June 11, 2021

The Standard Interview – Is Your Organization Invitational?


The Managers’ Corner:

When you read about interviewing practices, the material tends to focus on the type of questions to be used and the need for standards to assess responses.  There is no doubt that this is the heart of the matter in terms of effective interviewing practices but there are other factors surrounding the interview that also deserve consideration.  This blog will assume that this is the only stage for selection or the last stage of an extended process. 

Much has been written about invitational organizations.  Charles Purkey and Betty Siegul were among leaders in this area. In essence, invitational organizations send messages to their employees, partners, clients, etc. that they are important and will be treated as such.  That must be true for applicants as well.  It is important to remember that, for the applicant, members of the interview team are the organization. Whether applicants are successful or not, they will be left with perceptions of how they were treated, how they felt, and what kind of an organization this seems to be in the context of valuing people.  Don’t fritter away the chance “to sell” your organization.  Remember, applicants talk – they write on the internet – and you want them to see you as ambassadors.  In our “Get Hired Webinar Series which we presented this spring, the majority of the 372 participants indicated that they were treated in a very impersonal fashion.  They did not feel welcomed or valued.  Applicants are more accepting about not being successful in an interview if they feel they have been treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.  Be that kind of organization for all applicants right from the beginning.

So, what does that mean?  It means, to begin with, that all applicants should receive a personalized response to their application.  Those selected for an interview should receive detailed information about the interview – location, time, process, etc.  That communication should express the gratitude of the organization for the interest the applicant has taken in the position and for their obvious willingness to be part of a greater team.  It should also provide an opportunity for accommodations for those who require it.

An interviewing team should be carefully selected.  It’s always a good idea to use Edwin Bridges’ tests of relevance and expertise when selecting teams.  You want to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the interview as a fact-finding technique, that they are aware of the kind of observations and questions that need to be avoided in this world of intense scrutiny of practices or sentiments that can lead to charges of prejudice, and that they are prepared to take the time needed to develop questions to be posed, indicators for those questions and the techniques needed to script the responses for purposes of selection and meaningful feedback.

In other words, you need a team that is knowledgeable not only about the position but about the processes used to fill that position.  For that reason alone, if organizations are to be successful in using the interview as a gateway to employment with them, it behooves that organization to have at its disposal a large cohort of trained, diverse personnel who can be called upon to fulfill an increasingly complex role.

An invitational organization also makes interviewees feel welcomed when they arrive.  They should be greeted formally and directed immediately to the interview room or a preparation room where, if you are allowing for pre-interview preparation, they will receive additional information on the process they are about to engage in, have the proper equipment and a bottle of water set out for them.  They should be left with the impression that this is an organization that is prepared, organized and serious about the process.

The interview room itself should be relatively private (free of windows that prevent people looking in) quiet, neat, and professional in appearance and set up in such a way that all people are comfortably spaced and can see each other easily (e.g. a circular set-up is generally preferred).  The interview should start and end on time.  Remember, your time is no more important than the interviewee’s time.  The names and positions of the selection team should be identified (e.g. name tags), so the interviewees have a full understanding of whom they are talking to.

If interviewing online, that should not alter anything that was said above in any substantial way.  It does not release your organization from the need to be invitational and informed as you select personnel.  This may just be the most important task you can undertake for the advancement of the organization.

Next week’s blog focuses on:  Setting High Quality Behavioural and Competency Based Questions and Indicators and the Art of Scripting

Dr. Dan

Need more information?  Check out our Management Group Webinars or Individualized Coaching for selection techniques (customizable to reflect your particular needs and conditions).