Thomas D. Sharts
Professor of sociology
Northern Marianas College
Once a human resources office determines what persons are qualified to be considered to interview for an open position, a series of professional behavioral steps should be taken in order to not only dignify the process for the respective job candidates, but also to ensure that the interviewing company or institution hires the most qualified individual. Let’s look at how a professional interview process might be circumvented through dysfunctional behavioral practices and then examine the improved alternatives.
First, whether the HR office has determined to interview an individual via phone, Skype or in-person, the first primary goal should be to make the candidate feel welcome, dignified and competitive. Unfortunately, too many interview committees forget the relevance of this interpersonal touch and thereby skew the answers of the interviewee as a result of getting the interview process started in the wrong direction.
Second, what pollutes an interview that is already going awry is if the interview committee is not knowledgeable about the job description that is sought to be filled or some committee members are not qualified to be on the interview team because they hold less academic or experiential qualifications than the interviewee.
This can be avoided by taking the time to qualify committee members prior to commencing the interview, and such practice also dignifies the communication process between the interview committee and applicant.
Third, during the course of the interview, interview committee members might have a tendency to ask questions that are irrelevant for determining the applicant’s qualifications or may ask questions that are double-barreled — further undermining the communication process for eliciting forth accurate information that is needed to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications.
For example, a common thoughtless and irrelevant question often asked during a professional interview is: Why do you want the job? My response to such a vapid question is: What does that question have to do with a person being qualified for the job? If the person being interviewed is up and coming and you selected him to interview for the position, would you not expect him to be a primary candidate for excellent opportunities at other places of employment in the near future? If so, why even ask a question that you know is going to elicit a probable disingenuous answer.
Moreover, in the case of first-time screening interviews, why would you expect a candidate to display a lifelong commitment to your company or institution when he has never even worked there? Likewise, such useless questions should not be asked because they elicit little information in reference to comprehending the qualifications of the job candidate.
Fourth, during the interview, a job candidate should not be hurried to give his answers. The reason why the interview is being conducted in the first place is in order to determine how qualified the candidate is to assume the position being sought to be filled. Likewise, if the interview committee is asking a candidate to rush his or her answers, it’s more than likely due to the incompetence of the HR staff to allocate the correct time for allowing a candidate to communicate and/or demonstrate his or her qualifications.
Fifth, an HR office should streamline the interview process by allowing candidates to interview in unconventional settings, like Skype. Moreover, if an HR office has agreed to such a modality option for interviewing a candidate of interest, then the interview committee should not say to that candidate during the interview: “Well, we have never hired someone that interviewed on Skype before.”
Sixth, an HR office should explicitly state what its expectations are for the job being sought to be filled and the prototype candidate that it is looking to hire and why. Also, during the close of the interview, the interview committee should be able to further dignify the professionalism of the interview process by being able to provide intelligent and informed answers to all of the candidate’s questions about the position.
In summation, it’s the professional responsibility of the HR office to inform candidates of their progress related to the interview in reference to a prospective hiring date. I have heard of many instances, where an applicant interviews for a job and is never informed of what happened in reference to his or her candidacy. Such behavior is wholly irresponsible and undignified; moreover, it does everything to demonstrate a complete unprofessional countenance in reference to a company or institution’s work culture.