What Do We Really Know
 About the Employment
      Interview?
      Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D
    President, OMNI Leadershi...
What Do We Really Know About the Employment Interview
                                   By Patrick Hauenstein, Ph. D


Th...
•   Make decisions or pursue initiatives that leverage the organization’s strategic
           resources and partnerships ...
Structuring Interview Responses

A key assumption of structured interviews is past behavior predicts future behavior. In a...
Structuring the Evaluation Process

There are two key principles underlying how a response is evaluated in a structured in...
o Leniency/Severity/Central Tendency Errors – Some interviewers have trouble
             differentiating among candidates...
Appendix A
Some Common Leadership Competencies
                                                                           ...
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White Paper What Do We Really Know About The Employment Interview

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Review of research on the effectiveness of the employement interview and the elements that lead to higher validity

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White Paper What Do We Really Know About The Employment Interview

  1. 1. What Do We Really Know About the Employment Interview? Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D President, OMNI Leadership The Right Person, In The Right Position, At The Right Time... Every Time OMNI Leadership 620 Mendelssohn Avenue North Suite 156 952.426.6100 1www.omnilx.com
  2. 2. What Do We Really Know About the Employment Interview By Patrick Hauenstein, Ph. D The employment interview has been around for a lot of years and has been researched scientifically for at least 90 years. Many reviewers have reviled the interview as subjective, biased, and little better than flipping a coin to make selection decisions. Never the less, most line managers feel that they are able to make better informed decisions based on the interview and consider it a powerful selection tool. What is the truth concerning interviews? Structure Matters There is a considerable body of research that supports the power of the interview when it is a structured process. When interviews are structured, they have considerable reliability and predictive value and are a powerful selection tool. In comparison, unstructured interviews are characterized by: • Each interviewer decides where they would like to focus their information gathering. • Each interviewer comes up with their own questions • Each interviewer uses their own evaluation framework for evaluating responses • Each interviewer integrates the interviewee responses in their own way to reach conclusions Research suggests that when interviews are unstructured, they are little better than flipping a coin. Structuring Interview Content Structured interviews are organized around competencies. Competencies are simply a language for describing the kinds of behaviors that are associated with successful performance in a job. As an example, success as an executive is associated in part on a set of behaviors related to strategy. Here is a common structure for a competency: Competency Label: Strategic Thinking Definition: Applies appropriate strategic logic to decisions and initiatives in one’s area Example Behaviors: • Demonstrate understanding of key industry trends and conditions (e.g., market trends, competitors) and their implications for one’s own area • Demonstrate understanding of the logic behind the organization’s broader strategies and long term direction • Recognize and capitalize on customer/market needs and opportunities (e.g., geographic expansion, customer segmentation, emerging markets) 2
  3. 3. • Make decisions or pursue initiatives that leverage the organization’s strategic resources and partnerships (e.g., brands, physical assets, core competencies) to enhance power in the market Used with permission from Personnel Decisions International In a structured interview, competencies seen as important for job success are identified by subject matter experts. Then the interview questions are constructed to obtain examples of an individual’s past behaviors that illustrate their proficiency in each competency area. Some examples are given below: Examples of Structured or Behavioral Interview Questions for Common Leadership Competencies 1. Competency - Analysis Interview Question – Describe the most difficult or challenging work-related problem that you have solved. What was your approach for analyzing and solving the problem? 2. Competency - Strategic Thinking Interview Question – Tell me about the most difficult time you have ever had trying to develop a new strategy or business direction in the face of worsening business results. Describe the circumstances, your approach, and the results. 3. Competency - Innovation Interview Question – Tell me about the most innovative idea or work that you have ever developed. How well did it turn out? 4. Competency - Focus on Customers Interview Question – Tell me about a time when you took a significant amount of time and effort to better understand a customers business needs and provide better service. Some other examples of common leadership competencies are provided in Appendix A. 3
  4. 4. Structuring Interview Responses A key assumption of structured interviews is past behavior predicts future behavior. In a structured interview, the interviewer attempts to elicit descriptions of specific behaviors. The interviewer should not be interested in how a candidate generally behaves or would behave but wants specific examples of actions taken in specific circumstances. Follow up questions are used to obtain a complete behavioral response. The structure of a behavioral response can be represented by the acronym CAR, C- Circumstances or situation. A clear description of the situation, task, or circumstances faced. A – Actions or behaviors. A clear description of the specific behaviors or actions taken in the circumstances. R – Results of actions or behaviors. A clear description of the impact or results of those actions and behaviors. An example of a structured interview question with a good CAR response: Question - Describe the time that you were proudest of your ability to successfully introduce change into an organization. Circumstances - We had been primarily a services company and decided to offer complementary products to enhance profit margins and meet client demands for a lower cost solution. Since this was very new to the company, it was a major change effort and required getting employees on board who were initially resistant. Actions – The first thing I did was to research the literature and investigate what other product organizations were doing as well as best practices in change management. Then, I conducted focus groups with key stakeholder groups to surface concerns and define criteria for success and formed a launch committee with key representatives from each stakeholder group. We collaboratively designed the initial products for launch and developed a comprehensive launch strategy that included field enablement, communications, marketing, and sales enablement. We also focused initially on a small group of clients and built success stories to gain excitement from both our internal and external audiences. Results – As a result of our actions we exceeded first year revenue goals for new products by 130%. 4
  5. 5. Structuring the Evaluation Process There are two key principles underlying how a response is evaluated in a structured interviewing process: • Recency – The interviewer is more interested in behaviors that have been exhibited in recent job situations than in behaviors exhibited in the distant past. • Relevance – The interviewer is interested in behaviors that have been exhibited in situations or circumstances that are most similar to the challenges that will be faced in the job under consideration. Interviewer training is a key component for structuring the evaluation process and ensuring accurate evaluations. Key components of interviewer training include: • Behavior Categorization – Interviewers are given examples of candidate responses and practice categorizing the responses into a competency framework. Interviewers then discuss their rationale for their categorizations and reach agreement on how responses should be categorized. This is an important skill since a planned question for one competency may in fact elicit a response that is actually relevant for a different competency. • Calibration – Interviewers are shown a common video or role-play of an interview. They independently provide competency ratings based on the responses provided. They post their ratings, discuss the rationale for their ratings and reach agreement on how responses should be evaluated. • Avoiding Common Rating Errors – Interviewers are introduced to common mistakes made by interviewers and discuss strategies for avoiding them. Some common mistakes include: o First Impression – For some interviewers, the hiring decision is made in the first couple of minutes of the interview and is based solely on first impression. The first impression is likely a combination of appearance, communication skill, and poise. o Halo Error – Interviewers may be so impressed with a particular accomplishment, background, or demonstrated skill that they ignore information that may suggest that other skills that are important for the job may be lacking. As an example, an individual that has demonstrated he/she is superior in the execution of a strategy may not be good at developing the strategy in the first place. o Horns Error – Likewise, interviewers may be so unimpressed with an aspect of an individual’s background or experience that they are blind to the positive qualities that they may bring to the table. As an example, an individual who has had only consulting experience may be discounted for a job internal to a company because they have not worked solely in the company’s industry yet might bring a strong broader perspective in successfully performing the role. 5
  6. 6. o Leniency/Severity/Central Tendency Errors – Some interviewers have trouble differentiating among candidates. They may see all candidates as really qualified (leniency), poorly qualified (severity), or middle of the road (central tendency). o Managers’ judgments are affected by pressure to fill the position. Research indicates that managers lower their standards when they’re too heavily pressured to fill positions. They tend to rationalize poor information and rely too heavily on training to compensate for weak skills. o Managers’ judgments are affected by other available candidates. Managers often make decisions relative to a group of applicants rather than to job needs. They then find themselves taking the “best of a bad lot” rather than continuing their search to find a really appropriate candidate. The final component in the response evaluation process is data integration. After interviews are completed, the interview team comes together as a group to integrate their findings and discuss the interview responses in a systematic manner. After all the behavioral information for a competency has been shared and discussed, the interview team comes to a consensus rating for the competency. Summary Structure is the key to interview accuracy. Interview structure comes from many different practices. Structured interviews: • Use competencies as the framework for structuring the interview. Competencies are based on a job analysis which is a systematic review of what it takes to be successful in a particular job. • Use pre-planned interview questions that are linked to the competency requirements. This ensures that the interview questions are job related. Pre-planned questions also ensure that the same questions are asked of each candidate to ensure consistency and “apple to apple” comparisons. Every candidate has the same opportunity to demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills, and background to perform the job. • Use trained interviewers. Interviewers are trained in how to evaluate responses to prepared questions. Training helps take the bias and subjectivity out of the evaluation process and gives interviewers a common frame of reference for evaluating candidates. • Ratings are integrated in a common way to arrive at an overall score as well as a profile of strengths and weaknesses. Omni - The Leadership Exchange is a broad provider of recruitment support and selection solutions including its revolutionary automated interviewing support system, OASIS. Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D. is Chief Science Officer at Omni. Prior to that, he held senior leadership positions at Personnel Decisions International and Development Dimensions International. He has over 23 years consulting experience in the areas of leadership assessment, behavioral interviewing, and talent management. 6
  7. 7. Appendix A Some Common Leadership Competencies BUSINESS FRONT-LINE MID-LEVEL SENIOR METACOMPETENCIES UNIT LEADER LEADER EXECUTIVE LEADER Super Factor: Thought Leadership Analyze Issues Make Sound Use Insightful Use Astute 1. Analysis and Solve Decisions Judgment Judgment Problems Understand Act Strategically Think Shape Strategy 2. Strategic Thinking Strategies Strategically Identify Think Creatively Innovate Display Vision 3. Innovation Improvements Super Factor: Results Leadership Seek Customer Meet Customer Focus on Ensure 4. Focus on Customers Satisfaction Needs Customers Customer Focus Establish Plans Build Realistic Align the 5. Planning Plans Organization Execute Manage Ensure Optimize 6. Managing Execution Efficiently Execution Execution Execution Show Initiative Show Drive and Drive for Drive 7. Results Orientation Initiative Results Organizational Success Super Factor: People Leadership Solicit Support Build Support Influence Use 8. Influence Others Organizational Influence Encourage Motivate Others Engage and Energize the 9. Engage and Inspire Commitment Inspire Organization Select and Develop Others Build Talent Develop 10. Talent Enhancement Develop Organizational Talent Relate Well to Establish Build Build 11. Building Others Relationships Relationships Organizational Relationships Relationships Super Factor: Personal Leadership Readily Adapt Show Adapt and Demonstrate 12. Adaptability Adaptability Learn Agility Used with permission from Personnel Decisions International 7

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