Business Interviewing

An interview can generally be defined as a meeting between two individuals, with the interviewer seeking to acquire information from the interviewee via a question-and- answer format. The most familiar type of interview is the employment interview, in which the interviewer acquires information needed to determine the interviewee's qualification for a job position. In most large businesses, a staff member from human resources will conduct employment interviews.

The employment interview, designed to match a candidate's qualifications with the company's open positions, takes place at the company. After having completed an employment interview, the interviewer will then verify the references supplied by the prospective employee. Large companies often conduct screening interviews on university campuses or at job fairs. These interviews check the preliminary eligibility of job candidates but do not match skills against specific job openings.

Two or more staff members may conduct interviews for a high-level position within a company. If more than one person is conducting the interview, an interview leader should be appointed. The leader will be responsible for smoothly running the interview, asking prepared questions and ensuring the interviewee's full participation in the process.

All employment interviewers must bear in mind the provisions of the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation. Legally, an employer may not discriminate against people over the age of 40 and against people with disabilities. Employers may not reject job candidates on the basis of gender, military history, or family history and genetic information.

During an interview, an interviewer should encourage the interviewee to speak by repeating the short responses of the interviewees, encouraging them to elaborate on their words. The interviewer should also use positive body language such as nodding his head and should limit all distractions such as phone calls during the actual interview. When interviewers realize that they are receiving one-sided information, they should attempt to elicit contrasting information from the interviewee. One approach is to ask specific questions such as "list one project that you would like to redo, if you could," or "list a few past mistakes."

A seasoned interviewer will be able to interpret the interviewee's body language, such as their facial expressions, head movements, postures and hand movements. These movements should be interpreted carefully since body language is often unique to the person and cannot be universally translated. In addition, movements and expressions may have different connotations in various cultures. In the United States, it is appropriate for an interviewee to look directly at the interviewer, while in Asian countries, interviewees avert their eyes from the interviewer as a sign of respect.

Both interviewee and interviewer should come to the interview prepared. The interviewer should read the candidate's resume before the interview and prepare a few questions regarding the candidate's career. The interviewee should find out general information about the company and the job openings, and outline some reasons why he or she is best suited for the position.

Once a company has hired an employee, additional interviews will be conducted during the term of employment. The employee's direct manager will provide coaching interviews, during which he will ask the employee about his job, compliment job performance, offer assistance and suggest specific job improvements. A counseling interview will be arranged by the manager to discuss a specific issue with the employee's job performance. Management uses performance-evaluation interviews, generally conducted on an annual basis, to summarize the employee's past performance and set new goals.

An employee interested in changing positions within a company will set up a change-of-status interview with human resources. If the employee is dissatisfied with some of the employer's policies, he or she will arrange for a grievance interview with human resources to discuss the issue. During a disciplinary interview, an employee is officially warned about a particular detrimental behavior. A termination interview is conducted when an employee is fired, and the exit interview marks the employee's final discussion with human resources regarding his view of his dismissal.

Business Interviewing: Selected full-text books and articles

The Management Skills Builder: Self-Directed Learning Strategies for Career Development By Ralph S. Hambrick Praeger Publishers, 1991
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Interviewing: A Skill for All Professionals"
Strategic Interviewing: How to Hire Good People By Richaurd Camp; Mary E. Vielhaber; Jack L. Simonetti Jossey-Bass, 2001
Winning the Interview Game: Everything You Need to Know to Land the Job By Alan H. Nierenberg American Management Association, 2005
Effective Interviewing Strategies; Why Do Promising Candidates Sometimes Turn into Disappointing Employees? By Thibadoux, Greg M.; Jeffords, Raymond Journal of Accountancy, Vol. 172, No. 3, September 1991
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