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.


In a recent article published in Human Performance (2008, Vol. 21, Iss. 2), Klehe and colleagues examine the influence of transparency in the structured interview process.  Transparency refers to the degree to which interviewees are made aware of the dimensions on which they are being measured (i.e., providing a list/definitions of the qualities being measured prior to the interview, telling interviewees explicitly “The following question is about your strategic leadership skills,” etc.).  While some argue that revealing the intent of an interview question brings with it some serious validity concerns (see Latham & Saari, 1984, for an example), there are still many other reasons why a more transparent interview could be advantageous—though little research exists to support such assumptions either way.

Enter Klehe et al., who sought to empirically test this very contention.  The findings of their research generally support the notion that opening up is the way to go:

·         Interviewees in the transparent interviews tended to receive higher ratings across the measured dimensions than those in a nontransparent interview (mostly attributed to reductions in measurement error versus individuals simply “telling the organization what they want to hear.”)

·         Interviewees’ responses to questions in the transparent interviews exhibited much greater internal consistency and accuracy, indicating that the transparent structured interview was significantly better at tapping the targets it was intended to (i.e., questions asking about X were strongly related to X and not to scores on Y).

·         Surprisingly, there was no difference in predictive validity between transparent and nontransparent interviews—ratings from the transparent interview were equally as predictive of performance on job-related tasks as ratings from the nontransparent interviews.

The findings of Klehe et al. suggest that making structured interviews more transparent is largely beneficial, especially when the purpose of the interview is to measure someone’s standing on a particular trait (i.e., How good a strategic leader is this person?). Businesses have to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em to make it big—but when it comes to assessing applicants or employees, it looks like they’d be best served to leave the mind games at the poker table. 


Klehe, U.-C., König, C. J., Richter, G. M., Kleinmann, M., & Melchers, K. G. (2008). Transparency in structured interviews: consequences for construct and criterion-related validity. Human Performance, 21(2), 107-137.