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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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2 Role of interviews and interviewers in the recruitment process

Photo of two women in an interview.
Figure 1 Interviews

Last week you learned how to present yourself in an application form, and to match what the employer is looking for. The employer also has to do their own matching exercise and has to select the person, or people, who can best contribute to and fit into their enterprise. Bringing the wrong people into an organisation does not help either the organisation, or the person they have just recruited.

The most common method by which employers select people to join them is an interview. Most people do not perform perfectly in an interview but fortunately, there has been a lot of research into the kind of errors which tend to be made. This has resulted in some important insights for candidates:

  • First impressions matter and the first answers you give are critical. This is because interviewers tend to form a view about candidates within the first four minutes, and might discount any other information that counters this.
  • Negative information about a candidate, or negative behaviour by them, can affect an interviewers judgement more strongly than positive information.
  • Body language can raise a similar problem in that it sometimes determines the outcome of an interview, rather than experience or qualifications. For example, not maintaining eye contact in an interview might not be seen positively.

Initially, this might not sound encouraging. You might wonder why employers use such an apparently flawed method. It is empowering to think of it from a different perspective. Notice that there are ways in which you can compensate for some of the problems by developing your own skills as an interviewee. For example, you know that first impressions count, so you can consciously think about how you present yourself for the interview. This will enable you to be in control of your first few actions and words.

Like any other skill, practice helps with interviews. For the rest of this week, therefore, you will be learning about effective interview strategies and practising the skills associated with them.

Before that, let’s first look at different types of interviews.