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Hiring Managers are decision-makers; A ‘hiring manager’ also known as an ‘interviewer’ is a person in the position of power to make a hiring decision. In simpler terms, the person who has the ability to make a selection decision that will lead to an employment offer. Although a more recent and more comprehensive study by Margolis et al implies there is more to the role of a hiring manager. While hiring managers are accountable for executing critical decisions that may alter the course of talent and success in an organisation, they also need to consider organisational values and make reflective decisions. On one hand, Harris seems to support this view, skilled hiring managers should adopt criteria that may not align with their own values but more towards organisational values to find the right candidate. On the other hand, Carless et al, 2013 suggest that might not always be the case. Hiring managers need to make decisions that take into account organisational context and culture, but individual views, opinions and values may hinder them from doing so. However, Kristof-Brown highlights the close connection between organisational value and knowledge of desirability of a potential employee possessed by a hiring manager. It could be inferred that while hiring managers may not always succeed in making the right decisions, they might however, be best placed to make these difficult decisions.
Turning now to the question of the process hiring managers use to identify the best candidate i.e. interviews. A job interview is a social interaction between individuals who want to exchange information or signals about their qualities. Interviews seem to provide a platform for candidates to showcase their knowledge, skills, and abilities while hiring managers asses the alignment of the same to organisational values and goals. Research has shown that an employment interview appears be one of the most popular methods of employee selection. Interviews are also a convenient method to assess skills like communication, and listening i.e. soft skills pertinent to the job. Conversely, interviews rely on human decisions and more likely prone to bias and flawed decision making as highlighted by behaviour science. Cappelli agrees that it could be one of the most difficult technique to get right. Thereby, interviews whilst popular seem to present their own set of challenges.
According to Pinsker, past performance is the best predictor of future performance and an interview can provide the means for information gathering to make a logical decision. On the contrary, Pike et al analyse the problem of lack of quality information that might not allow for an accurate judgement of a candidate’s true ability. It could be deduced that interviews promote decision-making but could potentially overshadow the hiring process with ambiguity and uncertainty. Additionally, Edenborough explores the importance of two-way communication in an interview. Interviews seem to be the only form of assessment to provide an avenue for rapport building and effective interaction. In an increasingly competitive world, where good talent is scarce, candidates tend to evaluate employers and not just vice versa and welcome an opportunity to do so. However, Cicconi-Eggleston stresses the criticality of the role hiring managers play in interviews and their ability to positively or negatively influence candidates. Consequently, while interviews promote dialogue, equally vital to ensure hiring managers are equipped to positively influence the right talent.
Dipboye et al put forth an interesting point regarding initial impressions and their ability to impact hiring managers and ultimately the selection decision. Besides, stereotypes and bias could also influence the hiring decision. Mathis et al share a similar view and note hiring managers tend to make a decision within the first two-four minutes of an interview, a view that seems to be supported by Ambady and Rosenthal and Barrick et al. This suggests hiring decisions might not be based only on individual candidate attributes but can be manipulated by the manager’s dispositional attitude. However, Judge et al claim that much of the weakness of interviews is determined by the type of interview used- structured vs. unstructured. A study by Barrick et al explored how candidates may tend use tactics to portray themselves in a better light and acquire higher scores. On analysis, it appears there was more room for these tactics in unstructured interviews and interview ratings in this case had no correlation to job performance. Further, Huffcutt insists the adoption of structured interviews (pre-determined set of questions focused on competencies) ought to improve the predictive validity of an interview. The standardisation could lead to greater consistency and higher degree of objectivity in determining candidate’s personality. Williamson et al supports the opinion and notes that a structured interview might also reduce the potential for bias and likely enhance perceptions of procedural justice due to reduced subjectivity. The evidence indicates that while there is room for bias, implementing well-designed structured interviews that are competency focused may prevent hiring managers from evaluating beyond the job-related criteria. A study by Lievens & Peeters concluded the importance of initial impressions might actually be relatively small when compared to importance associated with job-related competencies.
Whilst it is generally agreed that structured interviews yield better results, those with emphasis on personality and person-organisation fit rather than person-job fit tend to favour unstructured interviews. Blackman explains the lack of format in unstructured interviews might be more conducive in determining personality and argues the flexibility of questions might in fact lead to more accurate judgements. A different view by Cappelli is to systematically stick to a set of questions to predict good hires. The rationale seems to be to make decisions on past behaviour and performance that’s relevant to the job and to ask the consistently across candidates. Focus on person-organisation fit undermines diversity according to a recent report by CIPD. Likewise, interviewers could incorporate situational and behavioural questions to understand how a candidate may react and behave in the future. It appears the approach of determining questions that differs from one candidate to another in unstructured interviews might not be allow for proper interpretation or evaluation. Hence, the widely held opinion appears to be in the favour of structured interviews that encourage, reliability, accuracy and fair evaluation in turn lead to best practice recruitment.
Although it maybe true that structured interviews lead to better, less-biased hiring decisions, they are time-consuming to design and managers seem to have a problem with the inflexibility of the approach. However, the study is limited in their focus on HR managers and not hiring managers On one hand, it could also be argued that the difference between structured and unstructured interviews is relatively insignificant when highly-skilled interviewers are involved. On the other hand, Danziger et al concluded even highly trained judges seem to make different decisions at different times in the day attributed to ‘decision fatigue’ which could apply to the decisions hiring managers make as well. Arthur presents the useful concept of including more than one interviewer which could logically decrease the potential for bias and discourage managers from making decisions on non-job related criteria. Whilst it maybe easy to neglect best practice recruitment attributed to insufficient time and need to make intuitively right decisions, empirical research says otherwise. From the above literature, it seems that interviews although unreliable seem to be here for the long haul and structured interviews might be as close to a ‘silver bullet’ we might have to mitigate the risks/weaknesses associated with them.
Globalisation, changing face of the workforce and ever-evolving technology seems to have an impact on organisations and the recruitment of potential employees. Jose defines video interview or a virtual interview as an employment interview that is conducted remotely and uses video technology as a primary mode of communication. According to a survey by OfficeTeam revealed 63% of companies have used video interviewing in their hiring process. Given the current circumstances, it can be deduced that percentage is likely to increase in the coming months. On exploring the types of video interviews, asynchronous (one-way interviews) and synchronous (two-way interviews) seem to be of interest.
Brenner et al explains AVIs as recorded interviews in which applicants are invited to answer a set of pre-determined questions on an online platform. Bauer et al studied applicant reactions to various technology methods and implied candidates preferred AVIs over telephone interviews. Additionally, telephone interviews could add 6.8- 8.2 days to the hiring process. A different view by Walther is that computer-mediated communications can feel less social and intimate when compared to live interactions. So, AVIs appear to be gaining popularity as a screening method but lacks social aspect for candidates in the hiring process. Berry emphasises AVIs allow for greater flexibility and better opportunity for reflection to candidates. While Guchait et al seem to agree on the fact that AVIs save time and are deemed to be more convenient, but also point out the lack of feedback and technologically challenges could negatively impact candidates. In the same line, Langer et al note applicants perceived AVIs as less personal and in some cases cause candidates to self-select out of the process. This indicates that although AVI’s are useful, they may not provide the best candidate experience. In addition, AVI’s seem to be best used when there are high volume of candidates, they also allow hiring managers to screen from a larger pool when compared to telephone interviews. Another key aspect is AVI’s are believed to lessen the ‘initial impression’ effect. Conversely, this study was based in an employed experimental setting and the application of the findings in a generalised setting is questionable. It is also worth noting that the empirical research into AVI’s appears to be limited.
“The U.S. workforce will continue to be more diverse than it has ever been” and recruiting the right employees seems to remain a top priority for 76% of the organisations in U.S. Hiring managers today should think and literally look outside to box to attract the right talent, SVIs or two-way interviews seem to help keep up with the trend. With the evolution of technology, new communication methods are available to employers who need to adapt them as part of their hiring practices. Nonetheless, Chapman & Webster, 2003) synthesise the potentially undesired effects of video interviews on the candidate pool.
Embracing technology and modernising the interview process including use of SVIs seem to reduce the time to hire by up to 50% in organisations. According to RecRight companies are 2.7% more like to improve their cost per hire with the implementation of SVIs. Correspondingly, they are convenient and particularly useful when the candidate is based in another city or country. It could be said that SVIs are efficient, cost-effective and help widen and diversify the talent pool as employers are no longer confined to time constraints and geographical barriers. By contrast, Chapman & Rowe. examined interview mediums and their possible effects on hiring manager perceptions. The findings seem to suggest interview mediums and lack of ability to observe non-verbal cues over video might alter decisions. Results showed hiring managers rated candidates they interviewed via video a lot higher than candidates they interviewed in-person. Although Sears al argued that applicants who video-interviewed received much lower interview scores and consequently, the applicants also felt they had less of a chance to perform. Blacksmith et al appear to agree with this view, applicants may not be able to demonstrate their social skills when their ability to impression manage is restricted. A more recent review put forth by Indeed.com CEO addresses the fact that interviews can be nerve-wracking to some and changing the environment in which an applicant might feel comfortable may actually lead to a better performance and could set them up for success. Another way of viewing this is the lack of ability to impression manage might actually make SVIs drive unbiased decisions.
Bearing in mind the previous points, SVIs need to be treated in line with in-person interviews. Grant stresses the need to use structured interviews even while interviewing virtually. Identifying the key skills and values in advance, devising a set of situational and behavioural questions to be asked across candidates can almost double or triple the accuracy of predicting job performance and could eliminate bias in SVIs. Goldenberg presents the remarkable feature of being able to record SVIs with applicant consent, this provides numerous benefits to employers from tackling the issue of forgetting pertinent information to eliminating bias. Therefore, the evidence suggests that SVIs could lead to adequate and if not, have the potential to arrive more accurate and unbiased hiring decisions in comparison to physical interviews. Whilst 57% of applicants prefer SVIs, connectivity issues and poor audio/video quality are the top reasons for candidate apprehension associated with virtual interviews. Technology failure that restricts adequate/effective communication also seems to be the main reason why hiring managers may not be comfortable with SVIs. Choosing the right video interview software which focuses on requirements and functionalities determined by employers could reduce technology problems.
Turning now to the significant element of best practice in SVIs, Bates also explains the need for transparency to candidates. Hiring Managers can start on the right foot by explaining the hiring process beforehand, explain the decision to use SVIs and answer any questions the applicants might have to put them at ease. It could be inferred that employers need to prepare and structure the video interview well for consistency and effectiveness. Schmidt proposes the idea of a ‘test call’ ahead of the scheduled SVIs which can flag any technology issues in advance and also provide an opportunity for rapport building.
The emergence and spread of the coronavirus has caused an unforeseen disruption to everyday life and as a result, businesses have had to rethink their ways of working including how they hire people. According to Economic Times, organisations have had to shift their entire recruitment strategy to virtual platforms. Although the spread of the disease has significantly slowed down life, companies still seem to be hiring with a change in process. World’s leading organisations like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Linkedin have shifted to virtual interviews with an indefinite hold on in-person interviews. This indicates that organisations have turned their focus to incorporating video interviews to meet critical business needs. A view that seems to be shared by many, “businesses shouldn’t have to put a hold on hiring, a well-executed video interview is an excellent alternative to meeting a candidate in-person”. However, Gary Burninson illuminates the complexity associated with hiring senior executives without having ever met them in-person. Moreover, interviewers need to be trained to not evaluate beyond the job-related criteria which although is an issue in general interviews, appears to be further complicated by lack of oversight that recruiters would normally have if it wasn’t for the pandemic. This implies that whilst video interviews can facilitate hiring in these unprecedented times, it may also raise a unique set of issues/concerns. A recent article in HR News emphasises the imperativeness to apply best practice recruitment. It could be inferred the need for a comprehensive hiring plan and use of structured interviews to arrive at accountable, data-driven decisions is more important now than ever, especially when hiring managers are meeting candidates virtually. It is worth noting that businesses are currently faced with a lot of unknowns. In a world where physical interviews are not possible due to social distancing, video interviews seem to provide the best chance at maintaining continued recruitment efforts and achieving effective hiring goals. Another relevant point is the research in this area is relatively limited given the recentness of the situation.
This essay has examined the literature on interviews and their effects on hiring manager perceptions and hiring decisions. There is also exploration on literature pertinent to video interviews, best practise recruitment and the changes to the above brought upon by the recent coronavirus pandemic. The next chapter, the research methodology, will introduce the research method chosen for this study.
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