Rapport Building on Job Interviews: How Much Does It Matter?

Rapport building is usually the first step of a job interview. Even when ensuing interview questions are standardized and job-relevant, it’s typical to start with a few questions that seek to ease tension and establish a friendly connection between the interviewer and interviewee. But questions remain: what is the purpose of this, and how does this affect how the interviewee is rated? On one hand, ability to establish good rapport may be indicative of a socially-competent candidate. On the other hand, if the interviewer forms a strong intuitive opinion about an applicant, it may color subsequent scores on the actual job interview questions. So, is rapport building good or bad?  Should the practice be continued or phased out?


Does Rude Treatment by Interviewers Affect Job Searching Motivation?

Job searching can be filled with rejection and disappointment. Despite these difficulties, job seekers must persist in their endeavor in order to secure gainful employment. In this study, the researchers (Ali, Ryan, Lyons, Ehrhart, & Wessel, 2016) investigated whether the motivation of job seekers changes if they experience rude behavior. In previous studies, researchers have explored whether individual differences can influence the job search process. The authors of this study expanded on this by considering how environmental factors can also affect one’s behavior during a job search.


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The Strange Story Behind Situational Judgment Tests: What Do They Really Measure?

Situational judgment tests are often used during employee selection. They present the job applicant with a series of situations that may be encountered on the job. For example, one situation might include an anecdote about a co-worker encouraging you to steal. For each situation, several different responses are listed. Applicants simply choose the response that seems most appropriate. Because these tests are (hopefully) designed by I-O psychologists or other highly trained experts, certain answers are designed to reflect behavior that is consistent with good job performance. The more the applicant choses these “good” answers, the more certain we are that the applicant will succeed on the job if hired.


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The Role of Storytelling in Effective Structured Job Interviews

It’s no surprise that I-O psychologists recommend using structured job interviews when selecting someone for a position. This is because structured interviews are far better predictors of performance than are informal, unstructured interviews. As part of a structured interview, two types of questions may be asked – situational questions (e.g., “What would you do if you disagreed with your supervisor?”) or behavioral questions (e.g., “Tell me about a time that you disagreed with your supervisor”).


How to Conduct a Job Interview: Avoid the Sales Pitch

Hiring professionals may often wonder, what is the best way to conduct a job interview? New research offers an important tip that may make applicant evaluations more accurate. During our first meetings with potential clients, investors, colleagues or romantic partners, our initial impressions and appraisal of their character influence the judgments we make about them. But at the same time we’re evaluating others, we’re often ”selling” ourselves, or making ourselves seem more attractive.


Interviews: How to Identify a Deceptive Job Candidate

Almost every company has to go through some type of interviewing process in order to select which applicant they will hire.

But applicants frequently use a deceptive type of impression management, which can lead to organizations hiring the wrong person for the job. This can be a serious issue for companies if they hire a deceptive applicant whose work does not match up with the way they performed in their interview.

Companies cannot hope to completely stop applicants from using deception impression management in interviews. But organizations can try to alleviate the problem by selecting interviewers capable of detecting when an applicant is being deceptive.


How a Structured Employment Interview Can Make a Difference

Prospective employees have been subjected to interviews as long as there have been jobs to hire them for. But the question of how to properly conduct an employment interview remains the object of discussion and debate.

In “The Structured Employment Interview,” authors J. Levashina, C. J. Hartwell, F. P. Morgeson and M. A. Campion examine how these interviews should be conducted for maximum benefit. When structured properly, a job interview can help predict various aspects of employee performance even better than cognitive and personality tests, while simultaneously reducing group differences and bias.

That being said, the structured employment interview is not devoid of pitfalls.


Interview Reliability: Statistics vs. Personal Experience

This article focuses on the reliability of interviews. The more error introduced in interviews, the less reliable they are. The researchers targeted different sources of error, both from the interviewee and interviewers. Interviewees can introduce error into an interview when they answer similar questions from the same or multiple interviewers differently, while interviewers introduce error when they interpret, evaluate, and rate identical responses differently.


Relationship Between Situational Demands and Job Performance

When attending a dinner party, you would not show up an hour late, remark that the food was cold, and blithely inform the hostess that she appears to be carrying an extra 10-20 pounds since you last saw her. Well, most wouldn’t. Most people are aware of what is expected of them at a dinner party. At some point they learned the manners and etiquette required, and they perform accordingly. Most are able to learn the situational demands of different environments and apply them appropriately. So, how does this relate to job performance?


How Prospective Employees Judge Fit With An Organization

When you interview for a job, you make choices using the relatively small amount of information to which you have access. As a candidate, not yet on the job, your view of the organization and its work culture is limited. In a way, you are forced to judge a book by its cover, and maybe also by the sneak peak of pages the company gives you access to during the selection process. This research focused on how we make those judgments.


Should Your Spouse Interview for You? (IO Psychology)

How well can your spouse sing your praises? Well enough to help you get that job you’ve always wanted?

This article discussed the ethical and legal issues surrounding spousal interviews for employment. Ever heard of it? Some companies are choosing to include spousal interviews as a part of their hiring process, especially for sales roles. As sales jobs can include varying hours and unpredictable income, some organizations want to make sure that the spouse fully understands and is on board with what could come. I don’t personally know of any organizations doing this, but it honestly scares the crap out of me (that is one of those phrases I should probably try to stop using).


Strike a Pose! (IO Psychology)

Topic: Interviewing
Publication: Psychological Science (2010)
Article: Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance
Authors: Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, & Andy J. Yap
Reviewed By: Scott Charles Sitrin

oppoAMBRO01-4452Before an interview, you review your CV and letter of intent and familiarize yourself with the company or school that you are applying to.  Do you also strike a pose?  If not, you could be negatively affecting how you come across to the interviewer.  According to research by Carney, Cuddy, & Yap, posing in a position of power may increase your levels of testosterone, decrease your levels of cortisol, and leave you feeling more powerful and tolerant of risk, and in contrast, posing in a non-power pose may decrease your levels of testosterone, increase your levels of cortisol, and make you feel weak and nervous.


Why Are You Asking Me This? Investigating Reactions to Puzzle Interviews (IO Psychology)

Topic: Interviewing, Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Article: Why Are Manhole Covers Round? A Laboratory Study of Reactions to Puzzle Interviews (in press)
Authors: Chris W. Wright, Chris J. Sablynski, Todd M. Manson, & Steven Oshiro
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Despite controversy over their effectiveness, interviews remain a tool that many organizations rely on when making hiring decisions. There is a great deal of variability in the way that interviews are organized, and in the content that they assess. Familiar to many I-O psychologists is the distinction between structured and unstructured interviews; however, one type of interview that is less well-known is the puzzle interview. Originally pioneered by Microsoft in the 1990s, puzzle interviews continue to be used in many well-known organizations, such as Google and Amazon.com.


Distracted Interviewing: The Case of Facial Scars (IO Psychology)

Topic: Interviewing, Fairness
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2012)
Article: Discrimination Against Facially Stigmatized Applicants in Interviews:
An Eye-Tracking and Face-to-Face Investigation
Authors: J.M. Madera, M.R. Hebl
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

It’s easy to imagine reasons why a job interviewer might be distracted: Workplace politics, trouble at home, unnecessarily detailed fantasies of winning the lottery, March Madness. But according to troubling new research by Madera and Hebl (2012), we can add one more thing to that list. If the person interviewing for the job has a facial scar, it could be enough to distract the interviewer and cause negative outcomes.


Are cognitive ability tests insulting your applicants? (IO Psychology)

Topic: Organizational Justice, Fairness, Interviewing, Assessment, Selection
Publication: Personnel Psychology (WINTER 2011)
Article: Status and organizational entry: How organizational and individual status affect justice perceptions of hiring systems
Authors: Sumanth, J. J., & Cable, D. M.
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

It is well known in the field of IO psychology that cognitive ability tests are very predictive of employee performance.  However, applicants often see them as unfair and do not like taking them; more informal and much less valid methods (like informal interviews) tend to be preferred by applicants. In this study, Sumanth and Cable (2011) investigated the effect that the status of the organization and the career status of the applicant would have on applicants’ perceptions of the selection system’s fairness.


Successful Strategies for Job Interviewing (IO Psychology)

Topic: Interviewing
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (NOV 2011)
Article: Managing and Creating an Image in the Interview: The Role of Interviewee Initial Impressions
Authors: B. W. Swider, M. R. Barrick, T. B. Harris, A. C. Stoverink
Reviewed By: Ben Sher

When we think about job interviews, we think about making good impressions. Interviewees often make a conscious effort to influence the impression they make on interviewers, sometimes truthfully and sometimes untruthfully. Trying to understand how different impression-making strategies influence hiring decisions has long been the role of IO psychologists. Research by Swider, Barrick, Harris, and Stoverink (2011) has found the significance of telling the truth and the effects of good rapport on job interview outcomes.


Follow the Yellow Brick Road: the Path to the Understanding Interview Constructs

Topic: Interviewing, Selection, Human Resources
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (March, 2011)
Article: An Empirical Review of the Employment Interview Construct Literature
Author: Allen I. Huffcutt
Reviewed by: Jade L. Peters

It can be very easy to assume a structured interview is the best technique when interviewing. It can be easier to forget about what important constructs feed into an interview that makes the interviewers’ ratings change. Much of the Employment Interview literature only focuses on a narrow selection of important constructs. While this article addresses these critical constructs, it reviews and quantifies past literature to strongly support the ideas that both (a) important constructs are being ignored and (b) the structured interview is not error proof.


The Curious Case of Recruiters

Topic: Interviewing, Selection
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (JUN 2011)
Article: How Accurate are Recruiters’ First Impressions of Applicants in Employment Interviews?
Authors: Mast, M. S., Bangerter, A., Bulliard, C., & Aerni, G.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Recruiters are still used by a variety of organizations to evaluate applicants and identify candidates that exhibit the potential to become successful employees in the organization. Recruiters typically have a relatively long time in which to form a first impression of a candidate; the authors of the current study, Marianne Mast and colleagues, were interested in knowing if recruiters are able to more accurately (compared to a layperson) assess the personality of job applicants if they have a shorter amount of time in which to make their assessment. Does this shorter time frame inhibit their ability to make accurate assessments about others?


Putting U in Unique in Selection Interviews: Understanding how being unique will give you the Better Advantage

Topic: Selection, Interviewing
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SPRING 2011)
Article: The uniqueness effect in selection interviews
Authors: N. Roulin, A. Bangerter, & E. Yerly
Reviewed By: Jade Peters

The absence of past and present interview selection literature revolving around the Uniqueness Effect is shocking.  The Uniqueness Effect is when an applicant gives unique or individual answers to traditional interview questions that are different than what is expected in the interview and the interviewer sees this as a good quality.  This is entirely different from the contrast effect in which a poor interviewee performance can make the next interviewee look even better than it should to the interviewer (the two concepts are often confused). 


Less Isn’t More: Structure in Employment Interviews


Interviews remain one of the most common methods that organizations use to select new employees. Additionally, one of the most consistent recommendations in I/O psychology is that structuring interviews improves their ability to improve the selection process and make successful hires. Although the strength of structured interviews over unstructured interviews is well-documented, previous research has been inconsistent in identifying how different methods of adding structure to interviews may relate to one another. A new study by Melchers and colleagues begins to address this issue.


Help the Organization and…Help Yourself!!!

Topic: Citizenship Behavior, Interviewing, Selection
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2011)
Article: Effects of organizational citizenship behaviors on selection decisions in employment interviews.
Authors: N. P. Podsakoff, S. W. Whiting, P. M. Podsakoff, & P. Mishra
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) are behaviors an employee may engage in that have a positive impact on the work environment. Recent research has found that OCBs can have an important impact on productivity, turnover, and other outcomes that organizations value. In an effort to hire individuals who are likely to engage in OCBs, research has been devoted to finding ways to assess the tendency of job applicants to engage in these behaviors. However, little research has assessed how knowledge of an applicant’s tendency to engage (or not engage) in OCBs might impact selection decisions concerning that individual – until now.


How Important are First Impressions at the Job Interviews?

Topic: Interviewing, Recruiting, Staffing
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (AUG 2010)
Article: Initial Evaluations in the Interview: Relationships with Subsequent Interviewer Evaluations and Employment Offers
Authors: M.R. Barrick, B.W. Swider, and G.L. Stewart
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

The answer:  Very!  And in today’s increasingly competitive job market, candidates are constantly trying to make themselves stand out as being the best of the bunch.  Considering the challenge in answering interview questions well, it’s easy for a candidate to forget about the impression that he or she makes during the first few minutes of small talk with the interviewer.  However, this seemingly idle chat might have more of an effect on employment decisions than one might think. 


Probing the Mind of an Interviewer

Topic: Assessment, Interviewing
Publication: Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology
Article: Fit perceptions in the employment interview: The role of similarity, liking, and expectations.
Blogger: Benjamin Granger

To better understand how interviewers make hiring decisions, Garcia, Posthuma, and Colella (2008) present a study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Although it is well-known that hiring decisions are based on how well applicants fit in with the job (Person-Job fit) and within the organization as a whole (Person-Organization fit), the authors were interested in investigating several factors that may influence these fit perceptions.


Interviewing: When to hold ’em…When to fold ’em

Topic: Assesment, Interviewing
Publication: Human Performance (2008)
ArticleTransparency in structured interviews: consequences for construct and criterion-related validity
Authors:  U. C. Klehe, C. J. König, G. M. Richter, M. Kleinmann, & K. G. Melchers
Reviewed by: Benjamin Granger

J0422564While holding your cards close to the vest may be key for your next game of Texas Hold ‘em…, you might want to reconsider your approach when sitting across the table from a potential new hire.