Types of Interviews

Interview Types, Advantages, Disadvantages

Table of Contents:

An interview is a method used for selection purposes, which allows an employer to view the overall personality of an individual and openly review his behaviour. The interview is a mode of making face-to-face contact to acquire a basic idea about the personality of an applicant identifying his intelligence, span of interests, and general attitude towards life.

According to Scott, “An interview is a purposeful exchange of ideas, the answering of questions and communication between two or more persons”.

An interview is a purposeful conversation between one person and another person or persons. An employment interview should fulfil three objectives:

  1. Obtaining information,
  2. Providing information, and
  3. Motivation.

It should offer an assessment of the candidate’s personality by gathering relevant details about their background, training, work history, education, and interests. Additionally, the candidate should receive information about the company, the specific job, and personnel policies. The interview should foster a friendly relationship between the employer and the applicant and motivate a qualified candidate to desire to work for the company or organization. However, in practice, it may often be one-sided, primarily serving the purpose of obtaining information about the candidate, while the other two objectives are generally overlooked.

In simple words, an interview can be described as an effort to obtain maximum information about the candidate regarding his fitness for the job.

Types of Interviews

There are various types of interviews, which are used for obtaining various kinds of information and to evaluate the candidate’s skills, knowledge, etc., at a variety of bases. Employment interviews can be categorised into the following types:

Types of Interviews

1) Preliminary Interview

A preliminary interview is a conversation between the candidate and the personnel manager regarding the basic aspects of the job such as job characteristics, working conditions, salary, and other benefits, etc. This helps an organization in removing useless people and helps the candidate decide whether or not to accept or reject the job. Preliminary interviews can be divided into the following types:

i) Informal Interview

An informal interview can be conducted at any place by HR personnel to obtain fundamental and non-job-related information.

This may take place anywhere. The employer or a manager in the personnel department may ask a few questions, such as the candidate’s name, place of birth, and previous experience. It is not planned and is commonly used when the labour market is tight and there is an urgent need for workers. In some cases, a friend or a relative of the employer may take a candidate to the house of the employer or manager, where this type of interview may be conducted.

ii) Unstructured Interview

An unstructured interview provides freedom to the candidates so that they can reveal their knowledge in various topics/fields, their backgrounds, expectations, interests, etc. Likewise, the interviewer is also allowed to share information on various topics enquired by the candidate.

2) Core Interview

Core interviews are generally a communication between the candidate and the line manager or on different areas of job knowledge, skills, talent, etc. Core interviews can be divided into the following types:

i) Background Information Interview

These interviews are aimed at gathering information which cannot be obtained through the application form. It is also used to verify the information which is collected through the application form such as educational background, domicile, family, health, interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, extracurricular activities, etc. of the applicant.

ii) Stress Interview

A stress interview is designed to evaluate the candidate’s behaviour at the job and the survival level during times of pressure or stress, i.e., his pressure-handling capacity. In this kind of interview, the candidate is put in aggressive, apathetic or threatening situations, whose objective is to demoralise the candidate and check his ability to deal with difficult situations.

This type of interview is crafted to assess the candidate’s conduct and behaviour by subjecting them to conditions of stress and strain. It is highly useful in evaluating how individuals respond under disagreeable and challenging situations.

iii) Formal and Structured Interview

Formal and structured interviews strictly follow all the formalities and procedures related to conducting of interview such as determination of value, time, a panel of interviewers, opening and closing, informing the candidates officially, etc. They are pre-planned and organised, based on job requirements.

The formal interview is held in a more formal atmosphere in the employment office, conducted by the employment officer with the help of well-structured questions. The time and place of the interview are specified by the employment office.

iv) Panel Interview

Panel interviews include a panel of specialists to interview every candidate, evaluate their performance separately and form a combined decision based on evaluation by every specialist and by way of giving weightage to each factor.

Panel Interview is conducted by members of the interview board or a selection committee, typically for supervisory and managerial positions. It involves pooling the collective judgment and wisdom of the panel members. The candidate may be asked to meet with the panel individually for a relatively lengthy interview.

v) Group Interview

A group interview is a special situation for interviewing a candidate where numerous candidates are called for an interview at the same time. For example, in cases, where there are a large number of candidates for interview on the same day, group interview facilitates the interviewers with the capability to evaluate a large number of candidates. It is also a time-saving tool for the organisation Group interview also provides an opportunity to evaluate the behaviour of a candidate in a group.

Group Interview is designed to observe how candidates react to and interact with each other. All the candidates may be brought together in the office for an interview. Alternatively, candidates may be given a topic for discussion and observed regarding who leads the discussion, how they participate, how each presents their views, and how they react to each other’s opinions and presentations.

vi) Job and Probing Interview

Job and probing interviews are mainly designed to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge concerning duties, functions, job methods, critical problems, ways to resolve those problems, etc.

vii) Depth Interview

Depth interviews are the type of interviews in which a candidate is evaluated mainly in the core areas of knowledge and skills of the job. Candidates are evaluated by the experts in their respective fields by putting up appropriate questions to obtain significant responses from them while initiating the discussion about some complex areas of the job, and by asking them to describe even minute activities of the job performance.

This interview is designed to intensively examine the candidate’s background and thinking, going into considerable detail on a particular subject of special interest to the candidate. The theory behind it is that if the candidate is found to be proficient in his area of special interest, the chances are high that, if given a job, he would take a serious interest in it.

3) Decision-Making Interview

A decision making interview is another kind of interview taken by the concerned departmental head. Generally, this kind of interview is conducted through informal discussion. The HR manager is also supposed to interview the candidate to make his decision concerning salary, allowances, benefits, promotions, etc. The departmental head and the HR manager exchange their views thereafter they mutually inform the interview head about their decision. The head of the interview board makes the final decision about the candidate’s performance and his respective rank in the interview.

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Advantages of Interviews

The interview is advantageous for both employers and job seekers:

1) Employers

The advantages of interviews for employers are as follows:

i) Provides Information about the Job-Seeking Candidate

An interview helps an employer in gathering complete information about the candidate looking for the job. An interview obtains information about an individual about his cultural and educational background, work experience, intelligence quotient, communication skills, personality type, interests, social behaviour, etc.

ii) Helps to Select the Right Candidate

An interview facilitates the face-to-face conversation between the interviewer with the candidates. Thus, an interviewer can make an accurate decision about the selection or rejection of the candidate. A personal interview is the best option to be used by interviewers while selecting the right person for the right job.

iii) Improves Goodwill of Employers

An interview acts as a public relations tool. An interview must be administered properly in a congenial environment. The candidates called for interviews should be dealt with with dignity and respect. There should be an effort towards making the candidate feel happy about the employer, irrespective of being selected or rejected. This will enhance the employer’s image. Thus, a good interview session always adds to the goodwill of the employer.

iv) Helps in Promotions and Transfers

An interview helps an employer in assessing his staff for promotions, transfers, etc.

2) Job Seekers

The advantages of interviews for job seekers are as follows:

i) Provides Employment Opportunities

An interview helps the job seeker by providing an employment opportunity. It aids a candidate in presenting and conveying his vision, beliefs and thoughts to the employer.

ii) Helps Candidates to Accept or Reject the Job

An interview helps the candidate by providing information about the job and the employer. A candidate is thus, aware of the compensation, perks and allowances, working conditions, job security, chances of promotions and transfers, and other employment benefits if any. An interview provides an opportunity for the candidate to clear all his/her doubts about the job. This also helps him in making a sensible decision for his career regarding accepting or rejecting the job, if offered.

iii) Helps Job Seekers to Increase Contacts

An interview allows the candidate to build contacts with the interviewer and other candidates as well. So, in case, where a candidate is rejected in his very first effort of a job hunt, then these contacts perhaps can help him in succeeding efforts.

Disadvantages of Interviews

The disadvantages of interviews are as follows:

1) Expensive

The biggest disadvantage of the interview is that it is expensive in terms of time and money.

2) Subject to Bias and Personal Traits

Another disadvantage is that sometimes, an interview gets affected negatively by how questions are asked by the interviewer, his way of interaction, false recording, and at the same time by the respondent’s wrong perception, defective memories, lack of expression, etc.

3) Ineffective in Some Areas

Face-to-face interviews are often incapable of gathering personal and financial information. Such kind of information may be obtained through mail questionnaires, especially if, there is no compulsion to undersign it.

4) Recording Complexities

An interview has a disadvantage as it causes the problem of recording information collected from the candidates. For this purpose, there is no proper facility. Note-taking is supposed to be a distraction for both the interviewee and the interviewer as it interrupts the flow of conversation.

5) Demands Skilled Interviewers

An interview requires a set of highly skilled interviewers, whose availability is limited and the time and cost spent on their training and development is also high.

6) Subjective

Sometimes, there are chances of personal biasness in the case of a personal interview. This problem also may take place, if the investigators are doing partiality and are trying to leak the possible answers to the candidates.

7) Difficulty in Analysis

The results of an interview are very difficult to analyse because of the subjective nature of the information as well as distortion in the communication.

Interview Rating

Important aspects of personality can be categorized under the following seven main headings:

Physical Make-up: Health, appearance, physique, age, bearing, speech.

Attainments: Education, occupational training, and experience.

Intelligence: Basic and ‘effective’.

Special Aptitudes: Written and oral fluency of expression, numeracy, organizational ability, administrative skill.

Interests: Intellectual, physically active, practical, social, artistic.

Disposition: Self-reliance, nature, motivation, acceptability.

Circumstances: Domestic, experience, social background and prospects.

This framework is referred to as ‘The Seven Point Plan.’ The significance of each of these points varies from organization to organization and from job to job. Therefore, they should be assigned weightage according to their degree of importance for the specific job.

Based on the information gathered through an interview, each candidate should be rated in respect of each point mentioned above, with categories such as (i) outstanding, (ii) good, (iii) above average, (iv) below average, or (v) unsatisfactory. Marks should be assigned to each category, and the score for each point is determined by multiplying it by the assigned weights. The total of these scores will determine the final evaluation of a candidate after the interview.

Limitations of Interviews

Interviews have their limitations in matters of selection. Some of these are mentioned below:

1. Subjective judgment of the interviewer may be based on his likes, prejudices, dislikes, biases, etc.

2. One prominent characteristic of a candidate may be allowed to dominate the appraisal of the entire personality.

3. The interviewer’s experience may have created a close association between some particular trait and a distinctive type of personality.

4. Some managers believe that they are good at character analysis based on pseudo-scientific methods and are guided by their abilities at it.

Qualities of ‘Good’ Interviewers

A good interviewer should have the following qualities:

1. Knowledge of the job or other things with which interviews are concerned.

2. Emotional maturity and a stable personality.

3. Sensitivity to the interviewee’s sympathetic attitude and feelings.

4. Extroverted behaviour and considerable physical and mental stamina.

Guidelines for Improving Interviews

Generally, not all interviews are effective. Their effectiveness can be improved if the following points are kept in mind by an interviewer:

1. An interview should have a definite schedule with ample time for the interview. It should not be hurried.

2. The impersonal approach should be avoided.

3. The interview should have the necessary element of privacy.

4. The interviewer should listen carefully to what the applicant says, and the information collected should be carefully recorded either while the interview is going on or immediately thereafter.

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