effective interviewing a handbook of skills, techniques and applications

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Effective Interviewing: A Handbook of Skills and Techniques

Robert Edenborough


Effective Interviewing: A handbook of skills and techniques

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Effective Interviewing: A handbook of skills and techniques2nd edition

Robert Edenborough

First published in 1996 First paperback edition published in 1999 Second edition 2002 Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms and licences issued by the CLA. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers at the undermentioned addresses: Kogan Page 120 Pentonville Road London N1 9JN UK Kogan Page US 22 Broad Street Milford CT 06460 USA

Robert Edenborough, 1996, 1999, 2002 The right of Robert Edenborough to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 0 7494 3755 3

Typeset by Saxon Graphics Ltd, Derby Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc

To James and Tom, who have always asked lots of questions

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ContentsAbout the author List of figures Preface Preface to the second edition Acknowledgements 1 The place of interviews The interviewing scene 1; Plan of the book 3; Definitions and origins 4; Interviewing processes 7; Conscious versus unconscious 10; Other exchanges 12; Summary 14 Conventional selection interviewing Interviewing is popular 15; How to do conventional interviewing 20; Intention and practice 26; Interviewing horror stories 28; Summary 31 Structured interviewing in selection Scope of structured interviews 33; Deriving interview models 36; Criterion, competency-based and critical incident interviews 44; Structured psychometric interviews (SPI) 48; Summary 56 ix xi xiii xv xvii 1






The extended interview 57 Degrees of structure 57; The board or panel interview 58; Assessment centres 59; Feedback and follow-up interviewing 64; Work sampling interviews and auditions 66; Conclusion 67; Summary 67 The use of interviews in managing and enhancing performance Introduction 69; Appraisals 70; Performance improvement and disciplinary interviews 76; Staff development 78; Summary 85 69


viii Contents 6 Interviews in counselling and guidance Introduction 87; Redundancy counselling 91; Vocational guidance 96; Other crisis counselling 98; Marriage guidance and bereavement 99; Summary 102 Shifting the focus Introduction 103; Job evaluation interviewing 103; Selection design again 106; The interviewee as expert 106; Gathering evidence in legal proceedings 107; Survey interviewing 108; Survey interview methods 109; Survey applications 113; Summary 120 A variety of interview applications Introduction 123; Journalistic interviews 123; The post-event interview 128; Examinations and interviews 129; Interviews in the helping professions 130; Psychological and other social science interviews 132; Management reviews 135; Summary 136 The future of interviews Interview research 137; Changing patterns of employment 141; Changing practices 144; Surfing the communication waves 145 Appendix I: Sample SPI report Appendix II: Some UK counselling organisations References Index 87







149 153 155 165

About the authorDr Robert Edenborough is a principal consultant in the Executive Search and Selection Division of KPMG in the UK. He heads the Management Review and Assessment Practice there. He previously led the Consulting Practice at ASE a leading test publisher and prior to that was principal consultant with MSL, the international recruitment and consultancy specialists. A chartered occupational psychologist, Robert Edenborough has considerable experience of designing and applying interviews in organisations as diverse as the Ministry of Defence, the NHS and a range of financial service institutions. He has held senior posts with several major international companies: Head of Psychometric Testing and Assessment in ICL (197884), Managing Director of Selection Research Ltd (198489) and Head of the HR consulting division of Oasis Management Consultancy (198991). A regular contributor of papers at various international conferences, Dr Edenborough is also the author of Using Psychometrics (Kogan Page).

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List of figuresFigure 1.1 Figure 1.2 Figure 1.3 Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 5.1 Figure 5.2 Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 7.1 Figure 7.2 Figure 7.3 Figure 7.4 Figure 7.5 Interviewing with a pre-determined structure, financial advice. Options in a counselling interview. Some conscious and unconscious indications in interviews. The mutual halo effect. Pros and cons of different interview configurations. Stepwise process in assessment. Competency coverage by exercise type. Sources of information in two different interview settings. Development centre, summary results. Others discovery and self-discovery. Stepwise programme of redundancy support. Information flows and decision making in a range of interview applications. Market research interviewing without and with computer assistance. Steps in conducting a survey in an organisation. Two common survey scaling formats. Survey findings and band of error.

8 9 13 25 29 60 64 71 79 90 93 104 112 115 116 117

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PrefaceI started specifically to think about a book on interviewing while preparing my previous book; Using Psychometrics (Kogan Page). I had been struck then by the fact that although there were obvious opportunities for linking different systems for studying other people, these were rarely grasped. The various gaps, overlaps, redundancies and complementarities among, say, a three test psychometric battery and a standardised interview process, tended not to be articulated and seemed little understood. This got me thinking about interviewing as such more widely. Why are conventional selection interviews so much maligned and so widely relied upon? Was it because all of us, not just psychologists, are experts on people? Do journalists interviews, the questioning of witnesses and the use of a tasting panel to try out a new ketchup recipe have anything in common? Are all of these interactions simply more or less specialised forms of that important part of everyday communication: asking and answering questions? In fact my concentration on interviewing pre-dated the thoughtfulness arising from writing about psychometric tests. I had been working for some time with criterion-based interviews for managers. Originally this work had been focused on assessment centres where this form of interview was being used as much as anything to help cover competencies not seen as readily assessed by exercises. (Staff development was one of these.) I then became exposed to the very different techniques involved in conducting counselling interviews. This included an intense period when I had central responsibility for performance improvement and redundancy counselling for managers. This was followed by my first exposure to what I have labelled the Structured Psychometric Interview (SPI) in which questions and interpretative guidelines are carefully researched and rigidly applied. All of these cases had in common the idea of focusing upon the individual, helping to make decisions about him or helping him to make decisions about himself. However the generality of the interview situation struck me as I considered the range of circumstances in which I had used interviews to gather information from individuals, but to inform decisions that did not affect them directly. Thus as an

xiv Preface applied experimental psychologist I had conducted debriefing interviews as part of laboratory experiments and equipment trials. Latterly as a management consultant I had also used interviews to establish competencies, plan climate surveys and to tease out scenarios for use in development centres. I became aware, too, that for many of those whose jobs I was studying from salesreps to lawyers interviewing was an important part of their working or professional life. The aim of this book, then, is to provide a view of interviewing practices and phenomena to aid the manager or personnel specialist as practitioner. In nearly all work settings better understanding of others, whether candidates, peers, subordinates or clients, makes for better results. By casting the net of practice quite wide I have endeavoured to provide reference points for those whose practical concerns do, in fact, include interviewing, but who may not have had the opportunity to give much thought to interviewing methods as such. By indicating some of the links, continuities and pervasive issues in interviewing I hope I shall also provide some stimulus to the serious or amateur student of psychology or other fields of social science. To seek to cover all interview usage in a single volume would be unrealistic if not impossible. What I have essayed in this book is to cover a broad sweep, focusing in most detail on those types of interview where I feel some of the insights of personal experience may be of use to the reader, but hopefully underlining throughout the very generality of the interview situation.

Preface to the second editionAs I endeavoured to demonstrate in the fi