Magazine article Industrial Management

Lies, Damn Lies and the Selection Interview: Don't Take Them Lies Lying Down

Magazine article Industrial Management

Lies, Damn Lies and the Selection Interview: Don't Take Them Lies Lying Down

Article excerpt

The title of this article is a takeoff from the book How to Lie With Statistics. The book illustrated some problems and abuses associated with the presentation and interpretation of statistical analyses. The authors noted three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. Here. we change this lies statement and apply it to the selection interview context. We show how people can misuse the interview process to misrepresent reality.

A lie is an untrue statement made with the intent to deceive. A lie also can involve the intentional omission of important truthful information. An error is intentionally or unintentionally providing incorrect information. Therefore, a lie is always an error while an error is a lie only when incorrect information is intentionally provided. We assume that both detract from fair, accurate and effective hiring.

We do not intend to encourage selection interview lies. Our intent is to identify the problem areas and to suggest methods that might help remove the potential for lies and result in fairer selections.


There are many reasons lies and errors might occur during the selection interview process:

* To meet affirmative action plan goals;

* To hire an already determined person;

* To avoid hiring a blacklisted candidate:

* To hire a cheaper cost worker;

* To avoid hiring a legally protected class member;

* To save time having to justify the selection criteria or process;

* To meet noninterviewing job demands because of a lack of time;

* Lack of accountability.

* Interviewer lack of ability; and

* Different raters with different rating methods.

The selection interview is one of the most important steps in the selection interview process. Despite its importance, interviewing is often done ineffectively. Lies can occur in a variety of ways during the interview process. For example, job analysis can be poorly done. Similarly, interview scheduling and the timing of ratings might leave the interview process vulnerable to lies.


Interviewers can find the knowledge, skills and abilities through job analysis. Job analysis involves collecting and analyzing tasks, duties and specifications of jobs. Job specifications identify knowledge, skills, abilities, education, training and experiences required for a person to do the job. Selection interviewers should identify the candidate who best meets the specifications.

Interview evaluations might breed error into the process at a very early stage by not conducting a job analysis or by having it poorly completed. Poor job analysis might help the appraiser justify creating evaluation instruments that have little to do with the job. Therefore, invalid job analysis makes it difficult to develop job-related interviews based on the content of the job.

Job analysts can do poor job analyses many ways. People can receive no instruction in how to analyze jobs. Poor job analyses also can occur because organizations often have untrained or poorly trained personnel perform the data collection and interpretation of job analysis. Similarly, lies resulting from job analysis can occur when no one checks for accuracy. Analysts can leave important tasks employees mention in a job analysis questionnaire off the job description. Analysts can include nonjob-related tasks that do not reflect important aspects of the job.

To offset such deficient and erroneous practices, managers can add integrity to the job analysis process by selecting and training competent individuals to perform job analysis. Furthermore, management can provide the time and resources necessary for those performing the task to do so effectively.


When interviewers use generic interview questions, they might have difficulty evaluating candidates on their potential success for a job. …

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