Validity and Reliability of Selection Interviews
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Published: Tue, 02 Jan 2018
When Organisations are recruiting to find a suitable individual for a position they currently hold, it can be difficult to monitor and ensure that all possible steps are being taken to ensuring that each interview carries the same validity and reliability. This is to ensure that each individual who is being interviewed is given the same equal opportunity, alongside the organisation employing an individual who suits the job specification best. Validity and reliability of structured interviews can have a large impact on type of person that is employed and also affect the actual security that the person employed is the best suited from all the applicants.
Selection interviews traditionally consist of a candidate interacting with one or more people from the organisation who have assessed the candidate as meeting the criteria which the role requires. The interviews generally last between 15 and 60 minutes and help the organisation decide whether or not an individual should be offered a job. In general, interviews follow one of three structures (Unstructured; Semi-Structured and Structured). The three vary by the amount of prior preparation for the interview in regards to questions to be asked and how the answers should be assed. Often the more specific answers required from an interview will be shown by the more structured approach an interviewer will take in preparation of the questions.
Reliability of the interview is argued to often be low, in that interviewers do not follow the same methods of questioning or method of evaluating each individual interview. Additionally, it has been noted that interviewers support the end decisions on different criteras, different standards, and alter in the amount the final decision is based upon the original intended criteria (e.g., Graves, L.M. and Karren, R.J., 1996. The employmentselection interview: A fresh look at an old problem. Human Resource Management 35, pp. 163-180. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (14)Timothy A. Judge, 2000: 384]). It has also been found that job performance is a lot more reliable and foretelling from structured interviews opposed to unstructured interviews. Research reviews of employment interviewing have concluded that carrying out an interview following a set structure can add to the reliability and validity of interviewer evaluations (e.g., Therese Macan, 1999: 209).
Natural instinct to cast a first impression on a person is a major factor in trying to ensure an interviewer casts an unbiased decision which follows the original selection criteria. During interviewing it is vital that each applicant is each given a fair and open opportunity and the end decision on whether or not they are offered the place within the organisation is based entirely on how they performed against the role criteria. Ensuring that Gender, Race, Disability and appearance do not hold any restrictions on each individual interview. A study was carried out which looked into how interviewers can cast a bias opinion based on appearance, finding that applicants which were moderately obese (in particular female applicants) were less likely to be considered for employment despite meeting the required criteria of a role including required qualifications (Timothy A. Judge, 2000: 384).
Further from this negative information often appears to become more memorable for an interviewer than positive information. Research has outlined that it often requires upto twice as much positive information to change any negative information the interviewer may have initially cast of an individual. . As a result, the unstructured interview has been labelled a “search for negative evidence” (Timothy A. Judge, 2000: 384). This simply highlights the importance of an interview to have the ability to focus on information passed during an interview to ensure that each applicant is assessed following the same criteria to avoid natural instinct having a major impact on each applicant’s interview.
With interviews being generally an unnatural environment applicants generally spend time preparing for the interview, looking into the company history, preparing answers for generic answers that are usually asked for job roles of that criteria. This would inevitably lead to the answers given being unrealistic responses of how an applicant may act in a role within an organisation. This simply highlights the importance of interview containing questions which are going to show a realistic response to show an applicant’s approach and ethos towards their working life. During the interview this can be achieved by adding unstructured questions which will allow the interviewer to add and expand on answers given to try and get a more realistic and honest response which will further add to the value of the responses given from a candidate. This can also work well within a structured interview situation, as having an opening for several unprepared questions, can give a candidate further chance to show their true capabilities.
Taking into account unavoidable effects (e.g. Anxiety, signs of being Nervous and body language) of environments like Interviews, consideration needs to be taken by the interviewer to account for these. Often anxiety levels can be raised for an applicant during interviews which can an effect on the responses and conduct during the interview which may result in the applicant not showing their full capabilities. A selection of Undergraduates took part in a mock interview model with peers, which shows sustained levels of raised anxiety before and during the interview, followed by a significant decrease directly after. (Therese Macan, 1999: 209). During an interview it has to be taken into consideration that responses given can sometime be not a true reflection of a candidates natural response in any other situation, so allowing time and a chance to develop an answer is crucial to maintaining a high level of validity from the responses given.
All of the elements within this essay which highlight possible affects on an interview fall part of what can be seen as a ‘halo effect’. With judgements and stereotyping being cast too easily without looking at each interviewee directly on how well they are suited to the role criteria of which their hiring for. Training for any interviewer is crucial, as they need to learn the ways in which they might cast these judgements subconsciously; avoiding these spontaneous biases is one of the most crucial parts of carrying out interviews to ensure that the most suited candidate is chosen. By following more structured interviews situations like the halo effect can be more easily avoided. By offering each candidate the same set of questions and time for their interview then they each will have as open an opportunity as possible to give their best response.
In more recent years, human response management specialists have become more involved within the interviewing process as they have to ensure all interviews are following the orangisation’s equal opportunities policy. Following these latest changes it has opened more opportunities for minority groups which previous may have been of more of a disadvantage to have a fair and equal opportunity when applying for any role, and how they are assess during the selection interview stage.
Overall trying to maintain a high level of validity and reliability within an unnatural environment can be difficult and hard to maintain. It is crucial within any interview environment to try and place measures which can both account for these abnormalities and a way to take them into account. If they are not fully considered then an organisation may end up employing an individual for a role which they are not the best suited from all the candidates. One of the most important factors to avoid is an interviewer’s personal opinion on a candidate as shown from the research in this essay; they often can cast subliminal opinions on candidates because of personal opinion, anxiety and from misinterpreting responses during an interview. The employment of any individual for an organisiation is timely and costly exercise, ensuring all steps are taken to make the right decision on choosing a candidate is important. Make the wrong choice due to errors during the selection interview stage and a negative impact may be felt by the organisiation afterwards.
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