Using Interviews Effectively: Advice from the MSPB

MSPB has issued a report entitled “The Federal Selection Interview: Unrealized Potential” that is available for downloading.

If you are a manager in a federal agency, do you have any idea what it costs if you hire the wrong person?

According to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), it may cost your agency as much as $300,000 if the position being filled is one with a salary of $100,000 or more. And, even if the position you are filling pays $20,000 per year, the cost to your organization of making a bad hiring decision can be as much as $40,000.

So how do you avoid making a decision to hire the wrong person for a job? Using interviews as a way to help select the right person can make a big difference in your success in finding a good employee to perform the job you are filling.

In its new report, on using interviews in the federal selection process, the MSPB also recommends using a structured interview. This is one in which candidates are asked the same questions and the answers are evaluated by a panel of trained interviewers using a rating scale.

Most managers already think that interviews are one of the most important elements of the hiring process. The MSPB study indicates that an unstructured interview is frequently used but the results of this are not as good as a structured one, particularly when you are screening and rating job candidates. Because, while an unstructured interview sounds good for several reasons, it can lead to problems including choosing a candidate for the wrong reasons or creating a legal problem for your agency when a candidate is asked improper questions.

The MSPB has issued its report which also contains sample interview questions and a model interview process for agencies. The report is available in a pdf format (this requires using Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the report). To download the entire report, click here.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47