Improving Employment Interviews
For over 50 years, psychologists criticized employment interviews on the grounds that they were subjective, subject to bias, and most important, poor predictors of future job performance. Hundreds of studies of the employment interview had led most industrial psychologists to conclude that they were nearly worthless and that interviews often did more harm than good. In the 1980's, psychologists Gary Latham, PhD, Lise Saari, PhD, Elliot Pursell, PhD, and Michael Campion, PhD, suggested that interviews could be improved by providing structure, specifically by focusing the employment interview on questions that highlighted the interviewee's ability to make good judgments in a variety of situations. Industrial psychologist Tom Janz, PhD, suggested another strategy for structuring employment interviews, by focusing on descriptions of past behavior rather than responses to hypothetical future situations.
Reviews of research on interviewing suggest that both of these structuring approaches work well, and that the problem with typical employment interviews is their lack of consistency and structure rather than their inherent invalidity. A variety of strategies for imposing structure have been suggested, including providing interviewers with scripts and standard sets of questions, developing scoring guides for interviewee responses, and using multiple interviews. All of these methods appear to help in improving the usefulness and fairness of employment interviews.
Campion, M. A., Palmer, D. K., & Campion, J. E. (1997). A review of structure in the selection interview. Personnel Psychology, Vol. 50, pp. 655-702.
Campion, M. A., Pursell, E. D., & Brown, B. K. (1988). Structured interviewing: Raising the psychometric properties of the employment interview. Personnel Psychology, Vol. 41, pp. 25-42.
Hunter, J. E., & Hunter, R. F. (1984). Validity and utility of alternate predictors of job performance. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 96, pp. 72-98.
Janz, T. (1982). Initial comparisons of patterned behavior description interviews versus unstructured interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 67, pp. 577-582.
Latham, G. P., Saari, L. M., Pursell, E. D., & Campion, M. A. (1980). The situational interview. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 65, pp. 422-427.
Wiesner, W. H., & Cronshaw, S. F. (1988). A meta-analytic investigation of the impact of interview format and degree of structure on the validity of the interview. Journal of Occupational Psychology, Vol. 61, pp. 275-290.
American Psychological Association, May 20, 2004