Chapter 9: Interviewing in Organizations

9.3 Interviewer: Performance during the interview

Once you have completed the planning, and  invited applicants to interview, your attention should turn the best practices for conducting employment interviews. The following are some of these practices.

 1. Pay attention  biases affecting your active listening. It is important to recognize some biases that affect one’s ability to stay focused on the applicant’s responses.

Interview bias can occur in almost any interview situation. Interview bias is when an interviewer makes assumptions about the candidate that may not be accurate. For example, if you application describes their qualifications and they sound highly skilled, you should avoid thinking that they will get bored quickly and leave your organization. Perhaps they do not want a high-stress job and will happily do the work.

Halo bias occurs when an interview becomes swayed by a positive aspect of an applicant, ignoring other less favorable information. Reverse halo effect occurs when an interview becomes fixated on one negative trait of a candidate, and doesnt attend to the other positive information.

Contrast bias occurs when the interviewer evaluates a candidate only based on comparison to the other candidates. This can result in one person looking particularly strong in an area, when in fact they look strong only compared to the other candidates.

Generalization bias can occur when an interviewer assumes that how someone behaves in an interview is how they always behave. For example, if a candidate is very nervous and stutters while talking, an assumption may be made that he or she always stutters.

A similar to me bias (which could be considered discriminatory) results when an interviewer has a preference for a candidate because he or she views that person as having similar attributes as themselves.

Finally, recency bias occurs when the interviewer favors the last candidate’s responses more so than the other candidates.  

If you recognize one of these biases affecting you listening or thinking, it is important to step back and consider how you might correct it. Are you liking the last candidate and their responses because they are the best, or because they are the one you’re listening to now? Did you like the applicant’s response to how they would handle a customer complaint because it is the way you would do it, or because its the way the company expect complaints to be handled? If you are part of an interview committee, talking through the applicants’ interviews can help highlight and address some of these biases.

2. Maintain control of the interview focus.   During the interview, make sure you stick to your list of moderately structured interview questions, and don’t wander off track. You want to ensure that you get all your questions asked, because each was carefully crafted to elicit important information needed to make a hiring decision. Additionally, you don’t want to be accused of asking one applicant a question that another was not asked. This can result in a claim of an unfair hiring practice. Lastly, if you allow the interview to wander “off script”, you run the risk of asking an illegal or inappropriate interview questions. Come prepared with ways you might help redirect an applicant back to the interview questions (e.g., “We only have 20 minutes left, and have 6 more questions, so I’m going to redirect us to our next question so you have the opportunity to answer all the questions the others will be asked”).

3. Consider your nonverbal behaviors. A lot of time and planning goes into the verbal part of the interview (e.g., types of questions, opening and closing remarks), however, it is important to consider your nonverbal behaviors during the interview too. Consider how you are sitting during the interview, and where your eyes are focused. While it may be inaccurate, there is a sense for some that crossed arms signals distance or being closed off.  Nodding one’s head can signal that your listening, but can also be interpreted by some as agreement.

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Organizational Communication Anthology by See each page for attribution information. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.