CHARACTERISTICS OF APPLICANTS’QUESTIONS AND EMPLOYMENT SCREENING INTERVIEW OUTCOMES

Authors

  • LAURIE V. BABBITT,

    1. Laurie V. Babbitt is a communication consultant with the A. S. Hansen Company
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  • FREDRIC M. JABLIN

    1. Fredric M. Jablin is associate professor of speech communication, University of Texas at Austin. The authors wish to acknowledge Mr. Joe Vorsas for his assistance in collecting data for this study, and Professor Charles R. Berger for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.
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Abstract

In order to explore empirically the nature of applicants' questioning behavior in screening interviews, videotapes of actual screening interviews (n = 48) at a university placement center were transcribed and interviewees' questions were coded with respect to question placement, question purpose, and question structure. Results suggest that applicants ask about one-third of their questions before their interviewers ask for inquiries, and ask more seeking “new information” questions (primarily focusing on job/organizational topics) than “clarifying” or eliciting “opinion” questions. Further, analyses indicate that the great majority of applicants' questions are closed (versus open), singular (versus multiple) inform, typically are not phrased in the first person (but rather in the second person case) and are about nine words in length. Findings also suggest that “successful” applicants (those receiving second interview offers) as compared to “unsuccessful” applicants (no second interview offer) tend to ask fewer seeking “new information-miscellaneous topics” questions, fewer seeking “new information-interview process” questions, and to some extent fewer questions that could potentially be phrased in the first person case.

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