Interview Analysis #2
By: Megan Gustafson
November 29, 2007
Theories of the Interview
Professor Phillip Clampitt
Purpose/Effectiveness of the Interview
As we have learned from class lecture and our textbook, there are often several different purposes or objectives an interviewer can have for holding an interview. For example, in the Performance Interview for Review and Analysis on pages 262 – 264 of “Interviewing Principles and Practices,” one of the possible objectives the interviewer may have is to discuss the achievement of previous performance goals and set future performance goals for the interviewee. In this particular interview, the interviewer begins by wanting to discuss the interviewee’s past goals of quality improvement, meeting production quotas, being on time with orders, and employee turnover. Also, at the end of the interview, the interviewee tells the interviewer that they will continue with the same goals for the next quarter.
Another goal the interviewer might have is to motivate the interviewee to keep up their level of performance or to change/improve their level of performance. In this specific example, the interviewee and interviewer discuss a problem they have noticed concerning a rise in the interviewee’s overtime budget. Throughout the last half of the interview they discuss ways to overcome and correct this issue.
Of course, the number one objective or goal of most interviewers in a performance interview is to add value to the company. This should be the interviewer’s number one priority. This particular content purpose of the performance interview goes along with the relationship purpose of the performance interview of creating a positive working or professional relationship with the interviewee. The interviewer does not want to create a hostile environment or relationship between themselves and other employees, as this could produce negative effects for the company.
By recognizing and identifying possible objective and relationship objectives or purposes one can better determine the effectiveness of an interview. The interview can be analyzed for degree of effectiveness based on these individual goals. We can then use statements such as, “If the interviewer’s goal is to create future performance goals for the interviewee, then the interview was effective/was not effective because…” or “If the interviewer’s objective is to add value to the company, then the interview was effective/was not effective because…” to provide reasoning to why one feels the interview was or was not effective (based on an analysis of the interview). The next step then is to analyze the interview by using specific evidence of the three or four most important factors in the interview that explain the level of effectiveness of the interview.
Critical Factors of the Interview
One factor that influences the effectiveness of this interview is the opening the interviewer uses. It is essential that the interviewee feel that they are at ease during the interview. Also, it is important that the interviewer creates an environment that fosters trust, because this encourages honest and meaningful information sharing. Meaningful information sharing is crucial to increasing the level of effectiveness of the interview.
Our textbook recommends that the interviewer establish rapport with the interviewee during the opening of the performance interview (pg. 252). One can do this by engaging in small talk and offering the interviewee a brief outline of how the interviewer wants to conduct the interview. It is also beneficial to arrange the space in a non-threatening, non superior-subordinate way. Although we cannot see the setup of this particular interview, the interviewer does open the interview by briefly partaking in small talk with the interviewee. The interviewer asks Cindy, the interviewee, how her family is. Cindy then replies by telling the interviewer about her kids and the activities that they are involved in. The small talk stage is not prolonged or exaggerated for a long time (which is recommended), and the interviewer continues on to the main parts of the interview after Cindy’s reply.
The factor of engaging in small talk links back to the purpose of creating a positive working or professional relationship with the interviewee. By engaging in small talk at the beginning of the interview, the interviewer shows the interviewee that they care about their life outside of work, and recognize the interviewee as an individual – not just another employee. This helps to create a positive atmosphere, which is crucial for maximum and honest information sharing.
Another important factor that can influence the effectiveness of a performance interview is whether or not the interviewer has done thorough research or homework before the interview takes place. Our textbook suggests that an interviewer should study the interviewee’s past record and most recent performance records, as well as review the interviewee’s self-evaluation (pg. 251). This also means understanding the nature of the interviewee’s position and work. These should also be specific observations, where the interviewer can quantify the information or provide precise examples that may include dates, times, and other important details.
In this specific interview, one can see that the interviewer has done some homework. The interviewer uses specific examples when it comes to things such as when they last met (three months ago), what specific goals the interviewee was working on (quality improvement, meeting production quotas, being on time with orders, and employee turnover), the exact number of associates who have left the company (one compared to their previous average of five), which assembly line is working slower than the other assembly lines (line three), and exactly how much the interviewee’s overtime budget is up from last year (12 percent).
However, there are also instances when the interviewer is vague about the goals of the interviewee. For example, when the interviewer says, “Production looks pretty good overall, pretty much on target” they do not give a specific target that the interviewee was supposed to reach, or what “pretty much” really means. Does “pretty much” mean they are 5 percent below the target? Does it mean they are 25 percent below the target? Is the target even measured in percentage? Another example of when the interviewer is too vague is when the interview says, “Very good. I’m quite pleased.” In this instance how does one know what “quite pleased” means? What specifically did the interviewee do to make the interviewer “quite pleased”? These examples show that the interviewer should have been more specific when talking about these issues, as using this level of ambiguity could prove to be problematic when it comes to achieving future goals.
The issue of whether or not the interviewer has done their homework and whether or not they are using specific examples links back to the purposes of adding overall value to the company and motivating the interviewee to keep up or change/improve their level of performance. If the employee has precise goals to meet that are easily measured and recorded, they are more apt to know what they specifically have to do to achieve these goals, whether it is continuing to do what they have been doing or change/improve what they have been doing. In turn, this benefits and adds value to the company.
The third issue that influences the effectiveness of a performance interview is the strategy that an interviewer uses. For example, an interviewer could choose to apply the tell and sell strategy, the tell and listen strategy, or the listen and tell strategy. As we have learned from class lecture, the tell and sell strategy is utilized when the interviewee is not really involved or is a poor performer. In this strategy, the interviewer makes points and arguments to why they think something is appropriate, and there is little dialogue between the two parties. This can affect the interview by making the interviewee feel attacked, or like they have no voice in the interview, which can lead to ineffective communication between the interviewee and interviewer. Another strategy is the listen and tell strategy. In this strategy the interviewee takes the lead and tells the interviewer how they think they have been performing. The interviewer may add some comments after the interviewee has finished explaining their rationale. This strategy is often used when the interviewee displays exceptional performance or when the employee has been with the company for a long time. However, this can affect the interview by making the interviewee feel like the interviewer has no input, or lead to the interviewee incorrectly assuming that they are performing up to par when in reality they are not. As a result, this can lead to ineffective communication between the two parties involved in the interview.
The final strategy, the tell and listen strategy, is the strategy that is used most often in this particular interview. The tell and listen strategy is characterized by the interviewer explaining to the interviewee their evaluation of the interviewee’s performance, followed by the interviewee responding to the interviewer and the issues discussed. Effective communication happens when there is a meaningful dialogue between the two parties involved in the interview.
We can see examples of the tell and listen strategy throughout the performance interview in our textbook (pgs. 262 – 264). For instance, when the interviewer says, “Production looks good overall, pretty much on target,” they allow the interviewer to respond. The interviewee goes into more detail on the subject when they say, “I think a lot of that is due to the stability of our staff. I’ve had to do a lot less training and correcting this quarter. As you can see also, quality has improved…”. Another example of when the tell and listen strategy is utilized is when the interviewee brings up a problem by saying, “I did notice one problem however. Line three seems to be slower than the other five lines,” and the interviewee is allowed to respond by saying, “That’s true, but we’ve made our deadlines in spite of this minor problem”. The interviewer and interviewee then go into more depth about the issue and have a meaningful conversation that ends in a solution to the problem.
The issue of what strategy an interviewer uses links back to the goal of discussing the achievement of previous performance goals and setting future performance goals for the interviewee. By choosing the correct strategy the interviewer can encourage meaningful dialogue about why or why not a goal has been met. In turn, this leads to effective communication about future goals, and ways the interviewee plans to achieve these goals – which will eventually have a positive effect on the company as a whole (another important goal of the performance interview).
Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Interview
The effectiveness of this particular interview depends on what the objectives of the interviewee and interviewer are. As previously mentioned, one objective of this particular performance interview is to discuss the achievement of previous performance goals and set future performance goals for the interviewee. Based on this objective and my analysis of the interview, I believe that this particular interview, on a scale from one to ten, scored a seven for effectiveness.
The reason I gave this objective an effectiveness rating of seven was because of the amount of discussion about the achievement of previous performance goals and the setting of future performance goals between the interviewer and interviewee. During the interview, the interviewer mentions specifically what goals the interviewer was supposed to be working on for the last three months. The interviewer touches on the goals of meeting production quotas, being on time with orders, and turnover of associates, but they do not cover the goal of quality improvement. There are some other areas of improvement that the interviewer could make, but I will cover these recommendations later on in the paper. So, if the interviewer’s objective was to discuss the achievement of previous performance goals and set future performance goals for the interviewee, then the interview was rather effective.
Another objective that can be used to judge the effectiveness of the interview is to motivate the interviewee to keep up their level of performance or to change/improve their performance. Based on this objective and my analysis of the interview, I believe that this particular interview, on a scale from one to ten, scored a five for effectiveness.
The reason I gave this objective an effectiveness rating of five was because of the amount of detail the interviewer gave to the interviewee when it came to discussing whether or not the interviewee should keep up their level of performance or work to improve it. For example, in the interview the interviewer tells the interviewee, “Production looks good overall, pretty much on target” (pg. 262). Although the interviewer does bring up the topic of production, they do not give the interviewee specific direction about if they should keep doing what they are doing, or if “pretty much on target” means that they should increase production. The interviewee also uses statements such as, “Very good. I’m quite pleased” to describe her feelings about how the interviewee is performing. Statements such as these are too ambiguous, and do not give the interviewee specific enough guidance.
As for setting detailed goals for the future, the interviewer tells the interviewee to continue to work on the same goals as last time. Again, although the interviewer brings up the issue of setting future goals, I feel that the interviewer could have made these goals more specific by setting exact numbers or percentages.
In the interviewer’s defense however, there are two times when they do mention specific goals. For example, the interviewer tells the interviewee precisely how many people have left the company when they are talking about turnover rates (one compared to their average of five). The interviewer also lets the interviewee know the exact line that has been slower than the other five lines (line three), and the interviewer tells the interviewee specifically how much they are over on their overtime budget (12 percent). They also set a specific time to meet with the employee that seems to be causing the problem. So, if the interviewer’s objective was to motivate the interviewee to keep up their level of performance or to change/improve their performance, then the interview was moderately effective.
The last objective that could have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of the interview was if there was value added to the company and if the interviewer created a positive working or professional relationship with the interviewee. Based on these objectives and my analysis of the interview, I believe that this particular interview, on a scale from one to ten, scored an eight for effectiveness.
The reason I gave this objective an effectiveness rating of eight was because the interviewer used tactics such as engaging in small talk to create an open and trusting atmosphere. Throughout the interview it seemed like the interviewer and interviewee were able to share their feelings and observations about individual issues and partake in a valuable conversation. Even when the interviewer brought up the problem of a slow production line and an increasing overtime budget, the interviewee and interviewer were able to talk candidly about how they could solve this problem. Because of these reasons, I believe the interviewer and interviewee were able to successfully maintain a positive working and professional relationship.
I also believe that there will be value added to the company overall based on this interview. For example, the interviewee was very informed about what their goals were for this quarter and was able to provide proof to whether or not she had completed these goals. The interviewee was also able to pinpoint the exact reason to why one of the goals wasn’t being met (a certain employee having severe arthritis) and was able to work with the interviewer to provide a solution for this problem. However, one reason I did not give this category a rating of ten was because it did not seem to me like the interviewer gave specific enough goals for the future. The interviewer says, “Since everything else seems to be in order, let’s continue with the same goals for the next quarter” (pgs. 263 – 264). I will discuss ways the interviewer could have improved this comment later on in the paper. So, if the interviewer’s objective was to add value to the company and create a positive working or professional relationship with the interviewee, then the interview was quite effective.
Even though the interview was effective for the most part, there are still some recommendations that I would make to increase the effectiveness of the interview even further. One suggestion I would make is for the interviewer to prepare a self-evaluation form for the interviewee to look at and fill out before the actual interview. This would allow the interviewee to know what to expect in terms of what was going to be covered in the interview. It could also make the interviewee feel like the interviewer was taking this process seriously, and that could suggest to the interviewee that the interviewer feels like they really do matter in the corporation. Having the interviewee fill out a self-evaluation form prior to the interview can potentially provide topics of discussion as well. The second recommendation I would make would be to set more specific goals and to limit ambiguity when it comes to setting future goals. The book “One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson states, “in most organizations when you ask people what they do and then ask their boss, all too often you get two different lists” (pg. 27). This can be applied to goal setting as well. If the interviewer is too ambiguous when they set goals, the interviewee and interviewer may have different perceptions of what expectations are supposed to meet. To solve the problem of unspecific goal setting, I would recommend using the goal setting principle discussed in the book “One Minute Manager,” which is “One Minute Goal Setting”. In this strategy the interviewee works with the interviewer to set one minute goals by using tactics such as agreeing on specific goals with your manager or supervisor, seeing what good behavior looks like, writing each goal on a single sheet of paper using less than 250 words, reading and re-reading each goal, taking a minute every once in a while to look at your performance, and seeing whether or not your behaviors match your goals (pg. 34). Another thing the interviewer could do to decrease ambiguity is to quantify goals. Instead of using the phrase, “let’s continue with the same goals for the next quarter,” the interviewer could say, “let’s increase production by 5 percent and decrease the overtime budget by 10 percent”. By quantifying goals the interviewer makes it easy to measure progress. Also, it is easier to determine whether or not the goal has actually been met. Like the book “One Minute Manager” suggests, 80 percent of your really important results will come from 20 percent of your goals. So the interviewer needs to understand just how important specific goal setting can be. By taking these recommendations into consideration the interview’s effectiveness could be maximized.
Blanchard, Kenneth and Spencer Johnson. The One Minute Manager. New York: Berkley
Stewart, Charles and William Cash. Interviewing Principles and Practices. New York: