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In a current effort to define interview, Miller, Crute & Hargie (1992) write from the view of psychology, communications and management and refer to the face-to-face, dyadic nature of the interview. They inform that the participants (with those who has asked for the interview) are willingly involved, with precise roles to play towards a precise purpose. The idea of the employment interview is mainly matching a candidate to a job. A candidate who makes an application to a certain company should be able to understand the purpose of the job and also the purpose of the company. Therefore it is expected for the candidate to be willingly involved with the conversation during the job interview.
There are other definitions about interviews. Management experts Eder and Buckley define interviews
a face-to-face exchange of information between organizational representatives and a job candidate. The interview is conducted with the dual purposes of assessing the job relevant qualifications of the candidate while attracting the candidate to the organization.
They view that the purpose of attraction is emphasized with the notion face-to-face switch and selection. Interviewers usually have an idea about the candidate's qualification and based on the qualifications interviewers makes a pre-interview decision of the candidate's selection. During the interview if the candidate succeeds then it is the interviewers turn to attract the candidate into joining the company.
Buckley and Weitzel present a view that stabilises perspectives:
There is a general agreement that the interview is an interaction between two or more individuals where an individual evaluative decision is occurring. This decision may be an applicant judgment about the quality of the interaction or an interviewer determination of the job suitability of an applicant. In the employment interview, the principle outcome of this focused interaction is an organization decision to employ/not to employ and an applicant decision to join/or not to join an organization. (p. 296)
This definition gives emphasis once again on the interaction, and evaluation that is bi-rather than independent. The interviewer makes a decision based on the interaction with the interviewee selects the interviewer based on the situations and goals of the organization and also the interviewer makes the selected interviewee to join the company. Rynes (1989), a professor in human resources, believes that decision making power sways back and forth between the interviewers and candidates depending on the job and the attractiveness of the job vacancy and also the norm in an interview involves questions and responses that makes a win-win situation.
There are two types of employment interview questions: behaviour description or situational based. Behaviour description interviews expect candidates to describe their behaviours from past experiences comparable to those of the target job (how did you act whenâ€¦). On the other hand, situational interviews use questions regarding hypothetical situations (how would you act ifâ€¦). The format of the interview will make the candidate to engage in impression management. Describing past behaviours encourages candidates to brag about themselves, as well as protect how they acted in a particular situation if the interviewer seems sceptical. Candidate's personality affects the use of impression management behaviours, which in turn affects the presentation on the interview. Especially with motivation that uses impression management is lesser, and expectations on how to behave, the connection between both personality and interview type with IM behaviour is high.
Job interviews being an important part in an interviewee's life, they strive to do their best and to be effective interviewees. IM has been defined as an attempt to represent a particular (usually positive) image of oneself to a target person ( Schlenker, 1980). Researchers are constantly in agreement that candidates use a diverse of IM tactics spontaneously during interviews (McFarland, Ryan & Kriska, 1997, Stevens & Kristof, 1995) and these tactics expect positive interviewer evaluations, controlling for candidates qualifications and demographics (Gilmore &Ferris 1989, Kacmar & Carlson, 1999, Kacmar 1992)
Erving Goffman first analysed impression management (IM) in The presentation of self everyday life (1959). It explains "the way in which the individuals in ordinary work situations presents himself and his activity to others, the ways in which he guides and controls the impression they form of him, and the kinds of things he may and may not do while sustaining his performance before them" (preface). Candidates use self presentation tactics in specific way as they are concern about others impression about them and wanting to influence their viewers in an attractive way (Jones and Pittman, 1982). Therefore, in job interviews, candidates might make use of impression management consciously or unconsciously to influence their interviewers to give them the job. Candidates tend to use all possible ways to influence and impress interviewers with their expertise with qualification or without qualification through communication. Gilmore and Ferris (1989) also explained that interviewers can be induced by impression management strategies not considering candidates qualification and work experience. This proves that candidate's ability to manipulate interviewers by creating a positive impression is really essential and candidates should learn and make use of impression management throughout the interview as interviewers become focused to candidates who successfully use the IM strategies.
According to Schlenker, 1980, IM is defined "as attempts to control the image that are projected in social interaction. Stevens & Kristof 1995 categorized social interaction into two forms 1) verbal tactics and non verbal tactics (eye contact, smiling). Kacmar (1992) further explained verbal tactics as self-focused IM (candidates prefer to direct the focuse of the conversation to themselves) or other-focused IM (candidates focus the conversation on the interviewer or the company) tactics. Self- focused IM is defined as "maintaining attention on the candidate and allowing him or her to excel" (Kacmar 1992, p 1253). According to Stevens&Kristof 1995, the widest type of self-focused IM is self-promotion, or describing one's past experience and accomplishments in a positive manner to create a perception of competence, exemplification (convincing the interviewer that his or her behaviour is good enough to use as a model for others), and entitlement (claims about being responsible for past achievements). Other- focused IM uses ingratiatory strategies to maintain focus on the target person. Ingratiatory strategies are intended to evoke interpersonal attraction (Schlenker,1980). Some examples given by Kamar, 1992 includes tactic of opinion conformity: in some way flattering the interviewer by agreeing with him or her and other enhancement: meaning straightforwardly flattering the interviewer or organization with compliments. Also in verbal strategies IM appear in a form of non-verbal or expressive behaviour for example nodding affirmatively, smiling at the target and eye contact (Schlenker, 1980, Schneider, 1981). Many previous research has shown that candidates use both verbal and non-verbal IM tactics, and both these tactics influence the interviewers' evaluations of the candidates (Gilmore & Ferris,1989, Kacmar & Carlson, 1999, Kacmar 1992, Kristof-Brown, Barrick, & Franke,2002, Stevens & Kristof, 1995).
Interviewers who have established co-membership with candidates are more lenient, highlighting the impact of setting up a relationship of solidarity on the result of the interview, when candidates fail to produce expected answers from them. When this happen the interaction is more identical, the content collaboratively built, and interviewees are not only responding to their interviewer's actions, but can experience a sense of agency in their own success. Candidates' verbal construction are:
Both an instrument of action and an object for evaluation. In fact, the applicants do not only produce a text in the dialogue with the interviewers, they also construct a picture of themselves. The production of this picture is interactionally managed by the applicants and the interviewers alike (Adelsward,1988)
Candidates that are successful are normally dominant and positive, simply because their argument strategies decide the result of their interview. Developing Adelsward's work, Scheuer (2001) demonstrated that an egalitarian style ( both parties producing significant amounts of talk, and the interviewer using less control with fewer questions asked) directs to success in attaining the job.
Candidates present information about their experiences, and skills during the application and interviewers asks the same question to candidates suggests that interviewers are more interested in the way they "perform" than how they "inform"(Scheuer, 2001). This is when the candidates compete with one another to provide the best answers to impress interviewer to get the job. Paul Stevens, a writer and a career counsellor in Sydney and the author of Win that job! (Stevens, 1991), suggests that "the manner in which you respond to questions is far more important than the content of your reply" (page 76). Similar opinions are given by researchers who have done research on ob interviews ( Aldesward, 1988, Gumprez 1992, Kerekes 2001, Scheuer ,2001) explain that the way information is presented is more important than written as it influences the interviewers evaluation of candidates, as their performance or negotiating plays an important role in a decision. Also candidates need to be aware that if their qualifications are needed in the job than it is important for them to perform during the job interview. Jim Bright, also a writer, an author of the Australian and New Zealand edition of Job Hunting for Dummies, informs candidates that "talk is cheap, so don't spare the words". He also explains that "interviews exist so that you can sell your wares and the more talking you do (within reason), the more impressive you appear" (pg 279). Clearly, this shows that it is important that candidates talk enough, to allow themselves to convince their interviewer to accept them. Agreeing to this point are linguists researchers, Adelsward 1988, Gumperz,1992, 1999, Kerekes, 2001, Scheuer 2001, they too point out that the importance of candidates to elaborate their answers. Their study also shows that successful candidates offer more information about their professional experience compared to unsuccessful candidates. Schuer(2001), did an analysis of 20 job interviews and of all the candidates did small talk and none of the candidates were offered a job. However candidates who spoke more than the unsuccessful candidates were offered the job. Although this research did prove that talking a lot does help to get the job, this does not determine how much should candidates talk. Stevens (1991), points out that both "talking too much" and "talking too little" as reasons for candidates' failure. He also points out that if candidates give too much of information sometimes can lead to candidates failure if he's not careful. Candidates should be able to give valid information to interviewers.
During an interview, the interview content is mutually constructed by the interviewer and the candidate. The interviewer takes the initiative to manage an interview as he is responsible of the structure of the interview and also he knows what to ask and when to ask about it. On the other hand, candidates not only "has the right- or rather a responsibility- to introduce new sub-topics (Aldesward, 1988, pg 32) , but also has an input in the construction of content in the dialogue by expanding on topics in a suitable direction ( Aldesward , 1988, pg 51-52).
Therefore interviews are not completely managed by all-powerful interviewers and candidates have the rights to be agent of their own success. When candidates answer interviewers' questions, they actually do it by presenting as worthy candidate, for example: experienced, enthusiastic, interested in other people, and more. Also importantly candidates' verbal-communication is an instrument of action and object of an evaluation. So, it is very important for candidates to sell themselves creatively and to get into the flow of question-answer conversation.
In a job interview, both the interviewers and candidate's are responsible of candidates' success in a job interview. It is a norm that interviewers have the power to judge and determine the outcome of a candidate in a job interview. If the interactional style of the interviewer and candidates is matching (Atkinson and Ajirotutu, 1982, Gumperz, 1992) a more positive outcome is expected. This matching intercational has been related to similarities between them in linguistics background: examples, both of them share the same (L1) or cultural background are more compatible, as this will allow a smooth communication and to avoid miscommunication in a varied background. In an interactional context, the strategy is that interviewers and candidates bring with them to the context of their interaction- which not only influences the way they speak but also the way the information is interpreted. Therefore it is proven that the same information can be interpreted in many ways.
Candidates' success or failures have been a feature in the ability to develop a positive rapport with one another by creating co-membership (Erickson and Shultz, 1982, Johnston, 2003, Kerekes, 2006) and as a result, boost solidarity with one another (Erickson 2001). Both the interviewers and candidates are able to build a comfort level and positive feeling for one another which positively affect their verbal interaction. This happens when interviewer and candidates learn directly or by chance about the characteristics, backgrounds, interests, experiences, or knowledge which may or may not relate to the main topic or reason of the meeting. To achieve this stage, interaction that they create together and the result of positive rapport they co-construct is essential not just utterances by one person. Erickson and Shultz
(1982) define co-membership as the attributes of social identity that are shared by candidates in an interaction.
Aldesward (1998) show that successful candidate tend to spend more time talking non-professional topics with their interviewers. But she beliefs that co-membership talk simply as a means for achieving a relaxed interview climate, than to end it itself. Where else the unsuccessful candidates discuss more professionally-oriented topics (e.g final university paper and professional experience).
Kerekes's (2001, 2003, 2006) study of intercultural interviews emphasize how candidates whose background knowledge matches their interviewer are more likely to qualify for job placements, and that non-native speakers and native speakers are likely to be successful candidates. She adds on that talking about private matters only partially related to the job can emotionally involve the interviewer in the interaction and creating the sense of solidarity.
A question may rise as to, how can interviewers and candidates establish co-membership, when they have asymmetric roles? In an interview process, the interviewer may exercise their power directly through their speech act, or less openly (example the sitting in the interview room.). The interviewer and candidate may not be equal in profession but can be equal in other aspects; the similarity in the other aspects creates co-membership talk. Effectively, the social distance emerges and gives the opportunity for negotiation for candidates to present themselves (Aldesward, 1988, pg 53). Due to this the distance between the interviewer and candidate is not distant. Candidates' ability to talk about new topics and talk about their professional topics may develop power and agreement. Holmes (1999, p353) suggested
each utterance contributes to the social and personal identity construction of the speaker, as well as modifying the perceptions of the addresses in an interaction in a dynamic way.
Based on Holmes suggestion it shows that status and identity construction is a dynamic process where candidates negotiate through their behaviour and discourse.
The notion of meaning, context, and identity can be achieved through cooperative interaction was first popularized by John Gumperz (1982, 1992). He also states that to create meaningful dialogue:
communication is a social activity requiring the coordinated efforts of two or more individuals" (pg 1) and that "speakers must enlist others cooperation and actively seek to create conversational involvement" (pg 206)
Additionally, interactants need to infer the meaning of what is said through contextualization. Gumprez (1992) defines contextualization together with the assumptions that situated interpretation of an utterance is taken from context-based inferences which are limited by "what is said and how it is interpreted", where, in "any interaction, participants use world knowledge which is reinterpreted as part of the process of conversing so that it is interactively, thus ultimately socially, constructed (pg 230)". He later emphasize that the interpretation of meaning is controlled by (cooperative) sequencing, negotiation of meaning, and conversational management. Specific people who have certain shared knowledge are able to create meaning through interaction within specific situation. And this synchronized dialogue is co-constructed interaction. Similar to Gumprez, Jacob and Ochs further explain in depth that co-construction as "the joint creation of a form, interpretation, stance, action, activity, identity, institution, skill, ideology, emotion or other culturally meaningful realityâ€¦ including collaboration, cooperation, and coordination (pg 171). They also explain that co-construction can include arguments and negative interactions, as well as positive interactions and also that the facts or ideas in people's head "are made relevant to communication through social interaction" , and when these inner ideas are brought externally where these ideas are constitute, manage and negotiate social reality through chronological flow of interaction.(p 175)