Structured Interviews and Situational Interviews

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Abstract

The interview can be regarded as a selection device that is adopted by almost every company (Lowry, 1994). Experts in this area would think a structured interview is more reliable and valid than an unstructured interview due to its consistency and standardization (McDaniel et al., 1994). The situational interview is a typical structured interview. Compared to other conventional types of interviews, such as psychological interviews, job-related interviews and behavioural interviews, situational interviews can yield higher validity and reliability (McDaniel et al., 1994). This paper aims at discussing why situational interviews tend to be more valid and how situational interviews achieve higher validity. Additionally, the author will suggest a typically successful procedure of a situational interview and some possible mistakes as well as recommendations will be given at the end.

Structured Interview

Interviews can differentiate from each other by their standardization extent. Experts in this field may not have the same definition of a structured interview, whilst most of them would consider that an interview is structured in that the content of questions and acceptable answers were predetermined and candidate’s responses will be rated for the appropriateness of their content (McDaniel et al., 1994). According to Dessler (2011), a structured (or directive) interview can be defined as an interview that follows a predetermined subsequence of questions. On the contrary, unstructured interviews usually gather information from candidates in a less symmetric way. Seldom can people predict the answers in unstructured interviews. Consequently, there is hardly any scoring standard in unstructured interviews.

Based on previous research (McDaniel et al., 1994; Schmidt & Zimmerman, 2004), people are inclined to hypothesize more validity and reliability on structured interviews rather than unstructured interviews. Empirically and theoretically, the interview structure can affect evaluation results in two approaches. First, the lower degree of standardization may lead unstructured interviews to lower reliability and validity (Schmidt & Zimmerman, 2004). Second, structured interviews are able to acquire wider range of information than unstructured interviews (Lowry, 1994).

In addition, it is hard to clearly draw a line between structured interviews and unstructured interviews. Practically, the distinction between them is a matter of extent (Dessler, 2011).

Situational Interviews Can Yield High Validity

1. The validity of interviews

To evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of situational interviews, validity is of immense significance. According to Walsh and Bets (2001), an interview can be conceived as valid if it can measure what the interviewers want to measure. Usually, the validity of interviews is tested in terms of predicting candidates’ job performance and training performance. Referring to past research (McDaniel et al., 1994; Schmidt & Zimmerman, 2004), structured interviews, despite the content, can yield higher validity than unstructured interviews. Also, with regard to interview content, situational interviews are more valid than job-related interviews, which are more valid than psychological interviews (McDaniel et al. 1994).

2. Situational interviews

A situational question is usually a dilemma based on symmetric job analysis, which requires candidates to give a possible solution (Gary et al. 1980).

Although interviews can be categorized by various content of questions, basically, all situational interviews are structured interviews (McDaniel et al. 1994). Because the questions and acceptable answers of a situational interview are designed in advance, the interview tends to be more structured rather than unstructured.

There are two factors influencing a situational interview to be valid. First, a situational interview is a high-standardized interview, which...
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