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Why Unstructured Interviews are Often Invalid and Unreliable Selection Tools

To begin with, it should be noted that interview is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of obtaining information about people. During the interview, interviewer receives information by asking the interviewee some questions and analyzing his answers. The interviewer and the respondent are engaged in dialogue face to face, trying to achieve a specific result.

Typically, an interview for a job assesses the personality traits, needed in a certain activity. With all the diversity, the interview can be divided into structured or unstructured form. During structured interview, questions are carefully and skillfully formulated and arranged in certain order. The diagram of the structured interview illustrates, for example, a pre-defined sequence of questions: “How long have you been married?”, “How many children do you have?”, “Do you think that children should be allowed to do whatever they want? “,” If you had a child, teenager, would you have allowed him or her to quit school and go to work on a part-time?”. It can be seen that the most personal questions, which contain a potential threat are asked at the end. The sense of such strategy lies in presenting at first general and innocuous questions and preparation the ground for more intimate information, which is made possible by a sense of confidence to the interviewer, while respondent has arisen at the beginning of the conversation. In turn, during an unstructured interview, the questions are structured so, that the respondent has remained a certain freedom in the responses. The interviewer can observe: “Do you feel that your spouse really humiliates you?” or, “It must be very difficult experience”. The respondent chooses how he wants to answer such questions.

As a fact, interview, when it is conducted by an experienced interviewer, may provide extremely useful information about the identity of the individual and his life situation. Ability to effective communication with others, leadership skills, level of anxiety, future plans and job satisfaction – these are just some examples of information that can be obtained from the successfully conducted interview. At the same time, during unstructured interview, when respondents are free to choose what to tell about their past and present, and have the opportunity to move from one question to another without restrictions, can occur problems with reliability and validity of the interview. It should be mentioned that structuring issues – are one of the ways to improve the reliability and validity of information, obtained during interviews. As it was already noted, the method of interview can be a rich source of information about the individual. However, the interpretation of these data is highly subjective, and it may affect preferences of the interviewer. In addition, the identity of the interviewer may affect discreetly how open and honest will be the respondent during the interview. It is essential to note that with the last factor there is related possible concealment and distortion of vital information. As a fact, structured interviews allow people to obtain more reliable and valid information, that is why structured interviews are one of the basic and necessary methods to assess personality. On the contrary, unstructured interviews are often invalid and unreliable selection tools in comparison with structured interviews.
References

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Chris Joseph (2011). The Advantages of Structured & Unstructured Interviews. Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/info_11404654_advantages-structured-unstructured-interviews.html
Joy Darlington, Nancy Schuman (2011). Structured Versus Unstructured Interviews. Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www.netplaces.com/job-interview/traditional-interview-types/structured-versus-unstructured-interviews.htm
Nadia Santiago (2011). Interview types: Structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www.examiner.com/scholarly-research-in-san-jose/interview-types-structured-semi-structured-and-unstructured
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Selection and Assessment: an Introduction to the Various Techniques (2011). Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www.unfortu.net/~rafe/links/selection.htm#2
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Using structured interviews for selecting and developing employees (2010). Retrieved November 14, 2011 from http://www.articlesbase.com/human-resources-articles/using-structured-interviews-for-selecting-and-developing-employees-3443817.html