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Employees are a fundamental component in all organizations since their input leads to the achievement of company objectives. From this realization, many organizations have a Human Resource department whose role includes hiring employees. This activity is very important since the organization may find itself in need of personnel to fill new positions or to replace employees who have left the company.In selecting candidates for employments, a number of tools are relied on to help in the selection decision making.

One of the most commonly used selection tool is the interview which is used to try and get a better assessment of the potential hire. However, research indicates that the interview is unreliable and invalid selection tool (French & Rumbles 2010). This paper will set out to discuss the reasons why the interview is generally considered invalid and unreliable.
It shall then proceed to suggest ways in which this tool can be made more useful for the selection process. The paper will also discuss two other selection tools that can be incorporated into the selection process so as to improve selection decision making.

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Why the Interview is Unreliable and Invalid

Employee recruitment and selection is critical for the survival of an organization since it enables it to acquire the personnel who will give it a competitive advantage. In the selection process, the most widely used tool is the interview (Simola & Taggar 2007; Dipboye 1992).

Even so, this tool suffers from limited reliability and validity. Reliability refers to the stability of a selection tool where the assessment made is consistent over time. Validity refers to the acceptability of the selection measure to correctly gauge attributes such as job competence and job performance by the candidate. These shortcomings are because of the following reasons.

To begin with, interviews do not enable the manager to forecast the future job performance of the candidate. In all selection processes, the aim of the managers is to choose from the pool of applicants the person(s) most likely to succeed in the job being applied for. Judging the performance of the individual is therefore a key aspect in the selection process. French and Rumbles (2010) state that interviews are unreliable predictors of candidate’s performance in reality.

Instead, interviews provide the moment for the candidate to impress the recruiter with their communication skills or even charisma (Mason &Schroeder 2010). As such, the information about a potential hire that is obtained here is subjective at best and the interviewer is not provided with little factual, objective, or predictive work knowledge about the candidate.

Selection requires the manager to receive, organize and make sense of the information they receive concerning the potential candidate. The accuracy of the perception made will have a major impact on the decision arrived at (French & Rumbles 2010). In a job interview, there are major time-constrains which increase the chances of making mistakes in perceiving the potential hire.

Unreliability of the interview also comes from the level of discretion that an interviewer has. In some instances, the interviewer is allowed to conduct the interview in an unstructured manner and the questions asked vary among the candidates (Mason & Schroeder 2010. The interviewer may therefore deviate from job-appropriate questions which will greatly diminish the reliability of the process. The response evaluation for various candidates may also differ which will translate to unreliable results being obtained from the process.

The interview is more prone to bias than other selection tools. This bias may be as a result of the first impression of the interviewee or a self-centered bias where the recruiter evaluates a candidate by reference to himself/herself. Once the recruiter is biased, he/she will view the candidate in a subjective manner and the decision arrived at will not be the best. French and Rumbles (2010) state that bias may result in a promising candidate being dismissed prematurely by the interviewer.

Ways in which Interviews Can be more useful

For the value of interviews to be increased, they should be conducted or supervised by trained individuals. With proper training or supervision, the interviewee will avoid common pitfalls such as being biased while conducting the interview.

Trained recruiters will know the proper questions to ask in an interview and will avoid asking questions that are perceived as irrelevant or which add little value to the selection process. Simola and Taggar (2007) explicitly state that interviewers should seek training so as to increase their effectiveness when conducting interviews and making decisions from them.

The validity of interviews can also be increased by having the interview use a structured interview. Simola and Taggar (2007, p.31) state that “interview structure improves the reliability and validity of the selection interview”. Standardization of the interviewing process ensures that variance across applicants is reduced which means that the degree of discretion afforded to the interviewer is reduced.

A well defined set of questions which are relevant to the job profile that the candidate hopes to fill should be used in the interview. Focus on job-related criteria decreases the potential of the interview being influenced by irrelevant characteristics which increases the validity of the selection decision (Cooper & Robertson, 1995). In addition to this, interviews should also give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions.

As has been noted, the recruiter is bombarded by a lot of information on the interviewee during the process. Simola and Taggar (2007) recommend the use of note-taking which is associated with better recall of information. These notes should be taken on candidate response during the interview itself as opposed to taking the notes at the end of the interview.

To help overcome the bias that may be exhibited by an interviewer, a panel interview which consists of multiple interviewers simultaneously interviewing the candidate can be used. This panel will increase the reliability of the interview since the bias which may be there in any single rater will have less impact. Campion et al (1997) state that all research indicates that the use of panels is superior to the use of single interviewers.

Other Selection Tools

Personality profiles are a potent tool that can be used in the selection process to improve selection decision making. Personality assessment are said to be the most effective and lowest cost tools available for the hiring process. A comprehensive Personality assessment test will require about 2 hours and it is said to have 40% predictability.

Basham et al. (2009) declares that HR professionals can use personality profiles to find a variety of candidates who possess personalities and styles that the organization needs. Research indicates that using assessment for prescreening applicants resulted in a 51% reduction in turnover rates (Basham et al 2009)

Another tool that can be used in the selection process is the aptitude test which measures thecritical, problem solving, learning and reasoning abilities of the candidate. Aptitude tests are especially relevant in jobs that require high levels of problem solving and critical thinking skills from the employee (French & Rumbles 2010).

These tests are great predictors of performance and they therefore help managers to select individuals who will exhibit good job performance in future.Aptitude tests also measure skills and other attributes that are important for the job. Aptitude tests therefore help the HR personnel to focus attention on the candidate who seems to hold most promise.

Discussion and Conclusion

French and Rumbles (2010) assert that recruitment and selection form a core part in the management of human resources in the organization. The effectiveness of selection is important since there are certain costs that an organization will incur for getting things wrong.

To begin with, the direct costs of recruitment will be incurred if the recruitment and selection process has to be repeated when employees leave the organization. Other implicit costs of selecting the wrong employee are poor performance which results in reduced productivity for the organization.

This paper set out to demonstrate that weaknesses that are there in interviews. To this end, the paper has highlighted the issues that make interviews unreliable and invalid. Ways to correct this have been suggested and other tools that can be used in the selection process suggested. From this paper, it is clear that selection decisions should not be based solely on interviews but on a wide range of selection tools.


Basham, MJ, Stader, DL & Bishop, HN 2009, How ‘‘pathetic’’ is your hiring process? an application of the lessig ‘‘pathetic dot’’ model to educational hiring practices, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 33 (3): 363–385.

Campion, M A, Palmer, MD & Campion, JE 1997, A review of structure in the selection interview, Personnel Psychology, 50(3), 655-702.

Cooper, D & Robertson, LT 1995, The psychology of personnel selection, Routledge, London.

French, R & Rumbles, S 2010, Leading, Managing and Developing People, 3rd edition, CIPD, Boston.

Mason, RW & Schroeder, MP 2010, Principal Hiring Practices: Toward a Reduction of Uncertainty, The Clearing House, 83 (3): 186–193.

Simola, SK & Taggar, S, 2007, The Employment Selection Interview: Disparity Among Research-based Recommendations, Current Practices and What Matters to Human Rights Tribunals, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 24 (9): 30-44.