Support For Situational Interviews

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."