June 10 2010 - Recent research from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University
of Western Ontario published in Applied Psychology: An International Review found that employers using situational
interviews ( a structured format in which all candidates are scored on the same job-related questions) introduce less bias
and are fairer when recruiting women and visible minorities, irrespective of the strength of any associated employment equity program.
The researchers explain that these programs, a legal requirement for some larger Canadian organizations, are intended
to increase the recruitment of under-represented groups. However, they are subject to criticism for encouraging reverse discrimination and
contributing to low workplace morale.
The current findings suggest that the qualifications of visible minorities recruited under an
employment equity program are less likely to be questioned if situational interviews are used. This affects a significant minority of the
Canadian population (currently 10 per cent rising to 20 per cent by 2017, according to Statistics Canada).
Situational interviews present job applicants with potential workplace dilemmas. Candidates' responses to the same
predetermined questions are scored as 'outstanding', 'minimally acceptable' or 'unacceptable'. The researchers contrast this with the
free-flowing nature of an unstructured interview that may result in the hiring process appearing inconsistent and subjective,
especially when used by organizations with employment equity programs.
Lead author Gerard Seijts, associate professor of organizational behaviour said:
"The situational interview encourages organizations to treat job applicants consistently. It allows job candidates
to be hired on the basis of merit."