ERIC Identifier: ED341111
Publication Date: 1992-00-00
Author: Aiex, Nola Kortner
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Reading and Communication Skills Bloomington IN.
Communication Strategies for Employment Interviews. ERIC
In a period of widespread unemployment and increased competition for jobs,
the job interview becomes more and more important for securing a position,
whether we are talking about the very first job for a recent high school
graduate, an entry-level position for an individual who has spent a substantial
period of preparation and education for a professional career, or a more
advanced position for a person who has already spent considerable time in the
According to Baker and Spier (1990), "Much criticism is leveled at the nature
and usefulness of the employment interview, but despite its shortcomings and the
availability of more objective means of selection, classification, and
placement, the personal interview is used pervasively." Searching for a job (and
interviewing) can fill the prospective employee with tension under the best of
circumstances, but some basic preparation in the fundamentals of employment
interviewing can boost a person's self confidence and make the entire interview
process more pleasant and relaxed.
This digest will aid in preparing individuals for job seeking by suggesting
some resources to consult to help improve basic communication skills needed for
the interview process.
EVERYDAY COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Ascher (1988) discusses what
employers look for from high school graduates in beginning jobs and concludes
that work-related social skills are as important to employers as are basic
academic skills. This leads us to the conclusion that effective communication
skills are needed in most jobs on an everyday basis.
Indeed, Rynes and Gerhart (1990) found that especially where firm-specific
assessments were concerned, interviewers evaluated applicants according to their
INTERPERSONAL SKILLS, goal orientation, and physical attractiveness.
Stewart (1991) defines an interview as a
conversation that is limited by a predetermined and serious purpose, and he adds
that this limitation suggests advance planning and some purpose other than mere
enjoyment or passing the time of day. He says: "Both the interviewer and the
interviewee need to listen attentively to each other, so that ideas, feelings,
and information are not lost."
Clemons (1983) focuses on effective use of nonverbal communication skills to
indicate interest in the interview. Clemons also touches upon the necessity of
leaving a favorable impression, both by knowing how to bring an interview to a
conclusion and, if appropriate, by following the session with a letter restating
Roderick (1985) stresses the importance of first impressions, such as being
on time, being prepared, dressing correctly, shaking hands or greeting the
interviewer correctly, and maintaining eye contact. She also advocates
Negative behavior factors are reviewed by Vaughn and Darsey (1987), who cite
lack of confidence, failure to ask questions, nervous mannerisms, excessive
talkativeness, and failure to elaborate on answers as the most common behaviors
to which interviewers react unfavorably.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS
An article by Hugenberg and
Hvizdos (1984) details specific methods by which teachers or counselors can
prepare students for interviews. A wide selection of citations on training
students for the interviewing process can be found in Shermis (1989).
Both Thompson and Williams (1987) and Karanian (1986) discuss the use of
videotapes to guide students toward communication in the interview process.
Thompson and Williams describe a mock interview for journalism students (but
adaptable for any profession), while Karanian focuses on role-playing exercises
and includes several scenarios for role playing which can be used in a course on
Markham (1989) has designed a course for individuals, both interviewers and
interviewees, who desire the skills and techniques necessary to serve
effectively in their respective roles (Markham's definition of "interviewing"
is, as follows: "a dynamic, complicated process between two complex parties
operating with imperfect verbal and non-verbal symbols and often guided or
controlled by the situation.") The course was prepared especially for students
wishing to gain an understanding of the interviewing process in all its facets;
the prerequisites to employment interviewing; integrated skills within the
appropriate context of an interview; and information useful in directing and
participating in various types of interviews.
Goals, objectives, and readings are listed for units on: (1) the interviewing
process; (2) structuring the interview; (3) informational interviewing (both the
survey and journalistic types); (4) employment interviewing; (5) performance
interviewing; (6) counseling interviewing; and (7) persuasive interviewing.
Although the course was originally intended to be used as a college-level
course, it could be adapted for almost any level by the instructor.
The Life Skills/Job Seeking Techniques Workshop (1987), an adult education
project of Amarillo College in Texas, teaches diverse daily living skills,
including job resume writing and interviewing behavior. The most useful tips are
collected in a section entitled, "How to Conduct Yourself in an Interview,"
which outlines the following basic steps for successful interviewing: (1) dress
properly; (2) be on time; (3) be friendly; (4) show your enthusiasm; (5)
maintain eye contact; (6) be aware of body language; (7) be yourself; (8)
express yourself; (9) be a good listener; (10) ask questions; (11) emphasize
your strengths; (12) don't criticize (former employers or co-workers); (13) have
something to offer; (14) be assertive; (15) avoid personal issues; (16) thank
the interviewer; (17) plan follow-up action; and (18) send a thank-you letter. A
sample follow-up letter is also provided at the end of the section.
ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT
Stewart (1991) believes that "applicants need to begin the position-seeking process with a thorough
self-analysis, for they cannot determine whether either general or specific
positions are best for them, or answer questions insightfully, if they do not
know themselves." He also advises: "Never turn down the chance to interview for
a job. Job applicants learn something new about themselves during every job
Ascher, Carol (1988). "High School Graduates in
Entry Level Jobs: What Do Employers Want?" ERIC/CUE Digest No. 40. New York, NY:
ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. [ED 239 263]
Baker, Herbert George and Morris S. Spier (1990). "The Employment Interview:
Guaranteed Improvement in Reliability." Public Personnel Management, 19(1),
85-90. [EJ 404 770]
Clemons, Frankie (1983). Proceedings: International Technical Communication
Conference. [ED 239 272]
Hugenberg, Lawrence W. and Jacquelyn M. Hvizdos (1984). "Interviewing for
Success." Journal of Business Education, 60(1), 38-43. [EJ 306 181]
Karanian, Barbara A. (1986). "Using Video Technology to Teach Effective
Communication." European Journal of Engineering Education, 11(1), 45-53. [EJ 339
Life Skills/Job Seeking Techniques Workshop (1987). Amarillo College, TX. [ED
Markham, Reed (1989). Interviewing Strategies. [ED 305 676]
Roderick, Joan C. (1985). "Interviewing: Don't Underestimate Its Importance."
Business Education Forum, 39(4), 7-8. [EJ 309 471]
Rynes, Sara and Barry Gerhart (1990). "Interviewer Assessment of Applicant
'Fit': An Exploratory Investigation." Personnel Psychology, 43(1), 13-35. [EJ
Shermis, Michael (1989). "Interviewing: Communication Strategies." FAST Bib
No. 23. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills.
[ED 311 472]
Stewart, Charles J. (1991). Teaching Interviewing for Career Preparation.
Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills. [ED 334
Thompson, Vernon and Kath Williams (1987). "Mock Interviews Help to Prepare
for the Real Thing." Journalism Educator, 42(3), 36-37. [EJ 357 911]
Vaughn, Jeannette W. and Nancy Darsey (1987). "Negative Behavior Factors in
the Employment Interview." Technical Writing Teacher, 14(2), 208-18. [EJ 356