The Value of Interviews
Interviews are a fact of modern life. Beebe, Beebe, and Ivy ((2009)) [An interview is a form of oral communication designed to achieve a goal; it involves two or more people taking turns speaking and listening]. If we apply this definition in its strictest terms; every encounter with another human being, involving exchange of information, is an interview of sorts. Without realizing it, each day we engage in one of five interview types: information gathering, appraisal, problem-solving, persuasion, or job (our lesson focused mainly on job interviews and information-gathering interviews). Whether applying to school, applying for a job, or applying for a car loan; everyone needs to familiarize themselves with the various interviewing skills and techniques.
Much like an essay, an interview is comprised of an opening, body, and a conclusion. The opening is designed to put the interviewee at ease. It is crucial. It sets the stage for honest, open interaction and reveals the purpose of the meeting. The body is typically the longest part of an interview. The interviewer questions and the interviewee responds. (The interviewee may choose to ask questions at this time as well). In the conclusion, the questioner goes over what comes next and gives the applicant a chance to ask any final questions he or she may have. It is up to the interviewer to set the mood and determine the structure the interview will take. Also, common courtesy demands both parties say “Thank you” upon concluding the business at hand. Regardless of which role you fulfill--interviewer or interviewee--knowing these interview basics will help you in the long run.
To better understand interview techniques, we must first get to know the four kinds of questions that may be used to achieve the interviewer’s goal: open, closed, probing, and hypothetical.
Open questions are unstructured, many times only establishing the topic of the meeting. This enables the interviewee wide latitude to decide what data, how much, and what kind he or she wishes to divulge (useful in gauging perspective, opinions, and values). Closed questions limit the realm of possible answers. These might be yes or no queries or multiple choice, forcing the interviewee to choose from specific listed answers.
The third type of question, probing, elicits clarification or elaboration on a previous response. Many times these spontaneously follow up on important inquiries an interviewer prepared beforehand. For instance, he or she might ask the examinee to elaborate on the previous response to gain more specific information. After learning that the examinee is familiar with working in teams the examiner may ask, “What specifically was the last project you worked on in a team and what role did you play?” Lastly, hypothetical questions involve made up circumstances to discover how the interviewee would handle certain situations. These are most helpful in determining the interviewee’s values, emotional stability under pressure, and possible reactions to real situations ( Beebe, Beebe, & Ivy, (2009)). One might be asked to explain, in detail, what should be done when a member of your team is suspected of stealing from the company. . .“How would you handle this situation . . .?”. The answer tells a lot about the candidate’s character, core values, and ability to intercede in delicate matters.
No matter which type of interview it is, these questions may follow one of three basic question sequences: the funnel sequence, the inverted funnel sequence, and the tunnel sequence. The funnel sequence—beginning with broad open questions proceeding to increasingly more closed inquiries—lets the interviewee profess ideas, views, and opinions openly early in the meeting. The inverted funnel sequence—beginning with closed probing questions and proceeding to open ended ones, encourages the interviewee to answer quickly and simply. The