Taking Interviews: Types and Qualities of a Good Interviewer!

Interview is an oral examination of candidates for employment. No selection process is complete without one or more interviews. Interview is the most common and core method of both obtaining information from job-seekers, and decision-making on their suitability or otherwise. Organisations may seek to make their selection process as objective as possible. But, interview, which is an essential element of the process by the large, still remains subjective.

Interviews usually take place at two crucial stages in the selection process, i.e. at the beginning and in the end. Interviews scan differ in terms of their focus and format. Usually several individuals interview one applicant. This is called panel interview. Such panels usually consist of representatives from personnel and concerned operating units/line functions. In this method, usually, applicants get screened from one stage to another, at least in the initial stages.


The interviews can be structured or unstructured, general or in-depth. Sometimes where the job requires the job holder to remain calm and composed under pressure, the candidates are intentionally subjected to stresses and strains in the interview by asking some annoying or embarrassing questions. This type of interview is called the stress interview. Interviewing is both an art and a science.

The effectiveness of the interview as a screening device can be improved by taking care of certain aspects like the following:

1. The interview should be based on a checklist of what to look for in a candidate. Such a checklist could be based on proper job analysis. Each critical attribute which the interview seeks to evaluate may be assigned a specific weightage.

2. It is desirable to prepare a specific set of guidelines for the interview


3. The interviewers need to be trained to evaluate performance in the interview objectively. Also, all interviewers need to develop common understanding about the criteria measures, their purposes and weightage.

4. The interviewers may use past behaviour to predict future behaviours and obtain additional information to attempt such linkages more meaningfully.

5. There should be proper coordination between the initial and succeeding interviews.

6. The interview (even stress interview) should be conducted in a relaxed physical setting.

Types of interviews:


Group Interviews are gaining in popularity in India. They are used extensively without the relation that in such interviews everyone may not get a chance to speak and that good candidates might be overlooked. In this area, the personnel department with its experts, or an outside duly selected consultant, can render an important service.

In a short period of time of, say, about half an hour to one hour, inferences have to be drawn regarding the attitudes, behaviour patterns and motivations build up over a lifetime of the applicant. Therefore, hasty judgments must be avoided.

The interview must be pre-planned. For example, the interviewer must decide in advance on the appropriate type of interview. He must decide whether he will adopt a Preliminary Interview as well as an Extensive Interview. He must determine whether he will use the Stress Interview Method. Here the applicant is deliberately placed in a position of stress by devices such as interruptions, criticisms and keeping silence for long periods of time.

This type of interview requires very careful handling. It can be dangerous when used without skill. The interviewer has also to decide whether he will be using the Discussion Interview technique or the Depth Interview techniques; whether his interview will be structured or Non-structured and whether he will be using the group Interview technique or individual interviews or both.

Qualities of a good interviewer:


Briefly, it may be said that the following are the qualities of a good interviewer:

(1) Interest in the applicant, as an interviewer without interest will not listen to the applicant;

(2) Alertness, so that the interviewer can pick up the relevant phrases used by the applicant which he should ask the applicant to explain further to be sure of the information secured at the interview;

(3) Patience, as the interviewer must allow the interviewee time to think before answering questions posed by the interviewer;


(4) Deliberation, that is withholding evaluation of the applicant until all the information has been secured and understood; and

(5) Concentration, as the interviewer is required to listen not merely to the facts but to the main ideas emanating from the interview.

Above all, the greatest quality is the art of listening. Interviewers who are not good listeners generally suffer from intolerance and impulsiveness. An intolerant nature tends to make the interviewer impatient and unwilling to listen or pay attention to what the applicant is saying. Impulsiveness results in interruption of the applicant instead of listening to him attentively. The interviewer must have patience and must wait till the answer is completed before posing the next question. A tendency to anticipate what the applicant will say also results in impatience and lack of listening.