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Core processes and applicant reactions to the employment interview: an exploratory study in Greece Ioannis Nikolaou



Department of Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece Available online: 24 Jun 2011

To cite this article: Ioannis Nikolaou (2011): Core processes and applicant reactions to the employment interview: an exploratory study in Greece, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22:10, 2185-2201 To link to this article:

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The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 22, No. 10, June 2011, 2185–2201

Core processes and applicant reactions to the employment interview: an exploratory study in Greece Ioannis Nikolaou*

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Department of Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece This research explores the employment interview in Greece with two aims: first, to look at the practice of the employment interview from the interviewer perspective, exploring a number of issues, which have been identified as important for increasing interview’s effectiveness and second, to look at the role of interviewers’ characteristics on applicant reactions and their behavioral intentions to the actual interview, using two independent samples of interviewers (N ¼ 131) and actual job applicants (N ¼ 122), respectively. The results of the first study were quite supportive regarding the effective use of the employment interview in Greece. In the second study, interviewers’ personal characteristics were related to applicants’ post-interview attitudes and intentions, although this relationship was fully mediated by the overall perception of the interview held by the job applicant. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed. Keywords: applicant reactions; employee – personnel selection; employment interview; Greece; interviewer

Introduction The employment interview is the most widely used selection method across the globe, and also remains a very well-researched topic in the field of work and organizational psychology and human resource management. The first attempts to scientifically study the employment interview began in the early 1910s with a study showing that interviewers’ abilities to identify successful applicants were problematic (Buckley, Norris and Wiese 2000). Ryan, McFarland, Baron and Page (1999), in the most recent and probably most comprehensive international survey of selection practices across 19 different countries, identified that one-on-one interviews were used more extensively than any other selection method, whereas a search on the PsycINFO database using the keywords ‘employment’ or ‘selection interview’ in the article title alone elicited more than 350 hits. Nevertheless, as we discuss in the later sections, this almost universal acceptability of the employment interview contradicts numerous research findings of the problems associated with the interview as a core recruitment and selection tool, despite positive findings on the validity of the structured interview, especially (Schmidt and Hunter 1998). Recently, a number of reviews both narrative and meta-analytic have critically discussed the issues associated with the selection interview as an effective recruitment and selection tool. Salgado and Moscoso (2002), in a recent meta-analysis of the construct validity of the employment interview, distinguished between two types of interviews: conventional and behavioral interviews. In the first type, job applicants are required to

*Email: ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online q 2011 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2011.580187

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provide information regarding their credentials, their work experience and educational background, and also some type of self-evaluative information. In the second type, candidates are asked to talk about their job knowledge, on-the-job experience, and other behavioral descriptions. Their results showed that conventional interviews mainly assess social skills, general mental ability (GMA), emotional stability, and extraversion, whereas the behavioral interviews assess job experience, job knowledge, and situational judgments, without being affected by candidates’ personality. Two more narrative reviews of the selection interview were more recently carried out (Judge, Higgins and Cable 2000; Posthuma, Morgeson and Campion 2002). These studies reviewed in detail a number of factors influencing the effectiveness of the interview as a selection method. Posthuma et al. (2002) explored five main themes in interview research: social, cognitive, individual differences, measurement and outcome factors, whereas Judge et al. (2000) explored issues, such as the reliability, validity, structure, interviewer characteristics, impression management, fairness and decision-making issues, along with issues on person – organization (P– O) fit and applicant reactions to the interview. Both these narrative reviews concluded that the employment interview is a complex assessment process. Posthuma et al. (2002, p. 50) claimed, among other things, that more focus should be given to important outcome variables, such as job choice and hiring decisions, but also to the aspects of the interview that can impact the reaction of the applicant to the interview, the interviewer, and the organization. Judge et al. (2000) also claimed that researchers should continue exploring the relatively recent interest in applicant reactions to the selection interview. Rynes, Barber and Varma (2000) in yet another narrative review studied three main issues of the employment interview: factors associated with interview validity, legal defensibility, and applicant reactions. They concluded that ‘ . . . after more than three-quarters of a century of disagreement between researchers and practitioners . . . researchers have moved much closer to adopting the practitioner’s perspective of the interview’ (p. 272). Finally, Dipboye (2005), in the most recent narrative review on the topic, adopted a theoretical approach exploring the core processes (i.e. interviewers’ and applicants’ expectations, beliefs, needs and intentions prior to the interview, their social interaction, and the cognitive processes involved, such as information processing, judgment, and decision making) and the context of the interview (i.e. task and organizational/environmental context). These meta-analytic and narrative reviews demonstrate the breadth of the research explicitly carried out on the topic of the employment interview. However, the topic has attracted very limited attention, from a research perspective at least, in Greece, the country where this study was carried out. Scientific research in work/organizational psychology and human resources management has only recently made its first steps in Greece. Therefore, a study exploring the ‘uses’ and ‘abuses’ of the most widespread used selection method is considered of significant importance, both for research and practice. A few studies have explored recruitment and selection issues in Greece; most recently, Nikolaou and Judge (2007) explored applicants’ fairness reactions toward different selection methods and the role of core self-evaluations; Eleftheriou and Roberston (1999) surveyed managerial recruitment and selection methods and Kantas, Kalogera and Nikolaou (1997) described the usage and the perceived effectiveness of various selection methods among recruiters. Paraskevas (2000) explored that managerial selection in practices in the hospitality industry also came up with similar results. As a result, the focus of this study is twofold: first, to look at the practice of the employment interview from the interviewer perspective, exploring a number of issues, previously identified by the literature, and second, to discuss applicant reactions and their behavioral intentions to

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the actual interview, using two independent samples of interviewers and actual job applicants.

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Study 1 The aim of the first study is to explore the way that the employment interview is adopted and used in Greece as a recruitment and selection tool. A very significant topic regarding all selection methods and, of course, the employment interview is its predictive validity. The criterion-related validity of the selection methods is (or should be) considered the most important criterion when choosing the appropriate selection methods to apply. A number of meta-analytic studies have explored this issue in detail, and we will briefly summarize them below. Moscoso (2000), in an article summarizing the evidence on the criterion-related validity of the interview, claimed that the results regarding this issue were far more pessimistic until the late 1980s compared to the studies carried out in the 1990s. Hunter and Hunter (1984), for example, in their legendary meta-analysis, identified true validity coefficients of 0.14 for the interview, whereas in their subsequent meta-analysis carried out almost after 15 years (Schmidt and Hunter 1998), they came up with far more positive validity coefficients for the employment interview: 0.38 for the unstructured and up to 0.51 for the structured interview. Similarly, positive results were obtained by other meta-analyses, for example, by McDaniel, Whetzel, Schmidt and Mauer (1994), Wiesner and Cronshaw (1988), and Huffcutt and Arthur (1994). A common characteristic of these studies, however, is that they all identified the moderating effect of interview structure in the predictive validity of the selection interview. In the most recent review of employee selection methods published in the Annual Review of Psychology by Sackett and Lievens (2008), the significance of imposing more structure on existing selection procedures, such as the employment interview, was strongly emphasized by the authors. Salgado and Moscoso (2002, p. 300) claimed that ‘there is currently little room to speculate about the criterion validity of personnel interviews. The granted conclusion is that the employment interview is a useful tool to predict work performance’. Nevertheless, questions still remain at large regarding the extensive utilization of the employment interview. Lievens and de Paepe (2004, p. 29) emphasized that one of the most remarkable findings in work and organizational psychology is the inverse relationship between the psychometric soundness and the popularity of the selection interview. These voices of concern have recently increased as a result of evidence-based management (Pfeffer and Sutton 2006a, 2006b). This approach has its origins in evidence-based medicine, and proposes that managers’ decision making should be based on the best available scientific evidence. Recently, Highhouse (2008), in a very interesting article in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Perspectives on Science and Practice, characteristically entitled Stubborn Reliance on Intuition and Subjectivity in Employee Selection, claimed that one of the greatest failures of I-O psychology has been the inability to persuade employers and recruiters to use more valid decision aids (e.g. paper-and-pencil tests, structured interviews, and mechanical combination of predictors). Campion and his colleagues (Campion, Palmer and Campion 1997; 1998; Campion, Pursell and Brown 1988), in a number of studies, were among the first who studied the structured interview in detail and the appropriate steps one should take to increase its psychometric properties and predictive validity. More recently, three studies appeared exploring in detail a number of issues related to the use (on nonuse) of the structured employment interview (Lievens and de Paepe 2004; Chapman and Zweig 2005; Chen, Tsai and Hu 2008). The first explored how interviewer-related factors (cognitive style and needs

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for power) and situational factors (job complexity and organizational interview norms) jointly influence interviewer reactions toward highly structured interviews. The second explored the nature, antecedents, and consequences of interview structure, whereas Lievens and de Paepe (2004) explored the reasons why interviewers avoid using highly structured interviews, despite its undeniable superiority to the unstructured or conventional interview. This is especially the case in countries with limited history in I-O psychology and human resources management, such as Greece, where this study took place. Lievens and de Paepe (2004) suggested that lower levels of structure in the interview are associated with greater concern about discretion, personal contact, and ease of preparation. Moreover, highly trained interviewers (who attended interviewing workshops) were more likely to use highly structured interviews. The authors suggest that more attention should be given to the interviewers’ perspective and to other structured interviewing processes, such as conducting job analysis and note taking. Our current study has attempted to integrate quite a few of these suggestions. The aim of our first study was to explore the ‘uses’ and ‘abuses’ of the employment interview in Greece, from the interviewer perspective. Thus, we have adopted an exploratory approach in looking at the most important themes, identified both by the employment interview literature (e.g. Campion et al. 1997; Dipboye 2005), and by human resource professionals experienced in interviewing. Method Sample and procedure One hundred and thirty-one human resource professionals experienced in employment interview participated in the study. They had an average interviewing experience of 9.13 years (SD ¼ 6.58), and 29% of them were employed in relatively small- (0 – 100 employees) or medium-sized companies (38.9%; 101 – 500 employees). Of the participants, 59.5% were females, aged between 20 and 40 years (61.8%). Of them, 56.6% were postgraduate degree holders and 31.8% university degree holders. The participants were contacted either as alumni of a graduate program in human resources management, or their contact details were identified through business guides available in Greece. They were invited to participate anonymously and voluntarily in our study. In exchange for their participation, interviewers were promised a synopsis of the results when the study was completed. Unfortunately, the exact participation rates are unavailable for the participants. However, feedback from research assistants collecting the data indicated a high response rate (approximately 60 – 70%). Measures The survey was developed based on a review of the literature, review of previous surveys, and input from HR professionals. The measures were developed following personal interviews with six very experienced Greek human resource managers. We initially developed an interview guide covering a number of issues previously identified in the literature, to identify the main themes involved in interviewing, as perceived by the practitioners. The results of these interviews identified four main issues, which were also verified by an examination of earlier research in the field (e.g. Judge et al. 2000; Rynes et al. 2000; Dipboye 2005) on employment interviews: the interview process, the structure and content, the evaluation and predictive validity of the interview, and, finally, discrimination issues.

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(a) Process. A number of questions assessed the interview process. These included questions on the frequency of interview usage across all positions, whether the same interviewers are used across applicants for the same position, the provision of feedback to successful (and unsuccessful) candidates, and note taking during the interview using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ¼ never to 5 ¼ always. (b) Structure and content. The interview structure was measured with a single-item measure, where the interviewers were asked to indicate the degree of the structure of their interviews on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ¼ unstructured to 5 ¼ highly structured. Interview content was assessed with four questions, assessing the degree that the questions used during the interview are related to the job content, applicants’ resume, applicant’s personality, and the competencies required for the job. Survey participants responded to each item by indicating how frequently they assessed each of the aforementioned during their interviews on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ¼ never to 5 ¼ always. The results of an exploratory factor analysis extracted one factor explaining 47% of the total variance, with a marginally acceptable alpha of 0.61. A scale was created by the sum of the four items. (c) Applicants’ evaluation and interview’s effectiveness. Participants were asked to indicate the degree to which they used predetermined criteria and rating scales in assessing applicants’ performance at the interview using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ¼ never to 5 ¼ always. Similarly, using the same scale, we assessed interview’s effectiveness by asking them to indicate the degree to which they thought that the selection interview can predict job applicants’ future work performance successfully. Finally, they were asked to note which of the major selection methods (i.e. ability tests, personality tests, work samples, references, and CV screening) combined with the selection interview increases the selection process’ predictive validity. (d) Discrimination issues. The last section of the questionnaire dealt with discriminatory issues at the employment interview. Using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 ¼ never to 5 ¼ always, the respondents were required to indicate whether they were influenced by the most commonly used potential discriminatory issues, as described in the literature and the interviews previously held, such as gender, age, ethnic group, and physical appearance. The alpha for this scale was 0.74. (e) Other issues. We also assessed a number of other interview-related issues, such as the type of the interview normally held (i.e. behavioral or situational), the competencies usually assessed, and the kind of training commonly offered to interviewers. Also, we asked the participants to indicate the usual duration of the interview, the number of interviews normally held, and the number of interviewers usually participating. Results and discussion In summary, our results indicated that the employment interview in Greece is carried out in similar ways to other countries (Chapman and Zweig 2005). The interview usually lasts 30 –60 min (69.5%), or less than half-an-hour (22.1%), although there was also a small percentage (8.4%) who said that the interview might last for more than an hour. It is often carried out by one (32.8%) or two (45%) interviewers, and two (39.7%) or three (39.7%) interviews are normally needed before a decision is made. The vast majority of them carry out behavioral (92.4%) rather than situational (65.6%) interviews. Through interviewing,

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they attempt to assess communication skills (93.1%), teamwork skills (79.4%), adaptability (79.4%), and organizational skills (76.3%), and most of them have attended either executive training on interviewing skills (62.6%) or on-the-job training (77.1%). Very few (6.9%) have not received any kind of interview training. Table 1 presents the descriptive characteristics and the intercorrelation matrix of the study’s measures. A careful examination of this table provides some interesting results regarding the usage of the employment interview in Greece. First, smaller companies and HR departments tend to use the same interviewers across positions, whereas larger companies tend to use more frequently rating scales specifically developed for assessing applicants’ performance at the interview. Gender was negatively correlated with discriminatory issues, suggesting that males (M ¼ 9.56, SD ¼ 3.27) discriminate more than females [(M ¼ 8.26, SD ¼ 2.47), t(129) ¼ 2.44, p ¼ 0.02, d ¼ 0.44]. Interviewers’ educational level is positively correlated to both note taking and the content of the interview, suggesting that well-educated interviewers (e.g. with a postgraduate degree in HRM or W&O psychology) tend to take into account these two important interview characteristics. However, it should be noted that educational level or interviewer experience was not related to the degree of interview structure, as we would expect. Interviewer experience was only correlated with the degree of the usage of the same interviewers across interviews, and the latter was positively correlated with the usage frequency of the interview. The extensive use of the interview as a selection tool was also positively correlated with the provision of feedback to unsuccessful candidates (but surprisingly not to successful ones), note taking and interview content. Another positive finding for the usage on the employment interview in Greece was that the consistency of using the same interviewers across interviews was positively correlated both to interview content and the existence of predetermined criteria. It was also encouraging seeing that note taking was positively correlated with interview structure and interview content and that the latter was also positively correlated with the development of preexisting criteria. Rating scales were also correlated with these criteria, a logical result since those two are important determinants for the effective, reliable, and valid execution of the employment interview. Finally, interviewer effectiveness, as assessed by the interviewers themselves, was positively correlated with both predetermined criteria and rating scales, considering those two as important determinants of interviewing effectiveness. A multiple regression analysis also showed that the existence of predetermined criteria (b ¼ 0.18, p , 0.05) is a stronger predictor than the use of rating scales (b ¼ 0.13, p ¼ 0.14), adj. R2 ¼ 0.03, F ¼ 4.53 (1, 128), p ¼ 0.03. Study 2 The aim of the second study was to explore the applicants’ perspective of the employment interview in Greece. Applicant reactions to the different selection methods have been explored extensively recently (e.g. Bauer, Truxillo, Paronto, Weekley and Campion 2004; Hausknecht, Day and Thomas 2004; Chapman and Webster 2006). In their meta-analysis, Hausknecht et al. (2004) revealed that interviews, work samples, re´sume´s, and references were perceived to be relatively favorable. Psychometric tests (i.e. cognitive ability and personality tests) and biodata received moderate favorability ratings, whereas personal contacts, honesty tests, and graphology were perceived to be the least favorable (p. 669). However, Nikolaou and Judge (2007) noted that none of these studies surveyed the participants when they actually competed for a position during a selection process, and the participants did not actually complete the selection tools that they were asked to evaluate. In

Mean SD


Company size 3.43 1.50 HR department size 2.15 0.67 0.36** Interviewer age 2.25 0.87 2 0.10 Interviewer gender 1.6 0.49 2 0.01 Interviewer educational level 4.29 1.08 0.15 Interviewer experience 9.13 6.58 2 0.11 Frequency of interview 4.74 0.63 2 0.12 Same interviewers used 4.2 0.84 2 0.21* Feedback provision 3.25 1.41 0.06 (to successful candidates) Feedback provision 3.36 1.45 0.10 (to unsuccessful candidates) Note taking 4.38 0.91 0.08 Interview structure 3.40 0.77 0.09 Interview content 17.25 2.18 0.02 Pre-determined criteria 4.13 0.81 2 0.03 Rating scales 2.95 1.31 0.23** Interview’s effectiveness 3.15 0.64 2 0.01 Discriminatory issues 8.80 2.90 2 0.06 2 0.35** 2 0.26** 0.69** 2 0.03 0.09 2 0.01 2 0.14 2 0.17 0.00 2 0.05 2 0.13 2 0.07 0.07 0.17

2 0.16 2 0.02 0.02 2 0.10 2 0.01 0.11 0.06 0.11


2 0.02 0.18* 2 0.08 2 0.04 2 0.53** 2 0.34** 2 0.14



0.04 2 0.04 0.12 0.13 0.05 0.05 2 0.22*


2 0.07

0.00 0.20* 0.03


0.23** 2 0.08 0.06 0.02 0.23** 2 0.10 0.09 2 0.07 0.17 0.10 2 0.15 0.10 2 0.12 0.12


2 0.12 2 0.37** 2 0.12 2 0.02 0.13 2 0.14 0.08 2 0.08 0.11














0.27** 0.03 0.03 0.13 0.07 0.09 0.18* 0.04 0.21* 0.31** 0.23** 0.28** 0.35** 0.23** 0.09 0.14 0.18* 0.17 0.20* 0.12 0.15 0.23** 0.05 2 0.09 0.10 0.14 0.13 0.14 0.08 0.28** 0.06 2 0.07 20.08 0.08 2 0.03 2 0.11 0.00 0.18* 0.17* 2 0.09 0.08 20.13 2 0.10 0.06 0.04 2 0.04 2 0.13 2 0.06 0.16


0.26** 0.13


Notes: Company size was coded as 0–50 employees ¼ 1, 51–100 ¼ 2, 101 –200 ¼ 3, 201–500 ¼ 4, 501 þ ¼5; HR department size was coded as none ¼ 1, 1–15 ¼ 2, 16 –35 ¼ 3, 36–65 ¼ 4, 66 þ ¼ 5; age was coded as 20 –30 ¼ 1, 31–40 ¼ 2, 41–50 ¼ 3, 51 þ ¼ 4; gender was coded as male ¼ 1, female ¼ 2; educational level was coded as high school ¼ 1, post-secondary technical education ¼ 2, technical degree ¼ 3, university degree ¼ 4, postgraduate degree ¼ 5. * p , 0.05; ** p , 0.01; N ¼ 131.

11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Table 1. Means, standard deviations, and correlations among study 1 variables.

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their study, Nikolaou and Judge (2007) explored the role of applicant reactions to various selection methods in Greece, using both employee and student samples and compared their findings with similar results obtained in other countries, such as Spain, Portugal, France, and the USA. Similarly, to these countries, interviews, re´sume´s, and work samples were the best rated and most favorably appraised methods across students as well as employees. Previous research has discussed a number of reasons why job applicants exhibit positive attitudes toward the selection interview, despite contradictory research evidence regarding its predictive validity and unfair discrimination (for a detailed review of recent findings on the role of demographic characteristics on interviewer judgments, see Macan 2009). Hausknecht et al. (2004, p. 647) suggested that job applicants perceive interviews and work samples more favorably because ‘there is typically a close relationship between the content of the selection tool and the duties of the job’. Nikolaou and Judge (2007) claimed that the existence of a positive relationship between the interviewer’s personal qualities and behavior, such as warmth, sincerity, empathy, and good listening skills on various outcome variables, such as job offer expectancy, perceived probability of receiving and accepting an offer, and overall company impressions might explain the extensive use of the employment interview as a selection tool. They also suggested that an advantage of the employment interview (especially for the semi-structured and structured forms of interviewing), from the candidates’ point of view, is its perceived job relatedness (face validity), and the opportunity it provides to candidates to emphasize their individual qualities that differentiate them from other applicants (i.e. opportunity to perform). Building on this research, the focus of our second study was to explore how a number of interviewer’s characteristics and the interview itself affect applicants’ behavioral intentions following the interview. Researchers in the employment interview showed an early interest on the effect of interviewer’s personal characteristics on the employment interview. Factors such as the interviewer’s personality characteristics, ability and willingness to answer questions, and interest in the applicant were all found to affect applicant’s evaluations of the interview (Powell 1984; Liden and Parsons 1986; Harris and Fink 1987). Nonetheless, most of these early studies were carried out with college graduates during their initial stages of employment search upon or soon after graduation, thus limiting the generalizability of the findings. These studies and others that followed (e.g. Carless and Imber 2007) demonstrated that applicants’ perceptions of the interviewer’s personal qualities are a significant predictor of their tendency to accept a job offer. Hence, the following hypothesis was posed: Hypothesis 1:

Applicants’ perceptions of interviewer’s personal characteristics are positively related to job attractiveness and behavioral intentions.

However, an issue to consider is why do interviewer’s personal characteristics influence applicants’ job attractiveness and their post-interview intentions? Is it enough to assume that just because the interviewers are personable and informative, for example, the applicants are keener to accept a job offer or recommend the company to other candidates? Larsen and Phillips (2002) first, and then Carless and Imber (2007) proposed that the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) could be used to explain the indirect effects of interviewers’ behavior on applicants’ post-interview intentions. The ELM describes the basic processes involved in persuasive communication. It distinguishes two types of processes in communication; peripheral and central processing. Larsen and Phillips (2002) and Carless and Imber (2007) suggested that job applicants at the initial stages of the selection process are more likely to engage in peripheral processing (e.g. interviewer

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characteristics), since they probably have limited information about the position and the organization, as opposed to the latter stages of the process where it is more likely to engage in central processing (e.g. job and organizational attributes). In this study, we consider the overall assessment of the interview as an important informational cue influencing applicant’s behavioral intentions. This overall picture of the interview is related to the eyes of job applicants with an overall image and assessment of the company and job itself, and previous research in the field of employer image (e.g. Gatewood, Gowan and Lautenschlager 1993; Lievens, Van Hoye and Anseel 2007) has demonstrated its importance in job applicants’ intentions. Therefore, we suggest the following hypothesis:

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Hypothesis 2:

Applicants’ overall assessment of the interview will mediate the relationship between interviewer’s personal characteristics and job attractiveness and behavioral intentions.

Finally, following Harris and Fink’s (1987) suggestions, we expected that alternative job opportunities would moderate the relationship between interviewer’s personal characteristics and job attractiveness and behavioral intentions. An applicant with limited work alternatives, especially in a difficult economic climate, will be more inclined to receive a job offer even if she is not very satisfied with the interviewer. On the other hand, Harris and Fink (1987) suggested that candidates with more alternatives have more information to consider than candidates with fewer options, making peripheral informational cues, such as recruiter characteristics, less important. Hence, the following hypothesis was posed: Hypothesis 3:

Applicants’ alternative job opportunities will moderate the relationship between interviewer’s personal characteristics and job attractiveness and behavioral intentions.

Method Sample and procedure One hundred and twenty-two job applicants took part in this study. They were recruited through various means (e.g. university alumni and executive postgraduate students) and therefore an accurate response rate is difficult to estimate, especially because we had imposed the requirement that they should have had at least one employment interview experience during the last 3 months in order to take part in the study. When they filled in the questionnaire they were instructed to complete it regarding their most recent employment interview, if they had more than one. Most of the participants (65.6%) had a face-to-face (personal) interview with one interviewer. Their mean age was 28.4 years (SD ¼ 4.3) and their work experience ranged from 0– 1 years (53.3%), 1 – 3 (18%), 3 –5 (10.7%), 5 –7 (8.2%) up to more than 7 years (9.8%). The majority were females (61.5%). Measures Questionnaire items were designed to capture applicants’ perceptions of the interviewer, alternative job opportunities, job attractiveness, and applicants’ behavioral intentions, and the overall assessment of the interview. Perceptions of the interviewer Applicants indicated their agreement (on 5-point scales) with 16 statements describing applicants’ perceptions of the interviewer behavior. We adopted these items from earlier

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research (Schmitt and Coyle 1976; Powell 1984; Liden and Parsons 1986; Harris and Fink 1987) and slightly rephrased them to reflect the purposes of this study. Earlier research has identified four main dimensions, namely, personableness, competence, informativeness, and aggressiveness. However, these dimensions have not been replicated across studies (Harris and Fink 1987). Especially, we believe that the dimensions of personableness and aggressiveness appear to be the two opposite poles of the same construct. Therefore, we have decided to concentrate on the first three factors and adopt the respective items. Given the differences in the number of factors found in previous research, we conducted a principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation using the data collected for this study to determine the scales. The scree test and eigenvalues greater than 1.0 criteria suggested four factors that accounted for 65% of the items’ variance. The first two factors matched the dimensions of informativeness and competence. However, a closer look on the remaining two factors indicated that the items of personableness were split into two dimensions. Therefore, we rerun the factor analysis requesting a three-factor solution this time. This solution explained 59% of the total variance and all items loaded on the respective factors. Although not appropriate from a psychometric perspective, we used the same sample to run a confirmatory factor analysis. The three-factor solution provided a much better fit to our data (x 2 ¼ 207.67, x 2/df ¼ 2.056, RMSEA ¼ 0.093) compared to the one-factor solution (x 2 ¼ 431.79, x 2/df ¼ 4.15, RMSEA ¼ 0.16; Dx 2 ¼ 224.12(3), p , 0.01). Alternative job opportunities They were measured with two items adopted from Liden and Parsons (1986) (at this time, do you think that you can find another job during the next 3 months? and how many other job possibilities do you think you will have during the next 3 months?). The two items were highly correlated (r ¼ 0.70, p , 0.01), therefore they were summed to create a scale. In both items, respondents had to indicate their response on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘very unlikely’ ¼ 1 to ‘very likely’ ¼ 5. The alpha for this scale was 0.82. Job attractiveness Job attractiveness was assessed with two items, one taken from Harris and Fink (1987) (overall, how attractive is this job?) and the other specifically developed for the purposes of this study: ‘To what extent is this job, what are you looking for these days?’ The two items were highly correlated (r ¼ 0.80, p , 0.01), therefore they were summed to create a scale. In both items, respondents had to indicate their response on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘not at all’ ¼ 1 to ‘to a great extent’ ¼ 5. The alpha for this scale was 0.89. Applicants’ behavioral intentions We asked the participants to indicate their behavioral intentions following the interview with two items. Both items were adopted from Liden and Parsons (1986). First, we assessed their intentions to accept a job offer (what are the chances that you will accept the job if it is offered to you?) and second, the likelihood of recommending the company to a friend looking for a job (based on what you learned in your interview, would you recommend this company to a friend looking for a job?). Since the two items were highly correlated (r ¼ 0.66, p , 0.01), they were summed to create a scale. In both items, respondents had to indicate their response on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘very unlikely’ ¼ 1 to ‘very likely’ ¼ 5. The alpha for this scale was 0.79.

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Overall assessment of the interview On a single-item measure that we developed for this study, the participants indicated their overall assessment/view of the interview on a scale ranging from ‘very negative’ ¼ 1 to ‘very positive’ ¼ 5.

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Results and discussion Prior to discussing our results, it is important to acknowledge that our decision to use selfreport measures raises the possibility of common method variance problems. That is, the constructs of this study may be correlated simply because of common variance derived from their being collected with the same method. However, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to collect our data through any other means. The nature of our constructs requires the use of self-report measures. Nevertheless, we followed the suggestions made by Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee and Podsakoff (2003) to explore statistically if common method variance was a significant problem in our analyses. Initially, we performed a posthoc factor analysis (Harman’s single-factor test). An exploratory factor analysis, including all the variables of our study, elicited six factors with eigenvalues above 1.0, explaining 70% of the total variance, where the first factor explained 30% of the total variance. While the results of this analysis do not preclude the possibility of common method variance, they do suggest that it is not a likely explanation for the reported findings. Further, we also followed the partial correlation procedure, as described in Podsakoff et al. (2003), and more specifically the general factor covariate technique, partialling out a general factor score, which is often assumed to contain the best approximation of common method variance (Podsakoff et al. 2003). We then reanalyzed the relationships between the independent and the dependent variables after ‘partialling’ out the variance accounted for in the first factor. After conducting this procedure, we found that both the nature and the significance of the results, as demonstrated in the intercorrelation matrix of Table 2, remained unchanged. The results of these analyses can be obtained from the author. Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics and the intercorrelation matrix of the study’s measures. To examine the first hypothesis, two hierarchical regression analyses were carried out with job attractiveness and behavioral intentions as the outcome variables and the three dimensions of the interviewers’ perceptions as predictors. No controls were included since no mean differences were identified between the demographics and the outcome variables. Initially, we explored the role of interviewers’ perceptions on job attractiveness. The block of the three interviewers’ characteristics explained 8% of the job attractiveness variance (adj. R 2 ¼ 0.08, F(3, 118) ¼ 4.34, p , 0.01). However, only the informativeness dimension was related to job attractiveness (b ¼ 0.29, t ¼ 2.91, p , 0.01) as opposed to Table 2. Means, standard deviations, and correlations among study 2 variables.

1. Informativeness 2. Personableness 3. Competence 4. Alternative job opportunities 5. Job attractiveness 6. Behavioral intentions 7. Overall interview assessment





21.21 20.11 19.98 7.42 7.67 8.11 3.93

5.40 4.13 3.31 2.18 2.06 1.97 1.05

0.37** 0.45** 0.23* 0.29** 0.44** 0.57**

0.44** 0.07 0.03 0.42** 0.61**

Note: *p , 0.05; **p , 0.01; N ¼ 122.





0.16 0.18* 0.14 0.37** 0.07 0.58** 0.59** 0.14 0.16 0.58**

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I. Nikolaou

personableness (b ¼ 2 0.12, t ¼ 2 1.21, p ¼ 0.23) and competence (b ¼ 0.10, t ¼ 0.96, p ¼ 0.34). Therefore, the first part of hypothesis 1 is partially supported, indicating the importance of the informativeness dimension on job attractiveness. Subsequently, we repeated the analysis with applicants’ behavioral intentions as the outcome variable. The block of the three characteristics explained now a much higher percentage of the total variance (adj. R 2 ¼ 0.26, F(3,118) ¼ 15.28, p , 0.01). Both informativeness (b ¼ 0.29, t ¼ 3.19, p , 0.01) and personableness (b ¼ 0.26, t ¼ 2.87, p , 0.01), but not competence (b ¼ 0.13, t ¼ 1.36, p ¼ 0.18) related to a statistically significant level with applicants’ behavioral intentions. Consequently, the second part of hypothesis 2 is also partially supported, suggesting that informativeness and personableness are important correlates of applicants’ behavioral intentions following the interview. Next, we explored hypothesis 2. We tested this hypothesis following the procedures outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986) and Frazier, Tix and Baron (2004). They suggested that to demonstrate mediation, three conditions must be met. First, the independent variables (interviewer’s personal characteristics) and the proposed mediator (applicants’ overall assessment of the interview) must each be significantly related to the dependent variables (job attractiveness and behavioral intentions) when considered separately. It was mentioned earlier that only informativeness is related to job attractiveness and that informativeness and personableness are also related to behavioral intentions. An examination of the correlation matrix (see Table 2) also demonstrates that the mediator (applicants’ overall assessment of the interview) was related to applicants’ behavioral intentions but not job attractiveness. Thus, the first condition is satisfied only for informativeness and personableness, regarding behavioral intentions but not job attractiveness. Second, the independent variables must be significantly related to the proposed mediator. To explore whether this is actually the case, we conducted a hierarchical regression analysis. The block of the three characteristics explained a significantly high percentage of the total variance (adj. R 2 ¼ 0.56, p , 0.01, F(3,118) ¼ 52.16, p , 0.01), and all three dimensions of interviewers’ characteristics (informativeness, b ¼ 0.29, t ¼ 4.2, p , 0.01; personableness, b ¼ 0.37, t ¼ 5.40, p , 0.01 and competence b ¼ 0.30, t ¼ 4.16, p , 0.01) were related to overall interview assessment. Therefore, all three predictors are related to the mediator, and the second condition is satisfied. Third, the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable should be significantly weaker (partial mediation) or nonsignificant (full mediation) when the proposed mediator is included in the regression equation. To test this last condition, we performed a series of hierarchical regressions. Table 3 provides the results of these analyses. Steps 1 and 2 report the results of the first two requirements for mediation (i.e. exploring the effect of the predictor on the outcome and the mediator, respectively), and Step 3 reports the results of the mediation analysis. The first part of Table 3 presents the results regarding the mediating effect of overall interview assessment on the informativeness – behavioral intentions relationship and the second part on the personableness– behavioral intentions relationship. Step 3 shows the mediating effect of the overall interview assessment in the relationship between informativeness and applicants’ behavioral intentions; the effect of informativeness on applicants’ behavioral intentions drops to statistically nonsignificant levels after we control for overall interview assessment. The unstandardized regression coefficient of informativeness drops to B ¼ 0.06 (ns) from 0.16 ( p , 0.01) when we account for the effect of overall interview assessment, demonstrating full mediation effects. To explore whether this drop is statistically significant, we carried out the Sobel test (Sobel 1982), following Baron and Kenny’s (1986) guidelines. The results of this test (Sobel ¼ 4.77,

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Table 3. Hierarchical regression analysis examining the mediating effect of applicants’ overall assessment of the interview (N ¼ 122).

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Predictors Step 1 Informativenessa Step 2 Informativenessb Step 3 Overall interview assessment Informativenessa Step 1 Personablenessa Step 2 Personablenessb Step 3 Overall interview assessment Personablenessa




95% CI



0.10, 0.22




0.08, 0.14


0.90 0.06

0.17 0.03

0.57, 1.23 0.00, 0.12

0.48** 0.17



0.12, 0.28




0.12, 0.19


0.96 0.05

0.18 0.04

0.61, 1.30 20.04, 0.14

0.51** 0.10

Notes: CI ¼ confidence interval. *p , 0.01; **p , 0.000; N ¼ 122. a Dependent variable: behavioral intentions. b Dependent variable: overall interview assessment.

p , 0.001) indicate that the decrease in the unstandardized regression coefficient is statistically significant. Similarly, the unstandardized regression coefficient of personableness drops to B ¼ 0.05 (ns) from 0.20 ( p , 0.01) when we account for the effect of overall interview assessment, again demonstrating full mediation effects. The Sobel test was also statistically significant (Sobel ¼ 4.44, p , 0.001). These results demonstrate that the overall interview assessment fully mediates the relationship between informativeness, personableness, and applicants’ behavioral intentions. The existence of an indirect effect indicates the importance of the overall perception of the interview formed by the job applicants suggesting that the effect of the interviewers’ personal characteristics can be attributed to the overall positive (or negative) assessment of the interview. Finally, our last hypothesis concerns the moderating effect of alternative job opportunities. Following the guidelines of Stone (1988) and Cohen, Cohen, West and Aiken (2003) regarding the examination of moderating effects, the scores of both the predictor and the moderator have to be standardized, before creating their interaction term. Then the interaction term is entered last as an independent variable in a moderated multiple regression (MMR), where the other two variables are entered separately before the interaction term. If the R 2 change of the interaction term is statistically significant, then a moderating effect exists. Six separate hierarchical regression analyses were carried out and no moderating effects were identified. Therefore, hypothesis 3 is rejected. This result indicates that the relationship between interviewers’ personal characteristics and interview outcomes is not affected by the existence of alternative job opportunities.1 General discussion The aim of this research was to explore employment interview in Greece from both the interviewer and the job applicant perspectives. Research in work and organizational psychology in general and in employment interview specifically is still in an early stage in Greece. Therefore, this study attempted to explore whether a number of well-explored issues regarding employment interview are also applicable in Greece. Two studies were

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carried out: the first explored the views of experienced interviewers (e.g. HR managers) regarding the usage of the selection interview and the second studied the applicant perspective with a sample of job applicants. In study 1, the results demonstrated that a number of characteristics in interview usage resemble those identified in other countries (Chapman and Zweig 2005) and also identified in the literature or considered as ‘best practice’ among professionals. The most important of them are the duration of the interview and the use of note taking and rating scales in structured interviews. Also, the interviewers acknowledged that the effectiveness of the interview is largely dependent first on the existence of predetermined criteria and second on rating scales. These findings are quite supportive for the scientific use of the employment in Greece, especially from an evidence-based management perspective. It seems that despite the fact that the research in human resource management and work/organizational psychology is not adequately developed in Greece yet, the practice of human resource management has been spread out, especially during the last decade, and these findings suggest that interviewers are aware of the ‘secrets’ behind the successful job interview. In study 2, a number of interesting findings were obtained. Initially, we replicated that a number of interviewer’s personal characteristics are important determinants of interview outcomes (Liden and Parsons 1986; Harris and Fink 1987). Especially informativeness and personableness, but surprisingly not competence, related to a statistically significant level with applicants’ job attractiveness perceptions and behavioral intentions. However, the most interesting result of this study was the full mediating effect of applicants’ overall assessment of the interview. We showed that the ‘overall’ perception of the interview affects the relationship between informativeness and personableness and applicants’ behavioral intentions. According to the ELM, one could argue that the effect of a peripheral cue (personal characteristics) on job interview outcomes can be explained as a result of the effect of a central processing cue (overall perception of the interview). These results have a number of implications both for research and practice of the employment interview. From a research perspective, this was one of the few attempts to explore applicant perspective in the employment interview with actual job applicants and not college graduates. Similar is the case regarding the participation of experienced interviewers in study 1. Unfortunately, this was not a matched sample, that is, taking the perspective of both sides following the same interview. This is one of the most serious limitations of this research and also a suggestion for future research. Moreover, more research is needed to explore further the mediating effect of the overall perception of the interview. How important is it for applicants’ post-interview perceptions and subsequent decisions? Our current findings offer only initial support for its importance. From a practical point of view, we provided plenty of evidence on the importance of interviewer’s personal characteristics, especially informativeness and personableness, on applicants’ post-interview intentions. This is especially the case for all three types of interviewer’s characteristics, including competence, and applicants’ overall assessment of the interview. The interviewer needs to be well prepared, professional and personable at the same time, to increase the chance that the applicant will leave the room with a positive perception of the job and the company as well. Nevertheless, a number of limitations should also be mentioned. First, the lack of a matched sample, as described earlier. This would reduce substantially any memory or perceptual biases from participants’ responses. Moreover, the data in both studies were obtained using a one-shot questionnaire methodology, in a cross-sectional research design, and it is often argued that common-method variance rather than causal links may explain some of the relationships identified. Spector (2006), reviewing the effects of shared method

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variance on organizational research, concluded that it is largely mythical reaching the status of urban legend. However, we believe that for this kind of research, it is difficult to employ any other method of data collection and also that the different pattern of results observed across variables in both studies suggest that common method bias is probably an unlikely explanation for the results. Furthermore, as Nikolaou, Vakola and Bourantas (2008) mention even if shared method variance exists, there is no reason to expect that the differences in correlation among our variables are due to its effect, since its presence would not be expected to exert differential bias on the observed relationships. Finally, a limitation in study 2 is also the one-item scale measuring the overall assessment of the interview. Given the positive findings regarding this variable, researchers should attempt in the future to develop more psychometrically valid and appropriate measures of this construct. In conclusion, our findings demonstrated that the employment interview in Greece is generally well carried out from HR practitioners and W&O psychologists, following recent and acceptable scientific guidelines. Also interviewer characteristics have both a direct effect on applicants’ overall assessment of the interview and an indirect effect on post-interview perceptions, confirming previous findings in other countries, but also calling for further research on interviewers’ characteristics.

Note 1.

The results of the MMR analyses regarding hypothesis 3 are not presented for economy of space, but they are available from the author.

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Appendix Study 2: Perceptions of the interviewer measure † Informativeness 1. Discussed about the career opportunities within the company 2. Presented the organization with clarity 3. Described thoroughly the job duties 4. Presented the position with clarity 5. Presented the required profile of the successful candidate 6. Gave a realistic job preview without overstating the positive elements of the job † Personableness 1. S/he behaved aggressively occasionally (r) 2. Did not allow to discuss issues I was considering important (r) 3. S/he kept interfering during the interview (r) 4. I would describe the interviewer as a warm personality 5. S/he made me feel awkward (r) † Competence 1. S/he was listening carefully what I was saying 2. S/he allowed me to talk about my qualifications 3. S/he asked interesting and job-related questions 4. S/he showed to understand my feelings during the interview 5. S/he was willing to let me present myself Note: r, reversed item.


Employment interview in Greece