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The Evaluation Interview 






Predicting Job Perfomtance in Business 
and Industry 

RICHARD A. FEAR, Vice Fresidait 
The Ptychologicat CorpoTOtion 


New York Toronto London 


Titt rvALUATiOft prnoivirw 

Copyright @ 19S8 fay (be McCiaw-Hill Booh Company, loe. 
Printed io the United Sates of Amena. All rights reserved. TbU 
book, or parts thereof, toay not be reproduced in any form 
vnihout pemuuion of the publishers. 

Library 0 / Congress Colofog Card A'unther: SS-6S80 



This book is intended not only as an aid to interviewers 
on all levels but as a source book for all those executives 
and supervisors whose function it is to select people for their 
staffs from time to time. Students in personnel and industrial 
psychology, industrial relations, and management courses 
should also find this book of assistance. Most such students 
will undoubtedly graduate to jobs in industry in which the 
evaluation of people will play an important part. 

The decision to write this book was based in part on the 
reception accorded an earlier effort “Employee Evaluation 
Manual for Interviewers” by Fear and Jordan, The Psycho- 
logical Corporation, 1913. Now in its eighth printing, this 
manual was developed specifically for die aid of employment 
interviewers in the plant situation. The demand for this 
volume would seem to indicate need for the present more 
complete work, as an aid for the evaluation of candidates for 
higher level jobs. Alihougli the general intervieiving philoso- 
phy of the tivo books remains relatively constant, the present 
volume includes material and techniques acquired during the 
intervening fifteen years. It is therefore much more compre- 
hensive in its approadi. 

Like the earlier ivork, this present volume is essentially a 

^ Prejaee 

how-to-do-it book which spells out detailed procedures in 
accordance with a specific intcrviesv philosophy. Part I is 
concerned with Orientation and deals with such topics as 
current psychological theory concerning the nature and origin 
o£ human behavior, the nature of the interview and iu proper 
place in the selection program, and concrete suggestions wiUi 
respect to how to become a good interviewer. There is also 
included a series of man specifications — ^what to look for in 
selecting netv employees for a variety of important jobs. Part 
n deals with the Mechanics of the interview and describes 
specific techniques for getting the necessary information from 
the applicant. Part III, Interpretation, tells how to evaluate 
information obtained in terms of the job for which the indi- 
vidual is being considered. 

The book provides suggestions for handling the appliont 
from the time he walks in the door until the interview is 
eventually terminated. It is replete with illustrations of tlie 
specific kinds of questions that can be used and, equally im> 
portant, how responses to these questions may be interpreted. 
By referring to the Interview Guide, the reader is provided 
with a "track to run on’* which guides him step by step 
through his discussion of (he applicant's work history, educa- 
tion, early home background, present social adjustment, and 
self-evaluation. Comprehensive instructions for writing up 
the report of the applicant's qualifications are also includci 
By studying the illustiative case histories in Chapter 14, more- 
over, the reader learns how the "pieces of the puzzle” fit to- 
gether — ^how interview findings may be interpreted and inte- 
grated in such a way that a clear picture of the candidate 

Although this book is obviously not a substitute for per- 
sonalized and supervised interviewer training, as no book is, 
it nevertheless provides the reader with an interviewing phi- 
losophy which has been tested and developed by the author 

Preface Tii 

over a period of many years, as a result of his experience in 
evaluating applicants for important jobs in a variety of client 
companies in this country and abroad. 

In arriving at the philosophy and techniques here ex- 
pressed, the author has drawn upon his practical experience 
as the principal source. At tlie same time, his thinking has 
naturally been inHuenced by the literature in tlie field which 
extends over a period of years and represents references too 
numerous to acknowledge individually. In terms of the deri- 
vation of his philosophy, the author is also deeply indebted to 
colleagues past and present who have contributed valuable 
ideas along the way. 

But the author does want to acknowledge the special debt 
he owes to his colleagues at The Psydiological Corporation. 
Dr. George K. Bennett, President of The Psychological Cor* 
potation, was exceedingly helpful. In addition to editing the 
manuscript, he made many valuable criticisms and sugges- 
tions. The author also wishes to sute his appreciation of the 
assistance given by Dr. Theodore Hariton in preparing cer- 
tain chapters. And he wishes to acknowledge his gratitude to 
Dr. William W. Wilkinson, Dr. Homer Figler, Dr. Andrew 
Hilton, and Dr. Rose G. Anderson, who gave so generously 
of their time in reading the manuscript and in making many 
worthwhile suggestions. Witliout the cooperation of these 
colleagues the preparation of this book would have been quite 

Richard A. Fear 



aiAXTOi 1 Introduction 

Human B«havi(n and Individual Diffoence a 
{AptUvdet, PertoiuiUty, Charoeter, Uoiivtticm) • 
The Appliant as a Human Being 

aiAPTER 2 Nature of the Evaluation Interview and Ita 
Place in the Selection Program 

Techniques of Selection • Nature of the Evalua- 
tion Interview Selecting Applicants for Lower- 
level Jc^ 

v/aiAiTER 3 How to Become a Good Interviewer 

Importance of Training • Major Interviewing 
Errors Building Man Specifications {Manage- 
ment, Iteteareh fnd Development, Produetton 
Supervition, Sales, Pimhating, Finance, Employee 
Relations) • Matching the Man with the Job 









Getting Spontaneous Information 59 

Phyjicd Setup • Manner of Creeling • Facial Ei- 
pressioni • Vocal Expression • Small Talk • The 
Comprehensive Introductory Questions • Appear 
to Agree with the Applicant’s Remarks • Give 
Frequent Pau on the Back • Play Down Untavor- 
able Information • Ttlie Calculated Pause • Inject 
a little Humor Along the Way • Sequence of the 
Interview • Importance of Subtlety and Finesse 

5 Follow-Up Questions 82 

Nature of the FoDcrw-up Questions ■ Function of 
Follow-up Questions ■ Kindt of Follow-up Ques- 
tions • How to Soften Follow-up Questions • 

Note Taking 

6 Guiding and Controlling the Interview 102 

Problems of Control • Function of Control • 
Techniques o! Control - SpedEcs of Control • 
E&eaive Control Requires Judidous Padng 


7 General Factors of Interpretation 123 

Complexities of Interpteuiion - Interpretation 
as a Unique and Separate Function - Basis of 
Interpreution - What to Interpret • How to 
iDterprci ■ Hypotheses Based on Leads from Pre- 
vious Seleaion Steps - Trait Constellations • 
Trait DescripUoa 



CHAPTER 8 Interpreting Work History 155 

Structuring the Work History ■ Duties • Likes « 
Achieveinents • Dislikes • Things Done Len 
Well • Working Conditioos ■ Level of Earnings * 
Reasons for Changing Jobs • Leadership Experi- 
ence • Number of Previous Jobs • Faciors of Job 
Satisfaction • Type of Job Desired * How Much 
Total Job Accomplishment 

CHAPTER 9 Interpreting Education 181 

Structuring Discussion of Education • Best-Poor- 
est Subjeas ■ Grades - How Much Eifort • Extra- 
curricular Activities - Special Achievements • 
Training beyond the Undergraduate Level • How 
tVas Eduaiion Financed - Total School Accois- 

aiAPTER 10 Interpreting Early Home Background 197 

Structuring the Discussion of Early Home Back- 
ground - Father's Occupation ■ Temperament of 
Parents ■ Number of Brothers and Sisters • How 
Strictly Raised • Age of Financial Independence • 

ESects of Early Home Influences 

CHAPTER II Interpreting Present Social Adjustment 215 

Structuring the Discussion of Present Sodal Ad- 
justment ■ Present Interests and Hobbies • Mari- 
tal Status • Wife's Interests and Personality • 

Wife's Altitude toward Relocation • Attitude 
toward Dependenu ■ Financial Stability • 

Health Status 

CHAPTER 12 Concluding the Interview 228 

The Self-evaluation Technique • Tenninaiing 
the Interview 

xii J 


aUFTEH 13 

Completing the Interview Guide 

Further Vm ol the CofflpJeted Interview Guide 


atAPTER, 14 

Illustrative Case Studies 


Interview Guide 



Part I 




The assessment of people represents a problem that will 
undoubtedly continue to plague Industry for years to come. 
Mudi of Uie dliTiculcy stents from a lack of appreciation of 
the complexity of (he problem and from ^e haphazard 
methods employed in its attempted solution. No intelligent 
businessman tv-ouJd purchase an expensive piece of equip- 
ment without making a thorough evaluation of its construc- 
tion, cost, durability, and ability to perform the task for 
whicit it is intended. Yet this same executive will frequently 
hire a man for an important job on the flimsiest kind of 
evidence. He often makes such a personnel decision after 
talking with the applicant for tiventy or thirty minutes, bas- 
ing his evaluation primarily on such surface impressions as 
appearance, general manner, and apparent relevance of ex- 
perience and training. 

It is encouraging to note, however, a growing awareness 
of the importance of the human factor in industry. More 
and more business leaders are beginning to recognize the 
tremendous cost of poor selection and placement. Tliey 




know that it costs several hundred dollars to hire and train 
the average factory worker and many times that amount to 
bring a salesman or technical employee to the appropriate 
level of productive effort. Many now realiic, moreover, that 
the men and women who operate the machines, conceive 
the new ideas, and make the critical over-all decbions rep- 
resent any company's most s-aluable asset. Indeed, it is the 
quality and competence of these men and women that svill 
largely determine a given organization’s competitive position 
in the years ahead. 

Although the more progressive companies have made a 
real effort to improve their selection programs, there is still 
much to be done. Most companies, in fact, have only 
scratched the surface in terms of what can be done. Many 
important selection decisions are still being made by relatively 
poorly paid, untrained employment interviewers. Thus, 
there is a great need to acquaint management with the com* 
plexity of the problem and with some of the modem tools 
that can be brought to bear on it. 

The human being U a complex organism and as such is 
not at all subject to easy evaluation. The more rve leam 
about people, the more we realize how complicated this 
business of selection and placement really is. ^Ve have 
learned, too, that there is no such thing as a “good man." 
A man is "good" only when placed in a job that makes 
maximum utilization of hu abilities, satisGes his level of 
aspiration, stimulates his interests, and provides for his social 
needs. It has become equally apparent thai people differ 
markedly with respea to these factors. 


If we are to underatand a given individual, sve must have 
some knowledge of how he came to be what he is today. This 



presupposes some awareness of human behavior in terms 
of cause-and-cffect Tclationships. For example, much of 
applicant A's current poise and social understanding may have 
been caused by the fact that he was brought up in high-level 
socio-economic circumstances, where the parents made every 
effort to expose him to rich cultural influences. In our study 
of people we start out with one fundamental assumption: 
all behavior is caused. The behavior of a person at any 
given moment is a function of what he is like as an individual 
and the situation in which he happens to be. 

If we accept the viewpoint that behavior is not accidental 
but arises from the interplay of the person and the external 
circumstances, we will be motivated to look for causes and 
hence to acquire a belter undemanding of the man. In 
subsequent chapters of this book, we will discuss techniques 
for exploring a man's history so that these causes will become 
quite evident At this point, however, it is important to 
know somctliing about the factors that influence a person's 

Psychological Growth. It is a generally accepted &ct that 
heredity b responsible for much of our physical make-up, 
such as height, color of eyes, bodily structure, and glandular 
activity. Heredity also has a great deal to do with what ^•/e 
call native intelligence, energy output, and with the special 
talents that people exhibit in greater or less degree. 

Environment, by which we mean the people, institutions, 
and situations with which the individual is in contact, rep- 
resents a force of extreme imporunce in his psydiologica! 
growth. In fact, many psydiologists say tliat the first five 
years of life are critical in the development of basic person- 
ality and character traits. As a child grows older, he is sub- 
jected to many influences outside the home. Tliese include 
friends in the neighborhood, school, and various groups to 
which the individual belongs. Generally speaking, we de- 


velop pattcnu oE behavior whidi satisEy our needi, and be- 
cause they do so, they tend to penist over a long period oE 

^Ve must recognUc, however, that almost svithout excep- 
tion human traits are the products oE both heredity and 
environment. Thus, svhile a single trait may be largely 
determined by one or the other, the influence oE both must 
be taken into coiuideration. 

It follows logically then that the development oE the person 
is determined by both physiological and social factors. The 
individual is not a sum of these factors, but rather a product 
of their interaction. For example, in evaluating mental 
ability we must not only consider basic intelligence but also 
weigh the functional utility of the talent to the individual. 
Or, to put it another way, we must try to determine what 
kind of use the person makes of the talents he possesses. 

By considering the relative degree of contribution to a 
given trait made by heredity and environment, we can deter- 
mine the amount of change a person is likely to be able to 
effect in his behavior. There is little a penon can do, for 
example, to change those traits largely determined by he- 
redity, traits such as physical make-up and basic intelligence. 
And such traits of course represent limiting factors as far 
as achies’emcni is concerned. Studies have shosvn, for ex- 
ample, that a boy with an IQ under 90 has relatively little 
chance of graduating from high school. 

On the other hsmd the evidence indicates that certain 
traits of motivation, character, and penonality — traits chiefly 
due to environment, with heredity playing a secondary role — 
can be modified by varying the situations in which the in- 
dividual finds himself and by exposing him to additional 
training. Hence, by manipulating his environment, the in- 
dividual can often reduce the effects of his liabilities and in 
turn capitalize on his strengths. 



Range of Individual Differences. We can evaluate a given 
penon only by comparing him with a large number of other 
people — only by establishing a frame of reference. There- 
fore, it IS important to have some idea of tlie ways in which 
people differ, as well as the range and scope of these differ- 
ences. Actually, people do not fall into sharply divided 
types. Rather, individual differences are more a matter of 
degree than of kind. ^Ve can take almost any trait, such as 
height, weight, or native intelligence, and find that most 
people lie between the two extremes. The general pattern 
or distribution of many traits appears to conform to a curve 
that is shaped like a bell. 

Experiment has sho^vn that svhatevcr the human trait or 
characteristic under consideration, measurement of it gener- 
ally yields a distribution similar in form to that given above. 
We can thus tliink of people in terms of having more or 
less of a given attribute, rather than in tenns of their not 
having it at all. Even the basically insecure individual has 
some degree of self-confidence. Otherwise he would not be 
able to function at all in our society. In our attempts to 
evaluate the individual and assess his grosvth potential, then, 
we must think in terms of those traits largely determined by 
heredity, which are primarily outside of his control, and those 
traits largely determined by environment and learning, which 
are primarily within his control. Such classification helps us 
to assess his growth possibilities and enables us to help him 


maximize his achie\’ement within the limits of his potential. 

Nature of Individual DiSerences. For purposes of evalua- 
tion in the business and industrial setting, it is important 
to realize tliat people differ with respect to at least four broad 
categories; aptitudes, personality, motivation, and character. 
Later on. we will discuss techniques for appraising the penon 
in terms of these categories. First of all, let us look at each 
category in terms of definition and description. 

APTITUDES. AVe all know that people differ with respect 
to intelligence, or their level of mental alertness and their 
ability to learn. Studies have shown that low-level mental 
ability represents the single most important reason why ado- 
lescents leave high school vrithoui graduating. On the other 
hand, those who attain academic honors generally rank in 
the upper part of the menul scale. People also vary con- 
siderably in such specialized abilities and skills as mechanical 
aptitude, eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, and spatial 
sdsualization. As already noted, we are bom with varying 
amounts of many aptitudes. At the same time, although 
training will not substitute for talent, an individual can be 
helped to capitalize on the gifts he does possess. There is a 
ray of hope for all of us here, therefore, since relatively few of 
us make maximum utilization of the abilities we have. 

PERSONALITY. Thc tcim personality is used so loosely in 
our everyday language that its meaning has become somesvhat 
obscured. ^Vhen some psychologists refer to personality they 
mean the unique combination of traits, the sum total of 
which describe any one individual, dictate his reaction to 
stimuli, account for his adjustment to his environment, and 
determine the tilings that he can be trained to do. The 
category is, of coune, very broad, being made up of such 
traits as intelligence, tact, social sensitivity, honesty, self- 
confidence, emotional control, and maturity, to mention but 
a few. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, however, the 



term penonality as it is used in subsequent chapters of this 
book will be defined as those traits svhich are not included 
in the definitions of aptitudes, motivation, and character. 

It becomes readily apparent, of course, that people differ 
widely witli respect to any given trait of personality. Most 
people, horvever, fall between the liigh and losv extremes of 
the distribution. Hence, we do not classify people as definite 
types, or attach labels to them. Furthermore, no one in- 
dividual can be expected to have only favorable traits; each 
of us has both strengths and shortcomings. In our appraisal 
of an applicant, it is our task to decide whether or not his 
assets outweigh his liabilities in terms of the demands of a 
given job situation. 

Although there are obviously wide variations in person- 
ality among people in general, and equally wide variations 
in specific characteristics within a given individual, it is 
fortunate that each of our personalities remains relatively con- 
stant. As mentioned earlier, the general personality pattern 
evolves during the early years. Naturally, tlie personality 
structure becomes modified as the individual encounters new 
situations and new learning experiences. But the general 
structure usually maintains its early form. Thus, we seldom 
see a person who in his younger years exhibited those traits 
usually associated with the extroverted personality change 
into an introvert during the later years of hts life. 

This is not to say, however, that a man cannot improve the 
effectiveness of his personality, since these traits are poten- 
tially within his control. He can — if placed in the right sit- 
uation and appropriately stimulated — develop a higher de- 
gree of a favorable trait and, at the same time, overcome to 
some extent certain personality shortcomings. This kind of 
growtli we have all observed in certain men who are suddenly 
catapulted into a more demanding Job. As a result of in- 
creased authority, greater job demands, and exposure to other 



maximize his aAievemcnt ivithin ihe limils oi his potential. 

Nature of lodividuol Differences. For purposes of evalua- 
tion in the business and industrial setting, it is importan 
to realize that people differ irith respect to at least four broan 
categories; aplitudes, personality, molittalion, and character. 
Later on, i«e ivill discuss techniques for appraising the person 
in terms of these categories. First of all, let us look at each 
category in terms of definition and description. 

ATHTUDES. Wc all know that people differ with respert 
to intelligence, or their level o! mental alertness and their 
ability to learn. Studies have shovm that low-level menta 
ability represents the single most important reason why ado- 
lescents leave high school without graduating. On the other 
hand, those who attain academic honors generally rank in 
the upper part oi the mental scale. People also vary con* 
siderably in such specialized abilities and skills as mechanirtl 
aptitude, eye-hand coordination, finger dexterity, and spatial 
visualization. As already noted, wc arc bom with varying 
amounts oE many aptitudes. At the same time, although 
training will not substitute tor talent, an individual can be 
helped to capitalize on the gilts he does possess. There is a 
ray oE hope for all oE us here, therefore, since relatively few o£ 
us make maximum utilization of the abilities we have. 

PExsoNAUTY. The term personality is used so loosely m 
our everyday language that its meaning has become somewhat 
obscured. When some psychologists refer to personality they 
mean the unique combination o£ traits, the sum total of 
which describe any one individual, dictate his reaction to 
stimuli, account for his adjustment to his environment, and 
determine the tilings that he can be trained to do. The 
category is, oE course, very broad, being made up of such 
trails as intelligence, tact, social sensitivity, honesty, self- 
confidence, emotional control, and maturity, to mention but 
a few. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, however, the 



term personality as it is used in subsequent chapten of this 
book svill be defined as those traits svhich are not included 
in the definitions of aptitudes, motivation, and cliaracter. 

It becomes readily apparent, of course, that people differ 
widely with respect to any given trait of personality. Most 
people, however, fall between the high and low extremes of 
the distribution. Hence, Si'c do not chssify people as definite 
types, or attach labels to them. Furthermore, no one in- 
dividual can be expected to have only favorable traits; each 
of us has both strengths and shortcomings. In our appraisal 
of an applicant, it is our task to decide whether or not his 
assets outweigh his liabilities in terms of the demands of a 
given job situation. 

Although there are obviously wide variations in person- 
ality among people in general, and equally wide variations 
in specific characteristics %\rithin a given individual, it is 
fortunate that each of our personalities remains relatively con- 
stant. As mentioned earlier, the general personality pattern 
evolves during the early years. Naturally, Uie personality 
structure becomes modified as the individual encounters neiv 
situations and new learning experiences. But the general 
structure usually maintains its early form. Thus, we seldom 
see a person who in his younger years exliibtted those traits 
usually associated with the extroverted personality diange 
into an introvert during the later years of his life. 

This is not to say, hotvever, tliat a man cannot improve the 
effectiveness of his personality, since these traits are poten- 
tially within his control. He can — if placed in die right sit- 
uation and appropriately stimulated— develop a higher de- 
gree of a favorable trait and, at the same time, overcome to 
some extent certain penonality shortcomings. This kind of 
growth we have all observed in certain men who are suddenly 
caupulted into a more demanding job. As a result of in- 
creased authority, greater job demands, and exposure to other 



people at high levels, they often acquire greater poise, become 
more decisive, and develop a higher degree of self<onfidence. 

CHARACTER. HcTC wc RTC dealing with the person’s moral 
code and ethical standards. In any given population, we find 
the immoral and the highly moral, the irresponsible and the 
highly responsible. As in the case of other human character- 
istics, however, most people’s ethical standards fall in the mid- 
dle, between the two extremes. If we study a single trait, 
such as honesty, we learn that people arc not always consistent 
within themselves. That is, a person may be honest in most 
situations, but still he may behave in a somewhat under- 
handed fuhion in others. It is our job as appraisers of peo- 
ple to know when a man will cut comers and when he will 
not, in order to judge the amount of responsibility he can be 

It is fairly well accepted that the individual’s basic predis- 
positions with respect to character are molded during the 
early yean in much the same fashion as his basic penonality. 
Although character traits are potentially within the individ- 
ual’s control, in the sense that he can modify them in the right 
situation, tliese traits are perhaps more difficult to change 
than many othen. Certainly, by the time a man is old 
enough to apply for a responsible job, his character will have 
become so firmly set that marked change is not likely. 

MOTIVATION. In this area sve are concerned with the driv- 
ing forces behind people’s actions. We have seen tliat en- 
vironmental and hereditary factors determine what the indi- 
vidual is basically like. HU motivation, in turn, deteiTtiincs 
what he wiil do with hU native talents and with his acquired 
skills. "TliU relationship U often described by the formula: 

Ability X motivation = acliievemcnt 
All humans possess certain common-denominator or primary 
drives, such as hunger, thirst, and self-preservation. The 



people v/iih ^vhom we are to deal as applicants, however, will 
normally have achieved a sulBciently high standard of living 
that their fundamental drives operate only rarely as the direct 
cause of behavior. The people witli whom wc are to be con- 
cerned will vary widely with respect to secondary motives 
such as the desire for prestige, recognition, approval, security, 
and money. Such forces as these, coupled with the individ- 
ual’s basic enei^ and vitality, largely determine the amount 
of effort he is willing to put forth in a work situation. When 
we probe for Uie person's motivation, then, we are actually 
trying to find out what makes him tick. This is not an easy 
task at best, particularly since we tend to attribute to others 
our own ^'alues and motives. In approaching the evaluation 
situation, we must strive to be as objective as possible, realiz- 
ing that our own values and motives may not correspond to 
those held by others. 


Wc have seen that fitting Uie right man to the riglit job is 
not an easy task, tliat there are many facets of the individual 
to be explored. ^Vc have also noted earlier that companies 
suiTer tremendous losses because tlie hiring function is fre- 
quently executed so haphazardly. 

But what about Uie applicant himself? He too has a very 
real stake in this business of selection. He is not like a com- 
modity ora piece of machinery thatcan be purchased on an en- 
tirely impersonal basis. In many cases, his whole future may 
be involved. \Vhen any assessor of men makes the decision 
as to whether or not a given person should be hired for an im- 
portant job or upgraded to a higher level position, he is as- 
suminga grave responsibility. He had better be right in his 
decision, equally for the good of the company and for the 
good of the man. 

All too many men have been placed in positions that, on 

J2 Orientation 

the one hand, mate relatively little use of their real aptitudes 
and interests and. on the other hand, make demands upon 
them in areas where they are weakest. Thus, it is not uncom- 
mon to find a man with high verbal skills and low numerical 
skills eking out his life in some lotv-level accounting position. 
Such a man, if correctly placed and trained, might well have 
developed real proficiency in some 30b that would utilize 
his verbal assets, a job such as marketing or employee rela- 
tions. In the employment situation, then, we must give 
equal attention to the man's best interests as well as to those 
of the company. Normally, the two should not be in conflict, 
for what is best for the man is usually best for the employer. 
The basic objective of any personnel program is to maximize 
the effectiveness of all company employees. 

The employment interviewer who adopts the above philos- 
ophy finds it easier to live with himselL ^Vhen. after explor- 
ing alt hcets of a given applicant’s qualifications, he is forced 
to make a negative decision, he does so with the realization 
that he is turning the man down for hk own good as well as 
for the good of the company. It is more than likely that the 
same applicant may find a job elsewhere that is much more in 
accord with hb abilities and interests. In fact, the decision to 
which sve refer might well have been a blessing in dbgube. 
If hired and inappropriately placed, the man might never 
have realized hb full potential and, what b even more serious, 
might have developed into a fruslraled, unhappy person. In 
due time, of course, the man or the company might have 
made the deebion to sever the relationship. In all too many 
cases, however, ihb does not happen; the inappropriately 
placed worker carries on for years as a marginal employee 
when he might very well have been an above-average pro- 
ducer in a better job cUmate. 

The philosophy discussed above has other important conse- 
quences. "When the inteeviewer b concerned with the appU- 



cant's best interests, this is nonnally conveyed to the man in 
some subtle fashion. As a result, theappUcant becomes more 
cooperative than might othenvise have been the case. This 
is of vital importance, since only rarely can we gel the best 
possible picture of a man in relation to the requirements of a 
job without his coo/’enition. 

Mature of the Evaluation Interview 

and Its Place 

in the Selection Program 

Although this book is primarily concerned with interview- 
',ing techniques, some discussion of other commonly used se- 
fleciion devices helps to place the interview in its proper per- 
.spective. Since the final interview is a time-consuming and 
hence relatively expensive procedure, it should be used only 
' with those candidates who satisfy the minimum job require- 
ments. Most companies, therefore, utilize a scries of screen- 
ing techniques designed to eliminate rather quickly those ap- 
plicants whose qualifications are inappropriate for the job or 
jobs to be filled. Such devices, when properly used, are of 
value to the candidate as well as the company. The over- 
J all hiring procedure normally consumes several hours, and no 
'applicant wants to waste his time being processed for a job 
that he has little chance of getting. An employment setup 
that does not allow for reasonably quick screening is not only 
inefficient but also unfair to the individual. 



iialure of the Evaluation Interview and Its Place 

Most organizations today utilize a number o£ screening de-i 
vices, such as preliminary interview, the application form, 
aptitude tests, and the reference check. All too frequently, j 
hmv'cvcr, these procedures are not appropriately integrated 
and are not given proper weighting in the final hiring deci- ; 
lion. In some instances, for example, too much emphasis t 
has been placed on the role of aptitude tests, svith the expecta- 
tion that such tests should be able to carry most of tlie hiring 
burden. Tests, of course, can make a valuable contribution , 
in selecting people for many types of work, but at best they 
represent only one selection step and certainly cannot be ex- 
pected to do the entire job. At some point, the all-important 
hiring decision must be made, and that normally occurs at the 
end of the final interview. Hence, the final interview repre- 
sents the solid core of any good selection program. 

The early selection steps, then, have two functions: (I) to 
eliminate those applicants whose qualifications can be deter- 
mined as inappropriate at that stage and (2) to provide infor- 
mation that will be helpful to tlie interviewer at the time he 
makes his final decision. In effect, these selection steps repre- 
sent a scries of screens through which tlie successful applicant 
must pass, each screen being constructed of finer mesh ilian 
tiie previous one so Uiai only the most appropriately qualified 
candidates will survive all of Uie screening. This means that 
the final interviewer sees only a fraction of the number of 
people Avho apply for jobs and thus is able to spend as much 
time as he needs with each surviving candidate. 


Recruiting. It is axiomatic that no hiring program can be 
effective unless the number of applicants for a given type of 
work is substantially greater than Uie number of jobs to be 
filled. The very word "selection” implies the choice, for any 
given task, of the one best qualified individual from among a 

,, Orientation 


number oE available candidates. Wherever careEul selection 
is applied, it is of paramount imponance that there be a rela- 
tively large reservoir oE candidates from svhich the final se- 
lectees are chosen. This is what b known as the selection 
ratio. Ordinarily this ratio should be at least four or five 
candidates for each person Bnally selected. 

We are always faced with the law of demand and supply in 
so far as the labor population b concerned, and the available 
pool of candidates for ]obs requiring highly developed skilb 
and long years of training b always limited. At the same 
time, it is important to choose the best people obtainable. In 
times of great industrial activity, many companies take a dc- 
featbl attitude toward the recruiting problem. They give up 
too easily, wlthouc having tapped all possible sources of sup 
ply. More alert organbations. on the other hand, maintain 
an aggressive recruiting policy. This often involves sending 
recruiters to neighboring communities, establbhing company 
bus transporution to these communities, and contacting tech- 
nical men in their junior year in college. One brge chemical 
company has established the policy of hiring students for sum- 
mer jobs at the end of their junior year in college. Tlib not 
only permits a thorough evaluation of the man in the job sit- 
uation but enables the company to sell the best-qualified stu- 
dents on the organuation as a desirable place to work. This 
company’s recruiting record b very impressive; it succeeds in 
getting a relatively high percentage of its sumraer-einployed 
students at the time of their graduation from college. 

Afan Speci^cfltions. It b surprbing that so fesv people 
recogniie the seemingly obvious fact that intelligent selection 
b predicated on the knowledge of what to look for in the ap 
plicant. How indeed can wc evaluate a man for a job if we 
do not know precisdy what abilities and penonality traits are 
nectary for success? Yet, so many employment departments 
are "playing the piano by ear" in thb respect. Now it b true 


Nature of the Evaluation Interview and Its Place 
that many companies have developed job descriptions as a 
result of Uieir job evaluation programs. But most descrip- 
tions tell svhat a man must do rather than svliat ability and 
penonalliy traits are required. Thus Uic job description, 
while certainly very helpful, is not wholly satisfactory for hir- 
ing purposes. In addition to these job descriptions, we need 
man specifications. The latter provide a list of those traits 
and abilities required for successful job performance, thus 
enabling Uie employment interviewer to compare tlic appli- 
cant’s quallficaiions svith (he specific demands of tlie job. 
Without such man specifications good selection is practically 
impossible. Suggestions for preparing man spcciHcations 
will be found in Chapter 3. 

Preliminary Interview. This represents the first screening 
stage. Within a period of five to ten minutes, those appli- 
cants who arc obviously unqualified can be eliminated. This 
quickly clears the employment office and provides a me.ans of 
scheduling tlie surviving applicants for subsequent tests and 
interview sessions. 

Tlie penon wlio conducts the preliminary interview must 
be well trained and highly skilled. Within a short space of 
time, he must be able to identify obvious liabilities for the job 
in question and, at tlie same time, give the applicant die feel- 
ing tliai his qualifications have been given proper considera- 
tion., The latter is important in terms of the company’s 
public relations policy and in terms of the applicant’s feeling 
of seU-worlh. 

Factors on which persons are normally eliminated during 
the preliminary interview include (1) inadequate experience 
and training, (2) age, (3) marked physical disabilities, and 
(4) completely inappropriate pcnonality pattern for the Job 
in question. The individual with a withdrawn, introverted 
personality, for example, cannot be expected to make the 
best use of his ablHlies in a pressure sales job. It should be 



emphasized, though, that only those applicants who are 
clearly lacking in necessary qualifications should be ehmH 
nated at thb stage. Doubtful cases should be screened in. 

In the case of those applicants who are screened in and are 
thus deemed qualified for further processing, the prelimiM^ 
inten’iewer must make note of relevant points that should be 
followed up in the final interview. Remember, the function 
of the early selection steps b not only to eliminate but also to 
provide clues that will be helpful to the final interviewer in 
making his hiring decision. Thus the preliminary inter- 
viewer may get the feeling that an applicant is a "smooth op- 
erator*’ but, lacking sufficient time, may not be able to tell 
whether this will be an asset or a liability. Or he may be 
dissatisfied with a candidate’s reasons for leaving his 1**^ 
job. even though his general impressions of the man are favor- 

Application Blank. Once the candidate has survived the 
preliminary interview, he b usually required to complete an 
application form that includes from one lo four full pages of 
questions. Every company uses an applicition blank, but 
many such blanks fall far short of what they might be. Rel- 
atively few application blanks provide for all the information 
they should in teinu of job and man specifications. Many 
application blanks for use with technical personnel, for ex- 
ample, fail to provide space for the applicant’s publications, 
patents, dbserution title, and the specific nature of hb previ- 
ous jobs. Still fewer application blanks ask for information 
which might provide clues to be followed up in the final in- 
terview. For example, the inclusion of such items as (1) 
likes and dislikes on previous jobs, (2) age of applicant at 
graduation, and (3) estimate of expected earnings five and 
ten years hence, frequently provides clues to interests and pcT' 
sonality traits that can he evaluated later in the selection 

Nature of the Evaluation Interviea and Its Place 19 

Experience Itai shown that it is possible, at least for some 
jobs, to weight certain items of experience, education, and 
personal history in a ss-ay that can contribute appreciably to 
die prediction of success during and after training. Su^ a 
weighted application form has been incorporated into the 
Aptitude Index * which has been prepared by die Life In- 
surance Agency Management Association for the selection of 
insurance salesmen. The Aptitude Index culminates in a 
rating of 0 to 19. Experience svith this form over a number 
of years has showm d>at penons obtaining scores of approxi- 
mately 8 and below arc unlikely to become successful insur- 
ance salesmen. Hence, it is possible to eliminate such candi- 
dates at the outset. A score of 9 and above on this form does 
not in itself predict success, but candidates making sucli scores 
are far more likely to succeed in this business. It should be 
noted, however, that the weighted application blank is more 
effective for use witli mature adulu whose opportunities for 
experience have been more diverse. The preparation of 
weighted application blanks requires a considerable amount 
of study, standardization groups of appreciable size, and die 
assistance of experts who are higlily trained in their held. 

Aptitude Tests. Aptitude tests provide a far more accu- 
'rate tool for measuring certain ability factors than any other 
known device. For example, tests of mental ability, verbal 
ability, numerical ability, mechanical comprehension, and 
clerical aptitude provide much more valid results than can be 
obtained by means of die intervierv. Hence, it is a cardinal 
principle that the interview should not be used to appraise 
factors diat can be measured more validly by other devices. 

Aptitude tests can often make a substantial contribution to 
a selection program if they are carefully chosen, adequately 
validated, carefully administered and, finally, if die test re- 

* A Seletll«n Study, Rnearch Report 1937'S, file No. iZi, publitbed bjr 
Lite Iniurance Agency Management AawclaUon, Hantord, Conn. 

2 Q Orientation 

suits aie closely integrated with findings brought to light 
through other techniques o£ the selection program. Apti- 
tude tests can perform two important functions: (1) they t^n 
be used to eliminate applicants whose prticular abilities do 
not meet the minimum job requirements and (2) they can 
provide valuable leads to be followed up in a subsequent in- 
terview. Let us say, for example, that as a result of carefu 
investigation it has been shown that persons obtaining a score 
of less than 60 on a given test have very little chance of succea 
on a particular pb. This score of 60 then becomes a cut-o 
score," and applicants whose test results fall below this point 
may be eliminated at this selection stage. As pointed out 
earlier, such elimination is in the applicant’s own best 
est; it is certainly not to hb advantage to be placed in a job 
svith critical demands in hb weakest areas. 

Tests can abo provide valuable clues for the final inter- 
viewer. Such clues frequently stem from the applicant’s be- 
havior in the test situation as well as from the test results 
themselves. Thus the test adminbtrator may notice that an 
applicant "jumps the gun,” beginning the test before the 
starting signal has actually been given and continuing to work 
after the stopping signal has been indicated. Such behavior 
might represent a possible clue to dishonesty in certain situa- 
tions or might indicate that the applicant has a strong need 
to be competitive. Forewarned, the final interviewer b 
therefore in a position to follow up in an area that migh^ 
oiherwbc have escaped hb attention. 

The test results themselves can often provide an alert inter- 
viewer with clues to the individual's motivation. Let uS 
take the example of an applicant whose mental test score b 
exceedingly high. Thb means of course that the individual 
b potentially capable of outstanding academic performance- 
If in the final interview, thb individual admits that hb grades 
in school were mediocre, it becomes apparent to the inter- 

hotiHly. and dcpcndabUity. Unlonunatdy. onl^y the f.nt 

two o! theie traits an be identified with any hish degrK o 
accuracy by means ot tests; in the case of three or four of the 
other traits, tesu an he helpful but the results must be con- 
firmed by the clinial judgment of the imemewer in the 
final-tmcTvicw situation. How, then, can tests alone be ex- 

peacd to do the entire scleaion job? 

It is in ilic areas of personality and motivation that tesu 
leave the most to be desired. The tesu that liavc bew built 
to measure various aspecu of personality and motivation have 
proven least valid and reliable among all psychological tesu 
so far developed. This is why their use b limited as an aid 
to seleaion in the average office or industrial employment 
situation. We should mention in passing, however, that CCT* 
uin personality tests— Uie soolled projective tesu in partic- 
ular— have shoim promising resulu in the hands of the highly 
trained clinical psychologut. Even in thb case, the projec- 
tive tesu arc used primaiily as a means of providing clues that 
can be followed up in the interview. Most industrial organi- 
tations arc not fortunate enough to have a clinical psycholo- 

gist as a member of their employment stafb. In the average 

company, Uien, means other than tesu must be used to assess 
personality and motivation. As we shall later see, this is 
one o! the most important functions of ilic ev'aluauon inter- 


lUfeiente Checkup. In the case of applicanu whose test 
scores utisfy the minimum Job icquircmenu, a reference 
check of pres iom employment b normally arried out. Rc^' 
erence checks by mail are seldom fruitful, since many eni- 
ploycrs arc reluctant to commit themselves on paper with re- 
ipeet to an employee’s deheiendes. Hence, reference checks 
should be made either in person or by telephone. The latter 
normally represenu the most feasible means because the 
fomer is too limc-comuming. In any event, this procedure 


Nature of the Evaluation Intennev and Its Place 
is actually an inten’iew situation. Only by utilizing sucli 
accepted inteniew lecliniqucs as establishing rapport, asking 
open-end questions, and getting information before giving 
information can one expect to get a seasonably true picture of 
tlic applicant’s performance in previous jobs. Tlicse tech- 
niques will be disaissed thoroughly in a subsequent cliapter. 

In fairness to the applicant, diccks should be made with 
three previous employers, wherever possible. It is conceiv- 
able that one previous employer’s evaluation might be emo- 
tionally toned and completely nonobjcciive. To take such 
findings at face value from a single source is both unfair and 
poor emplo>'mcnt practice. 

Wlien unfavorable findings of a very serious nature are con- 
sistently obuined from two or three different sources, the 
applicant may be eliminated at this stage, even tliough he 
may have done well on his tests and successfully survived the 
other screening steps. TItere ss-ould be no point, for exam- 
ple, in spending s-atuable time interviewing a man who had 
been judged definitely dishonest by two or three former cm- 
ployen. For tlie most part, ihougli, reference diecks are 
principally useful as aids to the final interview. If at all fea- 
sible, then, they siiould be carried out before the applicant 
readies the final selection stage. This permits the inter- 
viewer to dieck reference materia! with die statements the ap- 
plicant makes during the intennew or with the information 
lie lias supplied on the application blank. 'Where diecks 
with previous employers draiv attention to certain pcnonality 
factors, moreover, die interviewer will be alerted to the 
possible existence of such traits and will make every effort 
to confirm them. In a sense, dten, reference information 
provides the interviewer with a ’’head start." This is, of 
course, true witli respect to all other information diat stems 
from die early screening stages. Such ‘‘leads’’ help to estab- 
lish hypotheses whidi can subsequendy be examined. 



Once the applicant has survived the early screening selec- 
tion steps, he approaches the most critical aspect of the selec- 
tion program, the final interview. It is in thb interview that 
all the information obtained from the preliminary inter- 
vtesv, the application blank, the aptitude tests, and the 
ence checkup is integrated with other factors of the indi- 
vidual's background, and the final decision is made. Too, 
rely on the interview for appraisal of those traits which 
are impossible to assess by any other means. 

Function of the Interview. The interview is designed 
to perform two functions: (1) to determine the relevance of 
the applicant's experience and training to the demands of 
a specific job and (2) to appra'ise his personality, chaiactCT, 
and moiis'ation. Once these facten have been assessed, m 
the light of the applicant's ability as shown by the various 
aptitude tests, the interviewer is in a position to make the 
final hiring decuion. Thb is of necessity a subjective de- 
cbion, a decision based upon the interviesver’s experience 
and Judgment. It b hb task at this point to evaluate the 
candidate’s assets and liabilities in terms of the demands of 
a given job. He must also judge the extent to svhich the 
assets outweigh the liabilities or vice versa. Only in this 
way can he rate the man excellent, above average, average, 
below average, or pooA 

Types of Interviews. For all practical purposes, inter-* 
vinvs may be divided into three types: the direct interview, 
the indirect interview, and the patterned interview.- The 
direct interview b one in which the interviewer maintains | 
tight control, generally firing a barrage of limited and specific \ 
questions at the inicrviewec. Thb is often referred to as 
the "question-and-ans wer a pproach." The technique en- 
ables one to amass a large body of factual data in a short 


Nature oj the Evaluation Intervietf and Its Place 

period of time, but falls far short of the mark in getting at 
tile candidate's generalized attitudes, traits, and habit pat- 
terns. In the direct interview, the applicant is on his guard 
and hence usually screens his remarks, giving answers that 
are calculated in his opinion to place him in the best possible 
light. In tliis type of interview, the person usually feels', 
"on the spot,” with the result that the atmosphere is likely i 
to become strained. Feeling like a man who has been cross- < 
examined on the witness stand, the person frequently leaves 
with an unpleasant reaction to the interview situation. 

In the indirect interview, there is usually very little con- 
trol on the part of the interviewer. He permits the applicant 
to run wiili the ball as the latter sees fit, interjecting only 
occasional questions. True, this ty^e of interview often 
results in findings that throw a light on the candidate’s at- 
titudes, traits, and habit patterns. Since the man is permitted 
to talk about anything or everything tliat comes to mind, 
however, the discussion ts almost completely unstructured 
and wiUiout any kind of system. This means that it is often 
quite impossible to cover all the impKirtant areas of the 
applicant’s background witliin a reasonable period of time. 
Hence, (be interviewer faces the task of making his decision 
on the basis of inadequate and incomplete information. 

To our way of thinking, neither of the above two methods 
is appropriate to the business and industrial situation. Con- 
sequently, sve favor the patterned interview which is actually 
a merger of both techniques. Here the conversation is 
guided adroitly by the interviewer, but the interviewee is 
encouraged to speak freely and at length about relevant 
topics. Control of the interview is maintained so that all 
important areas of the applicant’s background can be covered 
systematically, but the information is obtained in an indirect 
manner. By adroit wording of comments and questions, 
and by Tcflecling the applicant's feelings, spontaneous in- 



formation can be obtained ivithouc having to ask direct or 
pointed questions and without giving the applicant the feel- 
ing that he is being grilled or cross-examined. The pat- 
terned interview discussed in this book b referred to as the 
evaluation interview to dbtinguish it from other types of 
patterned interviews. 

Basic Philosophy of the Evaluation Interview. The evalu- 
ation interview as presented here b based on the assumption 
that the best indication of svhat an individual will do in the 
future stems from what he has done in the past. Past per- 
formance is not to be considered in terms of a single factor, 
such as svork experience, but rather from the standpoint 
of the person as a whole. Thus, the interviewer is called 
upon to explore all important areas of the individual’s back- 
ground hb work experience, education and training, early 
home background, and present social adjustment. The 
philosophy of ihb interview, and indeed the philosophy of 
the entire selection program, b based on the principle that 
the more relevant information it b possible to obtain about 
the applicant, the better ihe basb for an intelligent employ- 
ment deebion. 

jMlhough the interview fa patterned, in the sense that it 
foUnivs a logical sequence and covets certain broad areas 
fr °^°yghly, it B not at all mechanical or stereotyped. 
^Vithm each interview area, in fact, the candidate b en- 
couiage to tell his own stoiy, the interviewer interrupting 
only to obtain mote speciSc information or to direct the 
discourse into chamiefa that lend sequence to the talk in 
a^tdance with the general plan of the inteiview. The less 
lalluns the mteiviewet has to do to maintain this patteni, 
Soro Ti “ likely to be. fVhen 

OTrUf. K 1^' intotviewer does 

till m '>■' ”“1 P^il- 

ung the candidate to take the center of the stage. -ndThas 


Nature of the Evaluation Interview and Its Place 

the obvious advantage of enabling the interviewer to sit 
back and analyze the import of the applicant's remarks. If 
the interviewer does 50 per cent of the talking— as too many 
interviewen do — he has relatively little opportunity to evalu- 
ate the applicant during that half of the interview session. 
In an interview that lasts 1% hours, then, the interviewer 
has only forty-five minutes to interpret the candidate’s entire 

We Iiave already discussed the candidate’s stake in the 
over-all hiring decision. And we have pointed out that it 
is to his advantage that the intervierver obtain a clear picture 
of his shortcomings as well as his assets. This objective is 
seldom achieved, however, unless the interviewer succeeds 
in getting spontaneous information. This, as wc shall later 
see, is accomplished by creating a friendly, permissive, and 
SYtnpathfitic atmosphere and by making cettaia that the 
discussion takes die form of a pleasant conversation. In 
such a setting, (he applicant's remarks usually become so 
spontaneous that he does relatively little screening of his 
words. Sudi remarks are therefore more likely to include 
clues to both assets and shortcomings. 

Since most applicants approach the interview with the 
objective of putting their best foot forward, the interviewer 
must be motivated from the very beginning to scarcli for 
unfovorable information. Othenvise, he is likely to be taken 
in by surface appearances and behavior. Intervieivers arc 
human and tiius, despite their efforts to maintain objectivity, 
react more favorably to some persons than they do to odiers. 
IVhen the initial reaction is favorable, the interviewer has 
a natural tendency to look only for diose clues diat will con- 
firm his original impression. It must be remembered, 
though, that no one of us is perfect; rve all have shortcomings. 
The intervieu) that results in no unfavorable information 
is inescapably a poor interview. 



The interviov has been described as getting information, 
giving information, and making a friend. Although sve 
agree tviih this general definition, we would reverse the order 
somewhat. In our scheme of things, we first concentrate on 
making a friend, then getting the information, and finally 
gitring the information concerning the job for svhich the man 
is applying. Our rationale is that the interviewer does not 
get evaluative information unless he first establishes rapport 
svith the applicant. Next we get the information about the 
man before we give the information about the job. Other- 
wise, we would tip our hand and thus make our problem of 
evaluation more difficult. The alert individual who is given 
a full description of the job at the very beginning of the 
discussion is in a position to color his story in such a svay 
as to make his qualifications appear to be more relevant titan 
they may actually be. Consequently, we make every eSort 
not to tip our hand, either by prematurely divulging job 
information or by the wording of our questions. A question 
such as, “Did you get good grades in college?" alerts the man 
to the fact that we regard high college grades as important. 
In an effort to obviate such a givcaivay, we try to keep our 
questions open-end and relatively unstructured. The ques- 
tion. “What about the level of your college grades?” en- 
courages the man to talk about this subject without any 
knowledge of the importance we may attach to it. 

Actually, this interview is an exercise in indirection. By 
means of adroit suggestions, commenti, and questions, we 
try to elicit spontaneous information without having to ask 
direct or pointed questions. Obviously, if we are unable 
to get the desired information by means of indirection, our 
questions must become gradually more direct. Even so, we 
try to soften such questions by the use of appropriately 
worded introductory phrases and qualifying adjectives. 


Nature of the Evaluation Interview and Its Place 

Specific (cclmiques for accomplishing thb objective will 
be found in a later chapter. 


The selection techniques described above are primarily 
designed for the cvaUuition of candidates for higher-level 
positions. This will represent our major empltasis through- 
out the remainder of the book. But tlie same general ap- 
proach may also be used in processing applicants for lower- 
level jobs, the principal difference being the amount of time 
required. TIjus, in selecting a file clerk — in contrast to a 
general office manager — ^we would normally use a shorter 
application fomt. fewer tests, and a much briefer inter>'icw. 
Tlie difference in time required to process applicants for 
the two jobs is based on tlie hict that the file clerk’s job is 
much less dem-anding. There would be no need, for ex- 
ample, to look for leadership ability and administrative 
skills — abilities that would represent important requisites 
in the selection of a general office manager. In selecting 
candidates for ilic job of file clerk. ihcrefoTc, the interview 
can frequently be completed within a period of twenty-five 
to thirty-five minutes. This is not only because the file 
clerk’s job is less demanding but because most applicants 
for these positions are young girls just out of high school, 
with relatively little experience and education to be evalu- 

In selecting applicants for lower-level jobs, the intervie^^’e^ 
neverilieless e.\plorcs all the major areas of the individual’s 
background. And lie uses the same information-getting 
tecliniques fie employw in Jiis interview with candidates for 
more important positions. 

Interviewing in any case is truly an art and as such requires 
careful study and frequent practice. Mastery of this art 



will come only as a result of consistent, conscious application 
of techniques such as those discussed in later chapters of 
this book. Because indirection involves logical, stepby- 
step planning — in contrsist to tlic impulsiveness of the direct 
approach — the process fortunately lends itself to a readily 
understood formula. Before we launch into a discussion of 
the recommended techniques, however, it seems appropriate 
to set forth some general suggestions on preparing oneself 
to become a good interviewer. 


Hov) to Become a Good Interviewer 

An analpji of the Interviewer** joh reveal* iliat he i* called 
upon to fterfoan two major functlotti. Ite muit be able 
to acquire relevant information, and he must know how to 
interjirct the data he has obtaineil. 

Since it Is not always easy to elicit information of a some* 
what delicate and {Xtsottal nature, ih( intcrvien'cr mtof fcr 
It good iaUtman. This sutement may be lurprising to some, 
but it is nevertheless true. Ttic interviewer must be able 
to sell the applicant on "opening up and revealing his hand." 
even though some of the information dcvelopctl may be of 
an unfavorable nature. Hence, it is exceedingly important 
tliat the interviewer {xnscss the type of personality tlut will 
enable him to do a gootl selling job. Only by successful 
use of indirection and other tcchnirpies for setting the stage 
will the interviewer be able to get the real story. 

Having obtained die appropriate information, the inter* 
viewer is then confrontcil wiifi the second major function, 
that of interpretation. Wc might say in p.tssing that inter- 
viewers in general do a better job of getting Uic story tlian dicy 




do o£ interpreting their findings. The latter is the more 
difficult function, quite probably because it places heavy 
demands on intellectual capacity and interviewing experi- 
ence. But skill in either one of tlicse functions alone is 
obviously insufficient. If the interviewer is unable to gel 
all the relevant information, he has no real basis for evalua- 
tion no matter how good his interpretive skills. If he is 
successful in getting the data but unsuccessful in evaluating 
it, he is in equally difficult straits. 

To carry out these two functions with any genuine degree 
of competence, the individual should possess a number of 
specific qualifications. Although many different qualities 
may contribute to the interviewer's success, ilie foUosving are 
of paramount importance: 

1. He should have a warm, engaging manner. Since the 
very essence of his job involves social contact, he must be 
the sort of penon who meets others easily and to whom people 
react favorably upon first acquaintance. This quality of 
personality helps him to esublish quick rapport and set the 
stage for a friendly, pleasant disaission. 

2. He must be sensitive in social situations — quick to 
perceive implications in the remarks of others and sensitive 
to the slightest nuances of expression, vocal intonation, hesita- 
tion in responses, and other clues which may come to light 
in the interview situation. 

5. The interviewer must be reasonably intelligent. His 
mental level should be as high as or higher than that of most 
of the applicants he sees, so that he will always be able to 
cope with the situation. Otherwise, there may be a question 
of who is interviewing whom. 

4. Analytical thinking and eriticat judgment play a major 
role in the interpretation of data. Without these abilities 
the individual cannot be expected to evaluate properly all 

How to Become a Good Interviewer 33 

the positive as tvell as the negative factors and to arrive at a 
sound decision. 

5. He must be adaptable. The good interviewer must 
keep an open mind and must be aWe to adjust his approach 
and his tliought processes to a variety of applicants. 

G. The interviewer must be mature as a person. Other- 
wise, he cannot be expected to show good sense or sound 
practical judgment. 

In the light of these qualifications, it is quite apparent 
that not everyone can be expected to become a good inter- 
viewer. It is equally apparent that many companies fail 
to evaluate properly the interviewer’s job. As we have al- 
ready seen, Uie interviewer's day-to-day decisions may largely 
determine the organization's compietitive position in the years 
aliead. Consequently, the interviewer should be carefully 
selected and well compensated. All too many companies 
assign inappropriately qualified persons to this function, give 
them very little training, and pay them far too low a salary. 


It stands to reason dtat appropriate job qualifications are 
not in themselves sufTicient to ensure successful interviewing 
performance. A good interviewer must be carefully trained. 
Inters’ieiving is an art that involves a number of specific 
skills. Hence, the individual mus< learn by doing. Com- 
petence can be achieved only by practice under the super- 
vision of an expert. 

True, there are some persons who learn to play golf on 
their own by the tiial-and-ciror method. But most people 
require the tutelage of a professional, one who can put them 
on the right track at the very beginning. So it is with inter- 
vieiving. Like any otlier function involving skills, inter- 
viewing cannot be learned by reading a book, no matter^ 


how comprehensive the book, may be. The book can, o£ 
course, define the skilb, provide the appropriate rationale, 
and lay out the proper course. But practice under the super- 
vision of an expert is the best mcaiu of acquiring a high de- 
gree of skill. 

Some people regard themselves as expert merely because 
they have been interviewing applicants in an employment 
office over a period of years. But practice makes imperfect 
as well as perfect, and if the person has started out with an 
erroneous or incomplete approach to the interview situation, 
he may have spent much of this time simply practicing his 
own mistakes. 

The method of interviewer training practiced by The 
Psychological Corporation follows the classic teaching pattern. 
The trainer discusses the philosophy of the interview and 
tells the trainees how to p^orm the skilb. He then dem* 
enstretes these skilb by conducting regular interviews with 
bona fide applicants and permitting the trainees to observe 
hb performance. Subsequently, the trainees do the inter- 
viewing with the trainer observing. Thus, they get super- 
vised practice — practice that Teprcsenls such an important 
element in the acqubition of a new skill. Their mbtakes 
are corrected and they start out on the right track at the 
beginning. Because of hu experience and greater frame 
of reference, moreover, the trainer can establish standards 
of evaluation, thus enabling the trainee to give proper weight 
to the various findings that come to light in hb interview. 
The trainees thus learn to make sound over-all deebions with 
respect to the applicant's qualifications for a given job. 

One of the functions of a book such as thb b to point out 
cTTOTS that inevitably creep into interviewing practices. Such 

How to Become a Good Intervin/er 35 

errors are quite easily recognirable, and many interviewers 
may see some o£ their own tendencies highlighted in the 
section that follotvs. A frank admission of tiie existence of 
these tendencies together with a swtained effort to eliminate 
them should result in a much bcUer performance. 

The Unsupported Hunch. Perhaps because of the pres- 
sure of having to see a number of people in too short a time, 
many interviewers rely upon so-olled "hunches," jumping 
to conclusions which liave little or no basis in fact Many 
of us, for example, have a temptation to classify people ac- 
cording to physical appearance. We may jump to the con- 
clusion iljat the man with a square jaw is a person with great 
determination, or that the penon with red hair has a hot 
temper, or that ilie individual with eyes set rather close to- 
gether is not to be trusted. Many studies, of course, have 
shown that such conclusions have not tlie slightest validity. 

It can be emphasized, too, that there is little truth in the 
adage that neatness of dress indicates careful job performance. 
Investigations have shoivn that the carelessly dressed die 
maker may very well be a meticulous workman. The most 
fastidiously dressed stenographer may prove to be slovenly 
in her work. 

The evidence indicates that some judgments developed in 
the course of an interview may be affected by factors of which 
the interviewer is unarvare. All of us are undoubtedly in- 
fluenced — often without reco^izing the fact — by our con- 
ceptions of what a criminal, a dilettante, or an honest roan 
really looks like. We build up stereotypes of such people 
overa period of years on the bash o( our personal experiences, 
movies, radio, newspaper cartoons, and the like. If we arc 
not constantly on the alert, we may base an important inter- 
view decision on the resemblance of an applicant to some pre- 
conceived stereotype. 


The Halo Effect. It is also a human tendency to pennit 
a single prominent cliaracteristic to overshadoiv all others. 
Thus, we may become so favorably impressed tvith a man be- 
cause of his outstanding habits of hard work that we lend to 
rate him higher than he should be rated on other traits. 
This error has been called the "halo cllccl,” since the inter- 
viewer reacts as if the one outstanding trait had cast a halo 
around tlie applicant, making all his other characteristics ap- 
pear correspondingly better. 

The halo effect also operates in the opposite direction. If 
a man rates below average in mental ability, for example, wc 
may have a tendency to write him off, svithoui taking the 
trouble to explore fully his real assets. It is conceivable that 
he may work so hard and may make such extensive utilization 
of the abiliti^ he does have that he compensates in large 
measure for his below-average mental level. Remember, we 
are not being fair to the man if we permit one shortcoming 
to influence judgment of his other traits disproportionately. 

If one IS to avoid the halo effect, he needs to think in terms 
of specific traits and to strive for objectivity in his judgments. 
We once knew a college professor who scored an examina- 
tion >n essay form by reading question number one as an- 
swered by each student in the cla«. then reading the second 
question, and so on until he had completed all the papers. 
He admittedly did this so that he would not be unduly in- 
toced by a given student's performance on a single ques- 

valuable to an jn- 

tion that ^ ' he is able to obtain subsequent informa- 

t,on that supports these impressions. We lay see that a 

sp«.tally tor U,, But we 

How to Become a Good Interviewer 


can only appraise him as tactless in our final evaluation if we 
find good and sufficient evidence of this trait, as a result of our 
exploration of the man's work history, education, and present 
social behas'ior. In all cases, wc must think in tenru of the 
individual applicant, base our judgments on concrete obser- 
vations and inferences, and be specific in our evaluations. 


To become a good interviewer, one must acquire a thor- 
ough knowledge of the jobs for which he is selecting appli- 
cants. As we have pointed out in a previous chapter, far too 
little attention has been given to this important factor. The 
interviewer must not only know what the man is to do in a 
given job, but must also have a knowledge of the specific 
traits and abilities necessary for success in tliat job. Other- 
wise, he finds it impossible to match the applicant's qualifi- 
cations svith the job demands. 

As a first step in acquiring an undentanding of job require- 
ments, die interviewer should spend a considerable amount 
of lime in the plant or office, familiarizing himself with work- 
ing conditions, physical demands, promotional possibilities, 
occupational hazards, and oilier factors of the svxirk setting. 
Next, he sliould give his attention to specific job require- 
ments in each department. In thh connection, he will want 
to become acquainted svith the supervisor as a penon, lor 
the purpose of developing a cooperative working relation- 
ship with the man and getting the latter's views on what he 
regards as important for succeis in the various jobs under 
his direction. In the covtise ot his discussions with the super- 
visor, the interviewer, if appropriately observant, will learn 
something about the man's personality make-up and will get 
some definite impressions as to the type of applicant he 
prefen. He may fmd that a given supervisor is unusually 
hard-boiled, for example, the kind of a man who would 



quickly break the spirit of an overly sensitive, soft employee. 

Or he may leant that one supervisor is prejudiced against 
men with higher education or against individuals with weak 
cliins," On the basis of these Endings, the intervieiver learns 
whom to refer to a particular supervisor and whom not to 
refer. We all know that an employee has two strikes agains 
him if he happens to be the type of person against tvhom 
his immediate superior is prejudiced, even though he may 
be a perfectly good worker. 

In his investigation of job requirements, the interviewer 
should chat with various men on the job in each department 
These are the people who are actually peifonning the job 
duties and are, therefore, in a position to provide salient 
information. It is important not only to get their ideas o 
trait and ability requirements but abo to find out what as- 
pects of the job give them greatest satisfaction. In this way» 
the interviewer builds up a body of information concern- 
ing the job climate. In talking with subsequent applicants, 
he will be in a better position to know whether or not the 
candidate’s likes and dislikes fit the pattern of the men in a 
given department. 

On the basb of his observations, his discussions with super* 
visors, and his visits with men on the job, the interviewer is 
in a position to svrite down a list of man specifications, those 
traits and abilities svhich appear to be most important for 
successful peifonnance on the important jobs in each depart- 
ment. This list should include such factors as general menial 
level, any spcci&c aptitudes such as mathematical ability or 
mechanical comprehension, personality requirements, physi- 
cal demands, and general attitudes. And the inters'iewcr 
should dieck his observaiioru by every means possible- 
Thus, he may be able to test current employees as a means 
of establishing tlie optimal level of mental ability and other 
specific aptitudes. He can also make a study of job failures 

How to Become a Good Interviewer 

by carrying out a diorough discussion in an exit interview 
at tiie time the man leaves the company. This permits him 
to modify his man specifications in accordance with sub- 
sequent experience. It is vitally important that the man 
specifications be kept up-to-date. In some of the younger, 
more dynamic industries, such as the aviation industry, the 
job content changes rather frequently. This occurs at the 
upper levels as well as at the rank-and-file level. 

If the interviewer's function extends to the employment of 
clerical people or sales personnel, he should make a similar 
study of those jobs. In acquiring familiarity with the re- 
quirements of sales positions, it is advisable not only to talk 
with the sales manager but actually to accompany a number 
of the salesmen on their regular rounds. As a result of the 
latter, the interviewer gets a first-hand picture of the prob- 
lems that confront the salesman. In this way, he can get 
a far more accurate estimate of the degree to whidi various 
personality traits and abilities are required. 

The resulting man specifications for any job will be com- 
posed of a list of favorable /actors, those qualifications that 
play the biggest part in successful job performance. In 
appraising applicants for a specific job, one will, of course, 
seldom find a man who possesses all the favorable fiictors; 
tlie employment decision will have to be made by selecting 
the man who possesses more of these qualifications than his 

Before embarking on the task of developing man specifica- 
tions, the interviewer should have in mind a general idea of 
the qualifications normally found in successful employees on 
a wide variety of jobs. This permits him to ask about the 
relevance of a given trait, should the supervisor or sub- 
ordinate fail to include it. If the interviewer is able to give 
the impression of having some understanding of certain jobs, 
he will gain quicker rapport with supervisors and subordi- 



nates alike. They will get the feeling that he knot'fs his 
business and can be helpful in adding good men to their 
unit. They will be correspondingly more cooperative and 
Hill do a better job of supplying die needed information. 

■\Vilh these objectives in mind, we have prepared a senes of 
general man specifications for a number of key jobs, based on 
knowledge gained from evaluating candidates for these jobs 
over a period of many years. It should be emphasued that 
the specifications that follow are general rather than specific. 
Hence, they cannot be expeaed to represent the requirements 
for any one job in any given organization. On the con- 
trary, they are designed to give the interviewer a genera 
overview and are to be used primarily as background in- 
formation. Specific job demands vary svidcly from com- 
pany to company, depending upon job content, organiza- 
tional setup, and company atmosphere. In developing the 
following man specifications, we have omitted certain 
common-denominator traits that are important in practically 
all jobs, traits such as honesty, loyalty, willingness to v^ork 
hard, and ability to get along with people. In other wor^» 
these specifications are limited to those traits and abilities 
which are most likely to vary from job to job. Abilities 
preceded by an asterisk are those which can be best deter- 
mined by means of aptitude tests. 


Qualifications for executive positions vary with respect 
to level of responsibility and the kind of people to be super- 
vised. The chief accountant, for example, need not has'C 
the same degree of dynamic, tough-minded leadership 
normally required in the plant superintendent. In general, 
however, the qualifications for the executive may be broken 
down into two categories: leadership and administrative 

How to Become a Good Interviewer 







Courage of convictions 

Ability to take cliarge 

Ability to organize 


Ability to inspire others 

Tact and social sensitivity 

Administrative Ability 

• High-level mental ability 

• Good verbal ability 

• Good numerical ability 
Ability to think analytically 

and critically 
Good judgment 
Long-range planning ability 
Good cultural background 
Breadth and perspective 
Ability to see the broad, 
over-all picture 

Rationale. Tlie ideal executive is a happy blend of the 
leader and the administrator. To make these terms more 
meaningful, let us take an example from the military estab- 
lishment, Leadership is best personified in the second 
lieutenant operating on the front lines who personally in- 
fluences his subordinates into carrying out his commands. 
Administrative ability is represented by the critical job de- 
mands found in headquarters staff assignments, where oflicers 
operate behind Che lines planning the logistics, working out 
the strategies of battle, and making the aU-imporiant decisions. 

As a leader, the executive must be able to influence his 
subordinates so tliat they willingly carry out his wishes. On 
the one hand, he must be forceful, dynamic, and willing to 
take charge. Since he is dealing with the human element, 
he must at the same time use tact and social sensitivity in his 
general approach. Social sensitivity, or atvarcncss of tlie 
reactions of otlicrs, plays a big part in the development of 
good human relations. The man who understands his sub- 
ordinates and senses their reactions knows which one needs 
forceful direction and which one needs a “pat on the back" in 
order to obtain optimal job performance. 



A tnic leader must have the decisiveness bom ot self-con- 
fidence and Uit courage o[ liis conviction!. He muit believe 
implicitly in hi! own abUities and, once he ha! iet hi! coune, 
he mmt follow through without any wavcTtng ot purptw. 
In thU connection, too, he !hould he tough-minded tn the 
leme that he i! willing to make difficult deciilott! that wui 
tread on the toes of the few but work tor the good of the 

many. , . . t. 

In tlie final analysis, industry rewards the man who is an 
to get things accomplished. Thus, the leader must be a e 
to organize and inspire his men so that he accomplishes u 
purpose in the shortest possible period of time. This ability 
is often relerred to as production-mindcdncss. 

As the behind-the-scenes administrator, the executive is 
faced with day-to-day as well as long-range planning. ^ Since 
this is an intellectual function, it requires a rather high de- 
gree of mental ability. The individual b called upon to 
think in the abstract and to Integrate a bige number of com- 
plex factors. To do a top job as an excculive. then, the 
individual’s mental level should be appreciably above the 
average of college graduates. This also holds for verbm 
and numerical abilities. The former play a big part m 
one's ability to communicate, to express oneself svcll orally 
and on paper. The executive who c<mnot establish good 
lines ot communication is handicapped indeed. Although 
numerical ability may not be quite so important as verbal 
ability in many executive positions, it nevertheless plays an 
important role in such job functions as setting up budgets. 
anal ping statistical reports, and the like. The administrator 
is constantly faced with the task of anal)iing various prob- 
lems, breaking them dosvn into Uieir component parts. In 
working out solutions to these problems, he cannot afford 
to take tilings at face value. He must examine each factor 
critically, looking beneath the surface to explore any possible 
hidden meaning. 

How to Become a Good Intemewer 


If he is to exercise good judgment, it logically follow tliat 
the administrator must have breadth and perspective. He 
must see every item in relation to the whole picture. Other- 
wise, he will And himself in the place of the man who cannot 
see the forest for the trees. Experience has shown that a good 
cultural background adds appreciably to one’s ability to see 
the over-all picture. Some knowledge of the arts and some 
understanding of the cultures of other peoples normally 
produce a body of knowledge that contributes to intellectual 
maturity and judgment. This is the factor to whicli many 
industrial leaders refer when they cliaracterize a man as 

The executive qualifications discussed above are, of course, 
not all inclusive; there obviously are many other traits and 
abilities that make a contribution. The discussion of every 
conceivable contributing trait, however, would undoubtedly 
complicate the presentation in such a way that attention 
might be diverted from the most important prerequisites. 
We should like to emphasize again that no single executive 
is likely to possess all the above qualifications. None of us 
is perfect; we all have some shortcomings. For the most 
part we carry out our jobs as well as we do because certain 
of our assets are strong enough to compensate for our short- 
comings. So it is with the executive; he may possess certain 
traits in such abundance that they latgely make up for what 
he may lack in other areas. 


Jobs in this category spread over a wide scale as far as job 
content is concerned. At one end of the scale we have the 
"long haired” research worker who is seardring for truth 
for truth's sate. At the other end of the scale we find tlie 
practical pilot-plant operator who is prindpally concerned 
with getting the “bugs” out of some process that others have 
conceived and developeth The vast majority of research 



and development people, however, tall somewhere be- 
meen the two extremes ot the seale. Their general quahhea- 
tions can be summariied as follows: 

• Superior mental capacity Tendency to be Teflective 

• Superior numerical ability Intellectual curiosity 

• Good verbal ability Creativity 

• Good meclianical compre- Carefulness 

hension Mcthodicalncss 

• Good spatial visualization Ability to handle details 

Ability to diink analytically Patience 

and critically Good academic tiainins 

Rationale. There can be no substitute for top-level men- 
tal and mathematical abilities if one b to operate with a high 
degree of produaiveness in a research and development job. 
In fact, thb tjpe of a position probably places more demands 
on intellect than any other industrial assignment. Much 
of the work involves thinking in the abstract and using cur- 
rent knowledge as a springboard to nesv and uncharted ficl^. 
In many technical jobs, moreover, mathematics and physics 
are requbite to obtaining the desired objectives. Thus, 
the best people invariably possess great numerical Eacihty, 
an understanding of mechanical principles, and an ability to 
perceive spatial relationships. As a group, they are also 
remarkably analytical and critical in their thinking. 

The ability to conceive new ideas b, of course, an im- 
portant requirement in the resoich and des'elopment man- 
Here again intellect plays an important part. Although all 
brilliant people are not necessarily creative, one seldom 6nds 
a real "idea man” who does not have a relatively high degree 
of intelligence. Such a person b usually reflective, in the 
sense that he has a strong theoretical drive. He b the kind 
of person who has so much intellectual curiosity that he b 
motivated to dig to the bottom of a problem and find out 

How to Become a Good Interviewer 45 

^vhat makes things tick. His curiosity leads him to forsake 
the status quo in quest of nesv and belter rvays of doing 

Because the job requires a reflective person and one who 
can adjust to a somewhat confined svork situation, the re- 
search and development man normally displays some degree 
of introversion. For the most part, he is not the kind of a 
person who requires contact with large numbers of people 
in order to find satisfaction on the job. On the contrary, 
he is usually content to work by himself or as a member of a 
small group. 

Technical experiments are of such a precise nature that 
one minor slip may completely invalidate the results. Con- 
sequently, the researclt and development man learns as a 
result of sad experience (hat his approach to problems must 
be carried out methodically, systematically, and trith pain- 
fully accurate attention to detail. Nor can he alTord to be 
impatient if his first hypothesis proves to be inadequate. 
The majority of new developments come only as a result of 
attacking a problem over and over again. 

In view of the high technical demands and the unusual 
complexity of tlie work, extensive academic training is 
naturally an important prerequbite. Whether the man be 
a chemist, a cliemical engineer, or a mechanical engineer, 
he must have taken full advantage of his educational op- 
portunities and acquired a tremendous body of knowledge 
and skills before he arrives on the industrial scene. Ordi- 
narily, then, our top research and development people will 
have obtained high academic grades in college and in grad- 
uate school. 


The people who oversee the manufacture of the final prod- 
uct include foremen, general foremen, and plant super- 



intendents. Hence, job requirements will vary with respect 
to tlie level o£ responsibility. The differences betsveen fore- 
men on the one hand and plant superintendents on the other 
are those of degree ratlier than kind, boivever. ^Ve expect 
the plant superintendent to have a higher degree of the 
essential quaUficatioi« than that possessed by the general 
foreman. Presumably this was the reason he ivas promoted 
to his job. In turn, the general foreman rose from the fore- 
man rank because he had a little more of what it takes. Ex- 
perience has shotvn that tJie following qualiiications are 
generally basic for production supervision: 

• Good mental ability 

• Good verbal ability 
•Average numerical ability 

• Good mechanical compre- 

Ability to see the over-all 

Ability to plan and organize 
Strong practical interests 


Ability to improvise 




Ability CO cake charge 


Social sensitivity 

Rationale. Production supervisors arc a special breed 
of men. They are the people who give most of their at- 
tention to putting out day-to-day fires, eliminating produc- 
tion bottlenecks. It is their prime function to get the final 
product out the door.” Consequently, they must have 
exceedingly strong practical interests and must be unusually 
production-mmded. The foreman, general foreman, or 
ptot superintendent who is not highly motivated to get 
thm^ done in a hurry is not worth his salt. Since produc- 
tion bottlenecks may ocenr in the most unexpected places, 
the production man must be a good improviser, one who 
can soli^ problems for which there has been no time to pre- 
pare. On the basis of his ingenuity and past experience, he 

Hoxif to Become a Good Interviewer 47 

must soraeho^v make the thing work, even though a better 
solution to the problem may subsequently be found. 

Anyone ^vho is called upon to solve problems must, of 
course, have a certain degree of mental ability. Because 
the production supervisor’s job is so much concerned with 
ability to communicate to othen, verbal ability represents 
an important requisite. Although numerical ability per- 
haps plays less of a role than verbal ability in this type of 
work, a certain degree of number facility is involved in such 
job functions as scheduling, preparing time sheets, and in 
analyzing statistical reports. More often than not, tlie manu- 
facturing process has to do tvith making “hardware,” objects 
such as appliances, airplanes, automobiles, and furnishings. 
Such an activity, therefore, requires mechanical know-how 
and understanding. As indicated by the asterisks above, 
mental, verbal, numerical, and mechanical aptitudes can be 
validly determined by means of tests. In considering an 
applicant’s test results in the light of the demands of various 
production jobs, different normative data for tests will usually 
be used. In oUier words, the plant superintendent’s tested 
abilities will usually be compared with those of college grad- 
uates, whereas the tested abilities of the foreman and general 
foreman will be compared with those of high school gradu- 

Although the production supervisor is first and foremost 
a leader of men, he must also have some of the administrator 
in his make-up. He is faced with the problem of planning 
and organizing his work, and he must be able to see the broad 
picture. If he gives an inordinate amount of attention to 
one specific aspect of the work, Uie manufacturing process 
as a whole will suffer. 

This type of svork places unusually heavy demands on the 
leadership function. The production supervisor must have 
those qualities that enable him to inspire his men, motivating 


them to get out the production in the shortest period of 
time Confronted with tlie task of supervUing men. some of 
whom lend to be hard to handle, the supersdsor must be 
particularly tough-minded, aggressive, and self-confident. A 
the same time, he cannot afford to ride roughshod over his 
subordinates. A certain amount of tact and social sensitivity 
is important here, as it is in all supervisory positions. 


There is perhaps more variation in sales jobs than in any 
other single business function. They range all the way 
from high-pressure, foot-in-the-door selling to low-pressure, 
technical sales service. Hence, some of the traits listed be- 
low tvill loom more important in some sales jobs than m 
oihen. But all salesmen have two important functions m 
common: they are required to contact people and they are 
called upon to persuade others to their point of view. These 
functions inevitably demand the following qualifications: 

• Good verbal ability Strong desire to make money 
Good self-expression Aggressiveness 

Extroversion Tough-mindedness 

Color Self<onfidence 

Infectious enthusiasm Tact 

Sense of humor Social sensitivity 

Persuasiveness Self-discipline 

Practical interests Perseverance 

RalioTwle. The best salesmen are normally Uiose s'/h® 
need Uie stimulation that comes from dealing with people m 
order to find job satisfaction. Quite the opposite of the re- 
flective individual, they tend to be extroverted, outgoing, 
colorful and infectiously enthiuiastic. They call upon these 
traits in their efforts to persuade others to buy tlicir product. 

Hov; to Become a Good Intennewer 49 

Competition being what it Is, the sales job is not an easy one. 
The better people are highly articulate, possess good basic 
verbal ability, and know how to handle themselves adroitly 
in face-to-face situations. The latter ability, of course, in- 
volves tact and social sensitivity. The salesman must know 
when to talk and when to keep still, and he must be con- 
tinually alert to the customer’s reactions. This permits 
him to lake a different lack if lie notes that his 6rst approach 
is not getting across. A good sense of humor is indispen- 
sable in many types of sales jobs. 

The salesman's lot is an arduous one. He literally lives 
out of a suitcase and often spends days at a time on the road 
away from his family. There must be some motivation, then, 
that attracts him to this field, in addition to the one of having 
a chance to deal with people. Tliat motivation is usually 
compensation. Most salesmen are extremely practical and 
have a strong desire to make money. Many of them Hnd 
that they can make more money in sales than in any other 
type of work for whicli they might qualify. It is true that 
sales jobs as a whole pay better than many other types of 

The task of getting a hearing demands certain traits of 
personality. Busy executives often feel that they do not 
have time to see the salesman and instruct their secretaries 
accordingly. In order to gain a hearing, then, the salesman 
must be unobtnisively aggressive and self-confident. , Too, 
lie must be suIHcicntly tough-minded to take rebuffs in his 

Many salesmen svork largely on their osvn, with very little 
supervision from their immediate superiors. This calls 
for a good bit of self-discipline. The man who goes to the 
movies in the afternoon just because he has made a big sale 
during the morning seldom turns out to be a top producer. 



He must be constantly avi’are of the law ol averages, that 
the more calb he mates the more sales he is likely to get- 
In going after big accounts, moreover, he cannot become 
discouraged. He must persevere, calling on that account 
again and again until he finally makes the sale. 


The purchasing agent has often been called a salesman 
in res’eise. Although he b on the other end in the sales 
situation, it b nevertheless his job to bargain with the sales- 
man in an cllort to get the lowest possible price for his com- 
pany. In a seme, then, he perfonm the same functions as 
the salesman. He deab with people and he has to sell the 
salesman on getting the best price. 

Although the purchasing man need not be as extroverted 
as the average salesman, he should have many of the traits 
luted above under the sales category. Certainly, he miut 
be aggressive, self <onfidcnt, and tough-minded in hb bargain- 
ing activity. And be must utilue all the various traits that 
contribute to persuasiveness. 

TliCTe is at least one important difference between the 
purchasing man and the salesman. That difference b cost- 
coiuciousness. The purchasing agent has a big responsi- 
bility for hb company’s cost of operation. A quarter of a 
cent a pound in the price of some raw material used in 
tremendous quantity may result in the saving of hundreds 
of thousands of dollars in a large corporate enterprise. 


Thu category includes a series of jobs ranging from the 
accounting clerk to the company comptroller. Again, al- 
though there b a marked similarity in the traits required 
in all of these jobs, the degree of each trait required will 
vary in accordance with level of respomibility. The lower- 

Hew to Become a Good Interviewer 51 

level jobs, of coune, do not make as much demand on tlic 
intellectual and administrative factors. In practically all 
financial jobs, however, the following traits and abilities 
play an important role: 

• High-level mental ability 

• High-level numerical 

• Good verbal ability 

• Good clerical aptitude 

Ability to think analytically 

and critically 

Ability to plan and organize 

Rationale, Although employees in the financial field natu- 
rally deal with people, they are principally concerned with 
figures and with things. Their work is likely to be rather 
confining, and the people who adjust most easily to this type 
of work are, therefore, inclined to be somewhat introvert^. 
Since even the smallest error must be found before reports 
are submitted, financial people place great stress on accuracy 
and close attention to detail. As a group, they arc very 
careful, methodical, and systematic. 

High-level intelligence is combined with superior numer- 
ical facility as prime requisites in financial jobs. Arithmeti- 
cal computation is not in itself sufficient. Practically all 
of these jobs require a high degree of arithmetical reasoning. 
Statistical data must be interpreted in the light of the facts 
and in the light of the company's needs. Clerical detail 
must be handled quickly and accurately. This is why the 
belter people tend to have high clerical aptitude. At some 
point, financial statements and oilier reporis have to be pre- 
pared for top management. Hence a degree of verbal ability 
is necessary. 

At the upper levels, the financial roan is required to super- 

Good judgment 
Ability to see the over-all 
Attention to detail 



vise relatively large groups o£ people. Since the majority of 
his subordinates are likely to be somesvhat introverted, how- 
es’er, he is normally not recjtiired to exert dynamic, tough- 
minded leadership. Rather, his leadership is of an adminis- 
trative character. Principal emphasis here is placed upon 
good judgment, ability to plan and organize, and ability to 
see the broad picture. The ramptroller must be able to 
watch all the company operations and must be able to 
assimilate and integrate his findings so that he can keep his 
finger on the financial pulse of the entire enterprise. Above 
all, he must be analytical and critical. The comptroller 
takes nothing for granted; he is accountable to top manage- 
ment and therefore must not only be in possession of the 
facts but must be aware of the underlying reasons. 

^^od^ industry is shosving an increasing tendency to 
divenify and to develop multiple products. Multiplant 
operauons make the financial job all the more complex. To 
quah^ for toplevel posiUons in thb field, then, the individ- 
ual should have sound academic training. Today, many 
of the better young candidates have a master’s degree in 
busmess administraUon. with a major in finance. 


There was a time when little thought was given to the de- 
mands of employee relations svork. For this reason, the 
p^nomel suli in many companiej have not been carefully 
rive ,>,‘”1,'”'""' “ They have not been 

““ “ Iho atilk with which to do their 

personnel in jobs. 

Is .TTvO^n ^ teport, however, that the situation 

L^Tri ^ employee relations is finally 

M a ptofession. This happy developmerrt is due 
ptmianly to two factois: the labor unions and Lnagenrenfs 

Holo to Become o Good Interviewer 55 

final awakening to the need for stimulating the growth and 
development of all personnel. Decause their tactics have 
been so effective, labor unions have literally forced manage- 
ment to staff its employee relations department with more 
competent people, men and women who can meet with labor 
leaders on an equal fooling. After many years of neglect- 
ing the human element in an industry, management has at 
long last discovered tliat its tvork force represents its greatest 
Single asset. Today, many progressive organizations sponsor 
comprehensive programs designed to help each individual 
realize his greatest potential. These programs include more 
effective selection and placement procedures, better-designed 
merit-rating procedures, and a svide variety of employee-train- 
ing procedures. Such activities obviously require able 
people at the helm. 

The employee relations function, as it now exists in the 
more progressive organization, may be divided into two 
categories; personnel services and labor relations. The 
former include recruiting, selection, placement, wage and 
salary evaluation, employee benefits, and training. As might 
be expected in view of the differences between these two 
functions, the qualifications necessary for success in the 
personnel services end of the business vary somewhat from 
those required in labor relations work. There are many 
individuals capable of doing a bang-up job in personnel 
services %vho are completely incapable of bargaining with 
unions. The best qualified employee relations penon, of 
course, will possess qualifications for both types of jobs. 
These are tlie people who have tlie best chance eventually of 
heading up the employee lelations department. In order 
to clarify the difference between the two major employee 
relations functions, requisite traits are listed separately be- 



Personnel Services 

* Good mental ability 

• Good verbal ability 
Good self-expression 
Ability to think analytically 

and critically 
Good judgment 
Ability to plan and organiic 
Social drive (desire to help 

Genuine liking for people 





Social sensitivity 

Labor Relations 

* Good mental ability 

* Good verbal ability 
Good self-expression 
Ability to tliink analytically 

and critically 
Courage of one’s convictions 
Ability to improvise 

Rationale. Many persons arc initially attracted to person- 
nel services because they have a genuine liking for people and 
are strongly motivated to help others. This is all to the 
good because these qualities play an important part in such 
activities as placement, training, and employee benefits. In- 
dividuals who carry out these duties are usually extroverted, 
friendly, and the kind of people to whom others like to take 
their problems. If he is to help others with their problems, 
the personnel man must be able to approach the individual 
and win his confidence. This obviously takes an abundance 
of tact and social seruitivity. 

But the personnel nan must not be so highly motivated 
to help others that he permits his heart to run away with 
his head. Many of his duties — particularly that of employ- 
ment interviewing — call for mature, objective decisions. Be- 
muse these decbions involve people rather than things or 
ideas, they should be none the less objective or impartial. 

Hovo to Become a Good Intervieuer 55 

Practically everything the personnel man does involves the 
evaluation of people in one fonn or another. Hence, the 
job requires intelligence, judgment, and good powen of 
analysis. Personnel people work largely through the verbal 
medium, moreover, and should be able to communicate 

Although the labor relations man needs many of the traits 
and abilities required by people in personnel services, his 
job demands an additional constellation of penonality 
characteristics. He has to deal with representatives of labor, 
many of tvhom are aggressive, hard-boiled, and able strategists. 
Thus labor negotiators have to be exceedingly tough-minded, 
so that they will be able to take it when the going gets rough. 
They must be self<onfidcm, a| 5 :re$sive, and have the courage 
of their convictions. A good labor negotiator is also a shrewd 
individual, one who has a little of the "Yankee horse-trader” 
in his make-up. At the same time, lie must develop a reputa- 
tion for being completely fair; othertvise, he will never be able 
to svin the confidence of labor representatives or develop a 
working relationship with them. 

Bargaining sessions consume long, weary houn during 
whidr eacli side jockeys for position. Company representa- 
tives at the bargaining tabic must learn to meet fire svith fire, 
match penistence svith persistence, and maintain their posi- 
tion without discouragement. They also have to be good 
improvisers, in tlie sense that they can cope with unantici- 
pated developments. All of this takes its toll of many in- 
dividuals. As pointed out above, there are numerous per- 
sons in personnel services who simply do not have the resili- 
ence and mental toughness to stand the gaff in labor relations. 


^Ve have discussed at length the need for acquiring a com- 
plete understanding of the jobs for which applicants are 



to be selected- Remember, though, that the man specihca- 
tions outlined above, while not all-indusive, nevertheless 
represent the ideal worker. In our appraisal o£ candidates, 
\vc are unlikely to find any one individual who possesses all 
the favorable factors for any given job. All of us have our 
shortcomings, and it has already been pointed out that the 
interview that brings to light no unfavorable information is 
a poor interview. Almost every candidate svill therefore 
lack some of the desirable factors. But the best of these 
men will have assets in such abundance that they compensate 
for their liabilities. The interviewer's job, then, is to find 
the applicant who has the most desirable qualifications for 
a specific job. 

At this point, it is only fair to ask the question, “How do 
we go about determining whether or not an applicant actually 
possesses the appropriate qualifications?” Well, we have al- 
ready noted that a few of these qualifications can be deter- 
mined by means of aptitude tests. But tesu are primarily 
useful in measuring abilities alone. We must therefore rely 
upon tlie Interview as a means of appraising personality, mo- 
tivation, interests, character, and the nature of intellectual 
functioning. Subsequent chapters of thu book show how the 
patterned interview may be used to accomplish this task- 

Part n 


Getting Spontaneous Information 

Learning to conduct a good interview is an experience not 
unlike that of learning to drive an automobile in the old days 
before modem improvements made the task easy. There was 
a time tvlien a new driver found it necessary to acquire a series 
of new skills— skills which he must perform simultaneously. 
He had to learn to use the gas pedal with hb right foot, en* 
gage the clutch with his left foot, shift gears with hb right 
hand, and steer the automobile with hb left hand. Now, 
learning any one of these skilU by itself never presented any 
great problem. But learning how to perform all the neiv 
skills simultaneously was the factor tliat made the over-all 
task difficult. So it is tvith interviewing. 

It b true, of coune, tliat the interviewer's broad functions 
are only two in number: (1) getting information and (2) in- 
terpreting the information he obtains. But a variety of phys- 
ical and mental skills arc involved in eadi of these two ob- 
jectives. and all of these skilU must be brought to bear simul- 
taneously as soon as the applicant comes in the door. If in- 
terviewing were just a matter of getting a man to talk, the 




problem would at least be simpltSed. ^Ve must remember, 
however, that the talk must be guided and Uiat the applicant's 
remarks must be interpreted at the moment that Uiey are ut- 
tered. The interviewer who tvaits until the end of the dis- 
cussion to interpret his findings has a sorry time trying to 
separate the rvheat from the chaff. As we shall see, too, the 
interviewer must be able to get information without giving 
the applicant the slightest hint that his remarks are being 

Although interviewing skills arc brought to bear simultane- 
ously, they will be discussed here separately svith respect to 
function, in the interests of clarity of presentation. Hence, 
this chapter b concerned with what the intervietver does in 
Older to gel the applicant to talk. The next chapter svill dis- 
cuss the ^llotV'Up questions that are used to keep the appli- 
cant talking. And in Chapter 6, we shall explore techniques 
designed to guide and coouol the interview so that it does not 
get out of hand and the applicant’s discussion b channeled 
into more fruitful intervierving areas. These, then, are the 
so-called mechanics of the interview. Suggestions for inter- 
pretation of interview findings will be found in Part III of 
thb book. 

Techniques for getting the man to talk must be considered 
in the light of the over-all interview philosophy. We men- 
tioned earlier that the objectives of the interviesver and the 
intcTvie\s-ee are often in conflict, at least at the beginning of 
the interview. The interviewee b naturally anxious to put 
hb best foot forward and, hence, to divulge only favorable in- 
formation about himself. The inierviesver, on the other 
hand, b anxious to get as complete a picture of the man’s 
over-all qualifications as possible. Although he wants to give 
the individual every conceivable opportunity to talk about 
hb real assets, he b equally interested in identifying those 
d desirably improve himself- As 

Getting Spontaneoui Infonruttion 61 

wc liavc already noicd, moreover, it is to the applicant’s best 
long-range interests that both assets and liabilities come to 
light. Othcnvhc inappropriate placement might be made. 
Wc have noted, too, that this objective can be achieved only 
ii he is encouraged to produce spontaneous information and 
only if he docs some 85 to 90 percent of tlie talking. 

In order to achieve these objectives, tlie interviewer uses 
certain clinical techniques. In a sense, he u like an actor 
performing a role on the stage. He consciously uses ceruin 
devices to get certain effects. In the beginning, these tech- 
niques may seem slightly artificial, but with constant usage 
and contintjcd practice, they become almost second nature 
and. hence, adroit and polished. 


If we arc to gain the applicant’s complete confidence and 
establish appropriate rapport with him, the interview must 
be conducted in private. Unfortunately, Uiis consideration 
has not received enough attention in many companies. In- 
terviewers are often required to talk with applicants in an 
open room where snaidies of conversation can be overheard 
and where there arc many other distractions. Even wlien 
tnterviesven are equipped with private offices, the walls do 
not al^aiys extend to the ceiling and clear glass windows 
permit observation by passers-by. Such a setting is not at 
all conducive to the task of getting the applicant to talk 
freely about die details of his background. The interview- 
er’s ofiicc need not be large nor handsomely furnished, but 

Privacy is more than four vniUs. Tlie word implies lack 
of interruptions of any kind. TThus, the telephone should 
be cut ofl during the discussion, and other persons in the 
organiiation should be discouraged from breaking in. True, 
this kind of privacy may be difficult to adiieve in a situation 



where the reverse has been true. It is. nevcrihcJcss, the 
interviewer’s task to educate his associates and superiors in 
this regard- As an outgrowth of the discussion, the inter- 
viewer svill be required to make a decision that may have 
far-reaching effects on the organiration, and he must, there- 
fore, be given the best possible physical setup for achieving 
his objectives. 

The reasons for interviewing privacy are manifold. In 
the first place, the applicant must be made to feel that the 
consideration of his qualifications is so important that tt 
merits the interviewer’s undivided attention. Such con- 
sideration is obviously flattering to him and helps to gain 
his confidence. In addition. It automatically raises his opin- 
ion of hb prospective employer. He says to himself, ’’Here 
b a company that U seriously Interested in getting the right 
man for the right job. It must be a good company to work 
for." Remember, the applicant's fint impressions of an 
organization stem from hU reaaion to the employment office, 
and fint impressions ate iioponani- 
^Vhen intemiptions do occur, the interviewer’s job b 
made the more difficult. If he interrupts to take a telephone 
call, for example, he gives the applicant a chance to think 
back over the previous discussion. The latter may come 
CO the conclusion that he has been giving too much infonna- 
tion about hb shortcomings. Hence, when the interview 
resumes, it may then be more difficult for the interviewer 
to develop information concerning these shortcomings. 
Finally, an interruption of any kind not only breaks the 
interviewer’ s train of thought but stops hb process of analysb, 
the analysb of the applicant's qualifications that has been 
going on ever since the latter entered the room- Thus, 
when the interview b resumed, the interviewer finds it more 
difficult to pick up the threads of hb iccerprecation. 

Getting Spontaneous Information 



The ^vay in which the interviewer greets his subject at the 
very beginning is of paramount importance. If he is to 
gain the applicant's confidence, it goes almost svithout say- 
ing that he should strive for a favorable first impression. 
Actually, the first ten minutes of tlie intervierv are extremely 
critical since one normally succeeds or fails to establish 
rapport in iliis initial period. In other svords, many inter- 
viewers find tliat if they cannot gain tJie applicant’s con- 
fidence in the first ten minutes they may not gain it at all. 

As a conscious technique, then, the interviewer should 
greet the man warmly, introduce himself, shake his hand 
firmly, and do everything possible to pm the individual at 
ease. Among other citings, he should, of course, invite the 
man to have a chair, encourage him to smoke, and adopt a 
generally relaxed, disarming manner. Just sitting back 
in one’s chair tvill in iuelf give a relaxed, informal touch. 

Every applicant approaches an interview situation with a 
certain amount of tension. He feels that his future may 
be at stake and is, therefore, anxious about making a good 
impression. Hence, the interviewer must do everything he 
can to ease this tension, for in so doing he removes the 
barrier that separates him from the applicant’s innermost 
thoughts. If he fails to lelievc the tension and establish 
rapport, his interview tvill inescapably be a poor one. It 
is axiomatic that confidence does not flourish where tension 
prevails. If rapport cannot be established, little in tlie way 
of spontaneous information results. And, if spontaneous in- 
formation is not forthcoming, the interviewer will leam 
little about the man that docs not already appear on the 
application form. Most of us, of coune, try to be pleasant 
when tve meet another person for the first time. But in a 



busy day when an interviewer & seeing a number of people 
one after another, lie may forget about the importance of 
warmth and friendliness unless he thinks of tills as a con- 
scious technique. 


Few of US stop to realiie how limited arc our means of 
getting through to another person in a face-to-face situation. 
Actually, there are only three such means: facial expressions, 
voice, and gestures. The last are perhaps the least impor- 
tant of the three and thus do not merit major consideration 
here. In fact, too frequent use of gestures can be a disttaa- 
ing influence. This means, then, that we must concentrate 
primarily on facial expressions and vocal intonations. Ex- 
perience in training interviewers reseals, however, that few 
of us utilfae our full pofenifal in this respect. 

It has already been noted that a good interviesvcr must be 
a good salesman, and whether he realizes it or not. every 
accomplished salesman makes maximum use of his voice and 
facial expreaions. If this does not ring a bell, the reader 
should keep it in mind the next time he observes a person 
doing coromerdals on his telcv'bion screen. 

Anyone can improve his facial expressions by doing two 
thin^; (1) raising hb eyebrows frequently and (2) smiling 
more often. Rabing of the ejebrorvs, in particular, should 
be effeaed wheneser questions are posed. The ensuing 
expression gives the person the appearance of being receptive 
and serii’es as a poiverful tool in getting the subject to open 

It b not expected, of course, that anyone can go through 
an entire interview with a smile on hb face. At the same 
time, it b extremely important that a half-smile be permitted 
to play about the lips, particularly when asking somewhat 

Getting Spontaneous Information 65 

personal or delicate questions. Tlie edge is taken off a 
delicate or personal question when it is posed with a half- 
smile and with the eyebrows raised. 

None of us finds it pleasant to talk to a stone-faced in- 
dividual. On the other hand, we enjoy talking with some- 
one who reflects our views in his countenance and gives the 
appearance of understanding and appreciating what we are 
saying. In an interview situation it is vital that we give the 
appearance of being understanding, sympathetic, and re- 
ceptive. Some interviewers are so accomplished in this 
regard, in fact, that they are able to keep the subject talking 
almost by facial expressions alone. Unfortunately, those 
of us who tend to be somesvhat stone-faced are not always 
aware of the impression we make on othen. It is for this 
reason that interviewer trainees are encouraged to practice 
some of their questions in front of a mirror, so that they 
may learn to use the full potential of their facial manipula- 

It stands to reason, of coune, that the business of facial 
expression can be overdone to the point where the technique 
becomes obvious. 'Whenever any of the techniques become 
obvious, they give the appearance of being artificial and 
insincere. This is to be avoided at all cost. Facial expres- 
sions arc not to be regarded as an ingenious expedient but 
rather as an overt manifestation of warmth and geniality. 
The brighter, the more alert, and the more sensitive the 
applicant is, moreover, the more the interviewer must try 
not to overdo. Such an individual may be quick to see the 
implication of what is being done and react unfavorably. 
For die most part, though, most of us tend to underplay 
rather Uian overplay facial expressions. Hence, conscious 
attention to this important technique can often pay big 




Just as most people fail to make full use of appropriate 
facial expressions, so do they overlook the effective use of 
the voice in an interviesv situation. Many men, in particular, 
tend to use only the lower register of the voice, with the result 
that the vocal intonation lacks variety and becomes monoto- 
nous. We have already indicated that voice and facial ex- 
pression represent the two most important means of getting 
through to the other person in a face-to-face situation. Yet 
few of us stop to realize how important a tool the voice 
really is. Ccruinly though, the art of persuading others 
relies heavily upon the voice as ilie most important instru- 
ment for obtaining the desired objective. We have only 
to think of some of the great persuaders in history to rcalire 
tlie truth of this statement. For example, President Frank- 
lin D. Roosevelt owed much of his following to the magnetic 
quality of his voice. He used his vocal apparatus tvith such 
consummate skill in his radio broadcasts that people were 
drawn to him by the millions. We have only to look around 
us in our own companies to become aware of the fact that 
the persuasive power of many of our associates is directly 
related to effective use of vocal equipment. 

Since the interviewer faces the rather formidable task oE 
persuading the candidate to divulge all important aspects 
of his background, he must pve special attention to the most 
effective employment of his vocal powers. In fact, he must 
be constantly aware of proper vocal inflection 2is a conscious 
interviesv technique. What, we may ask ourselves, can we 
do as intetviesvers to improve our vocal effectiveness? Well, 
there are two main points that we must keep in mind. We 
must keep the volume of the voice down to a conversational 
level and, at the same time, we must strive to use the com- 
plete vocal range. 

Getting Spontaneous Information 67 

Some interviewers tend to talk too loudly. This often 
has the effect of threatening the applicant and pushing him 
off the center of the stage. Remember, we want the applicant 
to do some 85 to 90 per cent of the talking, and it b there- 
fore our desire that he be the "leading man” of our interview 
production. 'When interviewers talk, too loudly they lend 
to relegate the tandidate to a minor role. It stands to reason 
that we must keep our own voices at a rather low conver- 
sational level, in this svay encouraging the candidate to as- 
sume the center of die stage. 

Even if we control the volume of the voice, sve neverthe- 
less must make certain that we arc utilizing the entire vocal 
range. In particular, when wc ask a question or give the 
subject a compliment, we must use the upper ranges of the 
voice. Tliis has the effect of making us sound more in- 
terested in what the other individual may have to say. In 
turn, he becomes more highly motivated to give us the 
answer we seek and does a more complete job of revealing 
his innermost thoughts. A highly skilled interviewer learns 
to use his voice in much the same way that the musician 
manipulates a pipe organ. The latter pulls out various 
stops to get certain cBects. In like manner the interviewer 
learns to shade and color his voice in drawing out the 
applicant’s story. For example, if llie latter reveals some- 
thing unfortunate or tragic about his background, the inter- 
vieiver’s voice takes on a sympathetic tone. \Vhen die 
candidate divulges something of a highly penonal nature, 
the interviewer's voice reflects an understanding quality. 
Complete resporuiveness on the part of the interviewer has 
an unusually powerful effect upon the other penon, making 
him not only willing but often actually anxious to talk about 
die things diat are uppermost in his mind. 

As in the case of facial expressions, however, vocal in- 
flections and colorations can be os-erdone. Obviously, we 


must avoid any intonation that boiden on the unctuous. 
This gives the impression of insincerity and may have the 
effect of alienating the individual rather than attracting 
him. Again though, the tendency is to underuse rather 
than overxise the voice. Consequently, most of us will benefit 
from more rather than leas use of the vocal powers. At the 
very least, we must learn to listen to our own vocal presenta- 
tion, as a means of making corrections that may be indicated. 


Since the inlervic^v takes the form of a pleasant conver- 
sation, the same amenities observed in any similar convena- 
lion are observed here. Once the applicant has been greeted 
appropriately and seated comfortably, a few minutes of so- 
called "small talk" is in order. Topics for such small talk 
can be concerned with subjects like the weather, recent 
athletic events, any difficulty the candidate may have experi- 
enced in reaching the employment office — anything at all 
tisat does not directly involve the man’s history. In fact, 
appropriate topics for small talk can often be determined be- 
fore Use interview by studying available application data. 
Such data may reveal, for example, that tlie subject is an 
avid sports fan, in which case any of the recent or impending 
major sports cs'ents can be us^ to launch the initial dis- 

Encouraging the candidate to do much of the talking is 
just as important here as it is in the subsequent discussion. 
The sound of his own voice in a strange situation gives him 
confidence, eases his initial tension, and helps to develop 
rapport. Because he is not immediately put on the spot 
by being asked to tell about some aspect of his background, 
he does not feel the immediate need to sell himself and thus 
has a chance to relax and to chat informally about matters 
which arc of no great concern. In a sense, too, he has a 

Geltmg Spontaneous Information 69 

chance to become acquainted with the interviewer and to 
establish a friendly, easy relationship. 

The duration of tlie small talk normally ranges from two 
to five minutes, depending upon hosv nervous and ill at case 
the candidate may be at the start of the session. If lie hap- 
pens to be an extroverted, poised, and confident individual, 
the small talk may be terminated after a very brief period. 
If, on the other hand, he is a witlidrasvn, inhibited, shy per- 
son, the small talk should be carried on until he settles do^vn 
and seems more at ease. In any event, the early discussion 
of trivialities and pleasantries helps enormously to break 
the ice and establish a friendly, informal interviewing 

As in the case of all other recommended techniques, 
however, the small talk should not be overdone and carried 
to tlie point where it becomes obvious. Care must be taken 
not to become ovcrfricndly, patroniring, or too enthusiastic. 
Neither should the small talk become so extended that the 
applicant begins to wonder whether he tvas invited in to 
talk about himself or to talk about baseball. Hence, as 
soon as he begins talking freely and naturally, he should 
be encouraged to launch into a discussion of his own back- 


Having achieved the objectives of the small talk, the inter- 
viewer smoothly directs tlie conversation to the real purpose 
of tlie session by making an appropriate opening remark. 
Tlus general opening remark should include a statement of 
the company’s sincere interest in placing new employees on 
jobs that make the best use of their abilities. In these re- 
marks. the interviewer must also get across tlie idea that he 
is truly interested in learning as mudi as possible about the 



applicant’s background so that the latter's qualifications can 
be matched with job demands and an appropriate placement 
made. It is also well to present an overview of the interview 
by pointing out that the discussion will include as much 
relevant information as possible about work experience, 
education, early home background, and present interests. 
In other words, the candidate should be given a preview of 
all the major topics included on the Interview Guide that 
will be found at the end of this book. By giving the applicant 
an overview of the interview at the very beginning, the inter- 
viewer prepares him tor the topics that will be introduced 
subsequently. For example, the topic early home back- 
ground will come to him as less of a surprise later on because 
it has already been mentioned. 

In his opening remarks, the mterviewer will use every 
means at his disposal to sell the candidate on the desirability 
of providing the necessary information. In particular, he 
will consciously use the appropriate facial expressions and 
vocal intonations and, by his very manner, he will assume 
consent. Just as the skillful salesman assumes that the cus- 
tomer wants to buy. so does the interviewer assume that the 
applicant u desirous of providing all of the necessary in- 
formation. He therefore phrases his questions positively, in 
such a way that there is no altemative but to answer them. 
The phrase, “Suppose then you tell me" is practically always 
more eflccuve than the phiase, **I wonder if you would be 
willing to tell me.” The latter choice of words provides the 
alternative of answering or not and thus fails to assume con- 
sent. Moreover, it pves the impression that the interviewer 
is not sure of his ground and may not be certain whether 
he should ask the question. 

Having provided the applicant with a discussion of the 
purpose of the interview and having given him an overview 
of the general topics to be considered, the interviewer 

Gelling Sponlaneous Information 71 

launches immediately into a discussion of the man’s work 
experience, the first topic that appears on the Interview 
Guide. In so doing, he uses a comprehensive introduclory 
question. The very comprehensiveness of this question in- 
vites the subject to assume the center of the stage and is the 
jingle most important factor in getting the man to carry tlie 
major burden of the conversation. The comprehensive in- 
troductory question should be almost all-inclusive, in the 
sense that it should spell out most of the main factors which 
the interviewer needs to know about his subject’s work ex- 
perience. It should, therefore, include most of tlie items 
listed under work history on the Interview Guide. And 
it should give direction to the discussion by indicating ap- 
propriate chronology. Thus the applicant should be asked 
to start with his first job and work up to his present position, 
supplying such information as duties, likes and dislikes, spe- 
cial achievements, and earnings. 

Based upon other items listed on the Interview Guide, a 
similar approach can be used to open the discussion in each 
of the other major interviewing areas. For example, the 
following question could conceivably be used to launch the 
discussion of education, “Suppose you tell me now about your 
education, starting with high scliool and going on to college. 

I would be interested in your subject preferences, grades, 
special academic acliievements, extracurricular activities, and 
so forth.’’ 

'The average applicant will, of course, forget to cover every 
aspect included in the comprehensive introductory question. 
For example, he will often have to be reminded to discuss 
subject preferences and to talk at greater length about his 
academic achievements. The important thing to remember, 
though, is that such follow-up questions are simply reminders 
of some of the things he has initially been asked to relate. 
As such, they do not represent new questions and hence do 



not require quite so much concentration on the applicant’s 

As already iraplied, the question or statement that launches 
the discussion in each new interviewing area should be so 
comprehensive and should give the applicant such a clear 
picture of what he is exp>ected to relate that he is normally 
able to talk several minutes without further prompting. 
This permits the interviewer to sit back and concentrate ex- 
clusively on the applicant’s Story. He b thus in a good posi- 
tion to pick up significant clues in the applicant’s remarks 
and analyze their meaning. He can also make a mental 
note of any inconsbtencies in the subject’s story and can 
sift the content with respea to topics that might prove fruit- 
ful for further exploration in follow-up questions. 

Many interviewen unconsciously labe their voices and 
become more serious and intent when they embark upon 
a new interviewing area. Thb behavior b, of course, just 
the reverse of ivhat should be done. The comprehensive in- 
troductory question should be injected into the dbeussion 
naturally and adroitly, in such a way that it seems to Bow 
logically from what has gone before. Thus a connecting 
clause or complete sentence can be very helpful at thb stage. 
For example, when the dbeussion of the s/ork experience 
has been concluded, the interviewer can say, “That gives 
me 3 very good piaure of your work experience; suppose 
you now tell roe a little bit about your education.’’ Or, 
in proceeding from education to early home background, tlie 
interviewer can make thb transition by such a comment as, 
“Suppose we talk a little now about your early life." These 
tramilional comments help to avoid the impression that the 
interview b segmented and give it much more of a pleasant, 
conversational lone. 

Additional discussion of the comprehensive introductory 
question will be found in Pact III of thb book where a full 

Getting Spontaneous InformalioH 73 

cliaptcr is devoted to each of the major areas found on the 
Interview Gnidc. Because of the tremendous importance 
of these questions as a means of getting spontaneous informa- 
tion, fiowever, it has been necessary to touch briefly upon 
them in this chapter as a conscious te^nique. 



Having started the conversational ball rolling by means 
of the comprehensive introductory question, the interviewer 
uses a number of additional techniques to encourage com- 
plete responsiveness on the part of the applicanL One of 
these techniques is concerned with giving every appearance 
0/ agreeing with everything the man says. This is done by 
frequent nodding of the head and by making such short 
comments as “I see," or "I can understand that," or "uh-huh." 
These comments are so short tliat they do not interrupt the 
applicant's story, and yet they do give tlie impression of re- 
sponsiveness. Certainly, the applicant should not get the 
feeling that he is talking in a vacuum. 

The technique of agreeing witli the man is sometimes 
rather difficult, particularly when lie says something that is 
not at all in accord with the interviewer’s own philosophy. 
Even a slight frown may be enough to alert the man to the 
tact that his remarks arc not getting a favorable liearing. In 
such event, he may get the feeling that he may be damaging 
rather tlian helping his case and may therefore sliut oil in- 
formation that might have provided valuable dues to his 

Obviously, if a man talks about past behavior winch he 
now rccognircs as having been quite undesirable, tlie inter- 
viewer should not give him the Impression of supporting sudi 
behavior. Rather, he should show understanding and sym- 
pailiy by such a remark as, "I can undentand how that might 


have happened under those particular circumstances.” This 
kind oi a reaction U reassuring to the applicant and often 
encourages him to reveal additional information — informa- 
tion which he might not otherwise have felt free to bring 
to light. 

A skillful interviewer never shows surprise at anything 
the subject may say, never openly disagrees ssrith an applicant 
on any point, and never gives the appearance of cross-cxamin- 
in'» the individual. To do otherwise often causes the sub- 
ject to freeze up. ^Vhen this happens, rapport suffen, and 
the candidate begins to screen his responses so that he reveals 
as little unfavorable information as possible. 

The technique of giving the appearance of agreement 
places heavy demands upon Eacbl expressions and upon 
general interview manner. Concentration on the effective 
use of eyebrows and the half-smile is conducive to a disarm- 
ing, pennUsive manner, a manner which in itself implies 

By giving the appearance of agreeing with the andidatc, 
the interviewer sets up a permissive climate, but this, in 
itself, is not suOicienL We must go a step further to en- 
a>urage the individual to reveal his full story. One ex- 
tremely important way to so motivate him is to ^vc him 
frequent compliments. Again, this Is usually done by a 
■word, a phrase, or a short sentence. And these comments 
are interjected into the discussion in such a manner that 
they need not interrupt the applicant’s remarks. Comments 
such as ■‘That's find” or "You deserve a lot of credit for 
that!” Or "Very goodl" give the applicant the feeling that 
his achievements are being appropriately recognized. Every- 
one has some things of wbidi he is very proud. These may 

Getting Spontaneous Information 75 

include (I) hard effort expended on a job. (2) high academic 
standing in high scliool or college, (3) promotion to higher- 
level job assignments, (4) election to class offices in school, 
and the like. IVhen achievements of tliis kind are recog- 
nized by the interviewer in the form of a compliment, the 
applicant often visibly svarms to the discussion and becomes 
Increasingly expansive and spontaneous in hb ensuing re- 
marks. To be appreciated b a human need, and the job 
applicant is no exception in ihb respect. 

Since the first ten minutes of tlie interview are so critical 
in terms of establishing rapport, the interviewer must seize 
every available opportunity to pat the subject on tlie back 
during thb period. For example, if the individual has 
carried on a series of part-time jobs during hU youth, the 
interviewer can take appropriate note of thb by saying: "You 
certainly had a lot of ambition as a boy.” It b, of course, 
important that the pats be distributed throughout the inter- 
view, but they are particularly effective during thb initial 

Particular attention should be devoted to inflection of the 
voice. 'W'hcn Uic voice b consciously placed in the upper 
regbter, the compliment lakes on greater significance. In 
other words, it sounds more endiusiastic and more as though 
the interviewer is really impressed. Thb is of spedal im- 
portance for, if the applicant gets the feeling that the inter- 
viewer fully recognizes hb achievements, he will be more 
willing to talk about some of hb shortcomings. A man docs 
not mind telling about a few of hb problems if he is abso- 
lutely certain that the Ibtener is completely avare of hb 

In complimenting a man, we must make certain that we 
do not go too far, to the extent that our remarks sound over- 
entliusiastic and a bit artificiaL Tlie brighter and more 



sensitive the applicant, the more subtle and adroit tlie inter- 
viewer must be. At the same time, most people arc un- 
accustomed to giving compliments. In acquiring this tech- 
nique, then, the natural tendency is not to use it enough 
rather than to overdo it. 


In accordance with the general interviewing philosophy, 
the applicant must he encouraged to impart unfavoTable 
as well as favorable information. One of the most effective 
means of accomplishing this objective is to maVe it as easy 
as possible for him to talk about the negative aspects of hh 
background. ^Vhe^ever he docs divulge unfavorable in- 
formation, therefore, we play down the imporunce of that 
information by some casual, understanding remark. If, fo^ 
example, the candidate tells about a difficulty he has experi- 
enced with some supervisor, tve encourage him to describe 
the experience in some detail and then play down the im- 
portance of the experience by such a remark as, "I guess a 
good many people run across a boss like that somewhere along 
the line." Or, if the man indicates that his grades in high 
school svere below average, sve hear him out and then help 
him to save face by saying. “A good many boys in high school 
are more interested in athletics or other extracurricular 
punuics than they are in academic affain.” When a man dis- 
cusses difficulty with some subject matter such as mathematics, 
this can be played down by saying, "^Vc all have different 
aptitude patterns, and very few of us have high aptitudes 
in all areas. If you had trouble with math, the chances are 
that you were able to do substantially better in some other 

Sometimes failure can be played dotvn by compliment- 
ing the man for having been able to recognize his difficulty 
and face up to it. For example, if he reveals that he was a 

Celling Sponlaneous Informutlon 77 

failure as a sujKrvisor because he svas too soft and let his 
subordinates run all over him, the comment might be, "It 
is to your credit that you were able to analyze yourself and 
recognize the problem. Recognition of tlie problem is tlie 
first step in self-development.” Occasionally a man will 
openly admit that he was guilty of being lazy in hb response 
to the demands of a given job. Obviously, wc cannot con- 
done this type of l>eh.avior but we can show that our attitude 
losvard the man has not been seriously affected by saying, 
“You know, the fact tlial you were able to recognize this 
and talk about it today undoubtedly indicates that you have 
been trying to improve yourself in this respect and have al- 
ready made some progress.” 

Tlie inicmewcr wlio gives the slightest indication that 
hb judgment b being adversely influencetl by unfas’orabJe 
information svill get no further information of this kind. 
Once lie reacts ncgacivety->eiihcr verbally or facially— he 
disqualifies himself as a sympathetic listener. And no man 
willingly and spontaneously talks about bis dimcultics and 
failures in a climate where tlie listener docs not give Uie 
appearance of being undemanding. On the other hand, 
when such information is not only accepted without surprise 
or disapproval but b also played dois-n, the applicant b 
permitted to save face and hence usually finds it easy to dis- 
cuss additional negative data as it subsequently occurs tn the 
unfolding of hb life story. 

Facts of a negative nature should not be played doi\'n so 
baldly that tlic man becomes aivarc of the technique. The 
interviewer when confronted witfi genuinely unfavorable 
data should never say, "That’s not important; think no more 
about it." Such dbniissal of behavior that the candidate 
knows to have been wrong is far too glib and gives the im- 
pression of hollow insincerity. It b better not to play down 
at all than to do this in an obvious manner. 



Inexperienced interviewers have a tendency to become 
uncomfortable whenever a alight pause in the conversation 
occurs. Hence, they are likely to break in prematurely with 
tmnccessary comments or questions. 

Experienced interviewen, on the other hand, tend to wait 
the applicant out, purposely permitting a pause to occur 
from time to time. They do this as a conscious technique, 
knowing full well that the applicant will frequently elaborate 
on a previous point rather than alloi\' the dbcusslon to come 
to a standstill. The latter often semes that the interviewer 
by his very silence expects a fuller treatment of die topic 
under comideraiion. 

Obviously, such pauses should not be used too frequently. 
Nor should a pause be permitted to extend too long. If 
the candidate does not pid; up the conversation after a five*or 
ten-second break, the interviewer should come to bU assbt- 
ance with an appropriate question or comment. 

Because the interview takes the form of a pleasant con- 
versation, it mmt, of course, include all elements of such a 
conversation. A discussion that lasts as long as an hour and 
a half would normally have its lighter moments as well as 
its more serious episodes. As a conscious technique, there- 
fore, the interviewer introduces a variety of moods, in such 
a ivay that the conversation gives the appearance of being 
completely tiaturol. Since most of the discussion will in- 
escapably be of a more serious imture, ways and means must 
be found to lighten the mood from time to time, in such 
a way that the conversation does not bog down into a ponder- 
ous, deadly senous aSair. This is normally accomplished 
by turning one of the applicant's phrases a bit facetiously so 

Getting Spontaneous Information 79 

that he immediately sees the humor of it and gets a little 
laugh out of it For example, the applicant may indicate 
that he left a certain company because he felt that tlie organ- 
ization was in a bad rvay. He may go on to say that his judg- 
ment was subsequently vindicated when the firm went out 
of business. The interviewer might seize upon this op- 
portunity to lighten the mood with a remark so open and 
facetious that it could not be misunderstood. He might 
quip, "That would seem to indicate that the firm found it 
impossible to get along witliout your services.” 

The interviewer should not try to lighten the conversa- 
tional mood by telling jokes or by telling amusing incidents 
in which he has participated- This is not only unadroit 
and obvious but consumes valuable interviewing time. If 
he is to tell a story, moreover, the interviewer must assume 
the center of the stage, and (his is exactly what he should 
not do. Whenever tlie intervietver assumes the center of 
the stage, he breaks die threads of the applicant's story and 
interrupts hu o^vn continuing analysis of the candidate’s 
qualifications. If he should interrupt to tell an amusing 
experience, he finds it all die more difficult to pick up die 
threads when he resumes. 


A glance at the appended Interview Guide will reveal 
die proper sequence in which the applicant’s background 
is to be considered. This sequence is important in main- 
taining control of the intervicsv, as discussed in Chapter 6, 
but it is also designed as an aid in getting spontaneous in- 

That work experience appears on the Interviesv Guide 
as die first area for discussion is not a matter of chance. 
There are a number of good reasons for beginning the con- 
versation with a discussion of the candidate's work history. 



In the fint place, the work ecperience represents a topic 
svhich is normally easier for a man to discuss than any other 
area of his background. He is intimately Gimiliar with what 
he has done on each job and lie usually finds some satisfaction 
in talking about his past work achievements. Secondly, he 
expects to be asked about his previous jobs and this, there- 
fore, comes as no surprise to him. Usually, too. this area 
can be discussed in a matter-of-fact svay svithout many highly 
personal overtones. 

The area of education is the next item on the Intervierv 
Guide because this, too. usually lends itself to easy dis- 
cussion. Every applicant expects to be invited to talk about 
bis high school and college experiences and, because these 
experiences meant a great deal to him, he can frequently talk 
about them with considerable relisli. Even if some aspects 
of his educational background, such as below-average grades, 
are a bit painful in retrospect, he can usually wax enthu- 
siastic about other more pleasant items such as athletic 
prowess, fraternity life, or participation in clubs and musical 

Discussion of svork and educational background normally 
consumes approximately an hour's time. This gives the 
interviewer ample opportunity to establish rapport and gain 
the applicint’s confidence by encouraging discussion in areas 
that are primarily factual rather than personal. In this 
time Uie interviewer has had a chance to prove his worth as 
a sympathetic listener and to demonstrate his sincere interest 
in appropriate job placement. By the time he has com- 
pleted the discussion of his work history and educational 
background, the applicant will have discovered that he is 
being given a complete opportunity to discuss all important 
aspects of his past experience, as a basis for the decision of 
matching his qualifications with the job that best uses his 
abilities. And he has had a cliance to react to the inter- 

Getting Spontaneous Information 81 

viewer as a person. Because of the relationship established 
between llie inters’iewer and die interviesvee, moreover, 
the applicant will normally be talking freely and spontane- 
ously by the end of the first hour — in most cases long before 
that time. 

It becomes readily apparent, then, that tlie applicant is far 
more ready to discuss the more delicate and sensitive aspects 
of his personal history after he has talked about his work ex- 
perience and educadon. Confronted with die necessity of 
disclosing personal information at the beginning of the inter- 
view, applicants have a tendency to resist or, at best to be 
somewhat perfunctory and guarded in their disclosures. By 
delaying the personal history discussion, however, the inter- 
viewer is in a much better posidon to obtain truly significant 
data about the applicant’s personal life. And by treating the 
various areas in proper sequence, the interviewer has a chance 
to sdmulate spontaneity of response and to maintain this 
spontaneity throughout the discussion. 


Tlic techniques of indirection as a means of drawing out 
the applicant’s spontaneous response rest almost entirely 
upon subtlety and finesse. Unless they are artfully employed 
and appropriately disguised, they defeat their own ends. 
In fact, the art of indirection is a reladvcly fragile thing, 
in die sense that it does not take mucli to destroy it. For 
this reason most interviewers require specific training if they 
are to master it in all its complexities. 

Follow-Up Questions 

The previous chapter has been concerned wth technicjua 
designed to gain the applicant's confidence 
dbcussion in the major areas of his background. 
far confined die presenution primarily to svays and me^ 
of starting the man talWng. In thb chapter ive give 
attention to the techniques that help to keep the apphca 
talking, in such a way dial he is encouraged to divulge tne 
important aspect of his previous experiences. Tliese le 
niques, for the most part, take the form of follow-up questions 
and comments. The comprehensive introductory questions, 
discussed in the previous chapter, represent a valuable too 
for launching the discussion in each area. In fact, many 
applicants find it possible to talk for several minutes in re 
sponse to such a question. But they would eventually run 
down, and certainly would not provide all the salient m 
formation, without the added stimulus of follow-up questions 
and comments. 

Skill plays a large part in the formulation of follow-up 


Fol!oti>-up Qtieztions 

qucstiom, and this skill will determine much of die suA 
of the interview. The questions must be so plirascd i 
Uicy penetrate to tlie heart of a given matter and yet they 
must not give the appearance of being barbed, too direct, 
or "investigative” in nature. And they must be worded so 
that they sustain the interview as a pleasant conversation. 

The interviewer cannot anticipate all the follow-up ques- 
tions that m.ay be necessary to draw out the full story of any 
given applicant. Each applicant is a unique human being 
and has a unique background of penonal experiences. 
Hence, it is not our intention here to recommend specific 
follow-up questions that might be used as "crutches” by the un- 
trained interviewer. At the same time, a general knowledge 
and understanding of the nature and function of the follow- 
up question is of paramount imporunce in successful inter- 


In general, the follow-up question represents an extension 
of die comprehensive introductory question. It is used 
to prod the applicant from time to time, in diis way helping 
him to reveal his life's story to the fullest extent and to be- 
come more definitive concerning its Important aspects. Actu- 
ally, the interviewer's remarks should be Interjected so art- 
fully that he seldom if ever assumes the center of the stage. 
Rather, lie darts in and out widi such facility that (he appli- 
cant seldom becomes aware of the fact that his discoune 
is being dircctcti. The ability to keep die interviesv going 
in this fashion requires consummate skill — skill that accrues 
only as a result of considerable practice and a thorough under- 
standing of die basic principles of good interviewing. In 
achieving this skill, a number of factors must be kept in 


Comments Are Usually More Adroit Than Questtons- 
A normal conversation between two people consists pnnci- 
pally o£ comments that anticipate a response. 'When two 
people meet at a cocktail party, for example, the conversation 
usually begins with such a comment as, "This is quite a 
or "Everyone seems to be having a very good time tonight^ 
or TVe are certainly having a stretch of wonderful wcathCT. 
Comments such as these arc just as effective in stimulating 
conversation as questions, and they are far more adroit. 

So it is rviih interviewing. ^Vhenever a comment can be 
substituted for a question, the conversation flows more 
naturally and the interviewer gives the appearance of being 
less investigative in his approach. If he wants more informa- 
tion on a given subject, he can frequently get such infortna- 
tion by the simple comment, ‘That sounds very interesting. 
So encouraged, the applicant is quite likely to provide further 
elaboration, without having been specifically asked to do so. 
The comment, ‘Tell me a Htile more about that" U usually 
more effective than the question, "Wbat else did you find of 
interest in that situation?" 

\\Ticn comments fail to produce the specific information 
the interviciver desires, his remarks must, of course, take the 
form of questions. But these questions should be used spar- 
ingly and, in so far as possible, interspersed with comments. 
A scries of questions one after another gives the effect of cross- 
examining the applicant, and this must be avoided at all costs. 

Follow-up Remarks Should Encourage Elaboration. Since 
the inicrv’icwer tries to confine his participation to 10 or 15 
per cent of the total conversation, his follow-up remarks 
must be so phrased that they elicit a considerable amount of 
discussion on the part of the applicant- Hence, he seldom 
asks questions which can be answered by a simple "yes" or 
"no." He would not say, for example, "Did you like that 

FoltoTU-up Questions 85 

that you liked best about that job." Tlie latter comment 
gives the applicant a chance to be definitive and frequently 
results in as much as five minutes of spontaneous response. 

Keep Follow-up Remarks Open-End. Many interviewers 
put words in the applicant’s mouth by asking leading ques- 
tions or making leading comments. By so doing, they unin- 
tentionally structure their remarks so that a favorable re- 
sponse is strongly suggested. Remarks of this kind are a 
great waste of time since they seldom result in meaningful 
information. They make it too easy for the applicant to 
conceal something that might have an important bearing on 
his qualifications for a given job. Furthermore, leading 
comments make the applicant immediately aware of what the 
interviewer considers a favorable response. The comment, 
"I suppose you had a pretty happy early childhood," encour- 
ages the applicant to answer in the alHnnative, even though 
this may not have been tlie case. By putting words in the 
applicant's mouth die interviewer has tipped his hand, 
thereby precluding information that might have made a valu- 
able contribution to understanding the candidate's behavior. 

A leading question such as. "Did you get pretty good grades 
in high school?" makes it very difficult fox die applicant to 
give a negative response. Since the interviewer has pul the 
words in his moudi, he is greatly tempted to say "Yes." If 
his grades were poor and he honestly admits this, he realizes 
at once that this may count against him, and he may become 
uncomfortable in the intervictv situation. 

In order to avoid leading comments, remarks should be 
kept open-end. This means that they should be unstruc- 
tured, in the sense that they do not surest the most desirable 
response. The comment, "Tell me a little more about diat," 
is completely unstructured, leaving the applicant free to dis- 
cuss favorable or unfavorable information. In like manner, 
the quesdon, "What about grades in high scliool?” gives no 



due at all aj to the weight which the interviewer may plam 
on grades. A question that indudes all ranges oi the scale 
can also be classified as open-end. since it gives the applicant 
the opportunity to select a point on the scale that applies to 
his own situation. The following question illustrates thu 
point "What about grades? Were they average, above aver- 
age, or perhaps somewhat below average?” U is abundantly 
clear that such a question is much more likely to elicit a true 
response than the leading question concerning grades that 
•was disaissed above. 

Leading questions can also be avoided by suggesting pos- 
sible alternative responses — responses which are more or less 
equated with respect to social desirability. The question, 
“Did you concentrate on grades in school or were you more 
active in extracunicular affain?" provides alicmativcs which 
seem fairly equal in acceptability to many applicants. Thus, 
the applicant who has attained mediocre grades but who 
has been quite successful in extracunicular activities can 
use the latter as the basis for his response. In so doing, he 
often makes a parenthetical remark about his poor grades. 
Thb gives the interviesver an opportunity to discuss the 
grade situation in greater detail because the door has been 
left ajar. In other words, he can explore the grade situation 
quite naturally, at the same time giving the applicant an 
"out” by complimenting him on his success in extracurricular 

Talk the Applicant's Language. As the discussion pro- 
gresses, the interviewer makes mental notes concerning such 
factors as the applicant's vocabulary, level of sophistication, 
and tendenqr to be formal or more informal. He then uses 
this newly found- knowledge in the phrasing of his follow- 
up remarks, in order to maintain rapport and to encourage 
spontaneous response. There is no quicker way to lose 

FoUoohUp Queslions 87 

rapport than to use words which are outside the applicant’s 
vocabulary. In talking with a person of limited education 
and low-level verbal ability, one would never say, "Was your 
father extroverted or introvened?" Rather, he would para- 
phrase these terms by saying: "Was your father outgoing in 
the sense tliat he had a lot of friends or sv’as he more inclined 
to be reserved and to spend more lime by liimscif?" A 
bright, higlily sophisticatcil applicant, on tljc other hand, 
would lose respect for the interviewer wlio did not talk his 
language. Hence, the interviewer must be quite flexibfe 
in adapting liis approach to the various applicants with 
whom he talks. 

Never Ask a Question toiihout a Clear Purpose m Mind. 
Tlie interviewer must strive to keep one mental step ahead 
of the applicant. Because tlie phrasing of follow-up ques- 
tions and comments is to important, he must phrase these 
questions menially while the applicant is still responding 
to the previous question. This enables the inteiviewcr to 
"inicrjeci" the new question without any perceptible pause 
in the disaission. If he is to avoid a meaningless conversa- 
tion, moreover, the interviewer must select follow-up re- 
marks that arc comistcntly designed to produce evaluative 
information — information that contributes to his understand- 
ing of the applicant's behavior. 


As we have already seen, the function of follow-up re- 
marks is essentially that of helping the applicant present 
a clear picture of his qualifications. By means of adroit 
questioning, the interviewer must be able to draw out the 
applicant so that the latter can reveal his real assets. Equally 
important, the interviewer must be able to smicturc the dis- 
cussion in such a way that he gets an equally clear picture of 



the candidate’! shoncoming!. Within thU broad ftamcwoik 
oi objective!, however, follow-up remark! !ervc a number ol 
Specific functions. . 

Reminding Apt>^icant of Omitted Paris of ComprehcTUtve 
Introductory Questions. Tlie questions tliat arc used to 
introduce Uie discussion in eacli of the major int^tewing 
areas are so comprehensive that the typical candidate sviH 
forget to discuss some of the items in response to the com- 
prehensive introductory question alone. Usually he svi 
have to be reminded to discuss such job factors as likes, dis- 
likes, earnings, and accomplishments. And he may have to 
be reminded to discuss such things as subject preferences, 
grades, and extracurricular activities. Then, there are otJier 
items listed under each interviesvjng area on the Internes'^ 
Guide that may have to be brought to the applicants at- 
tention in follow-up questions. For example, if the appu* 
cant fails to tell why he left a certain job, the interviewer 
will have to bring this up in the form of a casual follow-up 

Getting Further Work end Education Information Rele- 
vant to the Job. We have already noted that the interviewer 
must have a clear mental picture of job and man speafica- 
tlons at the lime he discusses an applicant’s qualifications for 
a given job. As the interview progresses, he mentally checks 
the extent to which the applicant's work history and educa- 
tion measure up to these job and man specifications. Since 
the applicant has not been acquainted sviih these specifica- 
tions, he will not know svhich aspects of his background to 
emphasize, in terms of establishing the relevance of what he 
has done to what will be expected of him. The inter- 
viewer must therefore help him with this task. 

To use an example, let us assume that a technically trained 
person is being interviewed for a job that involves a con- 
siderable amount of report writing. In this case, the inter- 

FoUoiv-up duestions S9 

viewer ivouJd use follow-up questions in an effort to deter- 
mine the amount of report writing the candidate has done 
on his ^’arious jobs and the degree of writing facility he has 
acquired. He tvould, of course, try to mask the intent of 
his questions tvith appropriate phrasing and casual, offhand 
presentation. He might say, “In connection with your re- 
search and development work tvith that company, tvas tliere 
more emphasis placed on the actual technical experimenta- 
tion or on the writing up of restilis?" After the discussion 
he might add, “How did you feel about your accomplish- 
ments there? Did you feel that you were relatively more 
effective in the actual experimentation or in the report 
writing?" Even though the applicant may have felt that 
he made his greatest contribution in laboratory experimental 
work, he will usually volunteer information concerning hU 
report-writing ability in response to such a question. And 
he will often place a relatively objective value judgment on 
his writing ability, particularly since he probably does not 
know how important Utts may be in the job for which he is 
being considered. 

Clarify True Meaning of Applicant's Casual Remarks, 
Clues to the applicant's behavior will not always be clear- 
cut. In response to a question concerning job dislikes, for 
example, a man may say that he found the detail work less 
satisfying. Now, the interviewer cannot assume from sucli 
a remark that the applicant is a poor detail man. He must 
try to pin do^vn this clue by fixing the degree of dislike. In 
tlm case, he could respond to the original remark by saying, 
“Many people find detail work much less interesting than 
other aspects of their job.“ This kind of a sympathetic re- 
sponse often encourages the applicant to elaborate. In so 
doing, he may reveal an intense dislike of detail and may 
openly admit that he is not very proficient in the type of 
work iliat requires close attention to detail. Or he may 



indicate that, while he does not enjoy detail, he neverthe- 
less finds it relatively easy to carry out when it is an im- 
portant part o£ the joh. Obviously, the interpretation oE 
these two responses would be quite different. The first re* 
sponse, if supported by other dues pointing in the same 
direction, would lead the interviewer to the possible con- 
clusion that the applicant was not a good detail man. The 
second respome. on the other hand, would lead to no such 

Probing Afore Deeply for Clues to Behavior. Highly 
skilled interviewers often pick up little clues to the appli- 
cant’s possible behavior relatively early in the discussion, 
and these clues help them to establish a hypothesis svilh re- 
spect to the possible existence of certain assets or liabilities, 
"rhey know, however, that such hypotheses must be supported 
by more tangible evidence; othenvise they roust be rejected 
entirely. The interviewer therefore uses foUow-up questions 
to probe for clues that loight support his hypothesis. If 
none is found, he must, of course, discard that hypothesis and 
search for new ones. 

For purposes of illustration, we will assume that the inter- 
viewer has obuined some initial impressions of the appli- 
cant that point in the direction of superficiality, lack of depth, 
and limited powers of analysb. As he leads the applicant 
from area to area, he will, of course, be on the lookout for 
supporting evidence or for the lack of it. From time to 
time, he will interject so-called “depth questions” — questions 
that require a fair amount of anal)‘sis. For example, he may 
ask the applicant what a job has to have in order to give him 
satbfaction. Or he may ask what gains in terms of person- 
ality development accrued to him as a result of hb military 
experience. If the candidate’s responses to a series of such 
questions reveal little ability to dig beneath the surface. 

FoUow-up Questions 91 

the interviewer may rightfully conclude that the man is in- 
deed superficial and without much ability to analyac. 

Let us take another example. In this next case, we will 
assume that the interviewer has formed an early hypothesis 
that the applicant may be somewhat Lazy. Let us say tliat 
he has arrived at this tentative judgment because of the man's 
professed unwillingness to work overtime hours. In order 
to check and support tliis initial hypothesis, the inters'icwer 
wifi use foffow-up questions to probe specifically for such 
factors as (1) how mudi effort the applicant nuy have ex- 
pended on other jobs, (2) how hard he studied in scliool, 
and (3) any demonstrated willingness to carry out constructive 
tasks cither at home or in the community after having put 
in a regular work day. If he finds iltat the man (1) took 
the easy way out rather than tackle difficuU problems, (2) 
studietl just hard enough to get by, or (3) decided against 
graduate work because it would have meant going to school 
at night>-if he is able to get consistent information of this 
kind— he is able to document his views concerning the 
candidate’s lack of motivation. Tlic point to remember 
here, though, is that this kind of information probably would 
not Jiavr been brought to light had it not been for the fact 
that the interviewer probed for the appropriate clues by 
means of follow-up qtiesiions. 

Controf/ing the Interview Conversation. As wc shall 
sec in Chapter 6, follow-up remarks arc used also to control 
die inicn'icsv conversation, so tliat the applicant is not per- 
mitted to wander off the track and the interview docs not get 
out of hand. Since an entire diaptcr is devofed to dtis lOJ- 
poTiant asjiecl of interviewing skill, we will not concern our- 
selves at this point with the specifw uays in whidi follow-up 
questions are uset! to control the intcrs'icw. At the same 
lime, wc can point out here tliat folluw-up questions and 


comment, me used to (1) push the appltont along when he 
Eocs into too mudi inelevant detail, (2) emu „i:. 

coverage ot each interviewing area, and (3) direa * P? 
canfs attention to those aspecu ol Im '>“'‘5'?“"'*. 
the greatest promise o! providing evaluauve .ntormatio 
concerning his behavior. 


In a previous chapter we have likened ‘he i"«.viewj Jo 
an actor pertorming a role on the stage. He does 
things to get certain effects. And titis, ot course, tncMes 
the manner in which he uses his follow-up remarw. 
shilllul intcTv’iewer knows that there are di0etent km 
follow-up questiom. and he has learned that one km ^ 
remark b likely to be more effective in a given situation 
than any of the other kinds. He therefore comnoml> U5« 
the specific type of follow-up remark that he thinks might x 
most productive in each interview situation with which he 
is fac^. . . 

The Simple, Slraigfil/orword "Reminder'’ Question. 
indicated previously, since the applicant svill usually forget 
to discuss all the items included in the interviewer’s com- 
prehemive introductory question, the latter jogs his memo^ 
with simple, straightfonvard ‘’reminders.” In so doing, o 
makes every effort to keep these questions open-end. ^ ^ 
may have to say, for example. *'^Vhat were some of the thinp 
you liked best on that job?” or, in stimulating further dis- 
cussion concerning the candidate’s education, the intervieiv^ 
may ask, "What about the level of your grades in college? 
If the applicant does not discuss his interests in sufficient 
tail, the interviewer may say, "What eke do you do outside 
working hours for fun and relaxation?” 

The Laundry-list Question. Applicants almost in%'ariably 

FoUow-up Questions 93 

find some areas more difficult to discuss tlian othen. Con- 
fronted with a question Uiat requires considerable analysis, 
they frequently “block” and find it somewhat difficult to 
come up with an immediate response. In such a situation, 
the interviewer comes to the applicant’s assistance with a 
laundry-list type of question. As the name implies, this 
type of question su^ests a variety of possible responses and 
permits the subject to take his choice. If tlie subject blocks 
on the question, “What are some of the tilings tliat a job 
has to have in order to give you satisfaction?”, the inter- 
viewer may stimulate his thinking by such a laundry-list 
comment as, “You know some people arc more interested 
in security; some are frankly more interested in money; 
some tvant to manage; some want an opportunity to create; 
some like a job that takes them out-of-doors a good bit of 
the time— what’s important to you?" Given a variety of 
possible responses, the applicant b normally able to marshal 
his thinking and supply a considerable amount of informa- 

The laundry-list question can also be used as a means of 
confirming clues to behavior that the interviewer has obtained 
from some previous aspects of tJie discussion. Let u$ as- 
sume, for example, that the man has dropped one or two 
hints that seem to indicate a dislike for detail. The inter- 
viewer can often follow up on such clues by including a 
reference to detail in the laundry-list question at the end of 
the discussion of work history. For example, the interviewer 
may say, "Wliat are some of the things that a job has to have 
in order to give you satbfaction? Some people want to 
manage whereas others are more interested in an opportunity 
to come up with new ideas; some like to work regular hours 
whereas others do not mind spending additional hours on a 
job — hours that might interfere witli family life; some like 



to work with details while others do tiotj some are quite 
happy ts'orking at a desk while others prefer to move around 
a good bit — what’s important to you?” 

If, in response to the above question, the candidate said, 
‘^Vell, I certainly do not want anything that involves a lot 
of detail; actually, I’m not at all good at that type of work,” 
the interviewer would certainly have obtained further con- 
Bimatlon of the subject’s reaction to detail. The very fact 
that the man seleaed this item for discussion abo reflects 
the importance he attaches to it. If the individual were 
being considered for a job srhere attention to detail figured 
importantly in the man specifications, his response could be 
interpreted as revealing a relatively serious shortcoming. 

Tuio-step Probing Questions. In order to probe deeply 
for clues to behavior that might not otherwise come to light, 
two separate questions are frequently required. The first 
question Is usually more geoetal in nature, whereas the second 
question Is reudi more specific and digs more deeply. This 
approach U called "cwo-step probing,” the first step involv- 
ing a question which usually results in identification of a 
specific interest and the second step involving a question 
which digs for tlie basis of that interest. 

As a means of illustrating the two^tep digging technique, 
let us a^ume that the iniervieiver is interested in probing 
for the quality of the applicant’s thinking and is trying to 
accomplish this objective by asking about the latter’s sub- 
ject preferences in college. He might ask a first-step ques- 
tion. “IVhat subjeos did you most enjoy in college?” The 
applicant might reply, "MaihcmaiLcs ^N-as always my favorite.” 
Now, this information is interesting but it does not tell us 
much about the subject's quality of thinking. Hence, a 
second-step question is in order, ‘TVTiat s%'as there about 
mathematics Uiat particularly appealed to you?” One appli- 
cant might reply, “Oh. I dem’t know; I just liked it, that's 

FoUoJihUp Questions 95 

all.” Responses of this typ^-'panlcularly if they are charac- 
teristic of the candidate's responses in general — frequently 
indicate a lack of intellectual depth. On the other hand, 
another applicant might give tliis answer to the above ques- 
tion, "I liked mathematics because it provided such an in- 
tellectual challenge. Moreover, it is an exact science, svherc 
iJie problems result in clear-cut answers. Unlike the shades 
of gray you find in social studies, mathematical answers are 
usually black or white. Furthermore, tlie investigational 
possibilities in the field of mathematics ate infinite; there 
is no theoretical ceiling.” It will be apparent from the 
second applicant's response that the interviewer has un- 
covered an appreciable amount of information concerning 
tlie quality of the subject's thinking— information that might 
not have come to light at alt it he had not utilized tlie two* 
step probing technique. 

'The iwo-stcp probing technique must, of course, be used 
sparingly throughout tlie intcrv’iew. There is not sufficient 
lime to probe for the "why" of everything the applicant says. 
Moreover, too-frcqucni use of this technique places the appli- 
cant too much on the spot and gives him tlie feeling that he 
is being grilled. The technique must be reserved for prob- 
ing in the most fruitful areas- Only the well-trained, ex- 
perienced interviewer will be able to recognize a fruitful 
area when he comes upon it. WJiat might conceivably prove 
to be a fruitful area for investigation in one applicant's back- 
ground might represent quite a barren area for exploration 
in another person’s history. With appropriate training and 
experience, the interviewer senses the most fruitful areas 
for deeper exploration as the interview discussion progresses. 
His sensitivity in this respect can be compared to that of 
a mining engineer who uses a Geiger counter in his search 
for uranium. The engineer often covers a considerable 
amount of ground before the Geiger counter begins to tick. 

gg Mechanics 

Wiien this occun, he immediately digs into the carili to 
ascertain the extent o£ the ore body. 

Double-edged Questions. This type of questioning is 
used to make it easy for the applicant to admit his shortcom* 
ings and to help him achieve greater self-insight. Tlie ques- 
tions are double-edged in tlic seiue that they make it possible 
for the subject to choose between tn^o possible responses. 
Moreover, the fini alternative is usually phrased in such a 
way that the subject rs’ould not clioose that alternative unless 
he really felt that he possessed the ability or personality trait 
in question to a fairly high degree- The second alternative 
is phrased so that it is easy for him to choose that alternative, 
even fhough it is the more undesirable of the two possible 

We will assume in this case that the intersdewer has 
obtained several clues which seem to indicate that a given 
applicant tends to be too soft and unaggressive. He might 
then try to get further confirmation by questioning the appli- 
cant concerning his performance on a given supervisory job. 
He might say, “Were you usually as firm with your sub- 
ordinates as you would like to have been or did this repre- 
sent an area in ivhich you could have improved to some 
extent?” Note that the question is so phrased that the sub- 
ject b not compelled to admit that he svas actually poor or 
deficient in the trait under consideration. He is simply 
asked if this might not have been an area in which he could 
have improved. When a question is so phrased, it frequently 
opens the door in the sense that it encourages discussion of 
a shortcoming that might not have been revealed otherwise. 
As we shall see in a subsequent chapter of this book, the 
double-edged question can also be effectively used to stimulate 
the applicant's self-evaluation. If, in discussing the sub- 
ject’s shortcomings with him, the interviewer wishes to get 


Follow-up Questions 

confinnation of previous dues indicating lack of self<on- 
fidence, he can say, “What about self-confidence? Do you 
think tliat you have as mudi self-confidence as you would like 
to have or do you think that this represents a trait that might 
be improved a little bit?" If the interviewer has established 
rapport with the applicant, the latter often finds it easy to 
admit that he could improve his self-confidence. In so doing, 
he admits by implication that he is somewhat deficient in 
this particular traiL 

The question might be raised that anyone could improve 
in almost any given trait. Experience has shown, however, 
that the average applicant will not admit the need for im* 
provement unless he recognizes some deficiency in the trait 
under consideration. 


The evaluation interview b basically an exercbe in in- 
direction, By encouraging spontaneous response on the part 
of the applicant, we hope to leam as much as possible about 
hb background. By means of indirection, moreover, we 
hope to get information in the more critical and sensitive 
areas. For example, as a result of questioning a man in detail 
about his dblikes on the Job, he frequently telb us his reason 
for leaving that Job, without our having to ask for it. If 
information of this kind docs not come out spontaneously, 
however, ive have to become more direct in our questions. 
Thus, if he does not tell us spontaneously why he left the 
given job, we have to ask him specifically. 

When the interviewer finds it necessary to switdi from the 
indirect to the more direct type of questioningi he must 
make every effort to soften suA questions. If he poses his 
direct questions bluntly and maladroiily, he runs the risk 
of upsetting the applicant and losing rapport. Tliis pitfall 

gg Mechartia 

can be avoided by utilizing appropriate mfroduc/OTy phrases 
and subsequent qualifying words or phrases. 

Introductory Phrases. Appropriately worded introductory 
phrases lielp to remove the blunt aspect o! a direct question. 
Such phrases make the question seem less investigative and 
hence more palatable as far as the applicant is concerned. 
He does not feel quite so much as though he had been put 
on the spot. 

The following introduaory phrases svill help to soften al- 
most any direct question: 

Is it possible that 
Would you say that 
What prompted your deci- 
sion to 

Hotv did you happen to 
Has there been any opportu- 
nity to 

To what do you attribute 

Qualifying Words or Phrases. These qualifiers help to 
remove the blunt edge from a direct question because they 
introduce the concept of degree. In other words, they give 
the implication that the situation under discussion may have 
been unfavorable only to a degree rather than wholly bad. 

The following qualifying words and phrases are most 
eSective in softening direct questions: 

Might SomeNvhat 

Perhaps Fairly 

To some extent A Utile bit 
Quite Or not so much so 

Help the Applicant to "Save Face." Direct questions can 
frequently be phrased in such a way that they give the appli- 
cant an out. This permits him to "save face” and gives him 
the feeling that his response has not seriously damaged his 

FoUovf-up Questions 59 

Examples of the tray Direct Questions Can Be Softened. 
Study of the two types of questions listed below will reveal 
tlie extent to which the direct question has been softened 
by means of (1) introductory phrases, (2) qualifying words 
or phrases, or (3) giving the man an out. 

Too Direct 

1. tVhydid you have trouble 
with your boss? 

2. How Riuch money do you 

3. Wjy did you leave that 

4. Was your father bull* 

5. ' Do you lack self-confi* 


G. Do you plan to get mar- 

7. Were you spoiled as a 

8. Why did you switch from 
mechanical to industrial 

ilfore Appropriate 

J. To aihat do you attribute 
the little dt/fic«Ities you 
experienced svitli your 

2. Has there been any oppor- 
tunity to acquire a little 
financial reserve? 

S. Hdu> did you happen to 

leave that job? 

4. Is it possible that your 
father might have been a 
little set in his ivays? 

5. Would you say that you 
might desirably acquire a 
Ullle more self-confidence? 

6. In connection with your 
social activitieSt have you 
found anyone with whom 
you would like to settle 
doivn, or is thb decision 
being deferred? 

7. Would you say that you 
were brought up fairly 
strictly or not so muck so? 

8. What prompted your deci- 
sion to change from me- 
chanical to industrial en- 




Discussion of the mechanics of the interview would not 
be complete without some reference to the taking of notes. 
This is a subject, incidentally, about which a considerable 
amount of controversy has taken place over the years, some 
authorities claiming that note taking results in a loss of rap- 
port and others indicating that the interviewer should feel 
free to uke as many notes as he desires. 

We take the view that the decision as to whether or not to 
take notes should be made on the basis of the experience and 
training of the intervieuier. Tliis b another svay of saying 
that the untrained, inexperienced interviewer should not 
take notes, while the well-trained interviewer should be able 
to carry out this aaivity svithout any loss of rapport. 

At the time one is learning to use the recommended in- 
formation-getting techniques, he b of course rather unsure 
of himself and a bit awkward in almost everything he does. 
Thus, he has hb hands full in terms of hb efforts to establbh 
rapport, without attempting anything in addition. And it 
b true that the taking of notes does tend to diminish rapport 
if thb b not done adroitly and unobtrusively. Moreover, 
the interviewer will normally have little difBculcy remember- 
ing the salient aspects of the candidate’s background, pro- 
vided he writes up the case immediately after the discussion 
has been oincluded. Thb subject b treated in greater de- 
tail in Chapter 13. 

On the other hand, one who has achieved genuine skill in 
the use of such techiuques as facial and vocal expression, pats 
on the back, playing down of unfavorable information, and 
adroit questioning should be able to take notes in such a 
way that the applicant becomes almost unaware of thb 
activity. The candidate usually becomes so absorbed in the 

Follow-Up Questions 101 

discussion that he takes little notice of the skilled inter- 
viewer’s note taking. 

As indicated above, hotvever, any smting done by the in- 
terviesver should be carried out as unobtrusively as possible. 
Thus, he should keep a pad of paper on his knee throughout 
the disaission and should keep a pencil in his hand at all 
times. The simple movement of placing the pencil on the 
desk and picking it up at frequent intervals can often be 

Notes should only be made when the candidate relates 
objective data concerning his background or when he tells 
about his past achievements. Whenever he imparts in- 
formation of a highly personal or derogatory nature, the 
interviewer obviously refrains from any writing. Rather he 
waits until the applicant volunteers the next bit of favorable 
information and, at that time, records botit the favorable 
information and the unfavorable data previously obtained. 

Finally, skilled interviewers learn to record their findings 
without diverting their attention from Uie candidate for 
more than a few seconds at a time. This places the note- 
taking function in its proper perspective, as a seemingly 
minor aspect of the interview. 

Guiding and Controlling 
the Interview 

In the two previous chapters devoted to the mechanics ot 
the interview, emphasis im been placed primarily on ways 
and means of getting the applicant to talk freely. This 
of course represents a fint objective. Unless the applicant 
talks spontaneously, the intcrvierver can Icam little about 

Spontaneous discourse in itself, however, is not sufficient. 
Discussion must be guided and channeled in such a way 
that the applicant tells what the interviewer wants to learn 
rather than simply what he himself rvants to relate. Indeed, 
it is quite possible for an applicant to talk as long as three 
hours in an uncontrolled situation without giving as much 
salient and evaluative information as could have been ob- 
tained in 1% hours of guided conversation. 

In an earlier chapter, we discussed the merits of three 
types of interviews: the direct interview, the indirect inter- 
view, and the patterned interview. The major difference in 


Guiding and ConlroUing the Interview 103 

tlie three types of interviews is that of control. In our view, 
the direct interview exercises too much control and the in- 
direct interview too little. In the evaluation interviesv, on 
the other hand, just enough control is exercised to get the 
kind of information wanted within a reasonable period of 
time. The goal is to do this without interfering witli the 
applicant’s spontaneity of response. 


Teadiing interviewers how to exercise optimal control 
represents one of the most dilTicult — if not the most difficult 
— task in die entire training procedure. During the earlier 
stages of the training, the trainees invariably exercise too 
little control. In their desire to get spontaneous informa- 
tion, they are inclined to let the applicant go on and on, just 
so long as he talks freely. At that stage of their training, they 
are often afraid to dlrea the conversation for fear Uiat such 
direction might inhibit the (lotv of conversation. As a result 
of this completely permissive approach, the applicant often 
is allowed to ramble excessively in discussing his background 
and to go into too much detail on topics that may not be 
particularly relevant- As a consequence, the interview 
suffers horn lack of intensive coverage in the important areas 
and from lack of balance — too much emphasis on one area 
of the applicant’s background and too little on tlic other 
areas. Also, sucli an interview takes far too much time. 

When it is suggested to interviesver-trainees that they ex- 
ercise greater control, iliey have a tendency to go too far 
in that direction. They do too much of the talking, ask 
too many follow-up questions, and give tlie appearance of 
grilling the applicant. That elusive quality, spontaneity of 
response, evaporates into thin air and the interview is re- 
duced to a question-and-ansiver affair. 

Under the guidance of the trainer, the interviewer-trainee 



gradually learns lo use just the right amount of guidance and 
control. And he learns to do this tactfully and unobtru- 
sively. In the very early stages of the intervleiv', he permits 
the applicant to talk very freely, even though some of the 
resulting information may not be particularly relevant. He 
does this to establish the pattern of getting the man to carry 
the conversational ball. Once this pattern has been estab- 
lished, however, he does not hesitate to inject comments and 
questions at critical points, in order to ensure intensive 
coverage and suffident penetration in each area of the appli- 
cant’s background. 


As implied above, measures of control are designed to 
(1) ensure adequate coverage of each area In the applicant’s 
background. (2) provide proper balance in the discussion of 
each of these areas, (J) secure appropriate penetration into 
the really salient aspects of the candidate’s previous experi- 
ences, and (4) utilize the interviewer’s time effidently and 

Coverage. "Wben properly used, techniques designed to 
get spontaneous information are often so effective that the 
applicant takes the conversational ball and runs away svith 
it. In so doing, he frequently skips over some important 
foctoTS too quidily and leaves out other factors entirely. In 
launching his work-history discussion, for example, he may 
make no mention of part-time jobs carried on during high 
school and college. And he may devote only a minute or 
two lo his first postcollege job. leaving out such factors as 
likes, dislikes, and reasons for leasing. Or, in telling about 
his education, he may go right into a discussion of college, 
forgetting to ay anything about the high school experiences. 

When the applicant b^ins to race over his history too 
rapidly, die interviewer should step in to control the situa- 

Guiding and GontroWing the Intervim 105 

tion, tactfully reminding the candidate to fill in the needed 
information. Othenvise the individual might conceivably 
cover an entire area sucli as work history in as few as ten 
or fifteen minutes, without providing any real clues to his 
behavior or any substantial information about his accumu- 
lated skills. 

In his attempts to get maximum coverage, the interviewer 
directs the discussion with the image of the job and man 
specifications uppermost in his mind. And since he has by 
far the better knowledge of the job requirements, he is 
responsible for leading the discussion into the most fruitful 
diannels of discourse. If he knows, for example, that a given 
job requires high mathematical facility, he will make very 
sure that the applicant covers such factors as math grades, 
amount of study time required to obtain those grades, and 
the extent to which mathematical facility has played an im- 
portant part in job accomplishment. 

Balanee. During the early stages of their training, inter- 
viewen frequently fail to apportion interviewing time ap- 
propriately. They permit the candidate to spend far too 
much lime on one area of his background and far too little 
on some of the other areas. Such interviews lack balance. 

Problems concerned with balance usually occur as a result 
of allowing the applicant to provide too much irrelevant de- 
tail about his previous work experience. In an insufficiently 
controlled interview, some applicants find it quite easy to 
spend as much as an hour and a half discussing their previous 
jobs. In so doing, they naturally include a lot of unnecessary 
and irrelevant information. Wren this occurs, the inter- 
viewer suddenly realizes that too much time has been spent 
on the work area. Then, in order to complete the dis- 
cussion within a reasonable period of time, he pushes the 
applicant through the other areas of his background too 
rapidly. The ensuing lack of interview balance precludes 



comptehcnsivc CT'aluation of the individual’s qualifications. 
In fact, lack of interview balance can frequentlf lead the 
interviewer to completely erroneous conclusions concerning 
the candidate’s suitability. In spending too much time on 
the tvork history, he may, for example, skip over the early 
home background so fast that he fails to bring to light highly 
critical information — information that could have provided 
the real key to understanding the individual’s behavior. 

Now, it is not reasonable to expect all information supplied 
by Uic applicant to be relevant. Of necessity, much of the 
discussion provides little more than a framework that is used 
by the interviewer as a basis for probing into more fruitful 
areas. At the same time, the interviewer must continually 
guard against excessive and irrelcv’ant detail He must con- 
tinually ask himself. ”Am I learning anything about the 
applicant's behavior or anything about the extent to which 
he meets the job specifications, as a result of this particular 
segment of his discussion?" If the answer is '*No/’ he must 
tactfully push the man along to anodier topic. 

In order to aduevc proper balance, the inicrv'iewer should 
wear a wTist watch. And he should casually refer to tlie 
watch at rather frequent intervals. Time spent in the 
various interview areas with applicants for higher-level jobs 
should be apportioned roughly as indicated below. These 
time limits, as discussed in Chapter 2, can be appreciably 
shortened in interviews with candidates for lower-level 

Work history — JO to 50 minutes 
Education— >10 to 15 minutes 
Early home background — 10 to 15 minutes 
Present social adjustment — ^5 to 10 minutes 
Self-evaluation— 10 to 15 minutes 

Guiding and Controlling the Interview 107 

The above timetable pennits a minimum of an hour and 
fifteen minutes and a maximum of an hour and forty'five 
minutes. It must be emphasized, though, that these time 
allowances are to be used only as a rough guide. Since tliere 
are such marked differences between individuals, it will 
obviously take longer to interview one man than another. 
Factors Uiat influence interviewing time requirements are 
primarily those of age and psychological complexity of the 
iiidiwduah The older man normally requires more time 
because he has more experiences to be dicussed and evaluated. 
Regardless of age, the individual who is complex psycho- 
logically requires greater time because there are more facets 
of his penonality to be considered. 

There are cases, too, •tvhcre the suggested timetable may 
have to be modified with respect to the amount of time re- 
quired for a given interview area. If tlie applicant is fresh 
out of college, for example, and has had few summer or other 
part-time jobs, it will obviously be unnecessary to spend as 
much as forty minutes on the work history area. In evaluat- 
ing sucli an individual, proportionately more time should be 
spent on bis education and on the other areas of his back- 
ground. In another case, the individual’s current domestic 
situation may be such that it requires as much as tiventy min- 
utes of discussion. 

The suggested timetable is therefore a very flexible one. 
But if an interviewer spends more than the indicated time 
on a given area, he should at least be aware of it and should 
have a good reason for so doing. As indicated above, the 
timetable serves as a guide or clieck. If, for example, the 
interviewer suddenly discovers that he has spent thirty min- 
utes on work history without touching upon any of the jobs 
held by the applicant during the past ten years, he knows that 
he will have to move the individual along more rapidly if 

jQg Mechanics 

he b to have sufficient time to explore the remaining areas 
of the man's background. 

Peneiraiion. In general, applicants supply t^vo types of 
information; descriptive information and evaluative infor- 
mation, If the interview is not sufficiently controlled, al- 
most all of tlie information may be of a descriptive nature. 
The applicant may describe the companies for which he has 
previously worked, go into elaborate details concerning his 
job duties, and talk a lot about the fun he had in college. 
Nosv, some of this descriptive information serves a purpose, 
but it docs not tell us much about the make-up of the man 

Hence, the interviewer must control the discussion to get 
CN’aluative information— -infonnation that can be used as a 
basis for determining the man’s personality, character, and 
motu’ailon. By artful and uctful questioning, he must pen* 
elrate to the man's basic reactions to important situations, 
with a view to determining the possible ejects of those situ- 
ations on the individual’s growth and development. For 
example, to learn that a man spent five years in the Army, at- 
tended a variety of schools, fought in the tank corps overseas, 
and w-as arvarded a Bronze Star is not sufficient. \Ve want 
to know, in addition, how he got along with his superior of- 
ficers, how >veli he adjusted to military life, and how much he 
developed and matured as a result of the over-all experience. 
Normally, the average applicant rvill not supply ansrvers to 
Uiesc questions unless his discussion is channeled. In other 
words, the interviewer must find a way to cut off descriptive 
information and probe more deeply for evaluative data. 

Economy of the Interviewer's Time. The good inter- 
viewer is ahvajs jealous of his time. Although he must not 
in any way convey ihis fact to the applicant, be nevertheless 
uses control in order to complete his interviews in the shortest 
possible lime and still get the best possible picture of lire 

Guiding and Controlling the Interview 109 

candidate’s qualiScations. The interview that runs for 21^4 
to 3 hours is ordinarily an inelHcient one- Such an inter- 
view not only consumes more time than is necessary but re- 
sults in so much irrelevant detail that interpretation becomes 
more difficult. In other words, the interviewer has difficulty 
separating tlic wheat from Utc chaff primarily because there 
is so much chaff. 

If an interviewer is to assume a normal case load of three 
comprehensive interviews per day, he cannot afford to spend 
much more than hours per interview and still have time 
to sviite up his notes. Moreover, interviewing is a very fa- 
tiguing experience because of the attention factor. If the 
interviewer spends too much time on one interview, he will 
not have sufficient energy to give other appltcanu the atten- 
tion they deserve. 

The indicated case load of three interviews per day may 
strike some as a surprisingly low number. It is true, of 
course, that an employment inierviewer can conduct a rela- 
tively large number of preliminary interviews in a single day. 
And lie can carry out as many as seven or eight final inter- 
views on applicants for lower-level plant or office assignments. 
Dut it is unreasonable to expect him to do more than three 
comprehensive interviews per day in the case of persons be- 
ing considered for higher-level positions. Since the evalu- 
ating of key applicants represents such a critical function, 
it is much better to hire and iiatn additional interviewers 
than to overload the interviewing staff. 


Effective interview control is more than a matter of too 
little or too mudi. It is also a matter of how it is accom- 
plished. And this represents one of the most important as- 
pects of the art. It is a relatively easy task to teach inter- 
viewers the art of getting spontaneous information. The 



big job is to teach them how to control. For if this is poorly 
done, the applicant ‘'freezes up” and rapport is lost. De- 
scription of the recommended techniques is of course no sub- 
stitute for personalized training and supervised practice, but 
it does constitute an important first step. 

Interview Guide. Thb provides the interviewer with a 
"track to run on" and, as such, represents the very founda- 
tion of control. If carefully followed, the Interview Guide 
can bring order, system, and intensive coverage to a dbeus- 
sion that might othersvise have been rambling and inconclu- 

This Intersdesv Guide not only specifies the sequence 
of the discussion but lists the important factors to be taken 
up in each major area. The interviewer operates wth this 
form on hb lap and he constantly refers to it throughout the 
intervic^t. ^Vhen he completes the dbcussion of the early 
home background, he turns the form over so that he can use 
it as a guide through the rest of the session. The form should 
be turned over in an unobtrusive manner, so that the appli- 
cant does not become unduly aware of it. The interviewer 
does thb by fixing the applicant’s attention rvith hb eyes while 
talking with him about some aspect of hb early home back- 
ground. In nine cases out of ten, the applicant will not 
even be a^rare that the form has been turned over. 

After considerable practice, some interviewers feel that they 
no longer have a need to rely on the Interview Guide. ^Vhen 
they put thb out of sight, however, they almost invariably 
leave out some important aspect of the applicant’s, back- 
ground. Hence, no matter hosv much experience svith the 
form the interviewer accumulates, he should always operate 
with it before him. 

Obviously no form — no matter how well designed — can in- 
clude all the topics that might be discussed with every con- 

Guiding and ConlToIling the Interviea 111 

cciv’ablc applicant. But it the interviewer will make certain 
to get thorough coverage on eadi point listed under eadi of 
the major areas, he should have a reasonably good basis for 
a hiring decision by the time be has concluded the discussion. 

In addition to providing a track to run on, the Interview 
Guide can be used for writing up Uie findings. Instruc- 
tions for ViTiting up cases will be found in Ch.aptcr 13. 

foffou»-up Comments and Questions. As indicated in Use 
previous cliaptcr, one of the import.ant functions of follow-up 
questions and comments is that of guiding die interview. 
Such remarks are used (1) to return the applicant to the sub- 
ject under discussion when he wanders olT the track, (2) to 
push him along when he begins to go Into too much irrele- 
sant detail, and (3) to shift his discussion from descriptive 
information to information that provides more clues to his 
penonality, character, and motivation. 

Let us first take the situation where the appllant skips over 
hb hbtory too rapidly or sonders oil the track. In thb situ- 
ation, two factors are important: timing and lubrication. 
Obsaously, we do not interrupt the man in the middle of a 
sentence, nor do we shut off an imporunt thought Rather, 
we anticipate the ending of a sentence and Uien inject a posi- 
tive or lubricating comment. 

Let us assume, for c,xample, that the applicant races lightly 
over his first two or three jobs, apparently thinking that they 
are not germane to the disaission. Since this would normally 
occur at the very beginning of the interview and since we 
want to establish the pattern of having him carry the conver- 
sational ball, we svould let him talk for three or four minutes. 
Then, just as he was about to put a period at the end of a 
sentence, %ve would inject a positive comment and redirect 
him to a more thorough treatment of hb first job. We might 
say in thb instance, "You have ratainly had some interesting 



early experiences— «o interesting in fact that I would like to 
know more about them. Suppose you tell roc more about 
your likes, dislikes, and earnings on that first job." 

To uke another illustration, let us show how easy it is for 
a man to svandcr off the track. In his response to the ques- 
tion as to what he liked on a given job, he might say, "Tliat 
job g;ave me satisfaction became I like to svork with my hands. 

I guess 1 get that from my father who was a real craftsman.'’ 
Already off on a tangent, the applicant may [ollosv svith a 
lengthy discussion of hU father — information svhicli would 
normally be obtained later on in the area of early home back- 
ground. Now, this represents a situation which we must 
control if we arc to keep the man from rambling. Yet, wc 
do not want to give him the impression that he has wandered 
out into "left field." Hence, we ItibricaJe the situation with 
a positive comment and then redirect him to the subject in 
hand. After he has talked a little about his bther and just 
as he is about to come to the end of a sentence, we might say: 
"Your father must have been a very Imeresiing person, and 
I can certainly understand how you happened to acquire 
some of his traits. "What else did you like about your job 
vrith the Superior Steel Company?” This kind of remark 
gets a man back on the track without any loss of face. 

AVhen an applicant goes into too much irrelevant detail, 
we push him along without trying to make this apparent to 
him. Again, we use timing and the positive or lubricating 
commenu Let us assume for purposes of illustration tliat, 
in response to a question concerning outside interests, the 
candidate mentions hunting and suits to give a deuUed de- 
scription of a moose-hunting crip he took a year ago in Can- 
ada. Now, the interviewer may himself enjoy hunting and 
may be very much interested in getting a complete account 
of this hunting trip. But he cannot afford the interviewing 
time, since this information would be unlikely to tell him very 

Guiding and Controlling the Jntervieu US 

much about the man's behavior. Accordingly, he adroitly 
cuts off this discussion and pushes tlic man onto a new topic. 
After the candidate has talked a minute or two about his 
hunting trip and just as he is about to conclude a sentence, 
the interviewer might take over svith, "That must have been 
a mighty fine trip; I rvould like to do something like that 
myself one of these days. What else do you like to do for fun 
and recreation?" This control device effectively pushes the 
man on, but because positive interest was expressed, does so 
without losing rapport. 

"Wlien an applicant goes into too much detail in discussing 
a certain job. push him along by repeating part of the com- 
prehensive introductory question, "Tell me briefly about 
your next job— -what you did, your likes and dislikes, your 
earnings, and so forth." The words “tell me briefly" are not 
used because the man is expected to give a cursory account of 
his next job but because he is the kind of man who will be 
likely to go into too much detail unless such instructions are 

We have already noted that most applicants lend to keep 
their discussion on a descriptive rather than an evaluative 
level unless the interviewer steps in to guide the situation. 
In response to tfic comprehensive introductory question on 
education, for example, the candidate will probably be con- 
tent with a //sting of his subject likes and dislikes. Such a 
descriptive listing may be of interest but it does not con- 
tribute enough to understanding the man. The interviewer 
must know why the candidate disliked a subject such as math- 
ematics. Accordingly, he cuts off the descriptive discussion 
in order to dig deeper for more meaningful clues to abilities 
or personality characteristics. In this case, he might say, 
“What was there about mathematics that did not appeal to 
you?” Such a question forces the candidate to think and of- 
ten results in more signifleant data. In response to the above 



question, the man might say. ‘Tlie subject o£ mathematics 
was too abstract for me. I just could not get it through my 
head. Because 1 disliked it so, I just put in enough time 
to get by.” This response has provided clues to possible 
mental limitation (inability to think in the abstract) and 
immaturity (unwillingness to work hard on things he dis- 
likes). The remark also carries a possible clue to lack of 

General /nteruieuiing Afanner. Even though the inter- 
viewer does only 10 or 15 per cent of the talking and seldom 
assumes the center of die stage, he neverdicless guides the 
discussion by his very manner and by the way he carries out 
his role. This requires pobe, presence, and ability to meet 
unanticipated situations. Although he b friendly, disarm- 
ing, and permissive, there is a point bq-ond svhich he can- 
not be pushed. By means of vocal and facial expressions, 
he assumes consent. In other words, he asks hb questions 
and makes hb comments in sudi a tvay that the applicant b 
expected to answer. This inner firmness creates an atmos- 
phere of “remote control." Thus, the interviewer takes ac- 
tive control only when he has to, but he is always ready to 
step in when the occasion demands. Since the interviewer 
b already in the “power position” — it is the applicant who 
is seeking the job — he can usually maintain control in a %’ery 
tmobirusive fashion. 

One occasionally meets an applicant who b inclined to be 
facetious. Such a person may make light of some of the in- 
tervieiver's questions or may even challenge their relevancy. 
Thb situation obviously requires firmer control. If the in- 
terviewer backs down, in fact, he might as well give up then 
and there. To lose the respect of the applicant b to lose 
control completely. ^Vhen a question b challenged or treated 
facetiously, the interriewer simply restates the question, giv- 
ing his reasons for asking it. By hb manner rather than by 

Guiding end Controlling the Irtterviev) 115 

anything he says, tlic intervwvcr underscores his seriousness 
o£ purpose. This approadr almost invariably prevails, the 
applicant becoming very cooperative thereafter. Although 
they are fortunately fesv and far between, some applicants 
like to test the interviewer, just to see how far they can go. 
Once they determine the point beyond which they cannot 
go, they usually become very cooperative. 


Since applicants vary so widely in abilities, personality, 
motivation, and background experiences, it is impossible to 
enumerate all situations where control may be necessary. 
There arc some general rules, however, that may be applied 
in almost every case. 

Get Information C/irono/og«VaHy and Systematically. Al* 
though the applicant should be allowed considerable freedom 
in his dtoice of subject matter, he should nevertheless be 
encouraged to supply this information chronologically and 
systematically. In discussing hb work experience, for ex* 
ample, he should be asked to start widi his first job and work 
up to his most recent job experience. This not only gives 
a sense of order to this segment of the interview but aUo 
makes it easier for the interviewer to ascertain the applicant’s 
vocational achievement over the yean. In the educational 
area, it is always best to start with high school and go on to 
college. This gives the interviewer an opportunity to see 
how the applicant fared as he progressed to more diflicult 
academic subject matter and came up against sterner com- 
petition. In like manner, it is best to follow the order in- 
dicated on the Interview Guide in discussion of the appli- 
cant's early home background and present social adjustment. 

Exhaust Each Area before Going On to the Next One. 
Constant reference to the Intervietv Guide helps the inter- 
viewer to get all the salient information in one area before 



he goes on to the next. After completing (he work-history 
discussion, for example, he may discover that he has neglected 
to get the applicant’s pattern of earnings. He can tlien go 
back and get this before launching into education. 

When the applicant is pennitted to crisscross betiveen 
areas, it becomes very diHicuU for the interviewer to evaluate 
total achievements in any one area. J^foreover, he invariably 
finds tliat he has forgotten to get some important bit of in* 
formation before the applicant has left the room. 

When omissions do occur and ivhen the interviewer docs 
not become aware of thb until he is midivay in the next area, 
he should complete the discussion in tlie current area before 
going back to get the desired information. If, for example, 
he interrupts tlie applicant in the middle of a discussion of 
hU education to get job earnings, not only does he interrupt 
tlie latter’s train of tlioughi, but the applicant may not he 
able to remember where he left off wJjen he teiums to the 
discussion of his education. 

An attempt should also be made to keep the discussion in 
each area “pure." This b sometimes quite difficult, partic- 
ularly when trying to separate jobs from school experiences. 
Obviously, chronology b of great importance in dbcussing 
jobs held at the time tlie applicant ivas going to school. Start 
with the jobs that he had ivhiie going to high school. Next, 
discuss the jobs he carried out while going to college. If he 
happened to go into the Army after finishing one year of 
college, encourage him to discuss hb Army experience at that 
point, since for all practical purposes thb can be considered 
as another job. If the man returned to college after hb Army 
dbcharge, ask him about the jobs he may have had while com- 
pleting his college education. 

In keeping the record strai^t, it is often helpful to inquire 
about dates. This also gives the interviewer a chance to 
note any periods of unemployment. 

Guiding and ControUing fhe Interview 117 

Try to Exclude Irrelevant Detail from Discusiion of Mili- 
tary Experiences. Unless the imcrviewer exercises a fair 
amount of control here, the applicant may easily spend twenty 
to twenty-five minutes discussing his Army or Navy experi- 
ences. And he may do this in such a descriptive manner that 
he supplies very fetv clues to his behavior. Consequently, he 
should be pushed through the descriptive aspects of this ex- 
perience rather quickly — the training he received, his ex- 
periences in this country and overseas, his promotions, and 
his date of discharge. This can usually be accomplished in 
about five minutes. At this point, the interviewer begins to 
probe for whatever effects this experience may have had on 
the individual's development. He does this by getting the 
man's reactions to his associates and superiors, by exploring 
his likes and dislikes with respect to the experience as a 
whole, and by asking him frankly svhat effects he thinks Ute 
military experience had on his growth and developmenL 

With Older Applicanls,Spend Less Time on Early Jobs and 
More Time on Recent Positions. Wien a man has reached 
the age of thirty-five or forty, there fa little point in develop- 
ing elaborate information concerning hfa early jobs. Unless 
an early part-time job had some unusual features, there fa 
little need to probe for likes, dislikes, and earnings. Rather, 
confine that discussion to such simple facts as duration of 
employment, number of hours tvorked, and reasons for leav- 

■\\Tien evaluating an older man with a long history of jobs, 
there fa not sufficient time to obtain complete information 
on every experience. Moreover, a given applicant fa today 
more like what he has been during l!«c past ten yean than he 
fa like w'hat he u-as lis-enty years ago. Hence, rvc move 
llirough his early jobs quite rapidly and Uicn give more ex- 
liaustivc attention to his recent experiences. 

Avoid Awkward Pauses. Altliough. as indicated in the 


pTcvious chapter, pauses are sometimes consciously utilized 
as a means of prodding the applicant to a more elaborate 
explanation of a given subject, they should not be permitted 
to last loo long. If this occun, the applicant begins to feel 
uncomfortable, since he does not know quite how to extricate 
himself. Before this feeling is allowed to develop, the inter* 
viewer should step in with another question or comment- 
The inexperienced intervieiver svill sometimes momcn* 
tarily "block" because at that paninilar instant he cannot 
think of an appropriate question. Rather tlian permit an 
awkrvard pause to develop, he can always throw the con- 
versational ball back to the inicrviesvee by saying, "Tell roe 
a little more about that experience.*' During the applicant’s 
subsequent reply, the interviewer can gather his thoughts for 
the next question. 


Here we return to a subject discussed at the beginning of 
this chapter. If spontaneity of response is to be maintained, 
control must be exercised tactfully, unobtrusively, and al 
appropriate inienaU. This means that the interviewer must 
never ask a scries of questions one after the other. This 
g?ves tlic appearance of grilling the applicant and puts him 
on the spot Thus, after asking a penetrating question, the 
inte^vie^ver must find other rvays to encourage discussion 
before asking a second penetrating question. These other 
ways consist of ^cial expressions, verbal pats on the back, 
vocal intonations, and consciously designed pauses. 

In a sense, the interviewer is not unlike the coachman of 
yesteryear. In guiding his six-horse team, the coachman 
learned to pace his horses so that they would cover the neces- 
sary miles vnthout becoming too fatigued. In so doing, he 
would let them gallop for a while and would then pull them 


Guiding and Controlling the Intendeta 
up to a tvalk. So it is with iniervicwing. The iniervicwci 
encourages the applicant to talk, spontaneously but, every 
once in a while, he stops the man to keep him on the track or 
to probe more deeply for salient information. Then he im- 
mediately gives the man his head, encouraging him to carry 
on. In short, he consciously paces the interview in such a 
way that he gets all the information he desires witlmut press- 
ing the applicant and without losing rapport. 

Part ni 


General Factors of Interpretation 

Since securing information has such a direct bearing on 
the evaluation of the applicant’s overaH qualifications, dls* 
cussion in previous diapters has already touched upon cer* 
tain factors of interpretation. ^Vhen, as in the case of secur* 
ing and interpreting intervietv information, activities are 
performed simultaneously, it is somewhat difficuU to dis- 
cuss one activity without considering the other. In the re- 
maining chapters of this book, emphasis swings from securing 
information to interpretation of findings. Because of the 
interdependence of the two, however, no effort tvill be made 
to confine the discussion to interpretation alone. In fact, 
subsequent chapters will be concerned with the specifics of 
exploring and interpreting each major area of the interview. 
Chapter 8, devoted to interpretation of tvork-history infor- 
mation. will also Include further suggestions for carrying 
out the stfork-history discussion. In like maimer, succeeding 
chapters will deal with education, early home background, 
present social adjustment, and self-evaluation. 

Prior to any discussion of information obtained from the 


124 Interpretation 

various interview areas, some consideration must be given 
to the interpretation process itself. In this present cliaptcr 
we siiall therefore discuss some general factors of interpreta* 
tion. This material represents background information 
concerning the process of evaluation as a whole. These gen- 
eral factors must be kept in mind in evaluating all interview 
findings, regardless of the interview area from which such 
findings emerge, 


Evaluation of interview data represents an involved mental 
process. In the first place, interview data arc not made up of 
hard, cold facts that can be reduced to any precise mathemat- 
ical formula. For the most part, they arc composed of clues 
that alert the interviewer to the possible existence of certain 
traits of personality and motivation. In Uie second place, 
the interview produces a large mass of information onfy port 
of which is relevant in terms of interpretation. As tlie dis- 
cussion progresses, the interviewer must constantly separate 
the wheat from the chaff. In the third place, a given appli- 
cant’s qualifications comprise a relatively large number of 
individual traits and abilities. Imcrv'lcw data must there- 
fore be obtained and organized in such a way that tliere is 
sufficient supporting information for evaluating each of the 
requisite characteristics. It is not enough to know that the 
applicant has had sufficient technical training and experience; 
we must also decide the extent to which he possesses such 
characteristics as honesty, willingness to work, ability to get 
along with others, emotional stability, self-confidence, and 
ability to plan and organize. 

In general, it is far easier for a novice to learn how to secure 
the necessary information than to learn hosv to interpret the 
findings he obtains. This is because most people respond 
quite readily to the infotmation^etting techniques discussed 

General Factors of Interpretation 125 

in previous chapters. Within two or three days a novice 
can leam to apply these techniques so effectively that he 
usually experiences little or no difficulty in getting the candi- 
date to “open up." But learning to interpret is another mat- 
ter. People in general do not fall into any set pattern of 
traits and abilities. There are wide individual differences. 
In briefing a trainee for a given interview, therefore, one 
cannot predict the kind of information he is likely to en- 
counter. Of course, certain broad predictions can be made 
on the basis of the application blank, test, and reference data, 
but such data usually tell relatively little about the applicant 
as a unique human being. 

It is also difficult to teach interviewers to be objective. 
Unless tlicre is an opportunity to subject the trainee to an 
extended period of supervised interviewing practice, he fre- 
quently drifts into such pitfalls as the “halo effect" and in- 
terviewer bias>-probIems discussed in an earlier chapter. 
In evaluating an applicant's over-all qualifications, moreover, 
interviewer-trainees tend to arrive at hiring decisions that 
place too mtidi weight on certain factors and too little on 

Despite the complexities of evaluation, experience has 
nevertheless shown that appropriately qualified individuals 
can be trained to interpret interview findings with a relatively 
high degree of accuracy. As noted above, such training 
requires extended periods of supervised practice and exposure 
to a variety of applicants. 


Although the infonnation-getting and interpretation skills 
are interdependent, they nevertheless occur in different 
dimensions. The infonnation-getting skill is the “on stage" 
or obvious aspect of the interview, whereas the interpretive 



skill represents the "behind the scenes aspet^ ^men- 
drama o{ the appltanf! stoiy unfolds, the 
tally scmtinUes each bit of infomtation for possible clu 
behavior. Yet he tarries out this evaluation process m 
a way that he completely inashs his true reactions f'd 8 
the applicant not the slightest iuHing of how he is in rp 
ing the remarls. Because interpreution is a ““‘1“' 
separate sUll, it can be discussed here at an isolated P ' 
For clarity of presentation, let us analyze this process 

separate entity. . 

Cataloguing Clues. As soon as the applicant enters 
room, the intervictver begins to get impressions of the man 
terms of his possible effectiveness in the job for svlnch n 
being considered. He may note, for example, that the man 
makes a nice appearance. Tliis he may mentally cau 
as one factor in the individual's possible effectiveness wi 
people. Uter on, as a result of the complete candor yim 
which the applicant discusses his strengths and shortcoming, 
the intcrvieiver evaluates the man as obviously sincere, 
may catalogue this as both an indication of cliaractcx an ^ a 
fuTtlicr clue to the individual's possible effectiveness wit 
people. So it goes throughout die interview. Each state- 
ment the applicant makes is carefully examined in 
of its implied as well as its obvious meaning. Resulting 
clues to behavior arc then mentally catalogued as possi c 
indications of such traits as willingness to work hard, emo- 
tional maturity, self-confidence, and adaptability. 

Acceptance or Rejection of the Applicant’s Statements. 
The manner in which the applicant’s remarks are interprete 
depends in large part upon the extent to which he seems to 
be telling the truth. Early in the discussion, the interviewer 
must decide whether the applicant is telling the whole truth 
or whether he is coloring certain aspects of his story to make 
the best possible impression. If the interviewer decides that 

General raclors of Interpretation 127 

the applicant is being completely honest, he can accept his 
itatcmcnis pretty much at face value. If, on the other hand, 
he decides that the man is overplaying his hand or withhold- 
ing important information, the interviewer mentally rejects 
mucli of the ensuing information as being not particularly 
indicative of the individual’s true behavior. 

Since the techniques described in this book normally re- 
sult in spontaneous information, the vast majority of appli- 
cants will give a relatively complete and unvarnished de- 
scription of their experiences, attitudes, and reactions. In 
fact, they realise that it is to their advantage to do so. Al- 
most from the beginning, they discuss their unfavorable ex- 
periences as svell as tlieir achievements. In so doing, they 
provide clues to their shortcomings as well as documentation 
of their assets. In such cases, the interviesver is quick to 
note Uie obvious sincerity and decides tliat he can take prac- 
tically all the applicant's remarks svithout serious resers’ation. 
When, in addition, the applicant's story is completely con- 
sistent and fits into a general pattern, there need be no reser- 

Even when (he recommended techniques are expertly em- 
ployed. the interviewer will occasionally encounter an ap- 
plicant who tries to fool him. In such a case, the interviewer 
has the job of recognizing this at Ute earliest possible point 
in the discussion to avoid being taken in. From that point 
on, he takes everything that the man says svith a grain of salt. 
Ability to spot the applicant who tends to overplay his hand 
or to conceal important information of coune depends upon 
experience and training. The experienced interviewer looks 
constantly for certain danger signals indicating that the man 
may not be telling ilie whole tnitli. For example, the ap- 
plicant who emphasizes his achievements and carefully avoids 
any indication of shortcomings is obviously withholding part 
of his story. Again, the indiWdual who pauses perceptibly 

J28 Interprelathn 

before answering important licy questions is more often than 
not screening his intended reply. In other words, he is think- 
ing up an answer that will put him in the best possible light 
or will be most acceptable sodaliy. The applicant who 
fences with the interviewer in order to avoid admission of 
shortcomings represents still another type of person toward 
whom the interviewer must be on guard. Finally, there is 
the extremely clever type of person svho disarmingly admits 
the existence of certain, minor shortcomings in order to give 
his over-all story more credulity. IVlienever tliese danger 
signals develop, the interviewer should look further for in- 
consistencies in the man's story and should give special at- 
tention to his bodily posture and facial expression. In trying 
to conceal the complete truth, many persons give themselves 
avi'ay by unconsciously squirming in their seats and by notice* 
able changes in facial expression. At the risk of redundancy* 
it should be pointed out again that the interviewer must 
mask his reactions completely whenever he encounters a man 
who docs not “come clean,” Uius giving no inkling of the fact 
that he is not going along with the individual's story. 

Organize Mentally a List of Assets and Liabilities. As the 
discussion progresses, the interviewer mentally compiles a list 
of the applicant's strengtlis and shortcomings with respect 
to the job for which he is being considered. Although his 
outward manner is permissive and disarming, he nevertheless 
evaluates analytically and critically everything the applicant 
lias to say. As the discussion progresses from one area to 
another, a general pattern of ^havior normally begins to 
make itself evident. Thus, the interviewer may get clue 
after clue attesting to the candidate's forcefulness, willing- 
ness to accept responsibility, and strong drive to get things 
done quickly. At the same time, since a high degree of 
strength in certain areas may be accompanied by concomitant 
shortcomings in other areas, the interviewer may abo pick up 

General Factors of Interpretation 129 

a scries o£ clues indicating lack of tact, inflexibility, and even 
ruthlessness. As he catalogues sudi clues, he finds it increas- 
ingly possible to build a list of the man's assets and liabilities. 
In fact, such a list of assets and liabilities sliould be so well 
documented by the end of the discussion that the interviewer 
can write it out immediately after the man leaves the room. 
He then makes his hiring decision on tlic basis of the extent 
to which the assets outweigh the liabilities or vice versa. 


An earlier chapter called attention to the sound psycho- 
logical assumption that the more we can learn about an in- 
dividual's past history tlic better we can predict what he will 
do in the future. This is another way of saying that we are 
all inescapably the product of wliat has happened to us in 
the past. Thus, if we can establish a clear pattern of the 
candidate’s past history, we tiave developed a useful basis for 
predicting his probable performance on the job to which he 
may be assigned. 

Because of the importance of the man's past history, there- 
fore, it is necessary to cover as much of this history as pos- 
sible witliin 3 reasonable period of time. In order to system- 
atize this fact finding, we have divided the history into four 
major areas — work history, educational background, early 
home experience, and present social adjustment. To these 
four areas we have added still another — self-evaluation. In 
the latter area, the candidate is encouraged to provide his 
own self-analysis. In so doing, lie may not only confirm the 
interviewer’s findings but also come up with a few assets or 
liabilities that the interviewer may have missed. This rather 
exiiaustive treatment of the candidate’s past history is con- 
cerned with evaluating the individual as a whole. The the- 
ory here is tliat the more areas covered, the more likely one is 
to come up with all the salient information. 


Importance of Ccuse^nd Effect Rehitomhips. U is ta- 
ponanl not only to get a clear picture ot the candiaate i pa - 
tern ol personality and motitation but also to detcnninc to y 
he dcteloped into the man he is today. It vie can 
sund the cotacs of his current pattern ot behavior, tre sha 
have a better undersunding of the resulting make-up ot me 
individual. , 

In our quest ol causes of behavior, we search for inituences 
that may have contributed to the molding of his current jat 
tem of personality, motivation, and character — influences 
that occurred in hb childhood, education, worL experience, or 
in hb social and domestic life. When these influences sK 
clearly defined, we are better able to judge tlie characterbtics 
that resulted from such influences. We may find, for ex- 
ample, tint much of a given applicant’s shyness and ov'cr* 
sensitivity has stemmed from the fact that he was overpr^ 
lected as a child. Or we may find tint another candidate* 
feelings of inferioricy resulted in large pan from the fact that 
he tvas not able to compete succesfully tvith hb classmates m 
school in terms of athletic prowess. ^Vilh such knowledge 
of causes we can better understand the current pattern of be- 
havior and also get some estimate of how rauclr positive de- 
velopment has already taken place. H the individual h^ 
largely outgrosvn the shyness and oversensitivity he expen- 
enced as a diild, we know that he has done much to eliminate 
these traits and may be expected to eliminate them to * 
greater extent in the future. 


-As indicated previously, every interview results in relevant 
and irrelevanl information. Much of what the applicant 
says b likely to be descriptive, providing little in the svay of 
clues to behasioT. The interviewer, of course, tries to keep 
such information at a mimmuTn , controlling the discussion 

General Factors of Interpretation I8I 

so that the applicant concentrates on evaluative datx Even 
50, a certain amount o£ irrelevant information is certain to 
ensue. The interviewer naturally pays as little attention as 
possible to irrelevant disaisston. He constantly sifts the 
wheat from the chaff and makes his interpretations accord- 

In general, the more relcwnt information is likely to be 
found in the applicant’s attitudes and reactions. Thus we 
learn much more about the man as a result of his attitudes 
and reactions toward a given job than we do from a descrip- 
tion of the job duties. Remember, too, that we are looking 
specifically for clues that will support a rating of the traits 
of penonality, motivation, and character listed on tiie back 
of the Intcrviet^r Guide. From the very beginning of the 
discuuion, we must be alert to any clues that will provide 
supporting evidence of the man’s emotional maturity, will- 
ingness to work hard. 3eif<onridence, tact, and other sudt 

We also look specifically and critically at any information 
(hat will establish tlie relevance of the applicant’s work ex- 
perience and education in terms of the job for which he is 
being considered. This means that the interviewer must 
carry a mental picture of the Job and man speciHcations into 
the discussion with him. As he Ibtens to the description of 
the man’s previous jobs, for example, he must be quick to 
notice any similarity between previous jobs and the job for 
whidi the man is now being considered. And he must de- 
cide whether the candidate is capable of performing the job 
in question with a minimum of orientation or whether a 
protracted training period will be necessary to bring him to 
a productive level. In like manner he evaluates the man’s 
education, dedding whether or not he has the kind and qual- 
ity of technical training that will enable him to solve the 
problems with which he will be confronted. 

J32 Interpretatiot 

In addition to our search for clues to personality, moiiw* 
lion, character, and tclcvancc of job and svoik history, we 
must also concern ourselves with the In-el of the man's alili' 
ties. Obviously, aptitude tests can l>c of tremendous help 
in establishing tlie level of a candidate's menial ability, verbal 
ability, numerical ability, clerical aptitude, and mcidianical 
comprehension. In fact, tests can do a far more accurate job 
of determining tucli abilities than can be done by tneans of 
the interview. But tat raults are not always available to 
Uic interviesver, and in such cas« he must do the best lie can 
to establish abiliiy levels on the basis of his interview findings. 
Suggations for accomplishing this task will be found in sub- 
sequent diapters. 

Even when tat raulu are available, the interview can be 
useful in determining the qualify of the applicant's abilities 
as well as the extent to whicli he makes use of the abilities 
he possesses. For example, some men of average intelligence 
utilize their mental ability so extensively that the)' actually 
accomplish more Uian brighter men who use only a fraction 
of their talent. Again, suggations for determining the ex- 
tent to svhich a given applicant makn use of his abilitia will 
be found in subsequent chapters. 

Although aptitude tats leJI us the degree of a given ability 
possessed by die applicant, the interview goa a step furtlier 
in atablishing the quality of that abiliiy. For example, a 
good intelligence tat provida a measure of a man’s ability 
to leam and to cope sviih complex problems. But such a tat 
does not do the complete job of telling us liow analjtical or 
critical the applicant may be in his thinking. Actually, in- 
terview findings supply many clua to the latter. Tlie man- 
ner in which the applicant lesponds to our depth quations 
and the discernment of his remarks about the people and situ- 
ations he has encountered provide a great many clua to his 
analytical ability and his ability to iliLnk critically. 

General Factors of Inlerftretation 



In detennining the relevance o£ the applicant’s work his- 
tory and education, one has only to compare what the candi- 
date has done in the past with what he svill be expected to 
do on the job for which he is being considered. This is a 
relatively simple interpretive task, provided that the inter- 
viewer has a clear picture of the demands of the job in ques- 
tion. Understanding and utiliring the process described 
below as the concept of contrast will help immeasurably in 
carrying out this interpretive function. But the task of 
interpreting information with respect to personality, motiva- 
tion, and ability is not quite so easy or clear-cut. For this 
more complex assignment we use two principal methods: di- 
rect observation and inference. 

Concept of Contrast. Used primarily to establish the 
relevance of the candidate’s work experience and education, 
this process involves the continual contrasting of each aspect 
of the man’s job and school history with the specifications 
of the new job for which he 1$ being considered. In those 
areas where little or no contrast is involved — or where the 
difference is in the positive direction — no real adjustment 
problem exists. And this of course represents a favorable 
finding. On the otlicr iiand, a contrast in a negative direc- 
tion may point to the fact that the candidate might experience 
a very real adjustment problem in acclimating himself to the 
new job situation. Although the difference may be insuffi- 
cient to exclude the applicant from further consideration, 
nevertheless ft represents an unfavorable factor. 

An engineer wlio has oraipied himself primarily with 
troublc-sliooting assignments in the production situation, for 
example, might experience a real adjustment problem in 
mking over a new job primarily concerned with design work- 
Not only is he without solid design experience but he might 

J34 InterfTetalion 

also find design ss'ork too confining In the light of his pre- 
vious history. At Uic very least. It will take him some lime to 
become oriented to his new duties, even though he may liavc 
been trained for such duties In college. The Interviewer 
thus recognizes this particular situation as representing an 
unfavorable contrast and considers tliis as one of the factors 
that must be weighed in making his employment decision. ^ 
Another unfavorable contrast svould be encountered in 
an applicant who is already earning more money on hts 
present job than he would be paid as a starting salary on his 
new job. He might express a willingness to take the new 
job at a lower salary because it may oiler greater long-range 
opportunities. Once he takes the new job, however, a cer- 
tain amount of dissatisfaction is likely to de\-elop. This dis- 
satisfaction, moreover, may be stimulated further by his wife 
who finds it necessary to make ends meet on a smaller budget. 
If, on the other hand, the applicant is to be paid a starting 
salary in excess of his present earnings, he can be expected to 
be more satisfied with hb nesv lot, other things being equal. 
Thb of course represents a difference in a positive direction 
and is evaluated by the interviewer as a favorable factor. 

The degree of supervbion involved in previous jobs and 
in a proposed new assignment may also provide an unfavor- 
able contrast. An applicant who has grown accustomed to 
jobs involving relatively little supervision normally takes 
satbfaction in being hb own boss and in ordering hb own 
life. Technical service and applications-engineering per- 
sonnel usually fall into thb category. When such indi- 
viduals take new positions involving much closer super- 
vbion, they ordinarily find adjustment somewhat difficult. 
In fact, they often have the feeling that the supervisors are 
breathing down their necks, and thb of course makes them 
unhappy, at least in so far as inidal adjustment to the new job 

General factors of Interpretation 135 

is concerned. The alert intm’icwer recognizes the potenti- 
ally unfavorable contrast and adds this to his list of negative 

Interpretation by Direct Observation. Certain of the more 
obvious cliaracteristics such as appearance, grooming, self- 
expression, poise, and presence can be evaluated by direct 
observation during the interview. In other words, the in- 
terviewer simply observes the applicant’s outward or surface 
behavior during the discussion and makes his evaluation of 
certain cliaracteristics accordingly. If he spends as much as 
an hour or an hour and a half with a given individual, he 
can certainly size up the latter's general manner and appear- 

By direct observation the interviewer may also be able to 
obtain at least partial evaluation of sudi penonality traiu 
as aggressiveness, social sensitivity, and tact. He may note, 
for example, tliat a given candidate's personality lias consider- 
able impact and that die individual is exceedingly forceful 
and dynamic in relating his story. Such observable behavior 
provides considerable support for rating that individual as 
aggressive. That same individual may frequently interrupt 
the interviewer in the middle of a sentence, or may talk dis- 
paragingly about certain minority groups without any knowl- 
edge as to svhctlier or not the interviesver may be a member 
of such a group. Directly observable behavior of this kind 
obviously provides documentary evidence of tactlessness and 
lack of social sensitivity. 

Interpretation by Inference. Although a limited number 
of characteristics can be evaluated by direct observation, the 
sast majority of traits concerned svith personality motiva- 
tion and diaracter must be appraised by inference. This 
applies also to the determination of abilities. It is not pos- 
sible, for example, to rate the applicant on willingness to 

jjg Interpretation 

work hard, emotional maturity, or intelligence simply by ob- 
serving his behavior during ihe discussion. In order to de- 
tennine the degree to which a given applicant possesses char- 
acteristics such as these, the interviewer must develop an in- 
ference based upon a series of clues pointing in the same 
direction. Moreover, clues pointing to the existence of a 
given trait will normally appear in each of several interview 
areas, rather than being confined to a single area such as work 
history alone. 

It stands to reason that we cannot base an inference on one 
or two isolated clues. Because a given applicant may have 
had difficulty with his superior and may have heen fired from 
one job, we cannot automatically assume that he docs not 
have tlie ability to get along with people. It is quite possible 
in such a case that the problem was due almost entirely to 
the supervisor rather than to hts subordinate. On the other 
hand, if it develops that the applicant has had trouble with 
supervisors and subordinates on several jobs, has had diffi- 
culty with his teadiers in school, and was a problem child 
during adolescence, the interviewer would be quite safe in 
concluding that the individual docs not get along well with 
people. Having developed a series oj clues pointing in the 
same direction, he is in a position to document his evaluation. 
In like manner, we cannot categorize an applicant as emotion- 
ally immature simply became he refused to apply himself to 
those subjects which he disliked in school. But if we can 
develop evidence that he rattonalizes his failures on his jobs, 
has unrealistically high voational aspirations, and consist- 
ently insists on doing everything his ovm svay, there is ample 
support for a finding of some d^ee of emotional immaturity. 

Not infrequently the interviewer svill come up with a single 
due that is not subsequently supported by clues pointing 
in the same direction. In some cases, subsequent clues may 
point in the opposite direction. Hence, the intervietvw’ 

General Factors of Inlerpretalion 157 

must make his judgment on the over-all weight of the evi- 
dence. To illustrate this point, let us take the case of a man 
who was admittedly shy and withdrasvn as an adolescent, who 
refrained from participation in extracnrriailar activities in 
school, and who was reluctant to assume additional respon- 
sibilities in connection with his early jobs. Among other 
things, the interviewer would be justified in forming an 
initial hypothesis that the man may lack initiative. In talk- 
ing rviih tlie man about Ms more recent experiences, how- 
ever, the interviewer may find that he has overcome many of 
his inhibitions, has shotvn a tendency to carry out current 
tasks in new and novel tvays, and is presently readiing out for 
ever-increasing responsibility. This means of course that 
the interviewer would have to discard his original hypothesis 
and conclude that tlie applicant has developed to the extent 
that he now possesses an appreciable degree of initiative. 

"We have already indicar^ that clues must be interpreted 
as soon as they become evident. This provides the inter- 
viewer witli a beginning or starting point upon which he can 
build later on. Using such a clue as a temporary supposition, 
he mentally catalogues the clue as a possible indication of 
a given trait. With this supposition as a foundation, he sub- 
sequently probes at appropriate intervals throughout the dis- 
cussion for additional specific clues to support his supposi- 
tions. Let us assume for purposes of illustration that an ap- 
plicant has expressed a strong dislike for detail in connection 
with an early clerical job. Tlie interviesver catalogues this 
appropriately and wisely decides to svait, listen, and not pre- 
judge. At the same time, he actively probes for further evi- 
dence. But he probes only in those areas which would be 
most likely to provide sudi evidence. Thus, when the ap- 
plicant tells him about a subsequent job as a draftsman, the 
inter^'iewer — knowing that a drafting job involves a great 
amount of detail— will try to get furtlier evidence of this 

jjg Interpretation 

trait by stimulating the applicant** spontaneous rcciul of his 
likes and dislikes on tliat job. l£ the applicant docs not men- 
tion attention to detail as either a like or a dislike, the inter- 
viewer may specifically ask him how be felt about the detail 
involved. Later on, the imert'iewer may probe in like man- 
ner for the candidate’s reactions to a design engineering 
course in college, again knowing full well that such a couRe 
involves a great amount o£ detail. To'vard the end of tlie 
discussion, the iniervicwct may try to get further confirmation 
for possible dislike and inability to carry out detailed work 
by bringing this up under self-equation as a possible short- 

We therefore see that interpretation by inference goes on 
throughout the interview, the Interviewer making tentative 
hypotheses and probing spedfically for confirming evidence, 
IE his task were confined to the development oE clues to a 
single charaaeristic, his diagnostic function would be rela- 
tively easy. The truth of the matter is. however, that he is 
required to develop clues to as many as fifteen or twenty 
ch^cteristics, and he does much of this simultaneously. It 
is even possible that a single statement made by the applicant 
may provide clues to as many as three or lour characteristics. 
Hence, the interviewer is confronted with a mentally de- 
manding assignment. This is the primary reason why he 
must become so skilled in the mechanics of the interview that 
they become almost second nature. Once this has been ac- 
complished, he can devote the major portion of his atten- 
tion to the process of evaluation. 


In an earlier chapter, k was suggested that the interview 
should ideally represent the last step in the employment proc- 

General Factors of Interpretation JS9 

ess — after the candidate has completed the application form, 
the aptitude tests, and after the reference chedtups have been 
completed. This is because these earlier selection steps fre- 
quently supply leads that can be followed up in the interview 
situation. Sucli leads often give die interviewer a tremen- 
dous head start as far as the interpretive process is concerned. 
Even before the interview be^ns, for example, the inter- 
viewer may have a lead to possible emotional instability, as 
a result of having noted rather frequent job changes on the 
application blank. Or if the test of mental ability reflects a 
high level of intelligence, the interviewer will expect to see 
this reflected in above-average grades in school. If the latter 
does not turn out to be tlte case, he will immediately probe 
for the reason svhy, suspecting low level of application or dU- 
organized study habiu. Thus, by studying information 
available to him before the interview, the interv/ewer can 
frequently develop usable hypotheses which he carries into 
the discussion and seeks to support or rejea on the basis of 
the evidence presented. It roust be emphasized, however, 
diat a le.nd is just that and nothing more. If it cannot be 
supported by tangible interview evidence, it must be dis- 
carded. The manner in which leads supplied by the early 
selection steps can be specifically used to advantage in the 
interpretation process will be discu»ed in subsequent chap- 

trait constellations 

Experience has shown that certain traits tend to be re- 
lated to each other and hence may be found in a single group- 
ing or constellation within one individual. Thus, if it is 
possible to identify the key trait of a given constellation, it is 
more than possible that certain related traits may also be 
found in the individual's make-ty. 


In toe. ot to five toU 


been identified. again, give! to . „a 

tial advantage in terms of diagnosing traits of P'™"’’ 
mtoraTto in other word,, he ean form to hwoltoes 
more quickly and can speciBcally direct his probing i 
meaningful manner. ^ 

Familiarity with trait constellations may rcprese 
danger in the hands of the inexperienced toerview«. 
a nerson may be tempted to assume too much and may 
atrampuo type individuals. Nothing could be futoer from 
our purpose. Just because the interviewer identifies a ^ 
trait, he cannot automatiVaMy assume that the indi 
possesses the related assets and liabilities. In 
be the unusual individual indeed ivho possessed al the sug 
gested related traits. Moreover, some individuals po 
the assets related to the key trait but have few if any ot in 
liabilities. Once the key trail has been identified, the in 
viewer simply looks for the possible existence of the re 
characteristics. True, he probes specifically for the ^ssib 
existence of these trails, but he discards the hypothesis i 
he is not able to come up with substantial supporting 
dence. , , 

The interviewer should familiarize himself thoroug y 
with the five trait constellations outlined below. A 
edge of these possible relationships can be of tremendous he p 
to him in probing for clues to behavior. Whenever he is 
able to identify the key trait of a given constellation, he may 
— but not invariably — find subsequently that the applica^^ 
possesses some of the related assets and liabilities that go wi 
that key trait. 

General Factors of Interpretation 



Key Trait; Strongly extroverted 





Seldom worries 
Ability to improvise 

Tendency to make snap 

Inability to think analyti- 

Little organizing and plan- 
ning ability 
Lack of thoroughness 
Disregard of detail 

iJationafe. As indicated above, the strongly extroverted 
individual is frequently a good improviser, in the sense that 
he is able to think quickly on his feet and can normally rise 
to tiie occasion by handling acceptably situations for which 
he has had no opportunity to prepare. Tliis particular 
ability, by the tvay, is often found in the top-flight »lesman 
who is continually called upon to liandlc customer objettions 
that cannot be anticipated. Now, ability to improvise rep- 
resents an obvious asset but. at the same time, this ability 
often leads to the developrocnl of certain shortcomings. 
The strongly extroverted individual, for example, some- 
times depends too much upon his ability to improvise. As 
a result, he becomes a “scat of che pants" operator, con- 
fident of his ability to handle any situation that may arise. 
By temperament, too, he likes to get one thing out of the 
uay quickly so that he can go on to the next. As a conse- 
quence of his proven ability to improvise, he is not inclined 
lo let problems worry him, and he often does not take suffi- 
cient time to prepare for his various assignments. Thus, he 
does not uke time to think things tlirough beforehand. 


This means, of course, that he does not cultivate the habit of 
anal^-zing a situation, or organiiing and planning for it in 
advance. Hence, he tends to skim over the surface of 
matters and does not ahvays dig deeply enough to investigate 
the heart of the problem. Because he operates so much on 
the spur of the moment, he frequently makes snap deebions 

deebions too often bom of impatience and impubivencss. 

Hence, he is often careless. lacking in thoroughness, and not 
inclined to give appropriate attention to detail. 

The extrovCTt often compensates for his shortcomings 
through the development of a very effective approach to 
people. Thus he cultivates rranath, friendliness, enthu- 
siasm, forccfulncss, and persuasive ability. Incidentally, 
these traits are normally prominent among the assets of the 
successful salesman. They enable the salesman to win others 
to his point of view. At the same time, any sales manager 
will be quick to admit that some of his best salesmen turn 
in the poorest reports, because of their impatience and dis- 
like for detail. In an attempt to Te^vard their best salesmen, 
moreover, many companies clo-ate such individuals to sales 
management. And, if the promoted individual has many 
of the shortcomings of the cxtros-cit, he is not likely to be 
able to turn in a top performance as a manager. For as a 
manager he must be able to plan, organize, analyze, and give 
attention to detail. Many companies are dbeovering that 
their best salesmen do not necessarily make their best sales 

Of couree, many extroverts sutxeed in modif^dng their be- 
havior. Confronted with casks that demand attention to 
detail, ability to analyze, and ability to plan and organize, 
they sometimes acquire a reasonable degree of facility in 
these areas. Thb is one reason why it b dangerous to a** 
sume that an extrovert necessarily possesses the liabiliti® 
listed above. 

General Factors of Interpretation 143 

After the interviewer has identified an applicant as an 
extrovert during the first fetv minutes of the discussion, he 
should probe specifically for the possible existence of the 
above-mentioned shortcomings. An out-and-out extrovert 
can of course be quickly identified by his outgoing manner, 
his gregariousness, and his warm, friendly affability. As 
soon as tliis identification is made, the interviewer should 
say to himself, "I wonder if this man is impatient and im- 
pulsive? I wonder how analytical he is? I wonder to what 
extent he gives appropriate attention to detail? I wonder 
how well he plans and organizes?” Having raised these 
questions, he should then proceed to try to find the answers 
by probing specifically for the possible existence of these 
traits. As a matter of fact, it is well to go through these 
mental steps even in cases where the applicant may be only 
somewhat extroverted. It is quite possible tiiat such a per- 
son may have one or two of these related shortcomings. 

Key Trail: Strongly introverted 


Analytical thinking 

Good attention to detail 








Lack of confidence 
Undue sensitiveness 
Tendency to worry 
Poor emotional adjustment 
Poor improvisation 
Lack of poise 
Tendency to be inhibited 
Lack of mental toughness 
Lack of aggressiveness 

Hationale. Because the introvert may be unsure of him- 
self. he is likely to take great pains in preparing for a given 


assignment. In so doing, he takes plenty of time to reficci 
about the task at liand and usually analyzes it from every 
conceivable angle. He is so concerned that he may not 
measure up that he documents his thinking in great detatl, 
being very careful that his approach is logically planned and 
systematically organized. Since he gives a great amount 
of thought to his approach, he is often able to come up with 
a number of nerv and original ideas. 

But the introvert’s lack of conBdencc is often outwardly 
reflected in a series of concomitant shortcomings. Many 
of these shortcomings limit his facility for dealing with 
people effectively. Thus he is often shy, self<onsciou$, in- 
hibited, unaggressive, and lacking in poise and presence. 
Many introverts are so insecure, moreover, that they tend 
to worry unduly and become oversensitive to criticism. Itt 
extreme cases, such worry may have a tendency to under- 
mine the individual's emotional adjustment, to the extent 
that certain psychosomatic disorders may result. It is the 
generally accepted theory today that certain types of ulcers, 
allergies, and other physical ailments are the direct result 
of mental worry. 

It is interesting to note that the assets of this particular 
trait constellation provide a rather good description of the 
qualiflcatioiu of the successful research and development 
man. This perhaps represents one reason why so many good 
research and development people tend to be on the intro- 
verted side. It is equally true, moreover, that many re- 
search men have a problem selling their ideas and often find 
it difficult to assume responsibility for the direction of others. 

Again, the pronounced introvert may be quickly identified 
in the early part of the discussion by means of direct observa- 
tion. Such a person is often ill at ease in talking with a 
stranger, his shyness, self-consciousness, and inhibited nature 
becoming noticeably apparent within the first five or ten 

General Factors of Interpretation 145 

minutes of convenation. As soon as identification of the 
introvert takes place, the interviewer should ask himself, 
"I wonder if this man lacks confidence? I rvonder if he is 
ovenensitive? I tvonder if he lus a tendency to ivorry un- 
duly? I wonder how well-adjusted he is?” Having set up 
these tentative hypotheses, he then tries to document them 
by probing for tangible esddencc. 

In making use of trait constellations as a basis for further 
probing, it is well to remember the tentative aspect of the 
hypodiesis. Certainly, all insecure people are not intro- 
verts. Moreover, many introverted individuals attain a high 
degree of emotional adjustment and, in Uieir mvn svay, estab- 
lish very effective relationships with other people. 

Key Trait; Strongly aggressive 
Assets Liabilities 

Forcefulness Lack of uct 

Dynamism Insensitivity to feelings of 

Tough-mindedness otliers 

Good organizing ability Ruthlcssness 

Decisiveness Strong ego 

Supreme self-confidence Intolerance 

Production-mindedness (de- Strong likes and dislikes 

sire to get things done Inflexibility 

quickly) Tendency to be too blunt 

and direct 

Rationale. Because of the impact of his pcnonality upon 
others, the aggressive individual frequently manages to win 
election or promotion to positions of leadenhip. Sudi 
positions of course require decisive action and an ability 
to get the job done. If a man is to operate successfully as 
a leader, he has to learn to organize. To the leader, results 
are what count the most; and he is expected to obtain these 
results in the shortest possible period of time. The leader 


146 ■ 


tccomM more any one 

‘■;'''u;;"group .han he’does vifl. the 

; does W»m me piou.u...- -- • . 

Thus he docs not hesitate 
member of that group. ^ of the 

tough-minded decisions th T ,),£ ovet-aU 

tew it such decisions ate good for ^e many 
Ot^iaation, Uvef Decisions 

ot^nfidence to mate decisions at = ^ ^ ^ject on 
of this tind may have decisions, moreover, 

the entire organizauon. , . difficult to 

that the timid, cautious individual finds it very 

"t' his desire to get the |oh done 

r p5o — “ o— 

SO resuU-oriented that he does not care ^ 

of making decisions at high levels ^ . ^^tant 

fidence, the aggressive person who has alumed jj 

leadership position may become = intalUhle, 

*is occurs, he may come to regard ^ dislikes, 

in which case of course he develops strong likes 
and tends to be inflexible and opinionated. _ 

The above discussion pretty much depicts the 
woods” type of boss who was much more likely 
in industry twenty or thirty years ago than he ^ 
in large part to pressure from the unions, such p P ^ 
it necessary to modify their behavior if they ^ to ^ 

positions of leadership. The man promo^ *° 1 ' ple 
who throws his weight around without re^rd to the p P ^ 
who work for him runs head on into a series of union ^ 
anas. When such grievances become serious and tun 
suming, the foreman's superiors call him on the carpet, c 

General Factors of Interpretation 147 

him that he will have to modify his behavior or risk, demotion 
to the ranks. Tlie best of su^ foremen take stock of them- 
selves and gradually come to the realization that they will 
have to learn to work with people amicably and adroitly if 
they are to survive. Happily, the vast majority of present- 
day managen have profited from liard knocks incurred on 
tlieir way up. Obviously, too, management in general is 
much more enlightened today and recognizes the importance 
of the individual as a human being, regardless of union 

It is easy to recognize the strongly aggressive applicant 
witliin the first five minutes of the interview because of his 
foTcefuIness and because of his tendency to take the con- 
versational ball and run with it. As soon as the interviewer 
realizes that he is dealing with an aggressive person, he 
should immediately start probing for such possible short- 
comings as tactlessness, inflexibility, and tendency to be 
egotistical and opinionated. When he finds evidence of 
such traits, he must decide how serious and deep-seated they 
are. In other words, is the candidate only somewhat egotis- 
tical or lacking in tact, or does he have these liabilities to 
such a serious degree that they would be likely to preclude 
the establishment of successful relationships svitii others? 

Again, if must be remembered that many aggressive peo- 
ple do not become leaders. And many aggressive individ- 
uals may acquire very few of the assets or liabilities listed 

Key Trait: Strong artistic interests 
Assets Liabilities 

Good intelligence Impraciicality 

Creativity Lack of mental toughness 

Good ailtural background Oversensitivity 

Social sensitivity Poor emotional adjustment 

Breadth and perspective Moodiness 


Since meny rcU- 

artistically oriented P'*”" “ a certain 

tively good intelligence. In other ^ jl,i„gs in 

dVe= o! intellect to appredate ^nd nnde^un^^' P 
^Tatetract. Certainly if™ e” are 

ing represent art tonm ot such T “ , J 

not easily nnderstood or app^tated. Md * h ^ 

(or many types of ttaditional music. ^„d. 

The artisUe individual often f^esses =" 

and this someumes leads hfu tnto numerous 

ativity. In fact, his mterpreutton of van°ns f 

can be creative in itselL Appreciauon of bra 

form of art requites a relatively high dc^« 

Such sensitivity, applied to social suuatio^ ? socially 
flection in asvareness ot the ructions of olhOT. * 
sensitive individual ordinarily acquires os 

judgment svhieh enables him to sense hosv to h' 1 
a point svith an individual ot a group of 
incurring their displeasure. Consequently a soa y 
live person often develops a considerable amount o 
and adroitness in social situations. Because ® sUe 

himself. moTCover, he usually tries very hard not to 
feelings of others. It should be noted in passing, 
that some highly creative people become self-centcrc 
egotistical. When this happens, they usually becoro 
concerned about tlicir approach to people. This is 
cause they lack the necessary social sensitivity but 

they do not use the social intelligence they possess. 

The study of art leads to an investigation of the 
and development of the particular art form. This provi 
some insight into how people lived in the past in 
countries throughout the world — their aspirations, ^ 
needs, and other things that were important to them. ’ 

a study of art normally results in a better cultural 

General Taetors of Interpretation 

ground than miglu odienvisc Iiave been the case, and this 
develops the individuars breadth and pcnpcctive. 

hfany artistically inclined indls'iduals become so com* 
plctcly immersed in their an tliat their lives take on an 
imbalance. They become wrapped up in their studies to 
sudi a degree that the more practical aspects of life take 
on less significance. Musicians, as a group, are notoriously 
inept when it com« to handling money matters. In fact, 
many of the more successful musicians find it necessary to 
engage managers to handle their personal funds as svcll as 
Uieir business arrangements. The high degree of sensi- 
tivity developed by artistically inclined people often results 
in ovcrsensitivlty to criticism in their day-to-day relationships. 
Thus, they frequently interpret a remark as having deeper 
significance ilian was intended by die individual svho made 
it. Lack of practical balance and oversensitivity arc also 
occasionally reflected in lack of emotional adjustment. 
Many artistic people have a tendency to be moody— to have 
their ups and downs. Of course all of us have such ups 
and downs, but these swings in mood arc likely to be more 
protracted in the case of the person with strong artistic in- 
terests. In other words, he not infrequently suffers periods 
of depression that may last for several days. 

The interviewer obviously will not be able to identify the 
man with strong artistic interests during the Tint few minutes 
of the discussion. He may get no dues at all until he begins 
to discuss the candidate's extracurricular activities in scliool. 
At that point he may find that die candidate ivas exclusively 
involved in sudi activities as band, orclicstra, glee club, and 
literary societies. When the inters’iewcr subsequently gets 
to the candidate’s present interests, he may find that the 
individual's hobbies are entirely concerned with the collec- 
tion of musical records, symphonic concerts, the reading of 
poetry, ballet and the Uicatcr. When the intemewer finally 

J5Q Interpretation 

concludes that his subject does have strong artistic interests, 
he should begin probing for the possible existence o£ the 
above-mentioned traits. 

A certain amount of interest in the arts, of course, rep- 
resents a real asset. Who can say that such factors as breadth 
of perspective, social sensitivity, and cultural background do 
not represent a source of stren^? As a matter of fact, many 
highly trained technical people have rather strong artistic 
interests. The physicists at the atomic center in Oak Ridge, 
Tennessee, for example, have their ossm symphony orchestra. 
It is only tvhen artistic interests become so strong that they 
seem to exclude other important areas of activity that the 
vramiog signals become evident. In such cases, the in- 
dividual may possess a number of the liabilities of this con- 
stellation as well as the assets. 

Key Trait: Strong social drive 
(Strong desire to help others^-a do-gooder) 


Genuine love of people 

Tendency to be unassuming 
Missionarylike zeal 

Strong desire to bring 
younger people along 


Lack of mental toughness 

Not sufficiently suspicious of 
others’ motives 
Tendency to take people at 
face value 

Tendency to see only the best 
in people 

Lack of critical thinking 

Rationale. Applicants who rcfiect this trait constellation 
derive their greatest satisbetion from doing things for others. 
They are not primarily motivated by money, power, or 

General Factors of Interpretation 151 

prestige. For the most part, tlicy tend to be selfless and 
unassuming. The YMCA director and the social worker, 
to cite members of two occupations that fit into this category, 
arc certainly not motivated by the desire for financial gain. 
Their greatest satisfaction comes from iielping other people 
to fight their battles. And they approadi their work witli 
as mudi or more enthusiasm Uian might have been the case 
svere they primarily motivated by personal gain. The social 
worker will plunge into settlement house activity with die 
same kind of aeal shown by the salesman in his quest for 
new Imsiness. 

Because of his strong desire to help others, the socially 
motu’ated individual is not always practical and tough- 
minded. Inclined to be overly sanguine, he is likely to 
believe Uiat other people are guided by the same high prin- 
ciples that guide him. Since he is primarily concerned with 
helping oUiers to better themselves, he tends to think only 
of their strengtlts, without giving proper consideration to 
their weaknesses. Tins is the type of a person, moreover, 
srho is often considered a "soft touch.” He willingly 
money without mudi concern as to whctlicr or not it will 
be repaid. Helping another person in time of need is the 
primary consideration. Comcquently, he tends to be naive, 
easily taken in, and not very cruical tn his thinking. 

A reasonable degree of social drive represents an asset 
in many types of jobs. For example, a man docs not become 
a great teacher unless he is strongly motivated to help the 
student leam — to stimulate his thinking and broaden his 
horiions. The effective supervisor in industry should also 
have a certain amount of social drive. He should be in- 
terested in bringing bis subordinates along so that they can 
grow and develop. Again, as in the case of the other trait 
corutcllations, social drive presents problems only when it 


152 . , 

b^„es inotdmatdy strong. Thn indWdual ^ 

drive becomes so strong that it ovetstadows 
tiequcnUy develops many ot tlte shortcomings desert 

"'rhe interviewer will normally be unable to 
drive in the early part o£ the discussion ^ ^ 

not get hU first clue until he approaches the 
history discussion. Then, in response to the intm 
questions conceming faaors of job satisfaction, the pP 
emt may say. “In order to give me satUfaction, a ]0 
provide an opportunity to make some contnbuuon 
welfare of mankind." Later on, in discussing his ou t 
interests, the applicant may further reflect liis social 
by the nature of his community acihities. He 
tirely vnapped up in such affairs as boy scout work, i* 
•work, hospital work, and community drives. The 
viess-er would then be prompted to probe for the it>hy 
activities. IE strong social drive seems to be indicated, 
would of course probe for the possible existence of * 
shortcomings described above. Since it may not alwa'j’S e 
possible to identify social drive until the intenraeiv is almos 
over, the intervieiver may have to rely upon the self-evalu® 
tion area as the primary means of obtaining documentary 

evidence of shortcomings related to this trait. 

Precauliom. Knosvledgc of possible trait relationships 
can provide the interviewer with a powerful tool in terms 
of hb probing for clues to behavior. He must remember, 
howe%er, that this knowledge only suggests the possibility o 
related traits, once the key trait has been identified. More- 
over, only a fraction of the applicants will fall clearly into 
any one of the five trait constellations. And some apph' 
cants may reflect some of the strengths and weaknesses o 
two or three constellations. This knowledge must there- 
fore be used cautiously and judiciously. 

General Factors of Interpretation 153 


If are to rate a given applicant on a series of traits, 
our understanding of the meaning of Uiesc traits must be 
as clear as possible. Unfortunately, psychologists themselves 
find it difficult to agree specifically on the definition of many 
traits of personality, motivation, and character. Hence, it 
is expected that many people will quarrel with the definitions 
listed below. At the same time, these definitions do pro- 
vide a functional description of the trait and should there- 
fore be of assistance to die employment interviewer. 

Emoliona! maturity: (be ability to behave as an adult, to 
take die bitter with the sweet, to face up to failure without 
rationalizing or passing die buck, to acquire self-insiglu, to 
establish reasonable vocational goals, and to exercise self- 

Aggressivertejs: forcefulncss in social situations; impact of 
one’s personality upon other people— not to be confused with 
drive to get a job done. 

Tough■n^indedness: willingness to make difficult dechions 
involving individuals for the good of die organization. 

Social sensitivity: .nivarencss of the reactions of othen; 
judgment in social situations. 

Conscientiousness: willingness to put in additional time 
and efTort on a given task in order to complete it in accord- 
ance with one’s personal standards. 

Self-discipline: ability to carry out the less pleasant tasks 
without undue procrastination. 

Initiative: self-starter; svillingness to try new mcliiorb, pro- 
vide own motivation svidiout undue prompting from 

Analytical cajiaeity: ability to break doivn a given prob- 
lem into its component parts in a logical, s)-stcmatic m.inncT. 

Ability to plan and organize: ability to lay out a given task 

154 Interpretation 

in logical sequence, approadiing first things fint in a system- 
atic manner, planning future steps in such a way as to ac- 
complish the ^vhole task cfliciently and thoroughly. 

Cn’iicfll thinking: ability to dig doivn deeply in order to 
get to the bottom of problems, to probe beneath the surface 
in order to test the findings in terms of one's orvn experience, 
hence not to take things at face value. 

Self-confidence: willingness to take action based upon a 
realistic assessment of one’s orvn abilities. 

Illustrative interpretations of interviesv findings are pre- 
sented in this and the four chapters that follow. These have 
been selected from various possible interpretations on tlic 
basis of the frequency svjth which they have proved meaning- 
ful in the author's experience. 

Interpreting Work History 

Having ulked about geneial facton oJ interpretation in the 
previouj chapter, ive noiv look specificaMy at the tvork history, 
in terms of what diis discussion may be able to teli us about 
the applicant's personality, motivation, and abilities. In 
addition to esubllshing the relevance of the candidate's pre- 
vious work experience in terms of the job lor which he is 
being considered, we should look specifically for clues to such 
traits as willingness (o W'ork hard, ability to get along svith 
others, self-discipline, and emotional maturity. 

In this chapter, suggestions for structuring the work history 
will be briefly discussed. This will be followed by an item- 
by-iicm discussion of the Victors listed under svork history 
on die Interview Guide. 

Much has already been said in Chapter 6 about structuring 
the work history. It seems appropriate at this point, how- 
ever, to restate .ind elaborate upon some of the points 
previously mentioned. The reader will recall that die work- 
history discussion is launclicd with a comprehensive intro- 



ductory question. This question should indicate to the 
applicant that be is expected to talk about his various jobs in 
chronological order, starting svith the first job and working 
up to the present. The question should also include a re- 
quest for information concerning duties, likes and dislikes, 
accompUshmcnis, and earnings on each job. In talking 
about his various jobs, the applicant will normally provide 
spontaneous information concerning many of the factors Ibted 
under the work history on tlie Interview Guide. If he fails 
to provide such information — or if he does not discuss im- 
portant factors in sufficient detail — the intervietver should 
prompt him to do so by adroitly worded follow-up questiorw 
and comments. 

Remember, too, that we try to keep the ^'?OTfc history pure, in 
the sense that tve encourage the applicant to concentrate on his 
jobs without supplying much information about other inte^ 
vieiv areas. He starts with the jobs he may have had while 
going to high school; then lie discusses the jobs he carried 
out at the time he was in college; and from tliere he discusses 
his postcollege jobs in chronological order. In the case of 
each job, he is encouraged to supply information concerning 
duties, likes, achiei'cments, dislikes, things he did less ivell, 
earnings, and reason for leaving. To avoid redundancy, it 
is well to ask him to discuss likes and dislikes on one job, 
and achievements and things that he did less well on the next. 
These two approaches are likely to provide similar informa- 
tion. A man tends to do best on the type of task that he 
thoroughly enjoys. In the case of a man over thirty, the early 
jobs should be covered very quickly, confining the discussion 
to length of time employed on each job, number of hours 
worked per week, and reason for leaving provided such rea- 
sons are not obvious. In cases like these we are looking pri- 
marily for the work habits the individual established during 
adolescence. Once having established this information, we 

Interpreting IKorA Ilislory 157 

probe more exhaustively Into the poslschool experiences. 
On Uie other liand, we treat early jobs much more compre- 
hensively in the case of an applicant still in his twenties. 
Sudi a penon has had so little opportunity to accumulate 
work experience that we must do everything we can to probe 
for clues to behavior in every job situation with which he has 
been confronted. 

^^^Iita^y service should be discussed whenever it occurs 
chronologically in the individual's work history and treated 
just like any other important job. Thus, in the case of a 
man who svent into the Army after completing two years of 
college, we would discuis the jobs he had while in high school, 
and the Jobs he carried out during his first two years of col- 
lege. '\Ve would then launch into a thorough discussion of 
his Army experience. This would be followed by a discus- 
sion of tlie jobs lie may have bad during his last two years of 
college, and by a discussion of his postcollege jobs. Since 
die military experience normally represents a very imponant 
episode in the individual's life, it should be discussed in con- 
siderable detail. At the same time, wc do not want to devote 
an inordinately large portion of the interview to it. Hence, 
the applicant should be encouraged to outline his rarious 
military assignments rather quickly. Provided with this 
overview, the interviewer ilien probes deeply for the appli- 
cant’s reactions to the military experience as a whole. In 
other words, he should be ask^ al»ut his over-all likes, dis- 
likes, achievements, and relationships with superiors and as- 
sociates. Such discussion may supply strong clues to adapt- 
ability, leadership, and ability to get along with people. It 
is also well to ask the applicant what he thinks he gained as 
a result of his military experience. Such a question may not 
only reflect the grosvth that took place in the individual but 
also provide leads for further probing later in the interview. 
For example, the applicant may say, "I really grew up while 


in the Anny. Because I came fitjin a pretty sheltered home 
situation, I was a real green, immature kid when I went into 
the service.” The interviewer mentally catalogues this in- 
formation, -with the intention of reintroducing it at the con- 
clusion of the discussion of early home background. He will 
subsequently be interested in learning about the factors that 
prevented the normal development of maturity during the 
individual’s early life. 

factors of job satisfaction and type of job desired are in- 
troduced at the end of the work-history discussion, after the 
applicant has talked about his most recent job experience and 
is therefore up to date. Suggestions for eliciting appropriate 
information concerning these two job factors will be pre- 
sented later in this chapter, together with suggestions for 
evaluating the total job accomplishment. 

Attention now swings to a discussion of each of the factors 
listed under the work history on the Interview Guide. Each 
factor is treated in some detail, both in terms of how to get 
the information and how to mieipret the resulting data. 


As indicated previously, the applicant should not be per- 
mitted to devote too much of his time to a description of job 
duties, particularly in the case of the early jobs. When he 
gets to his more important experiences, however, he should 
be encouraged to talk in some detail about what he actually 
did on these jobs. Such discussion enables the interviewer 
to determine the relevancy of the candidate's previous ex- 
perience in terms of the job for which he is being considered. 
With a mental picture of the job and man speciheations be- 
fore him, the interviewer omtinually compares what the 
subject has done in the past with what he will be expected 
to do in the future. For the most part, he does not expect 
the applicant to have performed duties that are exactly the 

Interpreting Work History 159 

same as those he will be responsible for in his new job. 
RatJjcr, he evaluates the general nature of the candidate’s 
experience, assuming Uiai he should be able to carry out net^r 
duties that are generally similar to what he has done in the 
past. In hiring an engineer for the design of automatic- 
control systems for jet engines, it may not be absolutely neces- 
sary to find a man tvhosc previous experience has been de- 
voted to jet engines. If the candidate has successfully 
designed automatic-control systems for other highly tedtnical 
power plants, such as chose concerned with guided missiles 
or torpedoes, he should be able to assume his design respon- 
sibilities on jet-engine control systems without too much 

Information concerning (he duties of the candidate's more 
imponam jobs also tells the interviewer about the degree of 
responsibility iie has assumed. Sudt responsibility may have 
been highly technical or it may have involved U)e supervision 
of other people. In either case, the interviewer needs to know 
tlie degree of responsibility assumed-~-the exact nature of the 
technical duties or the number of persons supervised. To 
get- this information, the interviewer may have to interrupt 
the applicant’s story from time to time, encouraging him 
to be more specific. As the candidate goes from one Job 
to another, tlie interviesver has an opportunity to note his 
progress in assuming responsibiUty. Such progress — or the 
lack of it — may provide clues to the individual’s general 
ability. \Vliere considerable progress has been made, the 
interviewer will probe for the why — those specific traits and 
abilities that liave been responsible for the individual’s suc- 
cess. Where lack of progress is evident, the interviewer svill 
be equally interested in trying to find the underlying reasons. 
In the latter case, he will watdi particularly for any attempt 
on Uic applicant's part to rationalize his failures, as a possible 
clue to immaturity. 

jgQ Interpretation 

In evaluating the degree of responsibility assumed in the 
coune of military experience, ilie intcrvieiver will be guided 
by the understanding that promotions frequently take place 
because the particular individual happened to be at the right 
place at the right time. In other military situations, the 
individual may have had little opportunity for promotion 
because he liappencd to find himself in a group where many 
of his associates had more experience and training in his 
particular specialty. At the same time, rapid promotion in 
tlie military establishment is noimally based on ability and 
leadership qualifications. In such instances, the interviesver 
will naturally attempt to identify the particular factors re- 
sponsible for the individual's success. 


Since attitudes and reactions to a particular job experience 
nonnally tell us tauch more about the person than a recitation 
of his job duties, a great deal of attention should be devoted 
to likes and dislikes. If the candidate omits this from his 
dbcussion, he should be reminded by such a follow-up ques- 
tion as, '"^Vhat were some of the things you liked best on that 
job?” Moreover, the interviewer should not be satisfied with 
a single response. He should probe for additional likes. 

Ideally, the most favorable situation develops when the 
applicant's likes on previous jobs correspond with important 
elements of the job for svhich be is being considered. If 
he has previously shown a liking for detail, for example, be 
should find little difficulty adjusting to the detail svork on 
the job for which he is being evaluated. Or if he has shown 
a decided preference for jobs involving a considerable amount 
of contact with people, he should be able to adjust to the 
contact aspect of the new job with no great difficulty. 

Likes on previous jobs can of course supply many clues 
to abilities, penonality traits, and motivation. The man 

Interpreting Work History 161 

who has shown a liking forresponstbility — particularly where 
people arc concerned — may have a certain degree of initiative 
and leadership ability. Or the individual who has derived 
particular satisfaction from his contacts with men in the shop 
may possess a considerable amount of common touch. Since 
likes and .abilities tend to be fairly highly correlated — in the 
sense that rvc tend to do best on those tasks we enjoy most — 
a liking for detail may indicate that the individual has a 
fair amount of aptitude for tlib type of work. In other 
svords, he may be accurate, precise, and temperamentally 
suited for svork of a confining nature. 

But likes are equally valuable in providing clues to possible 
shortcomings. Tlie man who liked a job because of its 
regular boun. frequent vacations, and lack of overtime svork, 
may be the kind of a person who does not like to extend him* 
seif by putting in extn effort on a job. II this can be sup- 
ported by subsequent clues pointing in the same direction, 
the interviewer wiH have come up with an important finding 
concerning the man's motivation. Or when a man says that 
he enjoyed a job because he was able to deal with high-level 
people from the best facnilies, the implication may be that he 
is prestige-oriented. Of course, sudi a due in itself provides 
only the slightest evidence. The interviewer mentally cat- 
alogues it. however, and subsequently looks for additional 
specific clues that may confirm it. If such confirmation is 
eventually forthcoming, he will have identified an important 
shortcoming in terms of tlic individual’s ability to get along 
with people. As indicated above, likes may provide clues to 
both assets and shortcomings. The man who enjoyed a 
given job because he had a completely free hand, may be say- 
ing that he is the kind of a person who, on the one hand, likes 
responsibility but, on the other hand, tends to be overly in- 
dependent. In response to such a finding, then, the inter- 
viewer ivould do some two-step probing, in an effort to find 

JQ2 Interpretation 

out what there ^vas about having a completely free hand tljat 
gave the man so mudi satjsfection. 


As indicated previously* adiicvcments can be substituted 
for Uhes in order to avoid repetition as the discussion moves 
from one job to another. Where a relatively large number 
of jobs is concerned and the interviewer begins to get the 
feelin'T that the applicant is becoming aware of the repetition, 
he can justify his approach by saying, “You know the more 
I can learn about the things you like the better able I should 
be to place you in a job that will give you tlie greatest satisfac- 

In discussing the more important job situations, such as 
military experience and jobs held over a period of several 
years, the interviewer is justified in asking about both likes 
and achievements. Emphasb on the positive factors of the 
individual's reactions, moreover, normally makes him more 
willing to discuss his negative reactions later on. IE he can 
be sure that the interviewer understands his real preferences 
and fully recognizes his achievements, he will be more willing 
to talk subsequently about Im dislikes and about the things 
that he did not handle quite so well in a given job. 

In probing for achievements, a question such as, ''What 
were some of the things you did best on that job?" may pro- 
vide tangible evidence of a number of the subject's principal 
assets. He may reveal, for example, that he got along par- 
ticularly well with people. And he may be able to doc- 
ument this by telling about the closeness of his relationships 
with certain individuals, by correspondence and other con- 
tacts he has had with those individuals since leaving the com- 
pany, or by the fact that his friends surprised him with a 
dinner in his honor at the time he left. Another candidate 
may list creative ability as one of his achievements. In 
probing more deeply for evidences of. such ability, the inter- 

InlCTpreting Work History 163 

viewer may find that the man has a number of patents to his 
credit and has published a series of articles in the technical 
journals. Witen such evidence is presented, the interviewer 
will of course svant to know whether these patents and articles 
came as a result of the individual's single-handed achievement 
or whether other people were also involved. Since the ap- 
plicant is naturally interested in selling himself, his stat^ 
achievements annot always be taken at face value. This 
is why he should be encouraged to supply documentary ev- 


The two items, dish'Aes and things done less well, merit a 
great deal of attention because they represent the most direct 
means of probing for negative information. Having had 
s chance to discuss his likes in considerable detail, the can- 
didate is normally quite willing to talk about his dislikes, 
particularly if good rapport has been established. At the 
same time, the interviewer should approach this subject 
adroitly by softening his follow-up question. Instead of 
asking about the man's dblikcs, he should pose such a ques- 
tion as, “'What were some of the things you found less satisfy- 
ing on that job?" It is conceivable Uiai a man may not have 
any actual job dislikes in a particular situation, but con- 
sidered relatively, tlierc arc always some aspects of a job that 
are less satisfying than others. In the event that the can- 
didate is able to come up with very little in the way of things 
that were less appealing to him, the interviewer should stim- 
ulate the discussion by means of a laundry-list question. He 
can say, "What were some of the other things Uiat were less 
appealing on that job— were they concerned with the earnings, 
the type of supervision you received, the amount of detail 
involved, or perhaps the lack of opportunity to use your oivn 

If the intervicn-er has prerioosly formed an initial hypolh- 


esjs about certain possible shortcomings, he tviU include perti- 
nent items in his laundry-list question. Thus. i£ he suspects 
insufficient attention to detai}, he will be certain to mention 
this as a possible dislike. Or iE he suspects that the man may 
be lazy, he might include such an item as "and an overly de- 
manding supervisor” in his laundry-list question as one of the 
possible job factors the man may have found less satisfying. 
Remember, too, that probing for job dislikes often results in 
spontaneous information as to why the man eventually left 
the job. If we can get such information indirectly and spon- 
taneously, we are more likely to get the real truth of the 
matter. The candidate may say, for example, "I just couldn't 
see eye to eye with my supervisor, and quite frankly that was 
why I left.” In such a situation, the interviesver would 
naturally probe deeper by saying, "Some bosses are certainly 
very hard to get along with. What was your boss' particular 
problem?" Once he has obtained the full story, the inter- 
viewer would of course ploy doxun the resulting information, 
in that way reassuring the man. 

Information concerning job dissatisfactions can provide a 
wide variety of dues to the individual's possible shortcom- 
ings. He may admit, for example, that the mathematical- 
calculations aspect of his job represented a factor of dissatis- 
faction, and he may further disclose the fact that he does not 
consider himself particularly qualified in this area. The 
interviewer svould then have a strong clue to lack of mathe- 
matical aptitude. If test scores are available and if they show 
below-average numerical ability, the interview finding in this 
case would confirm the results of the test. Another applicant 
may volunteer the information that he disliked being left on 
his osvn so much of the time without much direction from 
above. This might provide a clue to lack of confidence and 
a tendency to be dependent upon others. In another job 
situation, the candidate may reveal that the assignment was 

Interpreting TVorA History 165 

not sufTjciently well structured for him. Tliis may indicate 
a clue to his inability to plan and ot^nize, as well as a pos- 
sible lack of initiative. Still another man may complain 
about the fact that he tvas required to juggle too many balls 
in the air at one time. Sucli a comment might point to the 
possible lack of flexibility and adaptability. Lack of general 
mental ability might be anotlicr possible interpretation. In 
any event, the interviewer carefully catalogues such clues and 
looks subsequently for supporting data. 

Discussion of job disl ikes can also reveal clues to assets. In 
fact, the very willingness to talk about dislikes frequently 
provides clues to honesty, sincerity, and self-confidence. In 
supplying negative information, the man is in a sense saying, 
'TItis is the way I am constituted; if you don’t liave a place 
for me here, I am confident of my ability to locate something 
somewhere else." When an applicant discusses negative in- 
formation candidly and objectively, tlie interviewer soon 
comes to the conclusion that he is getting the complete story, 
and he gives the man credit for being honest and sincere. 


Probing for things done less welt represents another im- 
portant method of digging for negative infonnation. The 
approach here should again be softened by such a question 
as, ‘‘What were some of the things that you perhaps did a 
little less well on that job — things that pointed to the need 
for further growth and development?” The last part of this 
question is of particular importance since it implies that the 
interviewer is trying to help the applicant acquire insight 
into his developmental needs. Having planted this seed 
early in the interview, the interviewer will find it less difficult 
to get the candidate to summarize his shortcomings at the 
end of the interview under the area of self-evaluation. Ac- 
tually, helping the candidate develop more insight should 

jgg Interpretation 

represent one o£ the interviewer's primary purposes. This 
approach not only helps the interviesver to get a clearer pic- 
ture of the subject’s shortcomings, but it also helps the man 
to crystallize his thinking about his developmental needs. 
Clear recognition of shortcomuigs, together tvith a strong 
desire to do something about them, represents the first pos- 
itive step in individual dcvelopmenL 

The iaundry-list question can also be used to ads'antage 
here. If the candidate has assumed supervisory respon- 
sibilities, for example, the interviewer can test his supervisory 
effectiveness by such a question as. "What svere some of the 
things you perhaps did a little less well as a supervisor — ^were 
they concerned with the organization and planning function, 
a tendency to be a little too tough on your subordinates, or 
perhaps not to be demanding enough of them?” If the dis- 
cussion is centered on a job held Kime years ago, the appUant 
may say quite willingly: "Oh. I was far too easy-going in those 
days; I found it very dilBoiIc to discipline a man and, as a 
result, many of my subordirtates took advantage of me. I feci 
that I have overcome this to some extent, but I could still use a 
little more tough-mindedness.” Having developed thb bit 
of information, the intervierver looks subsequently for clues 
to lack of mental toughness. He may also decide to bring 
this up at the end of the imerviesv at the time he asks the man 
to summarize his shortcomings. 

In calking about things he did less svell, a man may can- 
didly admit that he lost bis temper too frequently, 'vas in- 
clined to procrastinate in carrying out less pleasant duties, or 
was so retiring that he did not always stand up for what he 
felt was right. Such information supplies clues to lack of 
motivation, self-discipline, aggressiveness, and maturity. 
The man svho cannot discipline himself to carry out the un- 
pleasant as well as the pleasant aspects of a job is frequently 
one who cannot take the bitter with the sweet. Such a person 

Interpreting JVork History I57 

generally suffers from some degree of immaturity. The man 
who leu things slide, moreover, may be a bit too easy-going 
and hence lacking in conscientiousness and willingness to 
work hard. 

TTie extent to ivhich a person is able to talk about likes, 
achievements, dislikes, and things he did less well — without 
undue prompting — may provide strong clues to analytical 
ability. There are persona svho would honestly like to pro- 
vide clcar<ut information about their reactions to a job 
situation but find themselves so unable to analyze such reac- 
tions that they do not come up with very much. Tliis is 
wually an indication of lack of menul depth. Other individ- 
uals can think of all the favorable aspects but seem able to 
offer little or nothing that tliey found less satisfying. If this 
pattern continues from job to job, the interviewer must con- 
clude that the individual is cither withholding an important 
part of his story or remarkably uncritical in Iris thinking. 
The man wlio likes everything is frequently found to be 
na'ive and uncritical. 

A man who has become conditioned to hard svork and long 
hours in the past can be expected to apply himself witli like 
diligence in the future. Particularly svhen a person has 
found it necessary to extend himself by working sixty or 
seventy hours a sveek or by going to school at night while 
carrying on a full-time job during the day, he normally de- 
velops a greater capacity for constructive effort than might 
othenvise have been the case. In contrast, when he is sub- 
sequently confronted with an eight-hour day, he finds it quite 
possible to apply himself vigorously throughout the eight- 
hour period ivithout feeling unduly 'weary. A boy brought 
up on a farm often gets up at five o’clock, milks the cows 
before school, and does the chores at night after having 

jgg Interpretation 

studied all day. Having bcrame accustomed to long hours, 
he normally finds it very easy to work hard in the shop for 
a normal eight-hour period, provided he can adjrist to the 
confinement o£ indoor work. Rforeover, a boy wlio svorks 
after school and during summers while going to high 
school and college normally develops rvork habits that stand 
him in good stead later on. On the other hand, the college 
graduate who has never worked at all may he expected to 
find adjustment to his first postcollcge job somewhat difficult. 
Of course, he should not be excluded from further considera- 
tion because of lack of any kind of svork experience, but this 
should nevertheless be included in the over-all evaluation 
as a possibly unfavorable factor. 

As the applicant talks about working conditions on his 
previous jobs, the interviewer should mentally compare such 
conditions with specifications of the job for which he is being 
evaluated. If the job requires working under pressure, for 
example, the interviewer will look specifically for any pre- 
vious jobs carried out by the applicant where pressure vtas 
an important factor. In addition, he will try to get the sub- 
ject’s reaction to such pressure. If the man found it difficult 
to work under pressure and even includes this as a reason for 
leaving a particular job, his qualifications for the new job 
would be viewed with some question. Or, if the new job 
is fast-moving and requires quick diangcs of reference, the 
interviewer would look specifically for previous exposure of 
the applicant to situations of this kind. If he has enjoyed 
and been stimulated by such rvorking conditions in tlic past, 
this would obviously represent a definite asset. On the other 
hand, expressed dissatisfaction with conditions of this kind 
would represent a negative factor. 

In an earlier chapter of this book, we discussed the value 
of not tipping one’s hand — getting the information from the 
applicant before giving information about the job. This 
is especially true with respect to svorking conditions. If the 

j(jQ Interpretation 

the first place, the intervi«yCT5!iould get the candidate in the 
habit of talking about earnings by asking him to give this 
information on his early jobs. Since few people object to 
talking about die salary ilicy made on jobs some years ago, 
they willingly supply these facts. If, moreover, they are en- 
couraged to give salary information on each job. they provide 
salary figures on their most recent experience pretty much 
as a matter of course. On the other hand, if the interviewer 
s\raits for the most recent job experience before asking about 
earnings, the applicant may try to fence svith him. A ques- 
tion such as, happened to your earnings on that job?" 

usually proves quite efficient, since tbe individual normally 
discusses both starting and termination pay. 

Pattern of earnings over the years represents one important 
criterion of the individual’s job progress to date. In cases 
where the man has gone up rather quickly as far as earnings 
are concerned, it can usually be assumed that he Is a person 
of some ability and may also have the ability to sell himself. 
In cases like this, the ioterviewer will want to probe for the 
reasons svhy the man has done so well, since such probing 
may provide clues to his major assets. On ilic other hand, 
earnings are not alwap a true rcflectioa of ability. The man 
may have been in the right place at the right time, may have 
been given spedal treatment because his father ts*as a partial 
osvner of the company, or may have been successful in im- 
pressing his superiors on the basis of his persuasive person- 
ality rather than because of his teal ability. 

Just as a rapid rise in earnings normally points to the ex- 
istence of assets, so does lack of salary progress frequently 
reflect a series of significant shortcomings. The man in his 
middle thirties who has shown relatively little salary progress 
in the last ten years is usually one who is lacking in either 
ability, effectiveness of personality, or motivation. In prob- 
ing for the reasons, however, the interviewer may find that 

Interpreting JVorM History J7J 

the applicant has been confront^ with circunastanccs some- 
what beyond his control. He may find that the individual has 
been wording in a relatively low-paying industry such as the 
utilities industry and tliat he has been reluctant to give up the 
security of that particular job because of the serious illness of a 
member of his family. In probing for the real reasons, the in- 
terviesver should obviously avoid such a direct question as, 
"How do you account for your failure to earn more money 
over the years?" Rather, he should approach lliis situation 
more indirectly, bringing up the question under the discussion 
of job dislikes. If the applicant does not mention salary as a 
factor of dissatisfaction, the interviewer can say. "How do you 
feel about your salary? Are you relatively satisfied with what 
you are making or do you think that your job merits some- 
what more?" The subsequent response may indicate a num- 
ber of interesting dues to behavior, including lack of salary 
aspirations, bitterness over lack of salary progress, ntionaU 
ization of the situation, or general recognition of shortcom- 
ings and willingness to accept his lot in life. 

In evaluating salary progress, one should keep the level 
of the individuars basic abilities in mind. If the man is 
bright mentally and has good general abilities, lack of salary 
aspirations may point to inadequate motivation. In the case 
of the man svho is somewhat limited intellectually but has 
nevertheless been moved along rapidly, subsequent frustra- 
tion will almost certainly occur. Such a person has become 
accustomed to rapid promotion and hence expects this pat- 
tern to be rriaintained. The time will undoubtedly come, 
however, svhen his mental limitations will preclude further 
promotion, at which time he will probably become a most 
unhappy individual. On the other hand, a mentally limited 
individual who has learned to accept such limitations and not 
to expect too mudi lias usually attained an admirable degree 
of emotional maturity. 

JIJ2 JnlerpTetation 

In selecting an individual for a new job, consideration 
sijould be given to the relationship beuvecn svbat the man 
has earned on his last job and the starting salary on the job 
ior which he is being considered. If he has already earned 
appreciably more than he can be expected to start at on the 
new job, serious dissatisfaction is likely to develop later on. 
At die time of the interviesv, he may profess a willingness to 
take the new job because of its greater opportiintttes. Once 
on that job, however, he will normally become relatively 
unhappy — at least until sucli time as his salary equals his 
previous earnings. On the other hand, the individual whose 
previous earnings have been substantially Jess than those of 
the job for which he is being considered represents a different 
kind of a problem. The interviewer naturally wonders svhy 
his earnings have failed to keep pace svith his years of experi- 
ence and probes for the underlying reasons. 

This is one of the most delicate aspects of the iniervietv, 
since many applicants arc sensitive about their reasons for 
having left certain jobs. Therefore, we try to get this in- 
formation spontaneously and indirectly by probing for job 
dislikes. If this fails, howev'er, we have to approach die 
situation more directly with a softened follow-up question 
sucli as, “How did you happen to leave that job?” In posing 
this question, the interviewer should of course give particular 
attention to his facial expressions and vocal intonations, in 
order to give the appearance of seeming as disarming and 
permissive as possible. Even so, some applicants may not 
give the real reason why they left a certain job. Hence the 
interviewer must be alert for any indication of rationaliza- 
tion, since this type of response usually means that the in- 
dividual is trying to hide the real reason by attempting to 
explain away the situation. If the interviewer does not be- 
come convinced that the person is telling the truth, he cer- 

Interpreting Work History 173 

tajnly should not challenge him at this point. To do so 
would be to risk loss of rapport and subsequent lack of 
spontaneous discussion throughout the remainder of the 
interview. Rather, he should srait until the interview has 
been concluded — when there is little or nothing to lose. 
If he is interested in the man's qualifications, he can reintro- 
duce the subject by asking him more directly to elaborate 
upon his reasons for the job change in question. 

Reasons for changing jobs frequently provide clues to a 
number of possible shortcomings, in die same sv’ay that job 
dislikes often point to such shortcomings. In his discussion 
of these reasons, for example, the man may so structure his 
remarks that general lack of ability to handle the job be- 
comes apparent. He may even admit that he did not possess 
the specific aptitudes, sucli as mathematical ability or me- 
chanical aptitude, that the job required. If those particular 
aptitudes are important in die job under consideration, the 
intcrs'icwer will have come up srith some signiheant negative 

^Vhen a man leaves a number of jobs to make a little more 
money on the next one, he ra.ay represent the kind of a per- 
son who has too strong an economic drive. Now strong de- 
sire to make money is a definite asset on some jobs — partic- 
ularly those involving selling on a commission basb. The 
salesman wlio wants to make a lot of money is usually one 
who will work harder to get it. At the same time, when the 
economic drive becomes too strong, the individual often 
develops into something of an opportunist. In otlicr words, 
he svill immediately jump into any new situation that pays 
him a little more. Such a person seldom develops strong 
loyalties. The intetvieiver has a right to say to himself, 
"Since this man has a habit of leaving each job whenever he 
gets a chance to make a little more money, I isunder how 
long we would be able to keep him happy here?" 

When an applicant leaves a series of jobs because of db- 


satisfaction with job duties or working conditions, he may be 
ihe type oE a person who lacks perseverance and follow- 
through. Perhaps unable to take the bitter wiili tiic sweet, 
he “pulls up stakes’* wbcnes’cr he is confronted with any- 
thing really difficult or not to his liking. If sucli proves to 
be the case, a clear indication of immaturity will be appar- 
ent. "When dissatisfaction appears to be chronic from job 
to job, the individual concerned may be poorly adjusted emo> 
tionally, in the sense that he may be somewhat bitter totv’ard 
life and may take a negative attitude toward things in general. 

If reactioru to a series of jobs indicate friction with super- 
visors or cowoikers, the interviewer should look specifically 
for indications of quick temper, InfiexibiUty, intolerance, 
ovenensitivity, and immaturity. When he suspects the pos- 
sible existence of some of these traits, the interviewer should 
use such a question as, “How did you feel about your rela- 
tionships svith your superiors and associates on that job? 
Were you completely satisfied with these relationships or, 
in retrospect, do you think Uiat they could have been im- 
proved to some extent?" 

Discussion of reasons for leaving jobs may provide dues 
to assets as well as liabilities. In talking about a previous 
job from which he had been fired, for example, the applicant 
may assume some of the blame, indicating that he tvas “just 
off base" in tliat situation. Such candor often reflects ob- 
jectivity. honesty, and maturity. 

In leaving certain job situations, moreover, the individual 
may demonstrate such positive betots as initiative and de- 
sire for further growth and development. If he has been 
in a dead-end situadon with little opportunity for promotion, 
he ceruinly cannot be blamed for leaving it. If he is a man 
of considerable ability and leaves a given job to obtain 
broader experience and responsibility, this is again some- 
thing that one should expect in a competent individual. 

Interpreting Work History 175 

In discussing job changes, it is often helpful to explore 
how such changes came about. Did the man take the initb- 
tive himself? Did the suggestion come from his superiors? 
Or rvas he recruited for a better job by another company? 
The latter, incidentally, may tell something about his general 
reputation in his field. 


Throughout the discussion of the work experience, the 
interviewer should carefully note the frequency with which 
the applicant has been promoted to supervisory responsibility, 
together with the person's reactions to such responsibility. 
If die man has derived considerable satisfaction from this 
.kind of experience, and if he has been asked frequently to 
take over the direction of oUien, he is quite probably a per- 
son of some leadersliip ability. Certainly, a number of his 
previous superion have thought so. hforeover, one who has 
led successfully in any situation has acquired skills in 
handling people tiiat nothing but experience of this sort 
will provide. 

In evaluating the possible effectiveness of a roan as a super- 
visor, look specifically for demonstrated ability to plan and 
organize, ability to delegate important responsibilities to 
others, contagious enthusiasm, sense of fairness, and sensitiv- 
ity to the feelings of others. It is equally important to find 
out whether the man has shown a tendency to dictate to 
others or ^vhclher he has been able to get other people to 
work for him because they like and respect him. 


In evaluating the applicant's tvork experience, the inter- 
viewer should note among other things the frequency of job 
changes. Since many students in school do not get very 
much in the way of vocational guidance, it sometimes takes 

J76 Interpretatton 

them a little while to find tlic right type of job once they 
have graduated. Hence, frequenc}' of job cliange is not 
particularly unusual during late adolescence or during the 
time the individual is in his early twenties. Dut if this pat- 
tern extends through tlie late twenties and thereafter, it can 
be assumed that the individual may have some rather deep- 
seated problems. If he fails to suy with any of his jobs for 
at least three ^Tars, he may very well be tlie kind of a person 
who has not yet found himself and is still quite immature. 
Many "job jumpers” lack self^iisciplinc, perseverance, and 
follow-through. Some of them are opportunists and still 
others are not very stable emotionally. At the very least, 
frequent job changes should alert the interviewer to the pos- 
sible existence of serious shortcomings. In every case, how- 
ever. he will wane to probe specifically for the underlying 

A certain number of job changes over a period of some 
years is of course to be expected. Many people have good 
reasons for leaving one job to go to another— -to increase 
their earnings, enhance their opportunities for promotion, 
and broaden their experience. In some occupations, such 
as advertising, moreover, rather frequent job change is con- 
sidered something of a matter of course. An advertising 
agency may obtain a large account and hire as many as thirty 
or forty additional people to handle this additional business. 
At the end of the year, the agency may lose the account and 
be forced to terminate a considerable number of its em- 
ployees. Even so, such an organization can usually find a 
place for a new employee who has turned in an outstanding 
job performance. 

Having discussed the applicant's job history from the first 
position to the most recent assignment, the interviewer is now 

InleTpreting Work History I77 

in a position to probe for over-all reactions and aspirations. 
He therefore uses a summary-type question, in an attempt to 
identify the basic job factors tluit are of greatest meaning to 
tile candidate. In searching for this information, a question 
such as, "What are some of the (hin^ you look for in any job 
— factors that you feel you need for your own satisfaction?" 
may be used to stimulate this discussion. Again, tlie ap- 
plicant’s response to sudi a depth question may provide clues 
to his analytical ability and his intellectual depth. The 
individual may say, "Oh, I just want a job where I can be 
happy and make an honest living." Or he may rcHect a great 
deal more discernment and intellectual depth by such a re- 
mark as, "In looking for a nctv job I have given this subject 
a great deal of thought. I am looking primarily for an op- 
portunity to grow and develop— to find the type of job that 
will provide the greatest challenge and do Uie most to bring 
out the best that is in me. Money is oi course important, 
but I consider that secondary. Security probably ranks at 
the bottom of my list, since I feel that I can always make a 
living somewhere." A response such as this tells the inter- 
viewer a good bit about the roan’s basic drives and aspirations, 
as well as about the quality of his thinking. The lack of 
emphasb on security, moreover, may provide a clue to self- 

If the candidate "blocks” and seems unable to say very 
much about job factors chat are important to him, the inter- 
viewer should try to stimulate his thinking by usinga laundry- 
Ust question. He may say, for example, "Some people look 
for money: some are interested in security; some like to work 
with details while others do not; some rvant to manage while 
others prefer to create; some want a regular woik day while 
others do not mind spending lime on a job that may interfere 
with family life — what's important to you?” 

Actually, discussion of jolwatisfaction factors presents the 


interviewer with an excellent opportunity to obtain further 
conBnnation of clues that have come to his attention earlier 
in the svoik discussion. For example, if he has noted some 
dislike for detail, he can include the phrase, "Some like de- 
taU while others do not,” in his Uundty-list question. If the 
applicant seizes upon ihisivith the statement, "Well, one 
thing, I certainly do not wnt to be involved wth much de- 
tail; I prefer to delegate this to others,” the interviewer ts 
presented with additional confirmation of his original hy- 
pothesis. Or if the interviewer has a suspicion that the man 
may be lazy, he can include in his laundry-list question the 
phrase, "Some people w3nt regular hours while others do 
not mind spending extra time on a job — time that may m- 
terfcrc wth famUy Ufe.” Again, the applicant might sa^ 
“I believe that seven or eight hours a day on a job is enough 
for anybody. My family cenalnly comes fint and I don t 
intend to let my job interfere.” Such a statement may 
dicaie that the man is not willing to make present samfices 
for future gains, and this also may provide an additional 
due to lack of mothation. 

In presenting the applicant svith a laundry-list question, n 
is always important to indode at least six or seven items. 
The interviewer should then note the items that the man 
talks about first, since those items may be the most important 
to him and hence may tell more about him as a person. 

Factors of job satisfaction represent a very fruitful area 
for discussion; hence, at least four or five minutes should be 
devoted to this subject. The interviewer should then 
mentally compare the applicant's expressed desires svilh the 
specifications of the position in question. If the individual 
is looking for a job that provides a great deal of mental chal- 
lenge, for example, it would be a mbtake to assign him to 
a job situation that made few mental demands. Or, if he 
seems to be greatly interested in money, this factor should 

Interpreting Work History 179 

be considered in terms of the salary opportunities in the po- 
sition for whicli he is being ainsidcred. Of counc, many 
young people just out of school may not be able to come up 
with very mudi in the way of job-satisfaction facion. This 
obviously should not be held against tliem, since they have 
not been exposed to enough job situations to enable them to 
form any real conclusions as to the Eaciots tliat give them 
greatest satisbction. 


The work-history discussions should be concluded with 
a question concerning the kind of job for whidi the candidate 
is looking. In the case of older people with some years of 
specific experience in a given area, this question may be un- 
necessary, since they may be applying for a definite type of 
work. Tins may also be true in the case of persons who were 
referred to the company as a result of a nesvspapcr advertise- 
ment. On the other hand, many younger people have no 
speciHc job situation in mind. In fact, many such individuals 
are looking for some kind of guidance in this respect. If 
they do mention tlie kind of a job they tliink they would like 
to have, it is well to say, *‘^Vliai is there about that type of 
job that you think might mtcresi you?” The ensuing db- 
aission may reveal that the individual has some good and 
valid reasons for his choice and, in the case of a younger per- 
son, thu would provide a definite clue to emotional maturity. 

"When a man says that he really does not know what he 
wants, liowcvcr, the interviewer should attempt to narrow the 
field for him to some extent. In the case of a recently 
graduated engineer, for example, he could say. "Well, do 
you think you might prefer basic rescardi, development work, 
production, or technical service work?** The interviewer 
would then try to get the man's reaction to Uie rariom fields 
of work and compare ilicsc reactions with what he has already 

180 Interpretation 

learned about the person as a result of the previous discus- 
sion. The individual frequently does a little self-evaluation 
at this point. He may say, tor example: “Well, I certainly 
kno^tf that I don't ^vant research or development work. I 
learned in scliool that I am no whiz on a purely technical as- 
signment.” If, on the basts of available test results and previ- 
ous rvork-biitory discussion, the interviewer concurs tvith the 
candidate, he may then explore the individual’s possible 
interest in production or tet^nical service. Or, he may de- 
cide to postpone this particular discussion until the end of 
the interview — until he has learned more about the individual 
and thus has a better basis for helping him with his placement 

As the work-history discussion drat»^ to a close, the inter- 
viewer menully reflects on the candidate’s total job accom- 
plishment. Has the individual made normal progress in 
terms of salary? Has he acquired a solid background of ex- 
perience in his specialty? Has he sho^vn an ability to assume 
gradually increased responsibility? If the answer to any of 
these important questions is negative, the interviewer may 
begin to have a real reservation concerning the man's over- 
all qualifications. In some cases, in fact, the situation may 
be so clear-cut that the interviewer an decide tlxen and tlicm 
not to hire the man. In such a situation, he would talk, very 
briefly about the individual's eduational background and 
then terminate the discussion. Not only is it unfair to rvaste 
the applicant’s time but the interviewer also has to be econom- 
ical with his own time. 

Interpreting Education 

Applicants for most higher-level jobs will usually be col- 
lege graduates, and many will luve gone to graduate school. 
These years represent a large segment of the individual's life, 
during whicli time he has had ample opportunity to display 
a considerable number of assets or liabilities, as the case may 
be. Interpretation of the educational history, then, is not 
only concerned with whether or not the individual has ac- 
quired sulTicient training to carry out the job in question; 
it is also concerned svith the evaluation of abilities, personality 
traits, and motivation. 

In the t^e of younger applicants, in particular, the educa- 
tional experience may represent die most important period 
of the individual’s life and, as such, may provide the greatest 
source of clues to behavior. Although education does not 
represent quite such a dominant factor in the case of older 
applicants, it is nevertheless exceedingly important. The 
traits that an individual develops while in school often remain 
witli him throughout his life. Moreover, the discussion of 
educational history frequently provides additional confirm- 


J82 Interpretation 

ing evidence of traiu that had been tentatively identified dur- 
ing the discussion of work experience. Thus, the applicant 
who tends to be lazy on the job can be better understood if it 
can also be determined that he did not apply himself in school. 
In other words, he has never been conditioned to hard work 
and Itence has never developed strong motivation. 

In this chapter, we shall discuss the items appearing under 
education and training in chronological order as they are 
listed on the Interview Guide. Each item will be discussed 
not only in terms of its contribution to the individual's ed- 
ucational attainment, but also in terms of possible reflection 
of dues to abilities, personality, and motivation. 


Having completed the discussion of work history, the inter- 
viewer uses a comprehensive introductory question to launch 
the subject of education. In so doing, he tries to make the 
transition from the fint interview area to the second in such 
a way that the discussion appears to be a continuing conversO' 
tion, rather than a segmented one. Thus, the interviewer 
may preface his comprehensive introductory question by say- 
ing, "That gives me a very good picture of your svork ex- 
perience; now tell me something about your education and 
training." In the comprehensive introductory question the 
interviewer should point out that he would like to have the 
applicant talk about such factors as subject preferences, 
grades, and exmcurricular activities. He should also in- 
dicate that he ^vould like to have the individual start with 
a discussion of his high school experience and go on from 
there to college. 

Chronology is just as important here as it is in work history. 
The interviewer should get the full story of the candidate’s 
high school experience before permitting him to talk very 
much about college. If the candidate jumps ahead by begin- 
ning to talk about college before he has given a complete 

Interpreting Education 1S3 

picture of his activities in high school, the intervietver should 
control tlie situation by making a positive comment and re- 
directing him to the high school area. He might say, for 
example, “Being able to play on the college football team 
must have given you a great deal of satisfaction. By the way, 
were there any other extracurricular activities in high school?” 
Jn getting the high school story fint, the interviewer can trace 
tlie candidate’s progress through school. He may note, for 
example, that the individual did quite well tvith his high 
school studies but experienced more difficulty as the subject 
matter became more difficult in college. Or he may observe 
that Uie candidate tvas a "big frog in a little puddle," while 
in high school but, up against sterner competition in college, 
was not able to compete successfully. Findings suclt as these 
represent probable indications of some limitations and help 
the interviewer to establish the level of the candidate's voca* 
tional ceiling. 

In response to an adroitly worded comprehensive intro- 
ductory question, the candidate will normally discuss mud) 
of his school experiences spontaneously. If he leaves out 
important items or does not discuss certain topics in sufficient 
detail, the interviewer will use appropriate follow-up ques- 
tions in an effort to get the complete story. He svill also use 
such questions to probe more deeply for the underlying impli- 
cation of certain of the applicant's remarks. After the in- 
dividual completes his discussion of the high school experi- 
ence, the interviewer may wish to repeat part of hk compre- 
hensive introductory question by saying, "Suppose you tell me 
a little about college notv — your subject preferences, grades, 
extracurricular activities, and the like.” 


If the candidate forgets to include subject preferences in hk 
discussion, the interviewer should approach thk by asking 
about hk subject interests, paxticularly since interests tend 


to coirelate widi abilities. He can say very simply, 
were some of the subjects you enjoyed most in high school?" 
Preference for such highly verbal subjects as English, history, 
and languages normally reflects a certain amount of verbal 
ability, particularly when grades in such subjects have been 
relatively high. H verbal ability represents one of the job 
requirements, the interviewer will luve identified strong clues 
to an important asset. Another applicant may reflect strong 
scientific interests through his preferences for chemistry, 
biology, and physics. ^Micn such preferences arc combined 
with interest and ability in mathematics, considerable ap- 
titude for work of a teclmical nature would normally be in- 

In discussing subject preferences in college, it is well to ask 
the individual whether he most enjoyed die more practical 
subjects or the more highly theoretical counes. In the case 
of an engineer, for example, the interviewer might ay, "Did 
you enjoy the more practical counes such as unit operations 
and your laboratory work, or did you derive more satisfac- 
tion from the more highly theoretical courses such as thermo- 
dynamics?” Lack of interest and ability in the more the- 
oretical courses may sometimes indicate certain mental 
limitations — inability to deal with things in the abstiact- 
This interpretadon of course becomes all the more valid if 
test results reflect mediocre mental equipment- Other 
things being equal, the more practically oriented engineers 
usually derive greatest satbfaction from assignments in pro- 
duedoD, applications engineering, or technical service. The 
more theoretically inclined technical people usually get more 
satisfaction from research and developmenL 

Subject dislikes, introduced by such a quesdon as, ’^Vhat 
were some of the subjects you found less satisfj'ing?” can 
provide important clues to shortcomings. LVhen a man dis- 
likes a certain subject, it may mean that he either has little 
apdtude for that subject or failed to study hard enough to 

Interpreting Education 185 

aivakcn an interest in it. When a man does poorly in a sub- 
ject that represents an important factor in the specifications 
of the job for which lie is being considered, an important 
liability will have been identified. And this is particularly 
true ivhen poor performance in school is supported by low 
aptitude-test scores. Some knowledge of course content in 
various fields is also helpful to the interviewer. If a given 
individual has relatively poor mathematical ability, the in- 
terviewer can understand die man’s difficulty with physical 
chemistry, since this course has a ratlier high mathematical 

It is not enough to know that an applicant liked or dis- 
liked a certain subject. Tlie interviewer should be interested 
in finding out why. lie does Uiis by using the second step of 
the tsvo-step probing question, "What was there about physics 
that seemed to trouble you?" In response the applicant 
might say, "Oh, I was completely over my head in that sub* 
jecL Even though I studt^ hard, 1 never could quite seem 
to undentand the theoretical aspects." Or in response to 
a quaiion as to why he did not like quantitative chemistry, 
an applicant might say, "That subject requires a good 
memory, and memory has never been one of my attributes.” 
As indicated in an earlier chapter, probing for tire uihy 
of subject preferences often provides clues to analytical 
ability and intellectual depth. Some people may be unable 
to give other than superficial reasons whereas others can pro- 
vide detailed, analytical statements. In any case, the in- 
formation tliat flows from this particular discussion should 
be carefully checked with the requirements of the job specifi- 


If the candidate does not specifically mention his grades, the 
interviewer may say, "What about grades? Were they 
average, above average, or perha|8 a little below average?” 

^gg JnleTpretalion 

Note that such a question makes it relatively easier for the 
individual to admit that hb grades were below average. 
Wltere grades are indicated as above average, an attempt 
should be made to determine the applicant’s actual ranking 
in the class. Was it upper half, upper third, upper quarter, 
or upper tenth? When he provides a ranking, such as ninth 
in hb class, he should be asked about the number in the class. 
It b conceivable that the entire class may have had no more 
than eleven or twelve students. On the other hand, a stand- 
ing of ninth in a class of four hundred svould represent a real 

School achievement as reflected in grades may provide 
clues to ability and motivation. They also may reflect the 
academic standards of the school. In any case, the inter- 
viewer should make a real effort to identify the major factors 
responsible for grade level, whether such level is high or low. 

If test scores are available, the interviewer’s interpretation 
of grade level is greatly facilitated. A high score on a mental 
test means, among other things, that the individual has the 
ability to learn rapidly, absorbing new information quickly. 
Hence, he b expected to get good grades in school. ^Vhe^ 
an individual with a high mental-test score indicates that he 
made poor grades in sdiool. the interviewer should be alerted 
to the possibility that the man did not apply himself. Fur- 
ther probing may indicate lack, of preseverance. procrastina- 
tion, or dborganized study habits. Moreover, many gifted 
people find it possible to get along in school without “cracking 
a book.” Such people not only fail to make the best use of 
their abilities but may develop habits of superficiality, nes'^er 
learning to dig dorvn to the bottom of things. If thb habit 
{^rsbts through life, the individual b seldom able to realise 
his full potential. 

In the case of a man with a mediocre mental-test score and 
top grades in school, the interviewer is faced with at least 

Interpreting Education 187 

three interpretive possibilities. First, there is the possibility 
that the man may not be telling the truth. Secondly, the 
academic standards of the school may have been relatively 
low. Or in Uie tliird place, the individual may have studied 
so hard that he obtained high grades despite his somewhat 
limited mentality. If the latter proves to be the case, the 
individual is almost certainly hard-working, persevering, and 
highly motivated to succeed. 

High grades in a scliool of established high academic stand- 
ards normally provide clues to both intellect and motivation. 
This is particularly true, of course, where the applicant has 
selected a di/RcuIt major course of study. In the best scliools, 
a student has to have a reasonable degree of mental ability 
and has to study reasonably hard in order to achieve a good 
academic record. 


Tills tjuestion is particularly helpful in cases where test 
scores are not available, and it can make some contribution 
even where test scores are on hand. Immediately after get- 
ting information concerning grades, the interviewer should 
say, "^Vhat kind of effort did your studies require?’' Note 
that this is a much more adroit way of wording riic question 
than to say, "How hard did you have to study?" The latter 
question carries some implication that the interviewer may 
question the candidate's mental level. It abo alerts the in- 
dividual to the interviewer’s purpose in asking the question. 
When response to the recommended question indicated above 
is unsatisfactory, the intervie^ver may have to say, "In retro- 
spect do you think you studied about as hard as the average 
student, a little less hard, or perha{» just a bit more?" 

When talking with a mentally bright person who made 
good grades, Uie interviewer expects an answer sucli as, "Oh, 

I didn't have to w'orfc particularly hard; things seemed to 

Igg Interpretation 

come pretty easily to me.*' Responso from less-giited can- 
didates, however, normally indicate a considerable amount 
of effort, particularly where the academic achievement has 
been relatively good. Such a person may say. "I really had 
to work for everything I got. I certainly burned a lot of 
midnight oil. Jn fact, I used to be envious of my roommate 
who was always able to get things twice as easily as I could.’ 
On the other hand, some people do not seem to be at all con- 
cerned about a poor record in school. They may say, “I 
didn’t do particularly ft-ell academically; I just got by 
‘gentlemen's grades' like a lot of the other fellows." 

^^en interpreting grades in terms of the amount of effort 
expended, it is also necessary to factor in the amount of time 
spent on extracurricular activities as well as time spent on 
part-time jobs. A man with average grades in a good school 
who has devoted a great deal of time to student activities or 
to the financing of his own education of course deserves credit 
for his over-all accomplishment. Such a penon often d^ 
velops social skills and work habits that stand him in good 
stead later in life. Moreover, the person who crowds in a 
great many activities, does a considerable amount of part- 
time svork, and also manages to make good grades is usually 
one who has learned to organize his time effectively. Nor- 
mally, he works on a specific schedule and does a considerable 
amount of planning. 


The degree to which the individual has participated in 
extracurricular affairs may provide many important clues to 
personality traits. If little or no participation has taken 
place, the individual may have a tendency to be shy, self- 
conscious, inhibited and introverted. In fact, he may freely 
admit that he tended to be “backward” and retiring at ttat 
stage of his life. Of course, surii a person may have changed 

Interpreting Education 189 

materially over the years, but the chances are very good that 
certain vestiges of these shortcomings may remain with him 
today. On the other hand, a person may say that he did not 
participate in student activities because be did not care very 
much for tire type of classmates with whom he was associated. 
Such a remark should prompt the interviewer to get further 
elaboration as a possible indication of snobbishness, intol- 
erance, or a "sour grapes" attitude. The latter in particular 
may indicate some lack of emotional adjustment. Obviously, 
still other people fail to participate in student activities be- 
cause of lack of motivation. Tliey are content with the social 
relationships they develop on the outside. Finally, there 
is the "bookworm" or "grind." This type of person devotes 
all his energy to getting top grades. As a result, he often 
graduates with honors but fails to achieve the social develop- 
ment acquired by the average college roan. People who fall 
into this category are often the hnt to admit later in life how 
much they failed to get out of colle^. Since many jobs re- 
quire a fair amount of social facility, such people often find 
themselves inadequately equipped to deal with others. 

Those who do participate in extracurricular activities, how- 
ever, often develop appreciably on the social side during 
their four years of school. In dealing %vith olhen of their 
osvn age, they frequently become more sociable, develop more 
tact, become more aggressive, and acquire traits of leadership. 
A boy elected as president of his fraternity, for example, is 
confronted with responsibilities that are entirely new to him. 
He is naturally anxious to show up well in the eyes of his 
fraternity brothers and therefore takes particular pains to 
do tlie best job he can. In the course of shouldering these 
.responsibilities, he often matures perceptibly, acquiring new 
poise, learning how to handle the more difficult people, and 
developing the kind of infectious enthusiasm that sparks an 

jgQ InterpTCtation 

Participation in athletics— contact sports in jwrticular— 
often fosters the development of competitive spirit, coopera- 
tion, and ability to serve as an effective member of a team. 
One who has a tendency to “hog the show” is frequently batted 
dosvn rather quickly by his teammates. 

It is often helpful to ask a man how old he was when he 
went to college. If he happened to be appreciably younger 
than his classmates, he may have exjjericnced severe adji^t* 
ment problems. Such a person often has difficulty gaining 
aareptance on the part of his older associates. They fre- 
quently have a tendency to “write him off,” taking the vies't 
that he is not old enough to appreciate their thinking or to 
engage in tl\eir activities. Inability to compete successfully 
with one’s contemporaries in college— eiilier academically or 
socially— can have a marked effea on the individual's be- 
havior. It is at least conceivable that he may develop a feel- 
ing of inferiority that will remain with him throughout htf 
life. U such turns out to be the case, he may have a tendency 
to underestimate his real abilities and may lack the confidence 
necessary to achieve up to hb potential. 


The intcrvic>ver should be alert to the possibility that a 
given individual may have attained achie\’enients beyond 
those of most of his classmates, and such achievements may pro- 
vide additional clues to mental ability, specific aptitudes, and 
leadership strength. Some indiriduals are basically modest 
and may not reveal thb type of information unless they arc 
specifically asked to do so. Hence, when a liberal arts student 
indicates that he made top grades in college, the interviewer 
should ask him if he made Phi Beta Kappa, A top technical 
student should similarly be asked if he achieved any academic 
honors, such as Tau Beta Pi or Sigma Xi. Persons achiesing 

Interpreting Education 191 

such honon are normally those who possess both high mental 
ability and strong motivation. 

I£ asked about special acliievements in high school, a man 
may indicate that he won the mathematics prize, the pliysics 
prize, or the oratorical contest, tlius revealing the possible 
existence of special aptitudes. Likewise, it is well to ask 
an athlete if he were ever elected captain of a team. Again, 
responsibility of this kind fosters the development of leader- 
ship traits. In the case of persons elected to the student 
government or to the presidency of the student body, the 
inters’iewer has a right to assume that tlte individual was 
popular with his contemporaries and probably possessed some 
degree of leadership ability. Of course, school politics are 
responsible for Uie fact that some people are elected to class 
olTices. but the person involved usually displays some traits 
tliat set him apart from the crowd. At the very least, he is 
ordinarily one who is liked by othen, who has a genuine 
interest in people, and who has developed an ability to get 
along amicably with his fellow man. 


Where the application Wank indicates graduate training, 
the interviewer explores this area immediately after getting 
the complete description of die college experience. Even 
in the case of those who do not have graduate training it 
is well to ask, “Did you ever give any thought to going to 
graduate scliool?" A question sucli as this frequently pro- 
vides clues to the strength of the individual's theoretical 
drive. A man may say, for example, *'I had enough of study- 
ing in college; I’m not the academic type, you know. As 
soon as I finished college I wanted to do sometliing practical 
where I could earn some money.” 


i92 ^ 

Except for the fact that be usually docs not ash about extra- 
curricular acti%'iiies. the intervierrer explores graduate train- 
ing in much the same rvay that he carried out the college dis- 
cussion. concentrating on subject preferences, grades, amoim 
of effort involved, and any special achievements. In some 
graduate sdiooh. grades are either satisfactory or unsatis- 
factory. but other sdiools give letter grades, insisting that 
courses counted for graduate credit must be at a B Iwc 
better. In such a case, it is interesting to learn whether in 
graduate student obtained mostly B's and a few A's or ma e 
practically a straight A record. ^ . .. !• 

Special attention should be devoted to the individua s 
Uicsis or dissertation. Even though the applicant's field may 
not be very familiar to the imerviesver. the latter can still 
ask the man about the problems he encountered and hosv he 
v?ent about solving such problems. Evidences of creative 
ability may be rescaled here, particularly in cases where the 
candidate solved most of his own problems ratlicr tlian re- 
lying upon his sponsor. It b also well to ask about the extent 
to which the research findings may be expected to make a con- 
tribution to the field. In some cases, individuals public 
articles in technical joumab even before they arc awi'arded 
tlieir degree. In evaluating graduate training, again con- 
sider the academic standards of the school. A PhJ). from 
some schoob mearu a great deal more than it does from others. 

Consideration of postgraduate training should not be con- 
fined to formal courses taken with a view to getting a master s 
or doctoral degree. Many people take special courses of one 
kind or another, including extension work, correspondence 
courses, and company-sponsored courses. Moreover, many 
such courses are taken at night, after putting in a full day on 
the job. Such attempts to improve oneself frequently pro- 
vide clues to peneveiance. aspiration, and energy level. In 
going to school at night an individual often extends hb ca- 

InterpTeting Education 195 

pacity for constructive effort. Many courses taken in the 
evening also equip the individual to turn in a better perform- 
ance on his job. 

After-hours courses may also reflect an individual’s attempt 
to broaden his horizons. Sensing a lack of cultural back- 
ground, he may take courses in history, art appreciation, or 
government. In a sense then, the selection of evening courses 
may tell as much about a man as the kind of courses he 
selected as electives in college. 


The interviewer will have acquired much of this informa- 
tion as a result of having discus^ the applicant’s early jobs 
under rvork history. Cut it is tvell to reconsider such infor- 
mation mentally while discussing the applicant's educational 
background. As indicated above, awareness of the fact that 
the individual worked his ivay through school may cast a 
different light on the kind of grades he received or on the 
extent of his participation in extracurricular activities. The 
individual who has to work his way through school by carry- 
ing out part-time jobs frequently develops greater maturity 
and motivation than tlie man wlio did not have to earn any 
of his college expenses. When a man helps to finance his 
own education, he usually appreciates it all the more and tries 
to gel die most out of it. In the course of this experience, 
he frequently develops sound rvork habits, peneverance, and 
resourcefulness. On the other hand, the man whose parents 
pay for his entire education may become accustomed to hav- 
ing things too easy. In fact, he may suffer a rude shock when 
he does finally get out into the world and finds it necessary 
to earn his own living. Certainly, his adjustment to industry 
will be more difficult than diat of the man who has already 
learned to earn his osvn svay. 

Scholarships are awarded to certain individuals as a means 



factor in the individual** favor than the fonner. 

Aiter WotW War 11, many vatmni ° 

thdr schoolins by benefiu from U.a so^lled ^ 

«er. these funds often proved insufficient, pnmardy 
many of the men had married svhilc in the service, 
ingly, they frequently toot part-time jobs m order “ ' 
their new families. In many cases also, the svife ■ 

only supporting herself but helping to pay some of her 1 u^ 
hand-s «penses. Sueh willingness to mate 
for future gains helps to develop a maturity of outlook 
often brings a family closer together. ^ 

Many men will say that, if they had it to do over . 
they would borrow money rather than work so hard tvnt 
going to college. They seem to feel that they mi^ed a pw 
deal by not being able to participate in extracurricular acti 
ities, for example. All things considered then, the greaiesi 
over-all development probably comes to the man who trie 
to maintain some kind of balance sviili respect to aca ® 
work, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs, 
much concenuation on any one of the three at the expens 
of the others usually has some retarding effect on the over- 
growth of the individual. 


As the interviewer concludes the discussion of education, 
he mentally evaluates the entire experience in terms of die 
extent to which it has equipped the man to handle the jo 
under consideration. In making this evaluation, he of course 
includes formal courses in high school and college, training 
acquired while in military service, special company-sponsore 

Inlerpreting Edufction 195 

councj, extcntion work, ant) correspondence courses. lie 
tlien asks himself whether or not ilie man has the spccialired 
training that tlie joh rerjuires, tvhciher he lias dcvclo{)ed the 
necessary skills, and equally im|»ortant. whether or not he has 
dcvclo]>ctl the kind of thinking demanded in the job for 
which he is applying. Many job descriptions indicate simply 
that the incuml>eni should be a college graduate. Tliis 
usually implies a certain degree of cultural background, the 
ability to think logically and to reason from cause to clTcct, 
and the ability to get along iitcceisfuly with other people on 
the college Icscl. 

In ev*aluating the factors mentionetl alx>ve. the interviewer 
naturally takes into consideration all major achies-ements 
siidi as grades, parildpaiion in sports, membenhip in clubs, 
oflices held, and any spcdal effort involved in financing educa- 
tion. lie also thinks in terms of hosv much the individual 
Isenefiicd from the educational experience. Did he look for 
the easiest svay out by selecting the easiest possible major 
course of study and liy taking snap courses as electives? Or 
did he dioosc a reasonably diffiailt major course of study and 
take electives daiguesi to broaden his cultural background? 
Is there any indication that the individual became so inter- 
ested in bis subjects that he did aslditional reading that was 
not r«juircd? Did he do any really significant research work 
in connection with his graduate studies? Answers to ques- 
tions such as these help to cast the educational experience in 
its mic pcrsj>ectivc. 

Obviously, too, the interviewer will evaluate the educa- 
tional history in terms of lesulting clues to abilities. i)cnon- 
ality traits, and motivation. Andhewill bcparticularlyinter- 
ated in those dues sdiich supply furilicr confirming evidence 
to support interpretive hypotheses he established at the time 
he discussing the applicant’* svork experience. It is to be 
expected, in addition, that the inters-iewer svill liavc picked 

195 Interpretation 

up some clues to bcliavior that are new, in the sense that he 
did not b«ome aivare of them during the earlier discussion. 
For the most part, these netv clues will have added to his 
understanding ot the man. At the same time, some of the 
newer clues again provide only centatis'c hypotheses. For 
example, he may have noted that the individual's extracur- 
ricular activities in school were confined to such artistic pur- 
suits as glee club, band, orchestra, literary club, and dramatics. 
Suspecting that the individual may possibly fall into the ar- 
tistic trait constellation, dtc inierviciver svill look for further 
confirming evidence in subsequent areas of the iniervacw and 
will probe spccificany for the possible existence of such traits 
as oversensitivity. iropracUcality, lack of tough-mtndedness, 
and the like. 

Finally, the interviesver roust take the long vietv with re- 
spect to traits that the caudidate developed while in school. 
If the individual ts an older man, it is quite probable that he 
has grown and dcs’eloped considerably since his school days. 
For example, he may have been quite immature as a student, 
but may have caught up with his chronological age group 
in thb respect long since. The fact that the man did not 
apply himself ivhile in high school and college need not mean 
that he does not work hard today. Experience has neN'cr- 
theless shot\’n that a person is seldom able to "change his 
spots” entirely as he grows older. In other words, if his per- 
formance in school reBccted serious, deep-seated short- 
comings, there is a good diance that vestiges of these short- 
comings still remain with him as part of Iris make-up today. 


Early Home Background 

AlUiough early home bacJcground represenu an extremely 
important intervtetv area. Urn aspect of the applicant’s life is 
highly penonal and hence must be handled with unusual 
adroitness and sensitivity. Consequently, Ike inexperienced, 
unirained inteniieuier should not attempt to explore this 
area, unless of course he has had considerable formal training 
in clinical psychology. The development of highly personal 
information requires skill that normally comes only as a result 
of extended practice under the supervision of a competent, 
highly experienced trainer. When the approach to personal 
information is awkward, the interviewer frequently loses 
rapport rvith llie candidate and thus is unable to get spon- 
taneous responses during the remainder of the discussion. 

The experienced interviewer, on the other hand, will 
often find the applicant’s early home background an exceed- 
ingly fruitful area for investigation. By the time he gets to 
this part of the discussion, he will already know a great deal 


198 Interpretalion 

about the applicant, as a result ot having spent approximately 
an hour with him talking about his work history and educa- 
tion. Having acquired a rather clear picture of many of 
the candidate's assets and liabilities, the interviewer should 
regard the exploration of early home background as a real 
intellectual challenge. For it is in this area tliat we fre- 
quently learn why the individual developed into the kind of 
person he is today. Knowledge ot cause-and-effect relation- 
ships provides us with a great deal more understanding of the 
individual and, in addition, helps us to appraise the amount 
of penonality growth that has taken place since the early 

Influences brought to bear upon the individual during 
childhood have a great deal to do with the development of 
his character, motivation, interests, and personality traits. 
Therefore, the more we can learn about the individual’s 
early environment the better we should be able to understand 
the forces that helped to determine his make-up. Early en- 
vironment of course includes relationships with parents and 
siblings, the strictness of the upbringing, and the economic 
level of the home. 

Tliroughoot the discussion of this portion of the individ- 
ual’s life, the interviewer will look particularly for the effects 
of environmental influences on the individual's develop- 
ment, giving special attention to any unusual advantages or 
disadvantages he may have had. It is important to realize, 
however, that the effect of early influences cannot always be 
predicted, and hence no assumptions should be made unless 
they can be confirmed by documentary evidence. It cannot 
be assumed, for example, that a given individual developed 
selfishness because he was an only child. Many parents are 
aware of the problems faced by an only child and thus do 
everything possible to ensure his normal development. Nor 
can it be assumed that a person necessarily developed emo- 

Interpreting Early Home Background 199 

tional maladjustment just because he came from a broken- 
home situation. Many adolescents, after losing the male par- 
ent, take part-time jobs to help support themselves and even 
to contribute to the support of the rest of the family. In so 
doing, they often develop a sense of responsibility and re- 
sourcefulness they might not have achieved otherwise. In 
every case then, the interviewer must probe for the real effect 
of environmental influences during the early formative years. 

In bridging the gap between education and early home 
background, the interviewer can use such a casual statement 
as. "Let’s talk a little bit now about your early life." He 
then follows directly with his TOmprehensive introductory 
question. Because early home background represents an 
area that the candidate has seldom been called upon to dis- 
cuss in other interviews, the comprehensive introductory 
question should include a statement concerning the reasons 
for desiring this information. The applicant can be told, 
for example, that a knowledge of some early influences helps 
the interviewer to understand him better and facilitates 
proper placement. The remainder of the comprehensive in- 
troductory question of course includes a request for informa- 
tion concerning some of the items appearing under early 
home background on die Interview Guide— items such 
as the fallier’s occupation, the personalities of father and 
mother, number in the family, and Ute strictness of the up- 
bringing. Normally, Uic skilled interviewer will have de- 
velopctl very good rapport with the candidate by the time he 
has arrived at this stage of the interview. He sliould there- 
fore encounter Utile difficulty in getting the appropriate in- 
formation. In order to ensure proper response, howcier. 
he should give particular attention to facial expressions and 

200 Interpretation 

vocal intonations in the course of “selling” the comprehensive 
introductory question. He should also assume consent, giv- 
ing the impression tfiat this is the kind of information he dis- 
cusses with all applicants and that there is nothing new or un- 
usual about his request. 

In response to an adroitly worded comprehensive intro- 
ductory question, most applicants talk willingly and spon- 
taneously about tJieir early experiences. In so doing, they 
include appropriate information about many of the items 
appearing on the Interview Guide. In such cases, the in- 
terviewer simply has to ask about items that the candidate 
fails to include in his discussion. When, after listening to 
the comprehensive introductory question, the candidate 
seems to hesitate, the intervietver should start the discussion 
by asking for the father's occupation. He follotvs this with 
questions concerning the father's penonality make-up, the 
mother's personality, number in the family, and strictness of 
upbringing. Questions about the effects of early influences 
should come totvard the end of the early-home-background 
discussion. By that time, the interviewer will have noted a 
number of the effects and he will be able to prompt the ap- 
plicant's discussion. While this discussion is being con- 
cluded, the interviewer unobtrusively turns over the Inter- 
viewing Guide, thus preparing himself for investigation of 
the next major area, present social adjustment. 

(Socioeconomic level) 

In one sense, discussion of the otxupation of the applicant’s 
father sets the stage for exploration of the early home back- 
ground experiences, for Uiis factor alone plays an important 
part in establishing the sodo-cconomic level of the family- 
If the father held low-level, unskilled jobs, it can be assumed 
that there probably was not very much money in the home 

Interpreting Early Home Background 201 

and that the candidate did not have the advantage of many 
cultural influences during his early years. If the father made 
Ills living in lower-level jobs, moreover, he probably ivas a 
person of relatively little education and hence may not have 
been much of a factor in stimulating the candidate’s intel- 
lectual development. There is the further probability here 
that tlie friends the applicant's father entertained in the home 
were also persons of less education and cultural attainment. 
The fact that the candidate may show some rough edges and 
Jade of tact and social sensitivity today may stem directly irom 
lack of exposure to cultural influences as a child. 

Where there is relatively little money in the home, how- 
c\'er, young boys are more likely to take part-time jobs, sudi 
as newspaper routes and grocery-store work, in order to con- 
tribute to the family income. Sudi experience of course 
brings them into contact with other adults In a customer- 
salesman or a supervisor-employee relationship. In getting a 
glimpse of life through the eyes of adults otlier than tlieir par- 
ents, these boys sometimes mature more rapidly and broaden 
their horizons to some extent. In carrying out early pan- 
lime jobs, moreover, boys often develop a willingness to work 
hard, a sense of responsibility, initiative, and resourcefulness. 

Boys raised in higher-level sodo-economic circumstances 
often have the advantage of many flne cultural and financial 
influences. Where the father fa a professional man or a well- 
paid executive, ilic boy may have access to a siablc library 
light in the home. He may therefore cultivate the important 
habit of reading at an early sugc of his life — reading which 
obviously stimulates his inteliccttial development. A well- 
educated man tends also to select as his wife a woman with 
more educational and cultural attainment. Thus the mother 
in the home may contribute appreciably to tlic youngster’s 
cultural development. She may. for example, take him to 
concerts and to the theater, in Ihat way stimulating his in- 

202 Interpretation 

terest ia the arts. Furthermore, a successful father tends to 
entettain friends of equal accomplishment in the home. In 
getting to know other higher-level people on a social basis in 
die home, a young boy frequently develops more poise and 
confidence than might otherwise have been the case. 

I! the applicant has been raised in high-level socio-economic 
circumstances, however, there is always the possibility that he 
may have had things a bit too easy for his own good during 
the formative years. Because there tvaj no economic pres- 
sure in die home, he may never have been motivated to take 
part-time jobs. Perhaps he may even have spent all his time 
with his family during the summer months while going to 
high sclvool and college, without contributing to the financing 
of his education. When a person has too many things handed 
to him on a silver platter, he frequently matures less rapidly, 
becomes overly dependent upon others, and fails to develop 
good work habits. Such individuals often fail to take full 
advantage of their educational opportunities in school and 
subsequently find adjustment to their first postcollege job 
somewhat difficult. 


When the applicant omits a description of his father as a 
result of the comprehensive introductory question, the inter- 
viewer should remind him by saying, “What was your father 
like in personality?" If the man seems to have difficulty 
coming up with a series of traits, the interviewer can stimulate 
the discussion with a laundry-list question, "How else ivould 
you describe your father? Was he aggressive or una^ressive, 
calm or quick-tempered, extroverted or introverted, hard- 
working or inclined to take it a bit easy?’’ As we shall sub- 
sequently sec, it is important to get a list of at least five or 
six of the father's traits. Once this has been accomplished, 
the interviewer cisks about the mother’s traits in a similar 

qQ,j Inlerpretalion 

for the man's effectiveness as a supervisor. With this addi- 
tional evidence, moreover, he begins to suspect that the roan 
may possess some of the shoncomings frequently found in 
the penon with a high social drive— shortcomings such as 
tendency to lack tough-roindedness, practicality, objectivity, 
and criticalness of thinking. Hence, in subsequent sections 
of tlie interview he probes specifically for the possible exist- 
ence of tliese traits. 

Stimulation of scIf-cvaluation is only one of the important 
Tcaisons for wanting to know as much as possible about the 
applicant’s parents. Among other things, we would Hke to 
know something about the e0ects the parents may have had 
on the growing child. For this reason, the interviewer 
should be alert to any possible clues to the relationship the 
individual enjoyed with hb parents. Does he seem to have 
been quite close to them and to have real affection for them? 
Ot does be now seem to be ashamed of their lack of education 
and cultural background? The latter reaction would cer- 
tainly tell something about the individual’s standard of values 
as well as providing a clue to possible immaturity. 

Where the father has been extremely successful vocation- 
ally, a special effort should be made to try to determine what 
effect thU may have had on the candidate. Does the individ- 
ual osve some of hb current drive to the fact that he was stimu- 
lated by hb father's success and b anxious to match the latter’s 
achievement? Or in growing up in the shadow of a success- 
ful father, did he find the competition so difficult that hb 
basic sel£<onfidence was undermined? Many successful fa- 
thers tend to expect a great deal of their sons. As a result, 
they sometimes become unduly critical, to the point that 
nothing the boy ever does seems quite to satisfy them. Over 
a period ot years, an infiuence of this kind may partially de- 
stroy an adolescent’s feeling of self-worth. He eventually 
gets the feeling that he just does not “measure up” and will 

Interpreting Early Home Background 205 

never be able to match his hither’s acliievement. An ex- 
perience such as tin's can leave a serious scar on an adoles- 
cent. In fact, he may never be able to acquire the amount 
of self-confidence he needs. 

It is interesting to note that some adolescents acquire cer- 
tain strong assets in large part because their fatlien lacked 
these qualities. A boy vfhose father drank to excess, for ex- 
ample, sometimes becomes a teetotaler. 'iVith tlie example 
of his father constantly before him, he resolves in ii'is own 
mind never to follow in the latter’s footsteps. 

If in tlie course of the discussion it becomes apparent that 
ilie individual was not brought up by his orvn parents, the 
interviewer should of counc probe for the relationships that 
existed bettveen him and the individuals who were respon- 
sible for his early direction. *n)is is particularly true in the 
case of a stepparent. Such a person may have no real love for 
a youngster not directly related and may tend to reject him, 
especially if the stepparent lias children of his or her oivn. 
Rejection at any time represents a serious problem and may 
leave deep-seated scars on the individuars emotional devel- 
opment. Psychological research lias shoivn that, in order to 
develop a normal, secure personality, a growing child needs 
love and affection in almost the same way that he requires 
food and shelter. 


Tliis information wifi of course be available from the ap- 
plication blank. If the applicant has indicated no brothers 
or sisters, the interviewer will already have determined be- 
forehand to probe for possible effects of having been raised as 
an only child. It is well knosvn that parents sometimes tend 
to spoil an only child. Such a child is often given too much 
and permitted too often to occupy the center of the stage. As 
a consequence, he sometimes develops habits of selfishness 

2Q5 Inlerpretation 

and willfulness. Upon occasion, too, he becomes self<en- 
tered and egotistical. A child brought up in a large family, 
on the other hand, frequently Icams to share and share alike. 
And he has the added experience of Jeaming to get along widi 
other people in a group relationship. As a consequence, 
he is likely to become more cooperative and better adjusted 

The youngest cliild in a family sometimes experiences 
some of the problems faced by the only child. Realizing 
that she is unlikely to have any more children, a mother fre- 
quently continues to think of her youngest child as the 
“baby.“ She gives him correspondingly more attention and 
sometimes tends to overprotect him. He may thus become 
excessively dependent and may not mature as rapidly ai 
otherwise might have been the case. 

The oldest child in xi\t family, on the other hand. » 80 ine« 
times expected to take some of the responsibility for bringing 
up his younger brothers and sisters. And he is likely to be 
the first one of the family to get a pan-time job and thus con- 
tribute to the family’s income. Given relatively greater re- 
sponsibility, then, he often develops faster in an emotional 
sense, acquiring more maturity, dependability, and resource- 

The interviewer must also be on the alert for indications 
of early sibling rivalry. Unfortunately some parents do 
tend, perhaps unwittingly, to favor one child over another. 
And they may even hold up this one child as an example to 
the rest. In such situations, one or more of the children may 
feel that he is rejected — that he actually does not have the love 
of his parents. As indicated above, this can lead to serious 
emotional problems. Some parents, though perhaps well- 
meaning, lend to set up sibling rivalry by constantly asking a 
child why he cannot get as good grades in school as his older 
brother. Now it may very well be that the younger child 

Ititerpreting Early Home Background 207 

does not have die mental equipment possessed by Uie older 
boy. In tins case, try as he may, he never finds it possible 
to match the latter*s academic achievement. Since he is 
constantly being made aware of iliis painful situation by his 
parents, he sometimes develops deep-seated feelings of in- 
fenority that remain svitl) bim throughout life. 

Just as he often gets significant self-evaluation by asking a 
candidate to compare his own personality with that of his 
parents, so can the interview'er get similar data by asking the 
candidate to compare his personality svith that of his brolhen. 
He may say, “Were you and your brotlier pretty mucli alike 
in personality at the time you svere growing up or not so much 
so?” To such a question the response may be quite reveal- 
ing. “Oh, no! He was the bright one in the family. He al- 
ways did a Jot of reading, ahvays got top gndcs in school, and 
took a very conscientious attitude toward other things.” By 
implication, the candidate is saying that he has some aware- 
ness of his own mental limitations. He is also implying that 
he himself is perhaps not too sdiolarly and, in addition, may 
not be particularly conscientious. At die very least the in- 
terviewer is supplied with clues dial he certainly will ivant to 
follow up during subsequent areas of the discussion. 

(Parental guidance) 

If this information does not develop spontaneously, the 
interviewer may use such an open-end question as, “In think- 
ing back about your early cfiildhood, would you say that you 
Were raised fairly strictly or perhaps not quite so much so?” 
In responding to such a question, the individual usually talks 
primarily about the degree of parental guidance and disci- 
pline he received. He may indicate, for example, that he 
was expected to be in at a given time every evening through- 
out the adolescent period. And he may talk at some length 

2Qg Interpretation 

about Oie regularity o£ his weekly attendance at church and 
Sunday school. I£ the discussion does not appear to be mean- 
ingful. the interviewer may probe a bit more deeply by say- 
ing, "Who was the real disciplinarian in your home; svas it 
your father or mother?” A question of this kind may stimu- 
late some highly significant information. Among possible 
responses. Use candidate might say. “My father svas the one 
who made us toe the mark. He was a very strict man and had 
quite a temper. In fact, I guess tve were all a little afraid of 
him. Mother was more sympathetic and used to try to in- 
tercede for us, but Dad usually had his way. Actually, we 
were raised very strictly — muclt more so than most of the kids 
in the neighborhood.” 

\Vhen discipline in the home is unduly strict, the child's 
emotional development may be considerably Tciarded. In 
such a home, parents tend to be overprotective. In such a 
rigid and sheltered environment, too many o£ the child’s 
decisions are made for him. He is told when he can come 
and go, where he shall go to school, and in some cases what 
major course of study he must pursue. Because he has so 
little chance to try his own wings in an environment such as 
Uiis, the child often becomes insecure, finding little oppor- 
tunity to develop resourcefulness, and little opportunity 
to leam by his own mistakes. Consequendy, he may fail to 
develop a normal degree of maturity. 

The boy who remains “tied to his mother’s apron strings” 
until he leaves home to go to college usually faces a similarly 
difficult adjustment problem. He is the type of person who 
gets homesick and rvho has difficulty establishing successful 
relationships with the other students. And because he is 
unable to make an appropriate emotional adjustment, he 
finds it difficult to focus his energies on his studies. Many a 
bright boy has Bunked out of college in his freshman year 
because he svas not emotionally prepared for the experience. 

InterpTCting Early Home Dackgrovnd 209 

Other boys held under tight iviaps at home Ukc undue 
adrantage of their newly found freedom in college. Pre* 
sented with an opportunity to do whit they please for the 
first time in their lives, many time» they try to taste too many 
new experiences at once. TTius, they often do more drinking 
than tliey should, dex’oie too much time to social parties, and 
consequently neglect their studies. Emotionally unprepared 
for Uic college experience, boys like this often fall to make 
the grade. Unfortunately, iliey frequently have to experi- 
ence such a rude awakening as flunking out of school before 
they settle dowm and find themselves. 

A strict upbringing may also lesult in icbellion. Boys with 
strong minds of tlieir otvn often rebel against undue restraint. 
As soon as such boys get old enough, they openly challenge 
the discipline of their parents and begin making too many of 
tlieir own decisions. As a consequence, they sometimes be> 
come extremely independent and subsequently have difficulty 
submitting to auUiority of any kind»wheiher it be the 
authority of the teacher in sdiool, the superior officer in the 
military service, or the supervisor on a job. 

Obviously, insuflldent prental discipline is just as harm- 
ful to a boy’s development as too much direction. Thu. 
incidentally, occurs more frequently in homes where the male 
parent spends a great deal of time away, do'Olcs himself al- 
most cxcliuively to his business, or is not in the family picture 
at all. At any rate, wlien parental control becomes tax, the 
adolescent has a strong temptation to take advantage of the 
situation. At the very least, he may become loo self-assured 
as a result of having a dtance to make too many of hu own 
decisions and may have subsequent difficulty in relating to 
authority. Or, he may dioose the most exdring and daring 
of his associates for his steady companion, begin running in 
gangs, and eventually get into trouble. 

Normal development of the individual seems most likely 


Interpreting Early Home Background 
cational expenses but continue to accept financial help even 
after they have graduated from college and occasionally after 
they have married. Needless to say, individuals of this type 
find it difficult to develop sound work habits and a mature 
outlook. It has often been noted, too. that individuals from 
wealthy families who have an independent income all their 
lives often feel less need to give their complete attention and 
energy to the jobs they undertake. 


Having discussed father's occupation, temperament of par- 
ents, number of brothers and sisten, and strictness of upbring- 
ing, the interviewer is now in a position mentally to summarize 
his conclusions by considering the over-all effect of the early 
home influences. As a means of clarifying his findings in 
this area, he solicits the candidate's assistance by such a ques- 
tion as, “In thinking tlirough your early home experiences, 
what effect do you tliink tliese influences may have had on 
your early growth and development?” The applicant’s 
reply may not only supply information to substantiate some 
of the clues that have already occurred to the interviewer but 
may also help the individual himself to acquire a little more 
insight. Perhaps for the fim time in his life, he has system- 
atically reviewed some of the imporunl things that happened 
to him as a youngster. In attempting to summarize the ef- 
fects of tliese influences, he may develop a better understand- 
ing of himself in terms of how he happened to develop into 
the person he is today. And once an individual has acquired 
better self-insight and undeistandingi he has taken a positive 
step in the direction of further growth and development. 

Some people — particularly those with poor powers of anal- 
ysis — find it difficult to summarize die effects of their early 
home influences. The interviewer tlicn attempts to stimu- 
late the dbcussion by pointing out some of the positive factors 

2J2 Interpretation 

he ha5 observed. If he has noted, for example, that the man 
was brought up in such a way tliat he learned the di0erence 
hctsveen right and svrong, attended Sunday school and church 
fairly regularly, and acquired tcspect for his elden, he could 
say, “Well, you seem to have developed very fine moral and 
ethical standards as a child. What other effects do you tliinh 
the early influences may have had on your development? 
Or. if he has observed that the person H’orked unusually hard 
and spent long hours on his early jobs, he could say, “Cer- 
tainly, you seem to have developed good work habits during 
the early yean.’* 

After helping the individual to interpret the positive ef- 
fects of the early influences, the interviewer may then probe 
lor possible negative information. Jf the individual seems 
to have been overprotected by a dominant mother, for ex- 
ample, the interviewer might say, ”35o you think that you 
matured as rapidly as the average boy during the early years 
or perhaps a little less so?" In the event the man admits that 
he matured less rapidly, the intervlesver may ask him what 
particular effects he thinks this may have had on his early 
development. The man might conceivably reply, "Oh, I 
suppose that was one reason why I was always so shy and 
bashful in school. In fact, I guess 1 really never quite elim- 
inated those tendencies. Even today, I find it difficult to 
talk to strangers and get nervous when 1 am called upon to 
present an idea to a group of my superiors.” 

Having already become atvare of many of the applicant’s 
characteristics by the time be has reached the end of the early- 
home-background discussion, the interviewer may probe 
specifically for the underlying reasons for such behavioral 
development. If, for example, he has already concluded that 
the individual is quite introverted, he might say at this point, 
“Is it possible that you spent a good bit of time by yourself 
as a youngster?" To this the man might conceivably reply. 


Inlerpreting Early Home Baekground 

"Yes I did. There were no other boys of my age in the im- 
mediate neighborhood, 50 I consequently spent a lot of time 
reading or working alone m the basement with my radio 
equipment. Tliat's how I became a ham radio operator, you 

In cases svJiere tlje interviewer feels that Jje iaas been able 
to develop unusually good rapport with die candidate, be 
may feel free to discuss more delicate topics, such as any pos- 
sible cilccts of having been raised in a broken-home situation. 
In other cases, the interviewer may have developed many 
clues pointing to immaturity but may be unable to identify 
any early home influences that might have caused this. In 
searching for a key to die situau'on. he might ask the in- 
dividual if he remembers how old he was when he went 
through puberty. It is well known, of coune, that boys who 
do not undergo these physical changes until their middle or 
late teens are almost certain to mature less rapidly. Most 
of them eventually catdt up to their chronological age group 
in this respect, but it occasionally takes them quite a number 
of years to do so. 

Remember, time spent disaissing the effects of the early 
home influences may prove very fruitful. Among other 
things, this discussion may throw considerable light on the 
individual's basic motivation. If the interviewer can get a 
true picture of these influences — and this is not always pos- 
sible — he may learn a great deal about the individual's drives. 
And. as indicated previously, he may be able to obtain a much 
better undemanding of the personality make-up of the can- 
didate. No matter how skilled die interviewer, however, 
there will alwaj-s be cases where he is unable to obtain mudi 
significant information from the discussion of die person’s 
early home background. In such instances, he simply relies 
upon other interview areas to supply him with the data he 
needs to get a dear picture of the individual's over-all qualifi- 

214 InterpTetation 

cations. In our search for relevant infonnation, we cover as 
many areas as possible in the time allowed. If one area 
proves relatively unproductive, we try all the harder to dig 
out the required infonnation in other areas. Actually, the 
interviewer should not feel discouraged if he is unable to 
obtain significant information in every case from the dis- 
cussion of the individual's early home background. ^Ve 
might point out here that, even in tlie case of very young 
cliildren, studies have revealed that the subjects possessed 
traits that were not readily explainable in terms of environ- 
mental influences. 

Interpretation of early-home-hackground data should be 
tempered by the knowledge that most people are capable of 
considerable growth and development. The human organ- 
ism, being as flexible as it is, can uke a great deal. Hence, 
there are those who are capable of overcoming serious dis- 
advantages suffered during ^ild/iood. Consequently the in- 
terviewer should be careful not to make inferences of a sweep- 
ing nature based on hb interpretation of the candidate's early 


Interpreting Present 
Social Adjustment 

Having talked with the applicant about hb childhood and 
adolescent experiences, the interviewer brings him up to the 
present with a discussion oC his current social situation. As 
in the case of all the other interview areas, this discussion 
can also provide man}' clues to (he indtVIduars emotional 
adjustment, motivation, personality traits, and abilities. In 
particular, the resulting infomiation often brings into focus 
sucli factors as sociability, intellectual breadth, and marital 
adjustment. Obviously, disaission in this area is usually less 
signiiicant in the case of young men just out of college than 
with penons somewhat older. In talking with the younger 
man about his extracurricular activities in college, the in' 
terviewer will already have learned a great deal about the 
latter's social adjustment. 

In the discussion of social activities, the interviewer lias an 
excellent opportunity to dceerra/ne (lie amount of persons! 
growth Uiat has taken place suux the early years. Docs the 


2lg Interpretation 

candidate still show evidences o£ the shortcomings he devel- 
oped earlier in life? Or docs he seem to have grotvn up emo- 
tionally to the point where he has largely overcome tlie effects 
of any early disadvantages? 


The intervie%ver leads the applicant into this area by means 
of a simple question concerning present interests ana hobbies, 
rather than by using the more comprehensive approach. 
Most people Find it easy to talk about their off-the-job activi- 
ties and hence have no difficulty initiating the flow of con- 
versation. A comprehensive introductory question here, 
moreover, might alert the individual unduly to some of the 
more delicate areas the interviewer wbhes to explore. It is 
therefore more adroit to start with a discussion of present 
interests and subsequently use tactfully svorded follow-up 
questions to get information concerning the remaining items 
that are listed under present soda! adjustment on the Inter- 
view Guide. 

Determining the adequacy of the candidate’s marital ad- 
justment represents one of the interviewer’s main tasks in 
this area. But he obviously cannot use such a direct ap- 
proach as, "How do you and your wife get along?” Com- 
pletely alerted to the interviewer’s purpose by such a ques- 
tion. the individual would normally give the most sociably 
acceptable answer, even though that answer might not be 
entirely true. The interviewer must therefore use the in- 
direct approach here. He talks first about the man’s own 
interests and then asks about the interests of his wife. In 
Calking about his wife’s interests, the man is much more 
likely to provide clues to the marital adjustment than would 
have been the case if the direct approach had been used. 
After having satisfied himself with respect to the marital 

Interpreting Pretent Social Adjustment 217 

situation, tlic interviewer then moves clironologically to a 
discussion of finances and health. 


Since interests often provide many clues to behavior, they 
should be discussed in considerable detail, particularly svith 
respect to the kind of satisfaction die individual derives from 
them. In every case, then, be sure to include such possible 
activities as sports, participation in community affairs, read- 
ing, and interest in the arts. 

Sports. The individual who continues to participate in 
such sports as golf, tennis, handball, and sof/baJl is frequently 
one who tries to keep in good shape physically. This ob- 
viously represents an asset, since a healthy person may have 
/eiver absences from work and may be able to devote more 
energy to the job. Participiiion in sports, as in the case of 
many other types of interests, may provide strong clues to 
encfgy ievef. Witen a person is able to carry out a consider- 
able amount of activity in the evening after having put in a 
full day on tlicjob, his energy level may be appreciably above 

Participation in Community Affairs. Note whether die 
applicant seems to prefer die more solitary pursuits such as 
hiking, dicss, reading, and stamp collecting, or whether he 
is more grouporiented. The person who spends a great 
deal of time by himself or widi one or two companions may 
tend toward introversion and may lack facility in establishing 
easy relationships with othcis. The person who devotes a 
considerable amount of liis time to group activities in the 
community, on the other hand, may be more outgoing and 
extroverted. He also may be the lyjw of person who takes 
his community responsibilitita seriously, thus reflecting at- 
tributes of the solid citizen. Give special attention also to 
any indications of Icadcnhip in community affairs. In 

218 Inierpretallon 

general, one ■^vho invites social exposure in connection with 
community activities acquires additional skills in getting 
along wiili otliers. 

At the same time, the interviewer should be on the alert 
for the person with a strong social drive, \\^len a man de- 
votes himself almost exclusively to such activiti« as fund 
drives, hospital tvork, YMCA work, and helping out with 
the hoy scouts, he may be sincerely motivated by a strong 
desire to help other people. If this turns out to be the case, 
the interviewer will be alerted to the possibility that the man 
may possess some of the assets and shortcomings frequently 
found in persons fitting the description of the social-drive 
trail constellation. He svould then probe specifically for die 
possible existence of these characteristics in the next area of 

Reading. This subject may be introduced by such an 
open-end question as. “What about reading? Do you have 
any opportunity at all to read or do your other activities leave 
little time for this?” In evaluating reading habits, look for 
indications of intellectual depth and breadth. Does the 
individual confine his reading to westerns and mystery stories? 
Or docs he range far afield, reading practically everything and 
anything he can get his hands on? Specifically, too, does 
he shotv any evidence of trying to keep abreast of develop- 
ments in his field? Finally, do the individual’s reading 
habits reflect unusual intellectual curiosity? The latter may 
represent au important clue, since persons tvith a high degree 
of intellectual curiosity are more likely to be creative in 
their thinking. 

interest in the Arts. Preference for good music, painting, 
ballet, and the theater may reflect breadth as well as a good 
cultural background. In discussing artistic interests, how- 
ever, the interviewer should try to learn whether such in- 
terests are superficial or deep-seated. Does the man with 

/ntCT/ffflinj Present Social Adjustment 219 

mmical intcmw collcci rcconb and, if so, wlMt kind of rtc* 
ords? ti he liucrciictl in opcntic and s)inpIionic music or 
do hU tastes run losv'ard popular and semiclassical works? 

Although, as indicated in the previous cliapier, individuals 
with strong artistic iniciesii frequently possess such asseu as 
gooil intcltigcnce, breadth and penpeciivc, and social sen- 
sitis'ity, tliey may also have a tendency to he os'erly sensitive, 
soft, moody, and a hit tmpracticai. ^V’hen (he interviewer 
notes iJujt the randiibie’a interesu are strongly artistic to 
the exclusion of practically everything else, he svil! resolve 
to prolw s{)ecificaUy in the next intervicsv area of seU-cvalua- 
tion for the |it>ssli>lc existence of shortcomings associated 
with the artistic trait comtcllaiion. Of course, he svili be 
equally imerested in dctetminiing whether the man also pos- 
sesses the assets nomutly associated widi Um constellation. 


Tltls information svill l»e available from ilte application 
blank and. if the candiebte is married, the Interviewer will 
introduce the subject of his wife's interests immediately after 
the discussion of tlie candidate's interest pattern. In the case 
of a single man, he nuy investigate any plans for marriage 
by such a question as. "In connection with your social activi- 
ties, have you yet found someone with whom you plan to 
settle down, or is tins decision being deferred?" 

As a general rule, married j>eople — partiadarly those with 
dependents — arc often more jolM)riented than single indi- 
viduals. AViih the knowledge that others are dependent upon 
them, they frequently work harder and are more anKtous to 
progress, T«x>, ihej-arc likely lobe better adjusted emotion- 

A single man in his late twenties who is still living at home 
wiU> hb p.ircnts may l>e encountering some dinicuU adjust- 
ment problem. Tlterc is the possibility, of course, that he 

220 Interpretation 

may not yet have been able to nrake an appropriate adjust- 
ment to tlie opposite sex. Or he may be so dependent and 
lacking in initiative that he is reluctant to leave the security 
of his family and strike out on his own. In probing for the 
underlying reasons in a case like this, the interviewer may 
use such a question as, *'Dq you enjoy living with your 
family or have you ever thought that you might like to have 
an apartment of your own?” In any case, it is important to 
get a clear picture of present living arrangements — ^svhether 
the person is Jiving alone, whet Jjer he may he separated from 
his wife, or whether he b living with parents or relatives. 
Try to find out also the degree of responsibility that these 
living arrangements involve. Does the person help to sup- 
port his parents? In the case of separation, are the children 
living with him or with his wife? Is he considered the head 
of the family even though unmarried? 

When the intervietver proceeds immediately to a discus- 
sion of the wife's interests, after getting the complete story 
on the husband's o5-the-job activities, the applicant normally 
talks very freely about his wife. Once on this topic, more- 
over, he seldom confines his discussion to her interests alone. 
In fact, his discourse frequently provides a considerable 
amount of spontaneous information concerning the marital 
relationship. The man may say, tor example, "Oh, her in- 
terests are primarily concerned with her home and children. 
Actually, she is a wonderful mother and helpmate. With- 
out her support over the years, I certainly would not be where 
I am today.” Comments such as these — provided they can 
be taken at face value— obviously reflect an excellent marital 
adjustment. And, if a man is happy at home, he is more 
likely to be able to give his full energies to his job. 

With the intent of stimulating further discussion about the 

Interpreting Present Social Adissstment 221 

wife antJ pcrlia|a to set the stage for a little $cIf■c^•all^ation as 
well, the interviewer may say, **Arc you and your wife quite 
alike in personality or perha|» somewhat different?” The 
response may not only pros-Ule further clues to the marital 
adjustment but may also add to the accumulated knowledge 
of the applicant's lieliavior. He may say, for example, "Ac- 
tually, we are not at all alike as far as personality is con- 
cerned. She has a great deal more patience, is a wonderful 
manager of family funds, and has an excellent seme of organ!- 
mtion " Hy implication, the individual may be saying Uiat 
he is somewhat deficient in these traits. In many cases, of 
eoime. the applicant's implied admissions here may provide 
evidence tiiat tends to support chics to such shortcomings 
picked up during the discussion of the s»T)rk history, educa- 
tion, and early home background. If, on the oUier Iiand, 
the applinnt'i response comet as some surprise to the inter* 
vieiver, fie svill vant to ins'csrigate the situation further by 
bringing up these traits as possible shortcomings under the 
disctisslon of self-evaluation. 

\VTien the approadi to tnaritai adjustment is handled 
adroitly and indirectly, the applicant frequently disaisscs his 
marital problems quite candidly. He may indicate, for ex- 
ample, that his wife comes from a svcaltliy family and has 
never learned hosv to handle money. Or he may make re- 
nurks svliich by implication are critical of the way his wife 
handles the children. Rarely of course will an individual 
disam an imijcnding separation. But the interviewer may 
neserthelcss be able to determine that all is not well in the 
home situation. Certainly, he has a better diance of getting 
such information if he relic* upon indirection than if he uses 
tfie direct approach. 

Wlierc the candidate has had marital diffiailties that ended 
in divorce, tlic interviewer may be able to get some additional 
behavioral clues by encouraging the individual to talk in 

222 Interprelation 

more detail about the situation. Obviously, he would not 
probe further into this delicate matter unless he felt that he 
had unusually good rapport with the individual. In the lat- 
ter case, he might say, “In looking back upon tiiis situation, 
do you tliink it was pretty much your wife’s fault or do you 
feel that you were both equally to blame?” An attempt to 
place all tlie blame upon the wife may provide a clue to im- 
maturity, while a willingness to assume equal responsibility 
Cor the marital feilurc may mean that the person has de- 
veloped a considerable amount of maturity since the divorce 
took place. In other words, he may have been able to take 
stock of himself and to face up to some of his own short- 

When employment on a neiv job would mean moving from 
one location to another, die interviewer should ask about the 
wife’s possible reaction to such a step. Studies of employee 
turnover, by (he way, have indicated that a relatively large 
percentage of men who leave their jobs do so because their 
wives are unhappy with the community. Hence, it is well 
to ask, “How do you think your wife would feel about mov- 
ing to this community?” The resporuc, incidentally, may not 
only reveal her attitude torvard relixation but may also give a 
clue as to who makes ihe decisions in the family. It may 
become apparent from the individual's remarks, for example, 
that most of the major family decisions are left up to the 
wife. In that case, the interviewer may get additional clues 
to the candidate's lack of aggressiveness and self-confidence. 
Or, the man may say, “I never discuss decisions involving my 
work with my wife; it is her job to keep the home and mine 
to support the family.” A response of this kind may rabe 
some question ns to bo^v goad the marital relationship really 
is. Furthermore, it may suggest clues to over-aggressiveness 

Interpreting Present Social Adjustment 223 

and inflexibility. TJje ideal situation exists, of course, ?vben 
tlie man and his wife consider major problems together, talk 
tiicsc problems out on an objective basis, and arrive at joint 

Bccatjse of the importance of the wife's attitude, many com- 
panies suggest iliat the prospective employee defer his deci- 
sion until his wife has had an opportunity to visit the com- 
munity and iielp him investigate such factors as housing, 
scitools, and the community In general. 


As the man talks about his family, particular attention 
should be paid to tlie remarks he makes about his clrildrcn. 
Does he scent to be particularly close to bis children? Docs 
he seem to spend as mudi time as possible with them? Has 
he made any plans for financing t/icir college education? An- 
swers to questions sudi as these tell a great deal about the 
penon's sense of rcsporutbility. family loyalty, stability, and 
long-range planning. Family loplty of course represents an 
important aspect of character. And a loyal family man is 
likely to prove a loyal employee. 

(Housing, insurance, etc) 

Although the application blank may provide some informa- 
lion of a financial nature, it is nevertheless advisable to dis- 
cuss this important matter svith a prospective employee. 
Since the subject of finances is a highly personal one, the in- 
terviewer should use a tactfully worded question such as, 
"Has there been any opportunity to acquire a little fuiandal 
reserve, or has this been rather difficult in the light of yoar 
family responsibilities?" If good rapport has been estab- 
lished. the individual will often talk quite freely about his 
finandal situation, revealing sudi factors as the equity he has 

224 Interpretation 

in his house, the insurance he carries on himself and his fam- 
ily, and the manner in which he has invested his surplus 
funds. Information of this sort often provides further clues 
to his sense of responsibility, maturity, self-discipline, busi- 
ness sense, and long-range planning. 

It is particularly important to tty to determine whether or 
not tile man usually lives within his income. If he seems to 
be careless about money matters and to have a tendency to 
overextend himself financially by purchasing expensive au- 
tomobiles and major appliances on credit, he may be the kind 
of a person who is not particularly practical, conscientious, 
or mature. A person who incurs sizable debts — for reasons 
other than financing his home and medical expenses — should 
be looked upon with considerable reservation. 

Obviously, younger men with growing families cannot be 
expected to have accumulated much in the way of a financial 
reserve. But older men who have made a good salary over 
a considerable number of years should normally have some- 
thing to show for this in the form of savings, investments, or 
a sizable equity in their home. When a person has done hts 
best to provide for his family's security in the event of his 
death, this again reflects stability, responsibility, and family 

(Physical vigor and stamina) 

Even though most companies today require a medical ex- 
amination before placing a new man on the payroll, the in- 
terviewer should nevertheless discuss Uie applicant’s health 
condition, as a function of his possible effectiveness on the 
job. A quetion such as, "What about health? Have you 
had a physical check up lately?" should start the conversa- 
tional ball rolling on this topic. 

High energy level, vigor, and stamina obviously represent 

Interpreting Present Social Adjustment 225 

extremely important assets. In fact, few men attain gen- 
uinely higli vocational achievement unless they possess these 
important qualities in some abundance. Given a reason- 
able degree of intellect, educational training, and personal- 
ity effectiveness, the degree of energy and stamina a man pos- 
sesses may account in large part for his ability to win promo- 
tion over his associates. 

By the time the interviewer has reached this stage of the 
discussion, he will of course have acquired numerous clues 
to the individual's energy level and stamina. For example, 
the man may have been able to work long hours over a pro- 
tracted period of time without showing any serious effects. 
Or he may have secured hb college education by going to 
night school over a period of she or seven years while carrying 
on a full-time job during the day. Further clues to health 
sometimes come as a result of asking a man how many days 
he loses because of sickness during a typical year. In re- 
sponse, he may indicate that he has lost only two or three 
days altogether over the past six or seven years. This of 
course not only provides a clue to his health but also reflects 
his sense of responsibility, dependability, and reliabtHty, 
On the other hand, if the interviewer has some question 
concerning the individual’s energy level, he may ask him spe- 
cifically about thb by saying, would you rate yourself 

as far as energy is concerned — average, somewhat above aver- 
age, or perhaps a little less than average?” Most younger 
men like to think tliay has'e an above-average energy level. 
Hence, if they admit that they have no more Uian an average 
degree of Uib important quality, they may have even less than 
that amount. Other clues to lack of energy may be reflected 
in the applicant's tendency to take the easy ivay out. to pro- 
crastinate, to be unwilling to make present sacrifices for fu- 
ture gains, and by a phlegmatic general manner. 

In discussing the candidate's health, note particularly any 

22G Interpretation 

prolonscd sicknesses or major opentions. Of course, many 
persons completely overcome ilie effects of such illnesses, but 
in some cases tJic person’s energy level is seriously impaired. 
When prolonged illnesses ocair during childhood and ado- 
lescence, moreover, it is well to find out svhciher (his caused 
the penon to miss several grades in school. When a child 
Dills behind in school, he may find upon his return to class 
Uiat he is the oldest one in the group. Unfortunately, other 
children are not reluctant to bring this continually to his at- 
tention, Tcterring to liim as a ‘'dumbbell” and the Hke. As 
a result, the person may develop feelings of inferiority Uiat 
may persist for years. 

A man’s reaction to an obvious physical disability should 
be evaluated very carefully. If he seems reluctant to discuss 
his handiap or appears to be ovenensitive or to indulge in 
self-pity, tlie chances are that he has not been able to adjust 
to tlie situation adequately. Sudt a person may be expected 
to find it difTicuU to establish good relationships with cotvork* 
ers. On the otlier hand, if the individual is able to talk 
about his handicap openly and objectively, there is an equally 
good cliance that he has adriev'ed very good adjustment in- 
deed. Moreover, a person who succeeds in making an ap- 
propriate adjustment to a physical handicap may be able in 
large part to compensate for the disability by developing a 
particularly eSective personality or by being unusually faith- 
ful on the job. Perhaps because it is not easy for such a 
person to get a new job, he is often more appreciative of the 
opportunity to work. Accordingly, he usually shorvs up on 
the job every day and works to the best of his ability. 

If the applicant appears to be nervous and high-strung, it 
may be well to ask is he ever has any problems svith sleeping 
or digestion. It is well known, of course, that insomnia, 
many types of ulcer conditions, and allergies frequently stem 
from mental worry. Thus, if a person does suffer from any 

Interpreting Present Social Adjustment 227 

of these ailments, there is at least the possibility that they 
may be of psychosomatic origin. The man who takes things 
too seriously and worries excessively is usually one svho is 
not particularly svell-adjusted emotionally. He may be able 
to function successfully at a given vocational level but, when 
his responsibilities are increased and he is placed in a situa- 
tion involving greater presure, he may not be able to stand 
Up under the added load. 

Interviewers obviously should make no attempt to diagnose 
medical problems but, tvhen they do develop relevant health 
information, they should pass this along to the company 
doctor for his interpretation. 

Concluding the Interview 

With the completion of the discussion of the applicant’s 
present social adjustment, the }ntervie»ver u'il! have accumu* 
iated the infonnation he needs to make his decision con* 
ceming the candidate’s over-all quallficaiions. If he has 
been interpreting the various dues to abilities, penonality, 
and motivation as they have occurred tJiroughout the dis- 
cussion — as indeed he should have been doing — he will have 
formed his over-ali judgment of the candidate at this point. 
Hence, be is ready to conclude the inten’iew. If he is a 
relatively inexperienced, untrained interviewer, he can do 
this directly tn accordance with suggestions found later in 
this chapter. Or, if he is highly skilled and well-trained, 
he may employ the scU-evaluation technique prior to termi- 
nating the discussion. 

This chapter includes a discussion of the self-evaluation 
technique together with suggestions for terminating the 
interview — suggestions pertaining both to applicants who are 
to be rejected as well as to those considered qualified. 


Concluding the Interview 



As Indicated above, this technique should not be attempted 
by the inexperienced, unfrotned interviewer. The tech- 
nique demands Uie utmost in tenns of adroitness on the 
part of the interviewer. And it can be used successfully only 
when the interviewer has already developed a rather clear-cut 
mental picture of the candidate’s assets and shortcomings. 

In the hands of a skilled person, the self-evaluation tech- 
nique provides tivo major advantages. It permits the inter- 
viewer to obtain additional confirming evidence of assets 
and shortcomings ti«.ic have come to light in the previous 
discussion, and equally important, it enables the candidate 
to acquire greater self-insiglit. It is entirely conceivable that 
the latter may never have given any comprehensive, system- 
atic thought to his ovm strengths and weaknesses. A dis- 
cussion of this kind with him then often clarifies hts think- 
ing about those traits and abilities he already possesses in 
some abundance as well as the diaracieristics iljat need some 
improvement, in terms of his further development. 

Structuring the Discussion of Self-evaluation, ^fuch of 
the success of this technique depends upon the wording of 
the comprehensive introductory question. The interviewer 
should ask the individual to summarize his qualifications. 
He should then point out that everyone possesses a number 
of important assets and, on tlic other hand, since no one 
is perfect, everyone also has some areas in which he might 
with advantage improve himself. 

The individual should first be asked to discuss ivhat he 
thinks of as his principal assets. Most individuals find it 
ratlier easy to discuss this pleasant subject. Moreover, they 
will subsequently find it much easier and will be much more 
willing to discuss their shortcomings if they are certain that 
the interviesver has a full appreciation of their strengths. 

230 Interpretathn 

Helping the Candidate Discuss His Assets. In conclud- 
ing tlie comprehensive introductory question, the inter- 
viewer should ask the individual to start with a discussion 
o! his assets, pointing out that he should do this objectively 
without any feeling that he » bragging. Immediately after 
each asset has been presented, moreover, the interviewer 
should lubricate the situation by giving the candidate a 
verbal pat on the back. If the individual indicates that he 
is a hard worker, for example, and if the interviewer has al- 
ready seen abundant evidence of this trait, he might say, 
"I’m sure you are a very hard ivorkcr, and that’s a wonder- 
ful asset to havel” On the other hand, if the interviewer 
has a question about the individual's motivation, he will 
simply nod his head, ask the man to indicate some of his 
other assets, and resolve to reintroduce the subject of hard 
work later on when calking about the individual’s short- 

Some candidates may hnd it diflicuh to list their real 
assets. In this case, Che interviewer should stimulate the 
discussion by pointing out one or two strengths he has al- 
ready observed. Thus, he might say, "'Well, I have observed 
that you seem to get along unusually well with people, and 
this of coune is a tremendous asset in any job situation." 
After “priming the pump" svith one or two such observa- 
tions, the interviesver should pass the conversational ball 
back to the candidate, asking him to tell about some of his 
other strong points. 

The interviewer should draw out a list of at least eight 
or ten assets and should spend at least five minutes in so 
doing. Otherwise, the applicant may be quite reluctant sub- 
sequently to discuss his shortcomings. Remember, a man 
usually feels confident about discussing his shortcomings 
only if he feels that the interviewer has a full appreciation of 
all his major assets. 

Concluding the Intervieu) 231 

It is true of course that the applicant's own listing of liis 
assets may have to be taken with a grain of salt, particularly 
if he has shown any previous tendency to overplay his hand 
or to withhold important information. Remember, too, 
that the man is trying to get a job and is tliereforc anxious 
to sell himself. 

Helping the Applicant Disoiss His Shortcomings. After 
the individual has had a full opportunity to discuss his 
strengths, the interviewer should reintroduce the subject 
of shortcomings, pointing out tliai everyone possesses cer- 
tain traits that could sund a little improvement. He should 
tlien try to ‘‘seir’ the applicant by indicating tliat, if the 
individual can be helped to recognize some of the arras in 
which he is a little less strong, he can consciously work on 
tliose areas and develop himself faster than might otherwise 
be the case. 

In discussing the applicant’s developmental needs, al- 
ways use tlie word "shortcomings” rather than “weaknesses,” 
"faults,” or "liabilities." The latter three words carry the 
connotation that the trait may be so serious that the man 
can do very little about it. The word "shortcomings,” on 
the other hand, implies that the trait is just a little short of 
what it might desirably be and that hence the man may be 
able to improve upon it or el/minate it. In talking wUh 
a man about his shortcomings, moreover, refer frequently 
to the phrase “ivays in svhich you can improve yourself.” 
Thus, instead of saying. "VVhat are some oUicr shortcomings?” 
it is better to say, •■^Vhat arc some other ways in which you 
might improve yourself?” 

Immediately after eacli shortcoming has been presented, 
the interviewer sliould "play it down,” in much the same 
svay that he plays dosvn any other unfavorable information 
throughout the interview. When tlie individual admits, 
for example, that he needs to develop more self-confulcnce. 

2J2 Interpretation 

the interviewer might say, **WcM, confidence is a trait that 
a lot ot people need to develop further. Tm sure you can 
improve youneU in this respect over the next few years.” 
When a man admits a particularly serious shortcoming, such 
as laziness, the interviewer should play this down by com- 
plimenting the individual for having recognized it and for 
facing up to it. Tlius, he may say, "You deserve aedit for 
being able to xccogniie this. And, because you have recog- 
nized it, you probably have already taken certain steps to- 
ward eliminating it.’* 

tVhen the applicant finds it difitcult or seems reluctant to 
present any of his shortcomings, U>e interviewer may slirau- 
lale the discussion by the use of double-edged questions. If 
the interviewer has already recognized that the man is quite 
lacking in seU-discipUnc, for example, he may say, "What 
about self-discipline? Do you think you have as much of 
tins as you would like to have, or does this represent an area 
in svhich you could improve to some extent?” Such a ques- 
tion makes it easy for a person to admit his shortcomings. 
Again, if the interviewer has noticed a general tendency’ to 
be lazy, he might say, ‘‘^Vhat about svork habits? Do you 
think that you usually work as hard as you should, or is this 
something that you could improve a little bit?” 

For the most part, indicated shortcomings can be taken 
pretty mucli at face value. Seldom will a man draw atten- 
tion to shortcomings that do not really exist. At the same 
time, there is die occasional individual— one who is ex- 
ceedingly insecure and tends to underestimate his abilities— 
itfho will bring up something as a shortcoming that is not a 

The interviewer’s role in the self-evaluation discussion 
is a pivotal one. If he tries to stimulate the discussion by 
introducing assets or shortcomings dial are not part of the 
applicant’s make-up, the latter quiddy loses respect for him. 

Concluding the Interview 233 

On the other hand, if tlie interviewer is able to introduce 
traits that go to the very heart of the individual's penonality 
and motivational pattern, the latter gains appreciable respect 
for him. 

The Value of the Self-evaluation Technique. As noted 
above, this tecliniquc can be of considerable value to both 
the applicant and the interviewer. The applicant gains by 
getting a clearer picture of his streogtlis and developmental 
needs, thus acquiring greater insighL And the interviewer 
gains because he is frequently able to get more documentary 
evidence concerning the candidate’s overall qualifications. 

When the interviewer is able to get the applicant to agree 
with him on the presence or absence of certain traits, this 
obviously provides strong support for the original diagnosb. 
When, for example, he has seen several clues to insecurity 
throughout the interview, he waits expectantly for some in* 
dication of thb in the candidate’s self-evaluation. If lack 
of seIf<onBdence is spontaneously admitted, or admitted 
as a result of probing with a double-edged qtiesiion, the in- 
terviewer has of coune developed further confirmation of 
lus original hypothesis. And since the man himself is aware 
of this developmental need, he may be able to do something 
about improving himself in thb respect. 

Occasionally the applicant will mention a trait that may 
not iiavc consciously crystallired in the intervietver's mind 
but for which he sees abundant evidence as soon as the man 
verbalizes it. In other words, he may have been only vaguely 
aware of the trait but, when the applicant mentions it spe- 
cifically, he can immediately think of a number of clues that 
actually pointed in that direction. If the applicant had 
not mentioned thb trait, the intendewer might not have 
factored it into his over-all decbioiu 

AVhen the candidate mentions an asset or shortcoming for 
whicli the interviewer has seen no support, it b well to ask 

234 Interpretaiion 

the individual to elaborate. His subsequent remarks may 
convince the interviewer that Uic man actually does pos- 
sess the trait in question, thus bringing to light valuable in- 
formation that might othersvisc have been missed. To 
illustrate this point, let us assume that the individual men- 
tions creative ability as an asset. If the interviesver has 
seen little or no evidence of imagination, he might say, ‘‘What 
are some of the things you have done in the past that helped 
you reach this conclusion?” In the ensuing discussion, the 
man may point to a series of patents and technical publica- 
tions that had not previously come up in the conversation. 
After getting tliis additional information, the interviewer 
may he quite convinced that the individual really is creative. 
In this instance, the self-evaluation technique operated as 
insurance against leaving out something that was really im* 
poTtant. In trying to justify creative ability as an asset, on 
the other hand, the individual's supporting reasons may be 
altogether superficial. In that case, of coune, the inter- 
viewer would simply nod hts head and ask for additional 
strong points, still not convinced that the person is imagina- 


As noted in Chapter 8, it is occasionally permissible to 
terminate an intendeiv before all the suggest^ background 
areas have been discussed. This is only done in cases where 
a predominance of negative information results from the 
early discussion. If after a discussion of the work history 
and education, for example, it becomes dearly evident that 
the candidate is not at all suited for the job in question, the 
interview may be terminated at that point. However, the 
interviewer should guard against snap judgments, mating 
certain tljat his decision not to carry the interview any further 
is based upon adequate factual evidence rather than upon an 

Conclttding the Interview 235 

emotional reaction to the individual concerned. There are 
occasions, too, tvlicn the interviewer’s impression of a can- 
didate may cliangc materially after the first half-hour of 
discussion, swinging from a rather negative impression to 
an entirely positive one. Hence, the accumulation of nega- 
tive findings must be substantial in the case of an early inter- 
view termination. 

In a svcll-designcd selection progiani, appliants scheduled 
for the evaluation interview will already have been screened 
by preliminary interviews, application forms, aptitude tests, 
and reference checkups. For Uie most part, such appli- 
cants will represent likely prospects and will merit the com- 
plete intervietv. And the more likely a prospect the can- 
didate seems to be, the more the interviewer needs to knosv 
about him, in terms of his possible shortcomings as well 
as hU assets. Thus, early termination of an interview in 
which die findings are positive 1$ never justified. 

Since the s-ast majority of applicants will get the full in- 
iCTviesv, termination will normally take place at the end of 
the discussion of present social adjustment. Or, if the db- 
cussion is being carried out by a well-trained, experienced in- 
terviewer, the convenaiion will be roncluded with the com- 
pletion of the individual's sclf-cs’aluaiion. Termination, in 
the sense that we are using it here, involves more than the 
wind-up of die information-gathering aspects of the inter- 
view. It also includes the information-giving aspects. As 
noted below, every applicant should be given some informa- 
tion about the company and. in particular, about the job 
for which he is being considered. 

Terminating the Unqualified Applicant. Even in the case 
where the applicant b to be rejected, a certain amount of in- 
formation-giving should take place at the end of the inter- 
view. Directed toward the objective of public relations, 
dib should be kept general. In odicr words, the applicant 

236 [nterpr elation 

should be told about general factors, such as company 
OTganizaiion, company policy, products manufactured, and 
the like— rather than about specific facton such as svages, 
hours of work, and employee benefits. The latter arc im- 
portant only in the case of a man who is to be offered a posi- 
tion. Five minutes will ordinarily prove sufficient, to tell 
the unqualified applicant about the company. However, 
courteous and informative answers should ahvays be given 
to any questions he raises. 

An attempt should always be made to terminate the in- 
terview on a positive tone. Such a statement as the follow- 
ing will often accomplish this objective, “Well, you certainly 
have a long list of impressive assets — assets that will stand 
you in got^ stead throughout your working life. And, at 
the same time, you seem to have some insight into the areas 
to which you should ^ve your attention in tenns of further 
development I will discuss your qualifications with other 
interested penons r^’ithin the company and uill let you know 
the outcome within a day or wvo. Thank you very much 
for coming in; I certainly enjoyed talking with you.” 

Once the interviesver has decided to terminate the dis- 
cussion, this should be done with dispatch. Othenvise, the 
conversation will deteriorate into meaningless chitchat 
Hence, after the intervierver has made a statement such as 
the one noted in the paragraph above, he should rise from 
his chair, shake the applicant's hand, and escort him to the 

Rejection of an appliant is alwa^-s a difficult task at best 
and, as such, must be handled with cate and finesse. First 
and foremost, the applicant zniut be rejected in such a rvay 
that bis feelings are not unduly hurt and his self-confidence 
is not undermined. In the second place, the company’s 
public relations are at stake. In other words, rejected appli- 
cants should be permitted to “save face,” so that they do not 

Concluding the Interview 237 

bear ill \vill toward the company. Because tljis task re- 
quires so much skill and Bnesse, many companies prefer 
to inform applicants of an unfavorable employment deci- 
sion by letter. Actually, the latter means is almost uni- 
formly used in the case of applicants for high-level jobs. 
A carefully worded letter not only represents an expression 
of courtesy but carries the implication of more thorough 
consideration. At tlje same time, the letter should be sent 
within a day or two after the Intciview, thus freeing the un- 
successful candidate to concentrate on other job possibilities. 

Whether the applicant b informed of the unfavorable 
deebion by letter or at the end of the interview, the reason 
for the rejection should be phrased in terms of the job de- 
mands ratlier than In terms of the individual’s personal 
qualifications. Tlie candidate should be given credit for 
hb real assets but. at the same time, should be told that, in 
the interviewer's opinion, the job tvill not make the best use 
of his abilities. Instead of deprecating the individual's per- 
sonal qualifications, this approach simply implies that he will 
probably be able to find better use for his unique qualifica- 
tions in some other job with another company. 

Another way to help a man to "save face” involves a com- 
parbon with other candidates for the job in question, on 
the basis of his experience and education. He can be told, 
for example, "AUhougii you possess many fine assets, there 
are one or isvo other candidates being considered for this 
job whose specific experience and training are somewhat 
more appropriate.” Note that thb statement makes no 
mention of personal characterbtics such as ability to get 
along with people, willingness to svork hard, or leadership 
traits. In general, it is far easier for an individual to face 
up to the fact that his experience or training does not quite 
fit the job than it is for him to admit that he does not qualify 
because of personal diaracteristics. 

238 Interpretation 

The more aggressive applicant may occasionally press tiie 
interviewer for further reasons as to why the job may not 
make best use of his abilities. In such a case, the tempta- 
tion to inform the individual about specific test or inter- 
view findings should be resisted at all costs. Tlie “feedback" 
of specific information of this kind represents a difficult task. 
Because it requires specific experience and training, it can 
lead to a discussion that may easily get out of hand. Hence, 
it is much better to keep the discussion general, elaborating 
on previous remarks. The interviewer might say, “As a 
member of the personnel department here I have a rather 
thorough knowledge of job requirements and, in my opinion, 
our current job openings are not likely to make the best use 
of your abilities. In fact, I have seen one or tivo other can- 
didates whose experience and training are a little more ap' 

Once in a while an individual will ask for vocational 
guidance. He may say, "If your jobs ivill not make best 
use of my abilities, what kind of a job do you think I should 
look for clsetvhere?" In answer to such a question, the in- 
terviewer should refer the individual to a professional 
vocational guidance counselor. Guidance requires a great 
deal more academic preparation than does interviewing. 
Moreover, an interviewer is normany familiar only with the 
requirements of the jobs in his company. To do an ade- 
quate guidance job, the counselor must have knowledge of 
job requirements in a great many different fields. Hence, 
an appliant who express^ a desire for vocational guidance 
should be referred to a competent psychologist specializing 
in this field. 

Terminating the Interview of the Qualified Applicant. 
Although the interviewer ordinarily has the authority to 
reject unqualified applicants, he does not always have final 
responsibility for placing qualified candidates on the pay* 

Concluding the Interview 239 

roll. The latter resporuibility usually rests with tlie head 
of the department to which the applicant is being referred. 
Even when the interviewers decision is entirely favorable, 
he should not communicate this to the applicant. Rather, 
he should express his real interest in the individual’s qualifi- 
cations and tell him that he feels sure that the department 
head would like to talk with him further. 

The information-giving aspect of the interview takes on 
even greater importance when die interviesvei's decision is 
favorable. In these situations, he does everything possible 
to sell the candidate on the job. And he is in a unique 
position to do this. With the full knowledge of the appli- 
cant's abilities and qualifications in mind, he can specifically 
point out the e.xtenc to svhich these qualifications apply to 
the job. Where die dedsion is favorable, moreover, the 
Interviewer should talk in terms of job specifics — earnings, 
employee benefits, and subsequent opportunities for pro- 
motion. In addition, he sviU also talk about company pol- 
icies, products, and the organization's position in die in- 
induitry. At the same time, he will be careful not to 
oversell the job, knowing that this might lead to eventual 
disappointment and poor morale. 

Completing the Interview Guide 

This chapter provides instructions for recording inter* 
view findings on the Interview Guide. To help tlie inter- 
viewer summarize his thinking, moreover, the chapter also 
includes a cross-reference section, showing how possible clues 
from each of Uie major interview areas can be used to form 
judgments of the candidate's rating on traits of personality, 
motivation, and character appearing on the back of tlic 
Interview Guide. 

In addition to its other functions, the Interview Guide 
also serves as a form upon which interview findings can be 
recorded. The write-up of the case represents an important, 
integral part of the interviewing process. Experience has 
shown that, as the interviewer recortb his results, his think- 
ing crystaUizes with respect to the applicant's qualifications. 
By the time the applicant leaves the room, the interviewer 
will normally have made up his mind as to tvbether the man 
is qualified or unqualified for the job in question. But the 
write-up of the case represents an extension of his decision- 
making. As he recori the findings, he becomes more de- 

Completing the Interview Guide 2i\ 

finilivc in his value jtidgmetits and hence is normally able 
to assign a more precise rating to the candidate's qualifica- 
tions. The case ViTite-up forces the interviewer to weigh all 
the relevant facton, and as a consequence he is usually in a 
much better position to decide whetiier the man’s qualifica- 
tions merit a slightly above-av'crage rating, a well-above- 
average rating, or perhaps an excellent rating. 

Because the recording of interview findings represents such 
an essential aspect of the entire process, the Interview Guide 
should be completed immediately after the man leaves the 
room. Witli all the essential facts still fresh in his mind, 
the interviewer usually finds it possible to complete the form 
within ten or fifteen minutes. If he postpones this task, 
twice the amount of time may be required, and he may be 
unable subsequently to reall all the salient information. 

In writing up the inteniew Guide, do not attempt to 
provide answen to questions raised by the items appearing 
on the left hand side. Rather, use the space provided under 
each interview area for recording major findings pertinent 
to that area. Since the spicc is obviously limited, the in- 
terviewer will have to decide whicli findings in each area 
contribute most to understanding the man’s behavior and 
to his over-all qualifications for the job in question. 

’The recording of interview results should not be confined 
to facts alone, since many of these facts will already have 
appeared on tlie application blank. Rather, tlie interviewer 
should try to indicate his interpretation of these facts, in 
terms of ilic extent to which they may provide clues to the 
individual's personality, motivation, or cliaracter. 

Writing Up IForA History, Rather than attempting to 
record llie applicant’s succession of previous jobs — most of 
which will normally appear on the application blank — 
write down the ten or twelve interpretive comments that 
provide tlie best clues to his behavior and are most in- 

242 Interpretation 

dicatu'eofhis ability to perform the job for which he is being 
considered. Also be sure to indicate the relevance of the 
applicant's previous work experience to the job for which 
he is being evaluated. Examples of interpretive comments 
appear below: 

John’j ten years of unlntemipled experience with ihe Hardwaier 
Company reflect good job stability. 

Harry’s engincering^csign experience on electronic controls, marked 
by twelve patents over a period of seven years, is extremely relevant in 
terms of the job for which we are considering him. 

Brought up on a farm. Bill did more than his share of the chores 
since the age of nine, thus aa^uiring good work, habits and a sense of 

Ceoigc has had trouble with three different supervisors but in each 
case blames the boss. This would seem to provide possible clues to im* 
maturity, quick temper, and inability to relate to authority. 

Most of Jack’s job changes have been motivated solely by a strong urge 
to make more money. Even though only thirty yean old, he it diisatls- 
6ed with his present uUry of $10,000. This would seem to raise a ques- 
tion as to how long we slight be able to keep him happy here. 

After completing his write-up of the work-history area, 
the intervietver should assign a rating to this area by placing 
a check mark on the horizontal line that extends across the 
top of this area. Note that the horizontal line represents 
a continuum, in the sense that the check mark can be placed 
at any point on the line — directly over any of the descriptive 
adjectives or, for example, between “average” and “above 
average.” The rating should be made in terms of the job 
that appears in the upper right-hand comer of the form — 
the job for which the applicant is being considered. In 
cases where most of the interpretive comments are favorable, 
an "above average” rating would normally be expected. 
If the majority of comments are unfavorable, a “below 
average” rating would normally be indicated. Where favor- 
able and unfavorable comments are about equally weighted 

Completing the Interview Guide 243 

in terms oE ilieir importance, an "average” rating would 
usually be made. 

Up £dj<fation and Training. In this area, record 
interpretive comments that tell tlie most about the appli- 
cant’s academic achievement and the adequacy of his train- 
ing for the job in question. Comments should also reflect 
clues to personality and tnotivatioo. Where test results are 
available, tliese should be integrated with the interview find- 
ings, as a means of providing additional clues to motivation 
and personality. Some examples of interpretive comments 
are listed below: 

Dick'i mediocre jfrades in tolJege— 4n the light of hi* high-level 
menul-ability test tcore— would seem to provide clues to lack of appli- 

That Joe managed to graduate in the upper quarter of his college 
class, despite the faa that his tested jneoul ability is only average, pro- 
vfd« strong clues to his application, determination, and ability to make 
maximum use of hli talents. 

Ted's inability to handle the more theoretical engioeering counei 
such as theimodynaraia provides a possible clue to inability to think 
in the abstract. 

In addition to ranking as number two man in a class of 240 high 
school students, Joe made bis letter in football, basketball, and track. 
Thus, he achieved a very well-rounded secondary school record. 

Frank’s economics major at Danmouth, together with his from 

Harvard School of Business Adininbtratlon, represents excelJeot aca- 
demic preparation for a management position with our company. 

Once the interpretive comments have been recorded in 
this area, Uie interviewer should assign his rating on the line 
at tlie top, in accordance with su^esUons discussed above 
in connection with the rating of work history. 

irriling Up Early Home Background. Much of the re- 
corded information in this area should be concerned with 
the effects of the early influences on the individual's initial 
growth and development. Where possible, an attempt 

244 Inierpretallon 

should be made to show how the circumstances under whicli 
the individual was rabed may have played a part in formu- 
lating hb current pattern of behavior. Illustrations of in- 
terpretive comments follow: 

Joha'j father, a painter by trade, went through rather frequent pe- 
riodi of unemploymem. Aa a mult, he 'ms not able to provide his 
family with a very high standard of living, and this made it necessary 
for John to ute pait-Ume Jobs at an early age. In to doing, he prob- 
ably matured faster and became more responsible than might otherwise 
have been the case. 

Sheltered and ovcrprotected by a doting mother, Fred was not per- 
mitted to make many of his own deasions during the adolescent period. 
Consequently, he faded to acquire a normal degree of maturity during 
the formative years. 

Stimulated by his father's voational achievement (president of a 
large corporation) Jack has always been strongly motivated to match 
the accomplishments of his dad, and thb undoubtedly accounts for 
much of hit unusual drive today. 

Art’s present-day introversion is undoubtedly due in part to the fact 
that he had relatively little sodal exposure as a child. Perhaps because 
he grew up in an isobced rural area, be spent much time by himself, 
reading or making things in his basement workshop. 

Carefully and wisely raised by intelligent parents. Andy acquired very 
fine standards of moral and ethical ^ues and developed a normal. 
welMniegrated personality. 

After recording the appropriate interpretive comments in 
tills area, the interviewer should again assign a rating by 
placing a check mark on the horizontal line at the top. 

IVrili'ng Up PTcsent Social Adjustment. Interpretive 
comments in this area should be concerned primarily svith 
value judgments as to the man's interests, marital adjust- 
ment, financial stability, and health. Illustrations of such 
comments appear below: 

Ed's interests are pretty much Zioatted to spectator sports, watching 
TV, and reading occasional detecuvo and western stories. This would 
teem to confirm other iaterview findings, indicating bek of breadth 
and intellectual depth. 

Computing thf Znlmiev Guide 245 

Martini and «hc faihpt of thtte children. Bert leoni to hare ttub- 
nshed a very happy family niitcncc. 

John'* extroverted perwnaliiy h tefletied in his vridorange com- 
munity activiiiet. lie It president of the Kfwinii dub, a member of the 
hospital (>oard. a deacon In hli church, and a coach In (he Little League 
baseball organiratlon. 

A very ihrifty individual. Duk hat a SIZOOO equity In his home, owns 
a considerable amount of life fnnirance, tod has invested some of his 
mings In stocks and l>onds. 

A person of unusual vigor and stamina. Itovrard gtret every appear- 
ance of Iieing in (op-noich physical condiiloo. 

John has luITered from an ulcer condition over the past fire ycar>— a 
condition that he admits was brought on t-y ovcrsswk and excessive 
worry. He alw says dial he seems to tire rather easily. 

Again, alier recording the appropriate information in this 
area, tlie interviewer slioultl assign a rating to the area by 
placing a chcct mark at the appropriate point on the 
iiorirontat line at the top. 

Hating Personality, Charwfer, and Mothvtion. Each of 
the fotinecn traits listed uneJer this area b preceded by a set 
of parentheses. 'Hib permits the interviesver to assign a rat- 
ing to e-icli trait. M in the case of the ratings made in all 
other interview areas, value judgments should be formu- 
lated in terms of the demands of the job for which the man 
u being considered. Using a three-point scale, the inter- 
viesver places a capital A in Use parentheses if he believes 
Uiat the applicant has an "average” or adequate amount of 
the trait. If his findings indicate that the appliant possesses 
the jartiCTilar trait to an above-average degree, he places 
a 4- in the parentheses. And he uses a — it the findings 
indicate that the man b lacking in the trait in question.^ If 
ilte interviewer b unable to make up hb mind about a given 
trait or, if a particular trail has no relevance in terms of the 
job under consideration, he Icava the parentheses blank. 

In devising a form such as the Interview Guide, it « of 
coune impossible to include all the traits of personality. 

2J6 Interpretalton 

motivation, and character that should be considered in cs'alu- 
aiing applicant cliaTacteristica for a wide range of jobs. Tlic 
rouricen diaractcrhtia listed on this juriicular form simply 
represent some of the traits which experience has shos*-n to 
be most rclcs-ant in aiseising applicants for high Jesel jobs 
in general. Other diaracterisiics deemed of p.irticular im- 
portance in a given case can be listed as representing either 
a strength or a weaVness on Section 6 of tJic Interview Guide, 
summary of assets and of liabilities. 

In rating an applicant on traits of personality, motis-ation, 
and character, the interviewer is called upon to summarire 
his thinking, in terms of the variety of clues to these traits 
Uiat have come to ligltt as a result of his discussion of the 
man's work history, education and training, early home back- 
ground, present social adjustment, and scU-evaluation. To 
take a specific example, his rating of die applicant as a “hard 
worker" will be based upon sud) constdentiotu as the ex- 
tent to which he seems to have applied himself on his various 
jobs, the amount of effort he gave to his studies in sdiool, 
tlie extent to svhich he may liavc developed sound work 
habits as an adolescent, and his capacity for constructive 
effort as reflected in his outside intcresu or in his demon- 
strated ability to carry a heavy academic load in night sdiool 
while working on a futUime job during the day. 

The material presented belosv is designed to aid the in- 
terviewer in thinking through the various kinds of informa- 
tion that might be used to support a rating on cadi of the 
fourteen traits listed on the back of the Interview Guide. 
It is of course impossible to produce an exhaustive list of 
items that could conceivably merit consideration in rating 
an applicant for a given job on each of these traits. Hence, 
the questions appearing below under each trait are designed 
simply to stimulate the interviewer’s thinking, in terms of 

Compleltng the Interview Guide 247 

the kind of positive and negative information that would 
ordinarily be factored into Uie rating of that traiL Items 
preccdctl by a minus sign represent examples of unfavor- 
able findings with respect to a given trait; those preceded 
by a plus sign represent examples of favorable or positive 


— Any tendenqr to ntionalhe hU tailum? 

•f Jl3i he Jeamed to accept hh limitathni and Jive with them? 

Oironic fliuaiisfaction with |ob duiin anil worUng conditions, re- 
Ceaing an inability (o uke the bitter vith the sweet? 

+ Welt formulaicU \-ocailanal goals? 

-• Tliough in his late twenties, still living at home with parents? 

+ Responsible attitude toward hU family? 

— Overly protected and sheltered as a child? 

— ECert in school conlined only to those studies which he liked? 

4- Good Gnandat stability? 


*f Has he stiown an ability to maintain composure in the face of frus- 

•h Has he been able to rnaintain his emotional balance and mental 
liealtli in the face of trying personal circumstances, such as a chron- 
ically ill wife? 

— Have there been problems with supervisors, teachers, parents, or the 
marital partner which refleaed a decided tendency to *’ny off the 

-f Is he able to deal with the sborttomings of subordinates calmly and 

— Is he admittedly moody and inclined to experience more than the 
normal degree ot ups and downs? 

— Is he inclined to siiik in the face of criticism? 

-- Do current marital difTicolties seem to stem in part from his tend- 
ency to be sarcastic or hothe.idcd? 

+ Is tlicrc considerable evidence that he does not allow his emotions 
to color his judgment? 




+ Does he seem lo have operated successfully as a member of a team, 
in connection with sponi activiiies in school, community actirities 
in the neighborhood, or group activities on the job? 

— Is he strongly motis-ated to be the “star" of the team, tthing more 
than his share of credit for accomplishments? 

+ Docs he seem to place the accompluhmenu of the group ahead of 
his personal feelings and ambitions? 

— Did he have difficulty getting along with hi| associates s^hile in the 
Army or Navy? 

+ Does he have the degree of un and sodal sensitivity necessary for 
the establishment and maintenance of good interpersonal relations 
Vi-ith other members of a team? 

_ Does he show any pronounced tendency to be tnSexible, intolerant, 
or opinionated? 


Does the manner in v>h><h be has phrased his rmailLS during the 
interview rcQea ua and consideration for the imerriewer? 

— Has he uU.ed diipangingly about minority groups vriihout any real 
hnoMledge as to whether or not the i&terriewei himself may be a 
member of such groups? 

Has he nude a number of rmurls during (he interview that hare 
been unduly blunt and direct? 

4- In discusdng hb relationships with subordinates, does be seem to 
have reflected geoultte consideration lor their feelings? 

4 > Is he senutive to the reactions of othen to the extent that be b 
able to structure hb appnucb without antagonizing them? 

4 - Docs he show any evidence of being a good listener? 

4 - Did he adjust easily to Army or Navy life? 

4 - Has he shown a liUng for involving contact with many types of 
people and diverse situations) 

— Has be shown an inability to tundle a number of job assignments 

4* Has he demonstrated the ability to move from one job to a com- 
pletely diBcient hind of job srithout undue diSailzj? 

Complelins the Intervievf Guide 249 

— Was he unable to do well in cemin subjects •Tjecausc of the 

— AVai he raised in a provindal home atmosphere where there was 
rcbtively limited exposure to diverse situations and different types 
of people? 

— Does his approach to a job rcffe« such a tendency to be a perfec* 
tionist that he has to do everytidng “just to‘7 


— Does he have a strong dislike for disciplining subordinates? 

+ Is he willing to take a stand for what he thinks is right? 

+ Has he demonstrated an ability to male decisions involving people 
tlut, of necessity, work to the disadvaotage of the few but have to 
be made for the good of the many? 

— Is he insitlTicienily demanding of subordinates, in the sense that he 
is reluctant to ask them to svork overtime or to “push” dtem to some 
extent when there is a Job to be done within a certain deadline? 

^ Is he a produa of a soft, sheltered, early life where there was little 
opportiinliy to become oonditioned to the seamier side of existence? 

^ Does he give the impression of being too sympathetic or overly con* 
nrned iheut the feelings of others? 

4- Is he willing to delegate responsibilities even though inadequate 
performance on the tasks delegated may rtOect directly upon him? 


— Has he shown a tendency to procrastinate unduly in carrying out 
the less-pleasant jobs assigned him? 

4* In connection with his academic career, has be shown a willingness 
to apply himself diligently to ihosc coors« which he disliked? 

— Did be fail to take full advantage of academic opportunities because 
he was not able to make himself “dig deeply enough" really to 
understand the subject? 

4* Docs he auume his sliare of civic responsibility, even though com< 
munity activities in general do not appeal to him? 

— Has he been so conditioned by a soft, easy life that there has been 
relatively little need to cupe with difficult problems or situations? 

+ Has he demonscrated a willingness to give first attention to those 
important aspects of a job which are perliaps of less interest to 




4- Has he demonstnted an ability to operate successfully without close 

— Does he show a dislike for situations that have not been structured 
for him? 

4- Does he reach out for ever-increasing responsibility? 

4- Is there any evident* to indicate that he is a seU-surter, in the sense 
that he does not have to wait to be told wbat to do? 

— Does he s ee m to have fallen ioto a job rut, in the sense that he has 
been unwilling to extricate himself from a dead-end situation? 

4- Has he demonstrated a willingness to depart from the slaJuf fuo in 
order to accomplish a given task in a new and perhaps more efficient 


4. Did he show perseveraace in college by completing bis undergrad- 
uate work despite a tack of good schol^tic aptitude? 

— Has be changed jobs too frequently? 

4* Once he starts a job, does be continue with it until it has been eotn- 
pitted, resisting any tendency to become distracted? 

4- Has he completed an appreciable portion of his college education 
by going to school at al^t? 

— Does he hnd it inordinately difficult to complete tasks on Ids own, 
such as correspondence courses where he does not have the stimula- 
tion of group eCort? 

— Is there evidence to mpport the view that he starti more things than 
he can finish? 


— Was confidence undermined by overly demanding parents wbo 
tended to be perfcciionisu? 

4 " Does he reflect a realistic appraisal of his abilities and a willingness 
to take action? 

— During the early yean was he unable to compete successfully with 
those of his own age in aibletia or in academic attain? 

.4. Does his general manner reflect poise and presence? 

— Did he Sutter in comparison with a brighter brother or sister? 

— Did he grow up in the shadow of a very successful father? 

Completing the Interviexa Guide 251 

+ Does he have sufficient confidence In his assets so that he is willing 
to discuss his shortcomings objectively? 

— Has he been reluctant to take on actional job responsibility be- 
cause of fear of failure? 

— Did he limit his extracurricular activities in school because of a fear 
of lack of acceptance on the part of his classmates? 









Does bis personality have considerable impact? 

Has he done a considerable amount of participation in contact 
sports where aggressiveness represented an important requisite? 
Has he shown a tendency to let others talc advantage of him be- 
cause of lack of self-assertiveness? 

Has he operated successfully In sales, expediting, or production 
supervision— types of jobs conducive to the development of ag- 

Is his history replete with evidences of leadership in school, on the 
job. or in connection with activities in the community? 

Does he tend to be introverted in the sense that he shies away from 
group activity? 


Did he show conscienUoosness in school by doing more than 
lually required by the teachers, in order to satisfy his own standards? 
Does his record on the job reflea a tendency to let things slide? 

Is he inclined upon occasion to work evenings and weekends, even 
iliough this is not actually required by his supervisor? 

Docs he tend to be a clock-watcher? 

Does be have high personal sundards of worlmanship? 


Ihi hi! hiiloiy ton inch Ih.i h. lui bran.! condiilonri a lurf 
ivork and long houn? . , . ... , 

Did he get good grades in school despite Kmiied mental ability? 

Did he earn a relatively high pcrcenuge of his college 

Does hi* general manner seem phlegmatic; reflecung a possible below- 

sverage energy level? 

[fas he shown a strong dislike of overtime work? 

lias he had any experience* that iiay have extended hu capaoty for 

252 Interpretation 

constnittive effort, such as going to school at ni’^t whiJe carrying on 
a full-time job during the day? 

— Does he seem always to look lor the easy way out? 

+ Does he seem to be in excellent health, reflecting a considerable 
amount of vigor and stamina? 


-f Was his early home environment such that he developed good moral 
and ethical standards? 

4- Has he “come dean'* during the interview discussion, in the sense 
that he has shovm a v.illingness to talk about the unfavorable aspects 
of his background as well as the favorable aspects? 

— Is there any evidence to support the view that he is exdusively 
oriented in the dtreaion of pemnal gain, to the poiot that be docs 
not develop strong loyalties to any oTganiration or perhaps even to 
his own fanuly? 

+ Is he willing to give mdit where credit is due? 

— Does he seem to derive uUsfaction from the discussion of situation* 
where be has been able to get the better of the other fellow or to 
“pull a fast one'7 

— Does he have any appredabte tendency to exaggerate his own accotn- 

— Does his story seem to be inconsistent in terms of other selection 
findings, such as information developed from the application form, 
the preliminary interview, the aptitude tests, or the reference 

After completing the ratings on the fourteen traits of per- 
sonality, motivation, and character, assign an over-all rating 
to this area by placing a check mark at the appropriate point 
on the horizontal line at the top. In making this rating, 
the interviewer will of course be guided by the preponder- 
ance of pluses or minuses, as the case may be. At the same 
time, he should not add the pluses and minuses algebraically, 
since certain traits obviously merit a greater weighting than 
others. For example, a minus rating on "honesty and sin- 
cerity would undoubtedly be sufficient to outweigh plus 
ratings on all the other traits, hforeover, certain traits such 

Completing the Interview Guide 253 

as maturity, emotional stability, and willingness to work 
hard are more important to job success than traits such as 
tact, tough-mindedness, or aggressiveness. In assigning an 
over-all rating on this area, tlic interviewer must also be 
guided by the demands of llie job for which the man is being 
considered. The trait of aggressiveness, for example, would 
be given more weight in ilie case of a man being considered 
for production supervision than in the case of an applicant 
being evaluated for a job as oflice manager. 

Writing Up the Summary of Assets and Liabilities. Items 
listed under assets and liabilities in this section of the Inter- 
view Guide should be concerned with the most important 
findings, in terms of die applicant's over-all qualifications. 
And these items, for the most part, should in themselves 
represent a summation of a number of individual factors. 
For example, the intendewer would list as an asset an item 
such as '‘effective sales personality," rather than trying to 
list all the facion of svhiclt the so<aHed "sales personality'' is 
composed— factors like aggressiveness, sense of humor, poise, 
presence, social sensitivity, and penuasivencss. 

Tlie summary of assets and liabilities should include major 
findings from all the selection steps, with special emphasis 
of course on aptitude tests and interview results. Thus, in 
addition to principal interview findings, this section should 
include any available test results such as mental ability, 
verba! ability, numerical ability, mcdianical comprehension, 
or clerical aptitude. The interviewer should also combine 
test and interview findings in such a way that he summarizes 
the quality of the applicant's diinking. Items concerned 
with quality of thinking would of course be expressed in 
sucli terms as: analytical ability, ability to plan and organize, 
criticalncss of thinking, and intelleaual breadth and depth. 

In wTiting up die summary of assets and liabilities, the 
interviewer should select items of particular importance m 

254 Intcrprelalion 

lernis of the job for ^vhich the candidate is being considered. 
Thus, in addition to listing appropriate items of ability, per- 
sonality, motivation, and character, he should aluays note 
tlic relevance of the candidate's work history and educational 

IVrilwg the Over-all Summary. In the space found at 
the bottom of the reverse side of the Interview’ Guide, the 
interviewer next writes a brief summary of the candidate’s 
qualifications for the job in question. This summary 
normally includes a concisely worded paragraph devoted to 
the applicant’s assets, a paragraph concerned with his prin- 
cipal shortcomings, and a final paragraph in which the in- 
lervictver interpretively weighs the assets and shortcomings, 
showing how he arrives at his fiiral decision. Examples of 
tile manner in tvhich tlie over-all summary can be tvritien 
appear below. 

John Hanu poueaes many fine aaseu for the peifti’on of chW 
eovntaat in our organiration. He U bri|h( mentsUy; he poueses a 
high degree of numericil ability; be b well-mioed academically: he 
has accumulated impressive experience ia the field of accounting: aa<l 
he it a person of excellent charaaer. 

In tenns of his further developmental needs. John could desirably 
acquire a little more drive togeiher with somewhat greater effeciireocss 
as a supervisor. 

On the whole, John's assets far outweigh his shortcomings for the job 
in question— particularly unce he will be required to supervise a stall 
of only six or eight people. He therefore menu a *'weU.above-average" 
rating for the position of chief accountant. 

On the positive side of the picture. Tom Ward possesses unusually 
strong motivation, u a person of top-notch character, has demonstrated 
hit ability to svork under pressure, meets people easily, gives good atfem 
tion to detail, has acquired relatively good experience ia the adver- 
tising field, and is well-trained tedmically. 

Negatively, however, Tom's menial and verbal abilities are slightly 
below average. And he does not Kem to be particularly analytical, 
critical, or creative in his thinUng. 

True, Toms asseu tend lo armpecBate to some extent for bis iatd- 


Completing the Intervieai Guide 

lectual shortcomings. Actually, his assets and shortcomings are about 
equally weighted in terms of the demands of a staff position in our ad- 
vertising agency. If hired, he vfould undoubtedly be able to turn in 
an adequate or average performance. At the same time, he does not 
rank among the better of the applicints we have recently seen. Hence, 
I can give him no better than an "average" rating over-alL 

As a candidate for a position in sales management with our company, 
Harry Bond possesses a number of very good asseu. He has a good 
sales personality and has apparently accumulated successful experience 
as a field salesman. An aggressive, hard-hitting individual, Harry also 
possesses several fine qualities of dynamic leadership. Moreover, he is 
familiar with our line of prodocu and seems strongly motivated to 
become associated with us. Finally, he is a person of very fine char- 

Unfortunately, however, Harry is quite limited mentally, has v^ 
little experience as a supervisor, and does not measure up as a potential 
adminbtrator. In connection with the latter, bis lack of attention to 
detail, inability to plan and organiic, and inability to see the broad 
picture would represent serious handiaps. 

In the final analysis. Harry's shortcomings definitely outweigh his 
asseij, in terms of his ability to perform successfully in a sales manage- 
ment position with our company. Hence, he would seem to merit no 
better than a "below average" over-all rating. 

Making the Over-all Rating. By placing a check mark 
on liie line at the bottom of the reverse side of the Intemew 
Guide, the interviewer makes the final selection decision. 
In so doing, he weighs the evidence that has been a^mu- 
lated from all of the selection steps. Thus, he not only con- 
siders the ratings he has made in each of the six major inter- 
view areas on the Interview Guide but also bears in mind 
all pertinent information that has been derived from the 
preliminary interview, the application blank, Uie aptitu c 
tests, and the reference checkups. 

In making his final rating, the interviewer wiU of course 
be guided by the extent to whicli the applicants assets out- 
weigh his liabilities, or vice versa. Remember, no appli- 
cant is expected to possess aU the qualifications listed m 

256 Interpietaiion 

the man specifications for a given job. The interviewer’s 
task is to tveigh the strength ot the applicant's assets against 
the severity of his liabilities. The interviewer asks himself 
how much the candidate’s liabilities are likely to handicap 
liim in tlte job for tvbich he is being considered. And, at 
the same time, he estimates the extent to which the indi- 
vidual's assets sliould help him to turn in a successful job 

The incervictver must remember, loo, that assets of con- 
siderable strength may compensate for certain liabilities. 
For c-xample, in some cases strong motivation, relevant work 
experience, and good intellectual qualifications may com- 
pensate for bclow-avcrage educational preparation. In such 
instances, an "above average" over-all rating might he justi- 
fied, despite the "below average" rating on education and 

As pointed out earlier in this chapter, however, certain 
liabilities may be so damaging to the candidate’s cause that 
they disqualify the individual regardless of the number of 
favorable ratings in other categories. An applicant de- 
cidedly lacking in honesty and sincerity, for example, or 
one exceedingly immature would undoubtedly merit a low 
over-all rating despite the number of high ratings he may 
have been given in other important areas. 

In assigning a final, over-all rating, the interviesver thinks 
in broad terms. Does the man have the appropriate skills 
to handle the job? Is Jie willing to work hard and apply 
these skills? Has he demonstrated ability to get along u’iih 
people? Is he basically a person of good character? In 
addition to these broad considerations, the interviewer may 
have to factor into his decision some important specific items, 
such as evidence of serious marital difficulty or health 

Completing the Interview Guide 257 

Over-all ratings are of course made in terms of the job 
demands. In otlier words, an over-all rating of “average" 
means that the candidate should be able to turn in an average 
job performance, not much better and not much tvorse. 
Applicants rated “above average" should be able to turn in 
a good performance, and men rated "excellent” should, in 
the interviewer's opinion, be able to do a top-notch job. 

The over-all rating of “excellent” is normally reserved 
for applicants ^vho liave a great many assets and whose 
liabilities are not at all serious. Men rated "above average” 
are well-qualified individuals whose liabilities, while a little 
more serious than the excellently rated penon, are not serious 
enough to handicap them unduly. Candidates rated “aver- 
age" are those whose assets and liabilities are about equally 
weighted. However, none of their liabilities should be 
serious enough to keep them from turning in an adequate 
or average job performance. 

Ideally, only tliose individuals with excellent or above- 
average ratings should be hired. In a tight labor market, 
however, it may be necessary to employ a number of appli- 
cants with only "average" qualifications. Candidates rated 
“below average” or “poor” should not be hired under any 
circumstances, both in terms of the good of the organiation 
and in terms of the long-range benefits to the individuals 

In making the final decision, the interviewer should be 
guided by one fuitlicr consideration — the applicant’s poten- 
tial for further growth and development. TTius, although 
the candidate’s qualifications for a given job may be only 
“average” at die present time, he may be a person of such 
potential that he could one day become a most productive 
employee. The age of the individual of course represents 
an important factor in this connection. 




In the case of those individuals ivho are employed, the 
completed Interview Guide becomes an important part of 
the employee’s permanent file. And since the individual’s 
shortcomings have been carefully recorded, this information 
can become the basis for his further development. Apprised 
of the new employee’s developmental needs, his supervisor 
can take immediate steps to help him from the day he re- 
ports to the job. 

The completed Intervietv Guide also can provide the basis 
for follow-up studies designed to improve the selection pro- 
cedures. The over-all interviewer rating can be subse- 
quently compared with performance on the job. Such 
follow-up information helps the interviewer to identify his 
own interviewing weaknesses and makes it possible for him 
to make an effort to eliminate these weaknesses in his future 
discussions tvith other applicants. Moreover, follottf-xip 
studies of this kind enable the employment manager to 
evaluate his interviewing staff/ in terms of both additional 
training needs and possible reassignment to otlier employ- 
ment functions. 


Illustrative Case Studies 

The three cases* included in this chapter are Fesented 
srithout extended discussion. The case material itself in- 
cludes interpretive comments and svill be sel -wp anatory 
to those who have carefully read tlie preceding lapters. 

In a sense, case material represents a final summary in a 
book of this kind. It is illustrative of information d»scuMC 
in many other chapters. And it shows how t ® 

"pieces of tlic puzzle” can be 6tied 

that a relatively clear picture of the indivi ua emerges. 

Tlie case of Geoi^e O’Drien is of interest beause i 
illustrates a number of iraporunt points ma e pr 
In the Bret place, George developed normally desp 
fact that he^mc from a broken-home situation andji 
few financial or cultural advantages.^ Georges case i 
terest in the second place because it demonstra « 
portance of getting information concerning t le ® ■ 

Sme work ^perience. Finally, this material shows hou 
. Th«e three .re t,ot actu.1 b«C have been fabricated and are repre* 
aeDtati\e of typical case histories. 


250 Interpretation 

certain irap>ortant characteristics, such as maturity, willing* 
ness to work hard, initiative, resourcefulness, and ability 
to get along with people can be identified in several major 
interview areas. 

Name: George O'Brien Pi«em Position: Student 

Agt; 27 Being Considered For: Life Insurance 

Sales Represenuiive 


Mental Ability: ExcellenL He rates superior to 95 per cent of seniors 
in a representative groop of four-year colleges. 

Numerieaf /16/Iiiy: Above average. He rates superior to 72 per cent of 
Kniors in a represenudve group of four-year colleges. 

Verbal Ability: EacellenL He rates superior to 97 per cent of senion >a 
a representadve group of four-year colleges. 

Cfericel Aptitude (Sp^ and accuracy in roudne clerical detaO): Aver- 
age. He rates superior to 5d per cent of employed clerical workers. 

Social Intelligenee judgment and sensidvity in social tituadons).’ 
Slighdy below average. He rates superior to 59 per cent of seniors 
in a represenudve group of four-year colleges. 


That George O'Brien has been able to demonstrate reladvely good 
achievement for a man of his age is to his credit, in the light of the in- 
fluences brought to bear upon him as a child. Born and raised >n 
Brooklyn, he not only grew up in a poverty-stricken environment, but 
was also the product of a broten bome sttuadon. His father died when 
George was four yean old. leaving an mute of only 54,000 or 55.000. 
His mother, a very thrifty individual, managed to get along on this 
money for the neat two or three years, but when George was only seven, 
the went to work. A person of relatively little edneadon, she of course 
was not able to obuin a highly skilled job and hence did the only 
thing she knew how to do-^ousework. 

Left pretty much to his ovm devices during the day, George was not 
raised at all strictly. In fact, he made so many of his own decisions 
and was permitted to order 1»?« life to such an eatent that he probably 
became somewhat overly independent. Fortunately, though, he did 

JlluslTatwe Case Studies 


tpend a considerable amount of his leisure time with the Soy Scouts, 
erentually obtaining the rank of Eagle Sa>ut. George was obviously 
influenced by his mother's splendid character, and this influence, to- 
gether with his early assodaiioos with the Boy Scouts, seems to have 
stimulated the development of high standards of moral and cihial 
values. As soon as he was ten years old. George began working after 
school, weekends, and summers serving as a messenger, stock boy in a 
grocery store, and newspaper boy. Practically all the money he earned 
was turned into the family pooL In helping to support himself, George 
obviously became quite resourceful, developed a strong competitive 
spirit, and acquired excellent work habits. At the same time, he had 
very little in the way of cultural advantages as a youth. This accounts 
in large part for his lack of sophistication today, and for his somewhat 

mediocre score on the social-intelligence tesL 
Always a good student in school. George ranked in the upper ^th of 
his high school class. As might be expected in tbe light of his test 
wsulu. he did his best work in ibe so^alled verbal sobjecu, such as 
English, history, and languages. Incidentally, George made his fine 
academic achievement without undue effort, a further conflitnatien of 
his top-notch basic abilities. Unable to panidpate in exuacumeular 
■Rfvities CO any great extent because of his after-school job^ George 
nevertheless seems to have been quite popubr among his classmates. 
He was elected to the student owindl and during his last year was 
made president of the senior class. George also took part in t e or 
four plays. , , 

Immediately after graduating from high school, George volunteer^ 
lor the Arm,. Vrr, ttuturt lor bi. .p. br loot do, rirp “'‘I' 
thought that he would subsequently be able to go to co 
Bill. Soon ,f.rr hi. Arm, dbrb.rsr. bo did n»tr,a.l..o >1 
Collrgr. Tboro ho roojorod to Engli* and mmomd to '““m'a 
AgaiTcoonjo ha, dono wall to prardodl, all bn tob,». and o.po.r. 
to^dnaro to tbo oppor y.A ol bi. cl... Ho ba. 
hi. course, to econonum, and tbi. KOm. >» ba.o pH)^ P“ ^ 
bis decision lo look tor a job to Hie tosutance. . . .j 

over, sn^or while gotog to college and beeau.e be k" i?”'' 
ol toe 01 cm. Georgrba. bad more rioe tor 

He ha. toade hi. leer in mark. ba. been a mrmbr. ol O' 

a. ba. breo arrive to dramarirs. and toi. ,0“ “ ""'”5 “ P™'*"' 

r, Ccotge’. work eaperlenee began al the age o 

262 Interpretation 

when he started wotUng after school as a messenger hoy. Later on, at 
the age of twelve, he bought a newspaper corner tor J200 on a pay-as- 
you-go basts. After a while, he hired other boys and, as the result of 
a house-to-house canvas, developed several newspaper delivery routes. 
George worked this corner from 6:S0 r.M. until about 11:00 p.m. six days 
a week. At the time George went into the Army his ncs«paper busi- 
ness was netting him $65 a week. Hence, it is quite obvious that 
George's early job experience reflected tremendous enterprise, drive, 
and resourcefulness. He apparently was able to build up hij business 
on the basis of his ability to establish effective customer relationships. 
Actually, this young man has a very engaging personality, and this ob- 
viously worked to lu's advantage in developing new business. 

Subsequent to his graduation from high school, George went into the 
Army. ToIIowing eight weeks of basic training, be went overseas to 
Germany where he took an additional 2V5 months of basic training in a 
mechanized unit. George was then assigned to a motor pool as a 
maintenance man. From there he went to an aulo mechanics sehooL 
During his last five months !n the Anny. George served as a suS driver 
for a major. In talking tvitb George, it teems quite clear that he ad- 
justed to Aray life quite well and got along exceedingly well with every- 
one concerned. However, he found some of his duties “too routine, 
too monotonous, and not fast-moving enough.” Also he was somewhat 
restless becatise of the lack of opportunity lor initiative. 

George has worked during the past three summers while going to 
Brooklyn College. During the Erst summer, he sold vacuum cleaners 
house-to-bouse. Paid strictly on a ooaunission basis, he made very little 
money during the Erst two or three weeks and began to get somewhat 
discouraged. With typical peidstence, however, he decided to work 
nights as well as during the day. Thb eventually paid off to the point 
where be was able to earn between $90 and $100 a week by the end of 
the summer. 

During the summer that followed his sophomore year in college, 
George was able to get a job as a longshoreman as a result of a friend- 
ship he had developed with one of the men in his neighborhood— -one 
of his newspaper cusiomm to be exact. He took this job because of 
the excellent pay — 5105 a week- Apparently, the hard manual work 
did not disturb George at all, but he developed a considerable dislike 
for his immediate boss. The latter evidently had a tendency to be 
somewhat dictatorial and to stand over his tnen while they worked- 

Jllustralive Case Studies 


The kind ot person who likes a zdathtlf iree hand. George objected 
to this type of supervision. Although be “bad v.'oids” with his boss 
upon occasion, he nevertheless stuck it out for the summer. 

By the time he had hnished his junior year in coliege, George was 
certain in Ins own mind that he vamed a career in sales. Accordingly, 
he decided to get additional experience in that field, rortunately, 
George was able to make a connection with a company that manufac- 
tured and sold metal fences. Again, this involved houte-to-house can- 
vassing and both daytime and evening hours. George would make his 
initial contact with the housewife during the day and then return at 
night to discuss the situation with botli the husband and wife. The 
job turned out to be somewhat disappointing, since as George subse- 
quently learned, most orders for fences are placed in either the early 
spring or fall. However, he evidently work^ very hard and managed 
to earn about $70 a week. 

George will graduate from college In two months and, as indicated 
above, is certain that he wants to make selling his vooiional career. 
He is attracted to this field (I) because of the opportunity to make 
money, (2) because he enjoys the stimulation that comes from dealing 
with people, and (3) because he likes the kind of a job where he can 
work, primarily on his osvn without close supervision. At the present 
time, George is considering two or three j^ offers but be seems highly 
motivated to make a connection with a life insurance company. Be- 
cause of die privations he suffered as a youth. George has a real appre- 
ciation of the kind of contribution that life insurance can make. 
Ifence, he feels that a career In life insurance can not only provide 
him with many personal satisfactions but, in addition, will make a con- 
tribution to others. 

George has been so busy earning his way through school that there 
has not been time to develop ouoidc interesu. However, he does do 
a fair amount of reading and is learning to appredate classical music. 
For the past two years. George has been "going steady" with a girl he 
met in college. They plan to be married within the next year— as soon 
as he locates a good Job and is able to • little more money. In 
addition to having financed Ws education. George has been able to 
tave several hundred dollars but feeb that be needs a bigger "nest egg 
before he gets married. George indicates that he has discussed his am- 
bitions with his fianede, pointing out that as a life insurance salesman 
he would be expeaed to work several evenings a week. George tie- 

254 Interpretation 

scribes his fiancie as "a mj matmc, resouTccful, undentanding indi- 
vidual-one viho b willing lo make present sacrifices for future gains." 
Hence George feels that she will be willing to go along with almost any 
type of work situation that will be lo his best advantage. 

\Viih respea to health, George seems to be in excellent condition. 
Certainly, he has a tremendous amount of vigor and energy. The latter 
is of course reflected in the fatt that he has been able to work long 
hours appareoily without any undue diiEcuIty. 

George O'Brien is obviously a gifted young man. In the first place, 
he possesses very fine basic abilities. As will be noted from the test 
scores, he has excellent menul and verbal abilities. The latter, in par- 
ticular, represents an especially important asset in a sales situation. In 
addition, George's numerical ability is appreciably above average- As 
a result of these splendid assets. George learns rapidly and is obviously 
“quick on the uigger." 

It is likewue clear from George's background that he is a dynamo ol 
energy. He works very hard; he is exceedingly conscientious; he has 
a lot of persistence: he has developed a capacity for working very long 
hours; and he always gives his best to any task at band. 

In our opinion, too, George has an outstanding contact or sales pe^ 
sooalicy. Equipped with an abundance of personal charm, be makes 
an excellent appearance, baa an engaging smile, and b an extremely 
pleasant, aSable young maru George has a great amount of infectious 
enthusiasm, is highly competitive, and possesses a genuine liking for 
people. In our judgment, too. be has a considerable amount of per- 
suasive power. 

At twenty-four George has already accumulated some very important 
experience in selling. Actually, he has been in job situations that in- 
volved meeting the public for the past eight or ten years. Consequently, 
he has learned how to handle diDcrent types ol people and how to get 
through to them. Finally, we ate very much impressed with George's 
character. In addition to being very honest and sincere, he is stable 
emotionally and very resouirefuL 

On the negative side of the pictore, it must be admitted that George 
tends to be somewhat impadent and impulsive. He sometimes acts 
without thinking and, in his dedie to get things done quickly, occa- 
sionally makes decisions without having thought through all the pos- 
sible ramifications of a given ptoblem. Although George has a fairly 

lUustrattve Case Studies 2C5 

satisfactory clerical aptitude, he does not enjoy working with details, 
lie finds such activity quite monotonous and boring. 

It u also true that G^rge tends to be somewhat inQexible and overly 
independent. (le has been on his own for so many years that he tends 
to resent close supervision. 

In terms of a possible position as a life insurance sales represenutive, 
George’s social background leaves something to be desired. Actually, he 
has not yet had an opportunity to develop much in the way of culture 
and has not been exposed to a great many high-level people. This has 
resulted in a general lack of lopliistication, which is reHected in his 
slightly below-average score on the social-intelligence lest. This short- 
coming would be expected to handicap George to some extent in his 
dealings with highe^Ievel prospects. 


There can be little question iliat George O’Brien is an extremely 
competent individual. On the positive side of the picture, he has a 
splendid intellect, Is a veritable dynamo of energy, possesses an un- 
usually fine sales personiL'iy, bas acquired some relevant operience 
and training, and is a person of excellent character. At the same time, 
Geotge lacks sophistication, tends to be somewhat impatient and im- 
pulsive, and is slightly inflexible and overly independent. 

In the final analysis. George's asseu appretiabiy outweigh his short- 
comings. He not only has a strong desire to succeed but is strongly 
motivated in the direction of further growth and development. In our 
opinion, moreover, many of George’s shortcomings will be eliminated 
as a result of further exposure to higher-level people. Consequently, 
wc believe that he merits a very favorable radng for the job in question. 

In sharp contrast to the case of George O’Brien, the case 
that follows illustrates the extent to which unfavorable early 
home infiuenccs can seriously retard the individual s develoi> 
ment. Thus, despite his outsunding iniellect, Richard 
Morris at the age of thirty-six has not yet been able to make 
very much use of his splendid potential and hence has not 
achieved a great deal of vocational success. The Richard 
Morris case also shows how Uie lack of certain important 
characteristics, such as maturity and motivation, can actually 
outweigh a series of strong asseu. It is interesting to note. 

266 Interpretation 

moreover, that the immaturirf and lack of motivation appear 
in all of the major inicrvieiv areas— early home background, 
education, work history, and present social adjustment. 

Name: Ridmd Morris Present Position: Sales Representative 

Age: S6 Being Considered Fon The position o! 

Assistant Plant Manager 


Mental /ibility: Outstanding. He rates superior to more than 99 per 
cent of a highly selected group of applicants for executite positions. 

Numerical Ability.* Outstanding. He rates superior to 98 per cent of 
a highly selected group of appU^nts for executive positions. 

Verbal Ability: Outsunding. He rates superior to 99 per cent ol a 
highly selected group of applicants for tstecuUve positions. 

iifecbanieal Comprehefuion: Excellenc He rates superior to 94 p« 
cent of engineering school graduates. 

Clmcaf Aptitude (Speed and accuracy in rouu'ne den'caf details): Above 
average. He rates superior to 67 per cent of employed clerical 

Social Intelligence (Judgment and sensitivity in social situations): Above 
avenge. He rates superior to 71 pec cent of executive applicants. 


Many of ZTick’s current shortconungs stem from influences to which 
he was exposed as a child. Actually, his early life was far too soft and 
easy for Ids own good. He admits that be '‘never had to go ont and 
fight for anything." Moreover, he never did very much in the way of 
pait-dme wort while going co high school and college. Beause of hts 
outstanding inteUectnal capacity. Dick has always been able to get by 
on the job and in school without extending himself at all As a ronse- 
quence. he has never become conditioned to hard work. 

Bom in kfarcb. 1921. in Pittsburg Pennsylvania. Dick grew up in 
high-level socioeconomic drcumstanres. His faiber, an important steel 
company executive, appatemly spent so much time on his job that be 
had relatively little time left to spend v,iih his lamily. Dick ays, 
“Dtmng the time I was growing up. I did not see a great deal of mf 
father. He not only stayed late at the office quite frequently but 

Illustrative Case Studies 


brouglit so much work home with him on weekends that he was forced 
to spend a lot of time by himself. Consequently, I don't tltink he had 
a great deal of influence on rae“ Dick Ascribes his mother as "very 
allectionate, sympathetic, and if anything inclined to give us too much.” 
Dick was the younger of two children, his brother being fourteen yean 
bis senior. For all practical puryioses. then, he was raised as an only 
cliild. In talking with Dick we get die strong impression that he was 
quite sheltered and overprotecied during the early yean. This un- 
doubtedly represents one important reason why be failed to develop a 
normal degree of maturity and. at ihiny-slx, is still woefully lacking in 
this important characteristic At the tame time, he did grow up in a 
family situation conducive to the dcvelopmeni of high standards of 
moral character. 

Because of his unusual intellectual gifts, Dick was able to rank in the 
upper ^oih of hit prep tcliool class "with practically no ellort at all” 
He did his best work in mathematics, physio, and chemistry. Never 
inclined to make much constructive use of his spare time, however. Dick 
did not go out for any exiracurrjcubr activities. 

After getting out of prep school. Dick went to Carnegie Tech where 
he majored in cJiemical engineering. There be admits that he did not 
study very hard and actually gave little attention to those courses which 
he disliked. Viewed in the light of his superior intellect, Dick's aca* 
demic record at C T. is not at all to his credit. He was content to 
graduate slightly below the middle of his class when he might easily 
have ranked close to the top it he had been willing to apply himself. 
Unfonunately. Dick’s standards have never been very high. He has 
been quite willing to '‘just get by" when a little more effort and con- 
sdentiousnesi might have resulted in a lop performance. Quite popu- 
br in college. Dick was elected to the student council and served as 
chairman of die junior prom. He also held one or two minor ofSees 
in his fraternity. 

Dick stayed on at Carnegie Tech to get his master's degree in chemio! 
engineering. Because he had to mainuin an average of B in order to 
get graduate credit, Dick studied somewhat harder. At the same time, 
it seems signlGcant that he obtained an A grade In only two graduate 
courses. Candidly self-critical at this point in his career, Dick says, 

"I never disciplined myself to the point that I worked hard enough on 
a given course to find out what it was really all about. Because 1 
have always had an excellent memory, 1 never had any dllEculiy pa^ 
ing my examinations.” It seems quite clear, therefore, that D/ct did 

268 Interpretation 

not benefit from hfs college training as roudt a$ he should hare. Afore- 
over, perhaps because he never disciplined himself to dig deeply into a 
given subjea, he never developed a sharply discerning, inquisicive ap- 
proach to problems. Even to^y his thinking is not as sharply analyt- 
ical and critical as one might expeo in a man of Dick's tremendous in- 

Dick went into the Navy in late 1915, after completing hfs graduate 
work at C. T. Because the war was about over, however, he had a very 
easy lime of it. He attended a variety of schools and was eventually as- 
signed to a relatively minor job in personnel. Thus, he was discliarged 
from the Navy without ever having been aboard a ship. Consequently, 
this experience did not do a great deal for his over-all development, 
Dick has been working for she National Company since getting out 
of the Navy in 19-17, During the first three yean he served as a member 
of a process engineering group. Dick says that he enjoyed the work in 
general but did not have a great deal of respect for bis group leader. 
He feels that the latter did not give him the attention he ne^ed and 
that, as a consequence, his over-all job perionnance was not particularly 
good. After a while, Dick became somewhat discouraged and asked 
for a transfer to production supervision. 

Given a chance lo serve as assistant general foreman in the manu- 
facturing department in 1950, Dick initially approached this job with 
considerable enthusiasm. He found the duties “not at all dilTicult/' 
and he enjoyed dealing with the people. The indications are, more- 
over, that Dick did turn in a fair enough Job performance. After about 
four years, however, he found that this job lacked sufficient challenge. 
He says. “My work became too routine and. as a result, I got bored.” 
Dick discussed this situation with his superiors who suggested that be 
might enjoy an opportunity to Work in technical sales. 

For the past three years Dick has worked as a technical sales repre- 
sentative and, from all that we can determine, has again proved reason- 
ably effective. HU sales have been about as good as those of the other 
sales representatives. And he seems to have been able to keep his 
customers informed and satisfied. Dick has now concluded, hotvever, 
that this job does not place sufficiently high demands on his technical 
abilities. And he does not feel that be is making best use of his in- 
tellectual equipment. Finally, he is not satisfied with his salary of 
^,700 a year. 

At this point, Dick feels that he would like to return to manufac- 
turing. He knows that there is a Job open as assistant plant manager 

IllustTative Case Studies 

and he has asVed to be conifdered for the post. Dich believes that a 
job at the level o( assistant plant manager would be demanding enough 
to present him with the challenge he needs. 

Dick admits that his supervisors have been unusually patient with 
him and have tried their best to help him find optimal job placement. 
He says. *'l think they realize that I have good ability and am apable o{ 
making a real contribution if I can only find the type of work that 
interests me. 1 have been told that I have done a fairly good job on 
all of my assignments but have not turned In the performance they 
think 1 am capable of." 

In the light of Dick's high-level abilities, it is surprising to find that 
his outside interests are quite limited. He takes no part in community 
activities: he does not do very much reading; and he has very little 
interest in the arts. For the most part, bis leisure time is spent in 
social activities and in such sports as skiing, swimming, and boating. 

Still tingle at thirty-six, Dick lived with his parents until about two 
years ago. He finally ame to the conclusion that he was becoming too 
dependent upon his mother and father and should therefore take an 
apartment by himself. At first, his mother was not at all happy about 
his decision to move away from borne. However, she has since accepted 
the situation and no longer seems particularly concerned. Living by 
himself, Dick has "found a new freedom" and has worked out a more 
satisfactory social life. Until very recently. Dick could not bring him- 
self to consider the prospect of settling down and getting married- 
However. he is now "going steady" and plans to be married »metime 
during the next six months. He dcsoibes his fiancee as “a very mauire 
girl — one with a lot of common sense." It seems to us that Dicks 
approaching marriage will probably be very good for him. 

More recently, Dick has also made more progress in building a fi- 
nancial reserve. Actually, he saved only about J 300 during his first eight 
years with the company-respite the fact that he was paying no board at 
home, had no dependents, and was making a relatively go^ salary. 
Over the past two years, however, Dick has been able to build up his 
savings to the point that he now has 12,500 in the bank. He also owns 
a 1954 Buick. As far as health is concerned, Dick has never had any 


Dick Morris' assets are such that they must be regarded in the light 
of his polenU'al, rather than in terms of any demonstrated achievemenL 

270 Intcrprelation 

Fim and fomnosi he ii unusually gifted intel!e«ually. Actually, Dick'* 
test wsulu are among the best that we have *cen for tome time- Even 
though he ha* not yet learned to make full use of his mental abilities, 
he nevertheless i» a person of unusual intellect. Hence, the potential 
for growth is certainly present, if some svay can be found to jtimulate 
Dick so that he will make use of his unusually fine talents. 

\Ve also believe that Dick is capable of becoming extremely effective 
in the technical area. Certainly he possesses outsunding mathematical 
ability and mechanical comprehension. In addition, he has had good 
academic training and ha* had rather good exposure to the technical 
aspect* of this business over a period of several years. 

Dick also gel* along with people very well Equipped with a very 
pleasant manner and a considerable amount ol personal charm, he ts 
the kind of individual to whom oihen are attracted. Dick also make* 
an excellent appearance. U extremely articulate, and has good social 

Nor do we have any reservations concerning Dick's character. He 
teem* to be completely honest and sincere. And at long last he ap- 
pears to be taking a critical look at himsell. in terms of what he can do 
to bring about self-improvement. 

As implied In other sectioru of this report. Dick's problems item 
primarily from bis immaturity and lack of modvation. In the past, 
he has not demoosiraied the ability to take the bitter with the sweet. 
And he has failed to apply himself to those aspects of work and educa- 
tion that did not appeal to hico. In addition, he has tended to rational- 
ire hvs failures and, until very Tcccntly, has not shown any deep-seated 
sense of responsibility as far as his personal life outside of the job is con- 
cerned. Equally serious, Dick has not disciplined tumsell to the extent 
that he has ever dug deeply enough into problems. As a consequence, 
be has (ailed to make full use of hb splendid intelienual talents. 

Unfortunately. Dick has never become conditioned to bard work. 
This is because of the ioBuences brought to bear upon him as a child 
and because he is so bri^e that he has never had to extend himself 
in order to get by either in school or on the job. Actually, Dick’s 
most serious problem b concemed with the fact that his standards, as 
they apply to work, are much too low. In other words, he is too easily 
satisfied with a mediocre peilorttrance. Thus, he has never shown very 
much iniciacive and has never given the impression of being very 

Illustrative Case Studies 



Dick Morrij cenainly represents a latbcr strange case p5)'chologjcallf. 
On the positive side of the picture, he is gifted tntellectualiy, lias very 
fine potential technically, geu along well with people, and is a person 
of excellent character. Unfortunately, these assets are actually out* 
weighed by his immaturity and lack of tnottvation in terms of his qualih* 
cations for the position of assistant plant manager. Hence, we cannot 
recommend him for this position. He simply does not have ‘‘push,’* 
production-mlndedncss. and positive leadership. 

Nevertheless, we feel that Dick docs have to much potential that he 
merits any possible attention his supervisors can give to his further de> 
velopment. Itappily, he has recently shown signs of some self-improve- 
ment. His dedsion to mose away from home, his approaching mar- 
riage. and his new-found ability to save money represent positive factors 
in his f.avor. At long last, Dick seems to be facing up to his problems 
more realistically and objectively. 

It is our feeling that Dick ^ould be transferred to development 
work, since In the long run this type of work probably would present 
the greatest Intellectual and technical challenge to him. Alter his rfr 
cent experience in sales, he might find development work Initially 
confining .and probably would not turn in any better than an "average" 
or adequate job performance. Much of course will depend on the kind 
of guidance and supervision he gets. If his superiors are successful in 
stimulating Dick's growth to the extent that he gradually acquires more 
maturity and better motivation, be should one day be capable of a very 
fine job achievement. 

The case that follows demonstrates the extent to which 
an individual, by means of certain strong assets, may be able 
to compensate for a rather serious limitation — in this case 
somewhat below-average mental ability. Althougli George 
Allen has done very well to date, it is the interviewers 
judgment that he has about readied his vocational ceiling. 
In otlicr words, the interviewer has a real reservation as to 
George's ability to handle a higher-level position, cine that 
will place heavier demands on intellect and adminutiauve 
ability. Note that these reservations are not based as much 

272 Intffpretslion 

on the findings arising from the individual’s prcs’ious history 
as on the interviewer’s judgment. Out of his experience in 
es-aluating many people in high-level jobs, the inters'iewer 
has concluded that George Allen would experience consider- 
able difficulty in the position of manager of manufacturing, 
despite his strong leadership, tnotis'ation. relevant experience, 
character, and ability to gel along witfi people. 

Kame: George Allen rie*em Potiuon; Plant Manager 

Age: 40 Comidered Fen The Position 

of Manufacturing Manager 


Afenlef Ability: Somewhat below aeenge. He rates luperior to 35 per 
cent of a highly scleactj group of appllcanu for executive positions. 
/ifufftfrical Ability: llelow average. He rates superior ro 30 per eenl of 
a highly selected group of applicanu tor executive positions. 

Verbal Ability: Somewhat below average. He rates superior to 39 per 
cent of a highly selected group of applicanu for esecuute positions. 
Meefwiieal Comprehennan: Good. He rates superior to 70 per cent 
ol eagincering school Ircshmwi, 

Social jnielUggTiee (Judgment and sensiihrity in soda] situations): Good. 
He rates superior to 77 per cent ol executive applicanu. 


Bom and raised la Broaxvilie; New VotL George Alien g re w ty 
above-average lodcxconomic drcunisUDces. His father, a succe^ul 
dril engineer, was evidently a person of tremendous ene r gy and de- 
temuoatioR. In George's opinion, his father was not at all biilliaat, 
but he had such application that be acquired a very good knowledge of 
his field. In personality be was evidently aggressive, self-confidenc, an<l 
had a high degree of competitive spirit. George's mother, on the 
other band, was apparently very bri^t intellectually. She had a strong 
lotercst io the arts, possessed all the social graces, and had a good under- 
standing of people. George believes ■ and we roncur— that he is more 
like his father than he is lAe bu motfacx. At the sune cim^ he seems 
to have bis mother's social sensitivity. 

George has an older brother and a yonnger sister, both of whom did 

Illustrative Case Studies 


unusually well in school. His brother went to Purdue where he ranked 
second in his class in mechanical engineering and was elected to Tau 
Beta Pi. His sister graduated from Wellesley msgno cum taude. In 
growing up with his two br^hier siblings George came to realize quite 
early that his own intellectual abilities suffered in comparison with 
theirs. Apparently not at all discouraged, he resolved to compensate by 
means of hard work for what be lacked in native talent. He says, "Even 
as a boy in my teens, I rcalired that many otlten had a lot more to work 
with than I did. Thus, I decided that I would have to work very hard 
for anything that I might achieve.** It is interesting to note that George 
began worUng during the summer months at the age of sixteen and 
has always had a job since that time. He spent the first (wo summers 
working in the woods on forest pest control While going to college, 
George worked on a construction gang, eventually becoming a "straw 
boss” in charge of some ihiny-6ve men. Always big physically for his 
age. George apparently had a lot of ability as a natural leader even at 
that poinL And he obviously matured very early both physically and 
emotionally. In addition, he was subjected to very fine moral and cul* 
tural influences in the home. 

Sent to DcerGeid Academy. George managed to make somewhat 
above-avenge grades In practically all his subjects. In typical fashion, 
he evidently applied himself to his courses with great diligence. He 
lays, "I had to work a lot harder tlian many of my clasamaiei, but I 
really learned how to study at Deerfield." Very successful in extracur- 
ricular allain, George made his Iciicr in football, was elected captain 
of the track team, served as business manager of the yearbook, and was 
elected president of the athletic assodatioo. Thus, his penchant for 
leadership made itself evident again in secondary school. 

George subsequently went to Columbia University where he majored 
in history. Although he already knew at that lime that he wanted a 
career in business, he derided that it would be best to get a liberal arts 
background and then go on to graduate school for a course in business 
administration. Aaually, George never atuined tlie latter objective, 
primarily because he went into the Air Force immediately after gradu- 
ating from college and married soon thereafter. At Columbia, George 
played on the freshman football team, made a letter in uack because of 
his ability to throw the javelin, belonged to a social fraternity, and was 
elected to the college senate. Again, as a result of hard study. 
able to make relatively good grades. Upon graduation, he 
the lower part of the upper »Jrd of his class. A course in philosophy 

274 tnlerpretadon 

waj ihff only one ihal gave him real Ifoublc. He wys. "1 have always 
bad dilHcuUy wiili courses that were theoretical or abstract On the 
whole, George’s academic achievement was very good particularly in the 
light of tlie high sUndards at Columbia. To our way of thinting, this 
achievement not only speaVa volumes for hU energy, dcienninaiion. 
and application but reflecu the fact that he is able to maVe every pos- 
sible use of such abilities as he possesses. Incidentally. George had to 
stay out of college for the better part of a year, due to an injury suffered 
while playing football His tight leg was broken In three places. 
However, bis leg eventually healed and has given him no trouble since 
that time. 

roUowing his graduation from college in IDll, George went into the 
Army as an enlisted roan. He was sent to a maintenance school where 
be did extremely well Imbued with a strong sense of "wanting to be 
best” George ranked third in a dass of forty ttudenis. As a reward, 
he was sent to an advanced school where he was given training as an 

In iff-fSi George vm sent to France to estabh'sh a maintenance unit 
there. He apparently built an ouutanding o^niration, one that 
eventually included twenty ofBrers and some Eve hundred men. George 
believes that his unit was generally regarded as one of the best in the 
Amy. George was discharged in 194E with the rank of captain. 

In the Army, George seems again to have demonsiraied qualities of 
leadership. A very produaion-minded individual, he evidently worked 
hard himself and expected hb men to do likewise. Getting results 
and "doing things better than anyone else might do them" were the 
two things that motivated him roost. He is the kind of a person who 
takes great pride in a job well done. In looking back upon this situa* 
tion, though, George tealires that he was not always at his best in the 
administrative aspects of the job — those aspects concerned with atten- 
tion to detail, and planning ahead. 

AVhile in the service, George met a man who subsequently influenced 
him to take a position with the American Aluminum Fabricating Corpo- 
ration. Hired as a production trainee, he spent about eighteen months 
learning the business, moving brmt the roiling mill to the acid bath 
department and Anally to the heating oven department. His initial 
training completed, George took the job of assistant foreman in the 
rolling mill. He spent three ycaix in that mill, moving up rather 
quickly to foreman and eventually to assistant general foreman. 

Early in 1951 George was given experience and ttaioing in industrial 

Illustrative Case Studies 


engineering. In this connection, he did time-study work, standard 
setting, and layouts. Although he appRciated the ralue of this train* 
ing. George did not find it very stimulating. He apparently found that 
it did not involve enough contact with people and was a bit too con- 
fining. A very active, dynamic individual. George it the kind of person 
who likes to get out in the shop where the job is being done. 

Taken out of his industrial engineeting assignment after about one 
year, George was sent to another of the company's plants as general 
foreman of the rolling milk In tliis job. he supervised four foremen 
and approximately sixty-five men. George seems very proud of the 
performance he turned in on this job. He says that output was in- 
creased appreciably with no loss of quality. 

Promoted to plant manager In 1955, George now supervises and co- 
ordinates such funetioru as produaion, shipping, payroll, purchasing, 
and inventory control. At this point, George's salary has inaeased to 
fH.SOO per year. 

From all that wc can determine, George is very happy with his current 
job situation. He enjoys bis job responsibilities; be evidently main- 
tains good relations with the union; be is pleased with bis utaiy; and 
he likes the fact that his immediate superiors have given him a rela- 
tively free hand to operate the plant pretty much as he sees fit. More- 
over, George is proud of the fart that ha plant makes a higher degree 
of profit than any of the other pbnts. Obviously, George Identifies 
strongly with the company and thus has a great deal of loyalty to the 
organisation. -- 

As far as job satisfaction is concerned, George is primarily interested 
in acliievement. He says. "I want the satisfaction of doing a job better 
than anyone else can do it." In addition, he likes a dynamic, fast- 
moving situation “where the environment is alive and stimulating. 
With respect to die future, George hopes eventually to merit promotion 
to a higher-level job in general management. 

As indicated earlier in this report. George married soon after he 
graduated from college. He and his wife now have four children and 
seem to have developed a very happy home situation. George describes 
his wife as a “good balance wheek” He says, “Her decisions are less 
Impulsive Ilian mine; she always gives very careful thought to anything 
before she makes up her mind.“ As might be expected in the light of 
George’s test results, his ouuide interests are not particularly Intellec- 
tual in character. He does very little reading, for example, and he has 
no real interest In the arts. On the other hand, he is quite active in the 

276 Inlerpretalion 

communiry. George is a member ot the dumber of commerce, is a past 
president of the local Rotary dub. serve* on the YMCA board, and helps 
out on community fund i’ives. George says that he has a JIO.OOO 
equity in his home, has been able to build up a modest savings account, 
and owns $40,000 worth of life insurance. 

George's physical condition is perhaps deserving of special mention. 
The indications are tlial he has always enjoyed excellent health. Cer- 
tainly. he is ucmendously vigorous and energetic. ^Ve therefore get 
the impression that he has more capacity for constructive work than 
most of his contemporaries. 

There is obviously much to admire in George Allen. First of all, he 
has much of the naiurai leader in his male-up. A tall, well-built io- 
dividual. George has a considerable amount of poise and presence- 
Aggressive, tough-minded, and seU-cooEdent. George also possesses the 
courage of his coaviaions. In addition, he has a very warm personality 
and a lot of personal magnedsiD. The product of a good cultiml 
background, George is laaiul, has good social sensitivity, and it the kind 
of a penon who can establish quick rapport with others. *1116 man ^ 
a great amount of common touch and Is equally at home in talking with 
men on the shop Boor and with lop-Ievel executives. All in all, bis 
sonaliiy has a conuderable amount of impact upon others. 

Obviously, too, George is a man of unusually strong motivation, and 
this has played a big part in his success to date. He is an extraor- 
dinarily hard worker, has great physical energy, and makes maximum 
utilixation of such talents as be possesses. 

Although George's intellectual capacity is somewhat limited, he never- 
theless seems to have a lot of common sense. This is reflected in bis 
ability to reduce a complex problem to its simplest form. He says 
rather significantly, "I have to do this in order to understand it myseif." 

At this point, moreover, George has accumulate very successful 
production experience in the aluminum fabricaUng industry. He has 
worked his way up from the bottom rung of supervision and now seems 
to have familiarity with practically all the functions in the plant be 
is called upon to supervise. 

Finally, one cannot help being attracted to George as a person. A 
very candid, honest iadividuah he is quite aware of his shortcomings and 
is witling to discuss them rather openly. This results in a very likable, 
disarming manner. George has a great dislike for anything that in- 

IllustTOtive Case Studies 


vol«j “underhanded dealing.** The man identifies strongly with supe- 
riors and subordinates alike and impresses us u a solid citiren in every 
sense of the term. 

On the negative side o£ the picture, it must be pointed out that 
George is somewhat limited intellcaually. He himself recognires that 
he is not as bright as many other people, but he has tried to compensate 
for this by means of greater appUcatton to the task at hand. In our 
opinion. George has succeeded in ihis latter objeedve quite well. Cer- 
tainly. he seems to have been able to solve most of the problems with 
which he has been confronted along the way. At the same time, a per- 
son with George’s limitations simply cannot get around to solving as 
many problems as a brighter individual. Also, he probably lends to 
oversimplify some problems and, upon occasion, is a bit oaTve in his 

Nor does George quite measure op as an able administrator. In tbe 
first place, he does not give suffident attention to deuil. In the second 
place, he tends to be a bit impulsive and tlius occaslooally makes deci- 
sions too fast— before he has had lime to think of all pouible aspects of 
the problem. We have a question too concerning George's ability in 
the area of long-range planning as well as his ability to see the broad 
over-all picture. 


It is abundantly dear that George Allen possesses many fine qualifier 
lions for his present position. He is a natural leader; he has terrific 
motivation; he has accumulated successful pioduaion experience; he 
gets along well with people; and he Is a person of unusually fine char- 
acter. Thus, despite his somewhat limited intellect and lack of ad- 
ministrative ability, we think that his assets compensate for his short- 
comings to the extent that he merits an “above average" rating for 
his present position as plant manager. 

At the same time, wc have some reservations vrfth respect to George's 
potential for upgrading to the position of manager of manufacturing on 
the corporate level. This job would cenainly place greater demands on 
administrative ability. Moreover, George’s mental limitations would 
cenainly represent more of a handicap in a higher-level position than 
they do in terms of his ability to handle a job at the plant level. We 
think that George is capable of aoIWiig eomple* problem il given 
enough time. However, the manager of manufacturing in a mulUpIant 
organization is confronted with many problems simultaneously. Thus 

278 Interprelalion 

we doubt that George is quick and bri^t enough to handle all the prob- 
lems he would be confronted with as manager of manufacturing. 
Hence, although we think that he might be able to turn in a fairly 
adequate performance at tlus level, we do not consider him to be an 
outstanding candidate for such promotion. 

Rather than promoting George to the position of manager of manu- 
facturing. we would suggest that he might eventually be transferred to 
a larger plant as manager. 

^ 0 ^ 

L Dutia 
b. Lftn 
e. AchievCTstnu 

d. bitlika 

e. Thing? done l«*s well 

f. ^VoTking conditions 

g. here} ol earniogt 

b. Reuoni for changing job« 
I. Any leadenhip eapcrienee 
]. Nntnbcr of pre?{oui jotM 
b. Factor! of job ucUfaction 
L Type of Job dejited 
ra. Total job acconplUhment 


a. }lM-~poomt nbjeta 

b. Grades 

c. Ilo« inuth «<Ion 

d. Exttaeutrieular actisidn 

e. Special achicrcRienti 

t. Training beyond the vndcrgrad* 
«!te level 

g. How trai education financed 

h. Total School achicrenienc 

a. EathnY emipailon 

(locio-econotnic level) 
Trtnperament of parotU 
Numl>eT ol brothets and Uiten 
How urialy nUed 
(parental guidance) 
t, Eatbni age pariUDy or wboDy 
Independent financiillv 
f. ESrett of catty home InRumrra 

/fbotwavg. <lvg. B‘loa>avg. 

Avg. Behvtt'g- 

Above dvg. Btlavaig- 

Rfdoced Irota Pv4 

(Tfont of fonn ) 


Aboveevg. Avg- Betoaavg. 

a. Pmcni Intemu and ttobblet 


c. ^Vife'l intemu and penonatltp 

d. VVite'a attitude toward relocatiofi 

e. Acutude toward dqrendenta 

f. Financial itabiliiy 

(housing, iniurancej etc) 

g. Ilratih status 

(physleat vigor and stamina) 


<+. A, -) 

Above evg. Avg. Beloaiovg. 

( ) a. Maturlcp \ 

( ) L Tough-nindtd- 

( ) k. Aggressiveness 

{ ) b. Emotional ita> 


( ) 1. Conscienlioua* 

bllity, even i 

( ) g. Sell-disdpiine 


temper ' 

( ) h. Initbilve 

( ) m. Hard worYer 

( ) e. Tfajowrltrr i 

[ ) L Fotlow-ibrough 

( ) j). Honesex and 

( ) d. Tact I 

{ ) e Adaptabllitr 

( } ]. Self^onCdence 




Abnitin. 40. 132 
for finance penonncl. SI 
for management personnel, 41 
for research personnel, 44 
for tales penonnel, 48 
for tuperviaon. 40 
(5er AiM Tralti) 

ActapUbllUf, rating of, 248-S49 
Adjustment problems, ISJ-134. I4>* 
141, 147, 174, 190-190, 208-210. 

Administrative ablUi;. 40-41 
for executives, 41 
for supervisor)' personnel. 46-47 
Aggressiveness, 41, 46, 48-49. 64-55, 
96, 141, 146-147, 163, 166 
lack of, 143 
rating of, 251 
Analytical capadcy, 153 
Applianii. 11-lS 
acceptance of. 238-239 
attitudes and reactions of, 131 
conversation with, 73-79 
preliminary, 68-69, 104 
evaluation of. 114-115 
facetious. 114-115 
Bnandal stability of. 223-224 
first impression of. 126 
gaining confidence of. 62 
greeting of. 63-64 
health of. 221-227 

Applicants, bobbies and lotnests of. 

149. 217-219 

introductory questions for, 69-73 
for lower-level jobs, 29-30 
titariial status of, 219-823 
phrasing questions to, 70-73, 83- 
87, 111-114 
potential of, 257 
praise for, 74-76 
processing of. 14. 17-18 
rating of, 245-257 
rejection of, 236-S33 
sel^on of. 15-23 
specificaiJons lor, 16. 38-40 
tnitfafulness of, 126-I2B 
unqualified. 235-236 
Application blanks. 18-19 
,4piilt><fe fndex, 19 
Aptitude tests. 15. 19, 66, 132, 185 
Aptitudes. B. 12 
mechanical, 47 

and subject likes and dIaUkes, 184- 

Art^ interest In, 218-219 
Assets, discussion of, 230-231 
sating of. 253-256 
Athletla, partidpaiion in, 190 

Background, cultural, 41, 70. 147, 150 
diKussion of, 26, 199-214 
evaluation o4 243 



Background. intCT|>r«ation ot, 197* 

Behavior. 69, J?6 
digci cnees in. 7-11 
education and, 181, 190. 19S 
home influence and, 211-2H 
reasons for, 90-91. ISO 
Broken homes, 205, SIS, 220 
Brothers, number ot 20S>207 

Caichilness, 44, 51, 143 
Carelessnesa, 141, 224 
Case studies, 259-278 
Character, 10. ISO. IS5. 193 
rating of, 245'253 
(See alio Personality) 

Childhood operiencei. penonality 
and, 198, 200-214 
Childreo. attitude toward. 223 
disdptiRe of, S07-210 
parents and. 203 
(poiUagof, 205-205 
Qturch attendance, 208 
Clerical aptitude, $1 
College eduotlon, 182-184. t$9-l9S, 

finandngof. 19M94.210-2U 
Commvinieaiion, 42 
Community acUviues, 151-152, 21T- 

Compliments, 75->6 
Comptrollers 50-82 
Conscsentiousnos, 153 
rating of, 231 
Conversatioa, 84 
during interview, 73-79 
calculated pauses in, 78. 118 
control ol, 91-92. 103-119 
preliminary, 58-59. 104 
Courage ol coaviaionj, 41-42, 54-55 
Creativity. 44-15, 147-148 
Critical thinking, 154 

Debts. 224 

DecUiveoca. 41, 145-145 

Details, ability to handle; 44-45. 51. 

83-90. 112-145 
disregard of, 141 

Direct infcrriews. 24-^ 

Discipline. parcDtal. 207-210 

Earnings. level of, 1C9-172 
(See elio Salaries) 

&lucauon. 71, 80. 88-69, 131 
disetmiaa oC. t82~l83 
evaluation ol, 194-195, 243 
bsr executive podtions, 42-43 
(or flnance petsonnel, 52 
financiitg of, 193-194, 2I0-21t 
job requiremenU and, 161-195 
pcjstgnduate, 191-195 
for research and development, 45 
for tupervisory positions, 47 
Egotism, 145, H7-l<8 
Emotional maturity, 155, 176,219-220 
(Ste alto ddjuscgienc problemi) 
Eisotiooal rubiliiy. rating of, 247 
Emplo)ee relations, 52-55 
Enthusiasm, 43. 141. 150 
Eoviiunmott, 5-6, 198-199 
Executive ability, 41 
Executive personnel, idea), 41 
qtaliflaiions for, 4(MS 
Experience, tnllitary. 116-117, 157- 
158. 160 

previous. 7t, 77-80, 88-69, II5-117, 
151, J55-J80 

Extracurricular activities, 182-183. 

Eitiuveits. 48-50. 54, 141-145 

Facia] expressiou, of applicanU. 172. 

of interviewers, 54-65, 70. 114 
Fair-mindedness. 54-55 
Family. *tre of, 205-207 
sodoec on omic level of. 200-202 
Father, dudpliiie by, 203-209 
occupation ckf, 200-202 
temperament of. 202 
twiu of, 202-205 
File clerks, selection of. 29 
Finance personnel, qualifications for, 

Financial stability. 225-224 
Follow through, rating of, 250 
Forcefulness. 142. 145 



Foriliude, S( 

rratcmtilc^ IW 

profmlotul and honorary, 190*191 
Fliondtinru, M, 111-112 

Orturr*, 61 

Cradn, fffort and. 187-lM 
potigtaduatf. 192 
Khool athievrinCTit and. 1*5-197 
CuIIibnity, ISO-ISi 

Hard vrorl. ahltiiy (or, £31-252 
Hfalih, 221-227 
llcredlir, 6-7 

obo rarenti) 

Itijth icbotd rducatlon, IS2-189. 191 
llobhin, 119. 217-219 
Ilomr Innuenm, c!Ir«u c(. 2H-2H. 

IloRtc ownmhtp, £25-221 
llonniy, 126-128, 165. 171 
raiinfi oh S32 
liutnor, 18-19, 78-79 
Hanthti, 85 

Illnou, 225-2M 
psrihMofnailr, 111 
Inaginaiion. 115 
fmmaturliy. 171. 215 
lin|>atlcnn. Ill 
loipractialliy, 117, 119-150 
(mpTovintlon, ability lor. 16. SI, HI 
Inpuldmina. Ill 

Independence. Cundal, age of, 210- 

Indirect inierriewf. 25 
Inlrrtncc, 155, 135-158 
Inferiority. Icelingi of. 190 
Innexlblhty, 145 ^ 

InhihiiioRi, 115-114 
InlOaiive, 153. 169 
nrlng t>I, 250 
Intenirlly, 111 
(nielleetual curiosity. H 
Inlelllgence {ste Mental ability) 
Interpretation ol Infonnaiioo, 125- 

basis of. 129-150 
case studies in, 259-278 

Iflterpretatlon of Informatioa, com* 
plexillea of. 124-125 
on early home background. 197- 
211, 2I5-2H 

on education. 181-196, 245 
as function of interviewing. 125- 

hypotheses In. 157-159 
method of, I55-IS3 
on present social adjustment, 215- 
227, 211-215 
relevancy and, 150-135 
on work history, 155-190, 211-215 
Interviewees {tee Applieanis) 
Inieiv ie wct t . 26-50 
ettors made by, 51-57, IM, 195- 

facial expfeitioos of, 61-65, 70, 111 
(uflttioM of. SI. 59 
manrvet oh lH-115 
note taking by. 160-101 
sjuabficaticn* for. 51-55, 57 
roetlon* of, to favorable infonaa- 
iion, 71-76, 101 

(o unbvorabte (nfortnatlon, 76- 

skJIls of. 69-61, 75-85, lOO-lOl, 125- 

training of, 55-51, 57. 195, 12$, 197 
Interviewing OuUe, 279-280 
eompleilon of data on, 210-257 
use k 70-71. 110. 11$. 151. 156. 
199-W. 258 
Interviews, H 
concluding of. 228-235 
method of. 235-259 
control of. 91-92. 102-105 

luTtciion of, lOV-tOO 
pacing In, 119-119 
problems In, 105-101 
rules lor maintaining, IlS-lIS 
tethniques of. 109-115 
dehnitlon of, 23 
errors made In. 51-37 
^luaiion of. 27, 81-52. 125-196. 

humor in. 78-79 

Introductory questions for. 69-73. 



Inteniew*. mcchania o!, 60 
nature cjt. 24-29, 97 
obj«ti>e4 of, 2®-29 
pbranng question* lor, 70-73, 8J-87 
pitljinijia*7, 15, 17-18, 109 
privacy for, 61 
leleciiog applicant* for. 15-25 
•equeoce of. 73-61 
(malt Uik during, 63-69 
fobtlety and finesse in. 81 
ti min g of. 105-109, 111-ltS 
types of, 24. 105 
Intolerance, 145-146 
InCo v ertt. 52, 145-145 
lovestiacnt*, 224 

Job faaures, 38-59, 136 
Job requirements, fimfluricy with. 

mar, fpecifiation* and. 33-40, 55> 
56. 178-179. 258 

Job utisEaaion. 1S2. 158, 16t-162 
facto/* in, 176-173 
Job wpervimrs. 37-53. 46-47, 154- 
155, 166 

Jobs, achlnemenu in. 462-485 
dianging of, 172-175 
frequency of. 175-176 
dislike of. 165-165. 171 
duties of. 158-160 
financUl independence and, 211 
and level of earning, 163-172 
part-time. 195, 201, 210-211, £53- 

preference In, 158, 460-162, 173- 

rmskilled. 200-201 
Joka, telling of, 79 
Judgment, 41, 51, 54 

Z-tbor force, supply and dottasd in, 

l^bor relations, 53-^5 
Ladnes. 3l 

Leadership. 40-42, 47. 62. 145-147, 

experience in, 175, 191 
Life Insurance Agency kfanagemeat 
Afsociatica, 13 

living arrangements. 21^220 
la/yalty, 173 
family. 225 

filan ipedfitaiions, 16, SS-IO. 55-66, 

Managemott, 40-45, 142 
klariul difficulties, 221-222 
ftfarfcal statu*. 213-220 
Maturity. 166-167, 174. 203 
emotional, 171 
rating of. 247 
Mecbasical aptitudes, 47 
Mechanical cfitaptebetaion. 44, 46 
Mental abUlty, 4% 44, 47. 51. 54, 152. 
147, 186-187 

b^iv average, case study in. Z75- 
• 278 

evaluation of. 6 

kfethodialocs*. 44-45. 51, 245 
Military service, 116-1)7, 157-158, 160 
Money, attitude tovaxd. 224 
desire for, 46-49, (75 
(Sec cUo Eamisg) 
bfoodioest, 147 
Moral stasdarda. 2)0 
Mother. cultursJ infiuenee of. 201* 

traits of, 205 

Mtniratioti. 10-11, 150, 135. 151, 166, 

disclosed by aptitude tests, 20-22 
of interviewer, 27 
bdt of. 91. 114, 178, 182 
rating of, 245-255 

Nalvet4. ISO-151. 167 
Kervoujness, 226-227 
Note taking, IDO-IOI 
Numerical ability, 42, 44, 46-47, 51 

Objetlivity. 56, 125, 174 
Obserratioo. direct, 153, ISS 
Opinions, strong, 145-146 
Orderliaess. Si. 145 
Oigania'rg ability, 41. J45 
Overprotcaioo, 210 
Oveneositivity, 143, 147, 149 


ParcnU, 198-199 , 

child'! reUtioiuhlp vicli, 203 
discipline by. 207-210 
oserproicctive. 210 
temperament of, 202-205 
Patience. 44-d5. 143 
Patiemed interview, nature of. 23-29 
philoiophy of. 28-29 
Perseverance, 48. 50. M, 250 
lack of. 173 

Personality. 8-10, ISO. ISS 
aggressive, traits of, H5-137 
aptitude tests and, 22 
background and, 198. 208-214 
Of parents. 200. 202-203 
sating of. 215-253 
for sales personnel, 48-49 
(Stt «Uo Character; Traits) 
Personality tests. 22 
Pcisonoel services, 53-55 
Penpeetlve, H7, 150 
Pemuslveness, 4$, Hl-132 
Physical diubiliiy. 22(5 
Planning. 48. SI. 54 
abUlcy for, HUI4X 153-153 
long-range, 31-42 
Poise. 114 
tack of, 145 

Postgraduate study, I9I-19S 
Privacy in interviewing, 6I-6S 
rnduction-mindedness. 41, 40. 145 
Production supervisors, qualificadons 
for, 45-48 

Projective tests, 22 
Promotion, 170 
military. ICO 

Psychological Corporation, The, 33 
Psychological growth, S-6 
Psychological weaning, 210 
Psychology, clinical. 22, 197 
Purchasing agents, qualiCcations for. 

QualiCcations, summary of, 254-2W 
Questions, follow-up. 82-83, IIl-IH 
function of. 67-92 
kinds of. 92-07 
nature of. 83-87 


Questions, folbw-up, softening of, 

phrasing of, 70-73 

Rating of applicants, 248-257 
RadonalizaiioD, 172 
Reading. 218 
Rrmiitlng. 15-18 
References, chetk-up of, 22-23 
Rdlectiveness, 143 

Research and development persoonel, 

qualifiealions for, 43-45 
ResponsIbiUty, 169, 189. 210 
degree of, 159-160.220 
Rutblessness, 143-146 

Salaries, 134, 169-173, ISO 
(See also Earnings) 

Sales penonnel, 142 
qualihcations for. 48-50 
Savings. 224 

School career, aebievenenu during. 

tetivities during. 182-183, 188-190 
discussion of, 182-183 
grades and, I6M88 
(See also Eduaiioo) 

Security, 177, 220 
Selection ratio. 16 

Self-confidence, 4M2. 46. 48-37, 53- 
55. 96-07, 141, 145. 151, 165, 177 
bek of. 143-145. 190, 204-205 
tadng of, 250-251 
Scir-toi»dousness. 143-144 
Self-diidpUne, 48-39, 153, 166 
sating of, 249 

Self-evaluation, 96, 129, 165-166. 203- 
201. 207 

diacutslon of. 229 
technique of. 229-233 
value of. 233-234 
Self-expreslon. 53 
Selflessneu, 150 
Sensidveness. 143, 147, 149 
Shortcomings, clues to, 161. *21 
discussion of. 238-233 
eating of. 253-256 
recognition of, 165-167 


S&iewdness, 54 

Shyness, 14W« 

Sibling rivalry. 206^207 
Sickness, 141, 225-226 
Sincerity, 163 
rating of, 252 
Siffm number nf. 

Small talk, 63-69 
Social adjustment, 214-215 
discussion of. S16-217 
rating of, 244-215 
Social drive. 54 
key iraiu for, 1S&-152 
Sodal icnsilivity, 4l, 46. 48, 54, 147- 
148, ISO, 153.200 
Sodal workers, traits of, 150-152 
Stamina, 224-227 
Stereotypes, 35 

Summaries, writing of, 254-257 

examples of. 264-265. 269-271. 

Supervisory penonnel, qualifications 
for. 45-48 

Tan. 41, 46. 48, 54. na, 14$ 
rating of, 248 

TacUessness, 36-37, 145, i<7, 211 
Tegehen, sMhszian Ifi 
Teamvoik. ability for, 248 
Temper, loss of, 166 
Thoroughness. 143 
ladi of, 141 

Thought processes, 4j. 44. SI. 54, 147. 
143, 150 

Timeuble tor interviews, 105 
Tough-mindednes), 41-42, 46, 48-49. 
54-55. 145, 15], I6fi 
lack of, 145, 147. 150-151 
rating of, 219 

Trait constellations. 159-140 
for aggressive personality, 145-147 
for aniJiic personality. 147-150 
for extroverts, 141-1*3 
for iotroverts, 143-145 
for sodal drive, 150-152 


Trait*, baric, for job reqabemniB, 40 
description of, 152-153 
development of. 7 
evaluation of. 135-137 
for executive personnef, 4(MS 
for finance peisoflnel, 51 
gooe), nreres/pbaiif S^7 
key. 139-152 
of parents, 202-205 
personality. 9. ISO, 229-234 
for personnef service and tabor re- 
Utionr, 54 

for research personnel, 43-45 
for sales penonnel, 21-22, 48-49 
Truthfulness (see Honesty) 

Unions. 146~)47 

Verbal ability, 4M2, 44. 47. 51. 54 
Visualiaiion. 44, 46, SI 
facial, 44 

VooiJona] piidaace, 238 
Voice. 64 

lone of, 66-68, 70. 72. 114. 172. 200 

Wives, interests of. 219-220 
personality of. 221-223 
Work history, 153 
and job changing, I72-I75 
job dislikes and. 263-163, 171 
job duties and, 158-160 
job preferences and, 160-162 
and level of earnings, 169-172 
of previous achievements. 162-163 
itructuiing of. 255-158 
of things vvell done, 165-167 
of working conditions, 167-169 
writing op of, 241-243 
Wotking conditions, 167-169 
Worry, 226-227 
and health, 144 
tendency to. 143