organization.The interviewer may invite suggestions for improvement from the employee.The aim is to seek information that will help the organization to improve and to take care to reduce the tensions between the existing employees.However,the information is to be used judiciously since it may contain exaggeration.Thus the exit of an employee can be turned for the benefit of an organization.

5)Grievance Interview:Allowing the employees to express their complaints/problems is helpful to the management since it helps resolve issues in time which may be aggravated otherwise.The management can make efforts to rectify the problem and thus win goodwill and confidence of the employees. At this interview, it is essential for the employer to listen to the grievances attentively,then summarise it and reconfirm with the employee. This opportunity to vent the feelings of the employees helps to strengthen the employee-employer relationship.

SLMtitle.png Preparation by the Interviewer

The basic structure of most interviews need to be pre-planned.Factors like time,venue,inviting the experts,other arrangements at the venue make the interview a smooth process.The interviewers on the panel may also consider the opening,the questions asked by the members and the closing of the interview.Interview takes place in a conversational mode.Hence the approach and the way of asking questions may vary from person to person.A candidate also has to be an attentive listener just as the interviewer has to be one.

Lot of time and money is invested by the organizations in planning the job interviews so that correct selection takes place. The purpose of the job interview has to be pre-defined so as to make it as full-proof a technique as possible. The personality traits of the candidate are tested through HR interviews, specific knowledge is tested through technical interviews, situational interviews are held to test problem-solving skills. For counseling an employee about a particular problem, treatment option can be offered, an employee having an opposite view can be persuaded with effective arguments.

The job interview is a highly structured interview. Hence the interviewer would channelize and direct the course of the interview. The interviewer has mainly four objectives: To evaluate the oral communication ability of the interviewee and to test his/her analytical and logical ability. To verify the job qualifications stated in the resume. To orient the candidate about the nature of the job and the policy of the company. In the process of interview, establish goodwill on behalf of the company. Opening: The It is the interviewer’s responsibility to set the interviewer at ease. As a gesture of welcome, the interviewer may greet the candidate with a firm handshake and a warm smile. The interview can begin on the note of the hobbies/interests of the candidate. Main Content of the Interview: The main job of the interviewer includes asking questions so as to assess the candidates and evaluation after the interview. While asking the questions, the applicant is encouraged to do the talking.But the interviewer has to take care to see to it that it doesnot wanderaway from the topic. Asking appropriate questions would include letting the applicant describe his/her education and then move to the work history and other interests and activities.

Types of Questions

Open-ended questions are usually preferred since the applicant can give more information than closed questions which restrict the expression of the candidate. Some examples of open-ended questions are- Tell us something about yourself. What are your interests besides studies? Which courses were the most useful in your graduation program? Which courses did you like the best? Why? How would you assess yourself as compared to your classmates? What is the reason for leaving the present job? Closed questions or dead-ended questions give scope for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, or specific answers. Some examples are- How many courses did you attend in the college? How many students graduated in your class? What was your major subject at graduation? The responses to these questions are easy to tabulate, but the information is limited and does not give scope for additional information. Probing Questions are the questions to elicit a detailed answer or clarification of a statement made earlier. For example,after the response, “The education system needs a reform” ,the interviewer may ask the probing question “In what way do you think the reform is needed?” Reflective questions are asked to confirm the statements made by the candidates. Examples of these questions are: So you are of the opinion that corruption can be fought by everyone? That means you prefer a job where the HR is involved? Questions should be neutral that is they should not be unfair, leading or negative questions. One of the things I have supported for years is….;what is your opinion on that? Hypothetical questions involve a hypothetical situation.The candidate is given a situation and asked how he/she will deal with it. For example, How will you handle a staff member who is disobedient to his/her senior and hence doesnot perform upto the mark? Leading questions are asked to get a desired response.Such questions express the interviewer’s point of view and call for agreement with a yes answer. For example: Don’t you think that our company is a pioneer in the software?

As far as possible the effort of the interviewer should be to ease out the tensions in the candidates. There are many illegal questions which must be strictly avoided by the interviewer. These could include questions pertaining to the issues like race, gender, nationality . Such issues could be offensive to the applicants. However , in certain interviews certain loaded questions may be asked deliberately to assess the candidate’s response to a sensitive issue and test the candidate’s ability to handle sensitive situations. Evaluation After the Interview: While evaluating an applicant, criteria like educational background, work experience, personal characteristics and an overall impression of the personality in the context of the position in the company applied are important. The evaluation criteria would vary as per the job and as per the company policy. Hence there are diverse formats for interview evaluation.

SLMact.gif Activity
(Total time-30 minutes)

Write your responses to the queries below:(Ten minutes)

Tell us something about youself.

Why are you interested in taking up this job?

Why should we hire you?

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

The teacher can ask the students to present the answers orally and discuss.(Twenty minutes)

SLMtitle.png Preparation by the Candidate

Any candidate , when applies for the job needs to prepare systematically. Thorough preparation gives confidence to the candidate. It is due to the fact that the oral interaction of a short duration is going to be crucial and a deciding factor for being selected for the job. The preparation by the candidate involves basically the understanding of the position applied for, the standing of the organization and their expectations about a candidate. The preparation for the job involves: analyzing oneself, assessing one’s skills, analyzing the job, understanding the organization, revising the subject knowledge and developing the interview file.

Analysing Oneself: Before presenting oneself in a favorable light before the interviewer, it is essential to know one’s strengths and weaknesses. One needs to analyze one’s background, major achievements and identify the special interests. While appearing for the interview, the candidate needs to give a thought to analyse his/her career goals. The career goals stated have to be realistic in terms of the job position applied for. And then the candidate can justify how he/she is suitable to pursue the specific career.During the interview,the candidate should highlight the right background he/she possesses. If one is applying for a job-profile different from the background ,he/she will need to justify it.For example a candidate with an electrical engineering background seeking a job as a software professional. While identifying the achievements, these may include the academic achievements as well as accomplishments i.e.any other tasks successfully completed , for example, managing a cultural event in the college days. The candidate can even quote instances in which any of the personality traits are highlighted. If this prior thinking is done, the candidate can successfully answer apparently simple questions like- Tell us about a situation which you handled successfully. It is important to identify the interests and hobbies and one needs to be able to justify them in the interview as well. All these extra-curricular,co-curricular and professional activities help to present yourself as an energetic and dynamic individual.

Assessing the skills: Since the job interview is meant to assess the skill required to carry out the specific responsibilities of the job,the candidate has to analyse his/her skills and do self-assessment.The questions pertaining to the strengths and weaknesses can be answered better by such skill-analysis. There are supposed to be learned skills and intuitive skills-both these would be assessed during an interview. for example,interpersonal skills or communication skills are examplesof learned skills wereas courage,creativity are those of intuitive skills.

Understanding the Organization:Before appearing for the interview,a candidate needs to thoroughly gather all the pertinent information about the organization.This will include information about the products/services,work culture,activities and expansion plans,new products etc. and the strengths of the organization.

Analysing the Job: It is important for a candidate to have proper knowledge about the job that you are applying for.The candidate has to know the exact nature of the job,the responsibilities involved in it, the challenges of the position if any, the expertise required and the future prospects. Questions like”Why should you be selected for this position?” can be answered confidently if this preparatory stage is taken care of. Revise the subject Knowledge: Although the interviewer has already had a look at the resume of the candidate, there could be in-depth questions asked about the candidate’s competency in the subject claimed for. Hence it is recommended to revise the subject knowledge. Besides revising the course studied by the candidate for graduation etc.,he/she needs to keep an update about the latest developments in the subject. It would also mean keeping an update with the current socio, economical political news and so on. Thus having a general awareness about these issues is expected from the candidates.

Arrange the Interview File: Although it sounds very trivial, arranging the documents and preparing the file for the interview is very important. The call letter for the interview, original degrees, c ertificates, Experience certificates and reference letters, testimonials , copies of resume and any other relevant documents need to be organized for easy reference. It helps to retrieve any document at the time of the interview as well as present the candidate as an organized person.

While Answering the Questions: The way a candidate answers the question is often more important than the answer itself. Hence while answering,the candidate has to reflect a positive attitude and have a clear focuson the content.Throughout the interview process ,the candidate has to remember that it is a two-way process and he/she has to play the role of a listener ,pay attention to the questions before answering them.The answers need to be to the point and clear in their expression. Basically the candidate has to remember that his personality is presented through the answers he/she gives.

SLMact.gif Activity
(Total time-30 minutes)

Mock Interview: Form a panel of interviewers with two or more people to ask questions.The mock-candidate can answer the questions and the rest of the students can observe. Feedback may be given by the peer group about the communication skills,self-confidence and other personality traits.