HR takes a back seat as line managers take the lead in job interviews

HR practitioners are involved in three-quarters (74%) of all job interviews. But in two-thirds (66%) of interviews, it is down to line managers to take the lead, according to research by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

Its survey of 234 organisations, which together have more than 750,000 employees, found that the most common approach is for line managers to interview job applicants jointly with either an HR generalist (52%) or a recruitment specialist (19%).

HR practitioners interviewed alone in just 4% of the organisations surveyed – with these evenly divided between the use of an HR generalist and a recruitment specialist to carry out the task.

It was most common to find line managers recruiting without HR assistance in the public sector (43%). Private sector services (25%) and particularly manufacturers (6%) were far less likely to adopt this approach.

Line managers were also more likely to take the lead role in the interview in public sector organisations (81%). This approach was widespread, but less common, in private sector services (64%) and in manufacturing (48%).

By contrast, HR – either generalists or recruitment specialists – played a more significant role in manufacturing, where they took the lead in 48% of interviews. HR took the lead in 24% of private sector services firms, and 7% of public sector organisations.

…and scorecards are highly rated by most employers

Most employers now use a range of interview techniques to find the right candidate for the job, according to Employment Review.

Seven out of 10 (72%) use competency-based questions, with the aim of establishing what knowledge, skills and attitudes applicants have that are relevant to the job. This approach is considered a useful aid to equal opportunities in job selection.

Just over half (52%) of employers use behavioural questioning, which focuses on actual events or ‘critical incidents’ in a candidate’s past to demonstrate behaviours and abilities relevant to the job.

Four in 10 employers (40%) use situational questions, which rely on asking candidates what they would do in hypothetical situations.

Although there is relatively little difference in the types of question used in different economic sectors, all three techniques were more common in larger organisations.

The survey also found that telephone interviews were becoming increasingly common. Almost four in 10 (39%) of employers now use this approach, particularly in the early stages of the recruitment process.

Telephone interviews were most commonly used in private sector services (46%) and by manufacturers (40%). They were less common in the public sector (23%). The study also shows that larger companies are more likely to adopt this technique.

…but selective questioning is used to filter candidates

More than two-thirds (70%) of employers use scorecards to help them reach an objective decision about job applicants, the Employment Review research shows.

This approach, which requires interviewers to award points for candidates’ performance on specific criteria, is most common in the public sector, where four out of five (80%) of organisations use it. It is less common in manufacturing firms (57%).

Most interviewers try to score candidates directly after the interview (82%). One in 10 (11%) do so during the interview, and rather fewer (7.5%) at a later stage.

Most organisations (86%) also keep interview notes. But nearly half (46%) keep them for less than a year.

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