A Model for Predicting the Outcome of a Job Interview

A model for predicting the outcome of a job interview.

Career professionals, once offered a job interview appointment, desire to know the likelihood of being offered the advertised role.

An ability to predict a job interview outcome can help a candidate to decide whether or not to attend the job interview, or more importantly, allows the applicant to reflect on which aspects of the job interview they need to improve to increase job offers for positions which they do have the related skills, competencies and confidences for.

The interviewer makes hiring choices based on logic – the analytical process of a job interview is designed to predict future job performance.

Decision making, though, is a two system process. Part logical – a slower analytical process and emotional – snap judgements based on stereotypes and prejudices.

Therefore, an employee applying for the same position, within the same organisations, giving the same level of detailed answer to the same set of job interview questions can receive varying scores if interviewed by two different hiring managers.

There is a two-step process for forming opinions of an applicant in a job interview;

  • Unconscious biases

  • Interview Identity

Job interview biases.

An initial impression of an applicant is created once the interviewee is introduced to the employer. The impression is emotional – a gut feeling, where unconscious stereotypes and prejudices affect the interviewer’s perception formation.

Many varying stimuluses trigger an unconscious bias, some favouring an applicant, while others create a negative opinion. Research has shown how an applicant’s weight, ethnicity, age, religion, attractiveness or background can be used, subconsciously, to form an opinion of the interviewee.

Having commonality can increase liking between the employer and applicant, increasing potential scoring of job interview questions (affinity basis) and reciprocal liking, liking someone more because they like you, also builds rapport.

Being viewed as ‘attractive’ improves the hiring manager’s opinion of the applicants, even going as far as increasing the level of trust they hold the applicant in.

And overhearing how one applicant is a strong candidate, for an internal promotion interview, can seed the idea of the suitability of said applicant creating the ‘halo effect’.

Association is a powerful bias. Research on religious bias found how an applicant changing his name from ‘Mohammed’ to ‘Mo’ increased the number of interview offers he received. And age, race and sex are well documented to increase or decease the opinion of each applicant for the advertised position they are applying for.

An example of this is how females applying for traditionally masculine roles are viewed as less suitable than a male applicant.

The power of the subconscious in a job interview.

This initial opinion isn’t a conscious thought. The employer, in many cases, isn’t aware of the unconscious bias that has come into play.

The interviewer, in the female applying for a mascuiline job role example, isn’t sexist. Instead, the unconscious bias affects, slightly, how the applicant is scored throughout the job interview. With many appointments being made on the difference of a few minor points between the successful and second choice applicant, therfore, this compound of points can make all the difference.

Employers reactions to a stereotype.

Some people have an ‘isum’; sexist, ageist, racist, and many other isums. We group these people as aware and Don’t Care – if an applicant has a stimulus that the employer has a dislike to, it would be hard to change their initial opinion of the applicant even when contradictory evidence to their belief has been presented.

Aware and Care – is when an unconscious bias becomes clear (the interviewer realises that they have a liking and disliking to an applicant not based on logical reasoning). Being aware, the interviewer can challenge themselves (or being aware can be enough to adjust how they score the applicant). If for example, a recruiter made a negative opinion of a candidate based on the candidate being obsese (a study was completed where applications were sent with a candidates picture. Half were sent with an image of an obsese applicant and the other half sent with a picture of an ‘average’ weight candidate. The experiment found that overweight applicants were less likely to gain a job interview offer), they can ask if the weight of an applicant is important to the job in question? Or find examples of an overweight employee being highly successful in their field.

In some cases the stimulus does not have any effect on the interviewer’s decision making process. Stereotypes and prejudices are formed through experiences and the beliefs and the culture of where a person has grown up. If, as an example, an employer grew up in a household where men and women were seen as equal, and sex was never questioned, it would be rare that the employer would be sexist – Not Aware and Not Affected. (but the interviewer could be affected by a second prejudice)

The structured job interview.

The structured job interview has been designed to use an analytical process to help create a ‘fair’ job interview process.

In a structured job interview, each applicant is asked the same interview questions based on the criteria of the advertised job role. Guidance is given to each interviewer on how to score each interview question based on the perceived level of the applicants competencies using a numeric scoring system.

It is during the initial interview answers that applicants can help to change the employers perception of them. If, for example, the applicant’s dress sense, body language and communication styles has created an impression of ‘unprofessional’ the applicant has a short-window to override this initial impression.

For an ‘aware and dont care’ employer changing a deeply held belief can be very difficult.

Analysing people is difficult and stressful. This is why the mind defaults to past schemas, stereotypes and prejudices, to make the decision making an easier process.

Initially, the employer, at job interview start, will consciously analyse the verbal and none verbal communication of the candidate to guess the suitability of the interviewee based on their perceived level of knowledge/experience and confidence.

Within the first 2 interview questions, the data (opinion) received will create a new interview identity, which becomes the filter for all forthcoming job interview answers. This is similar to the process behind the ‘affinity bias’ an association has been made that changes how the applicant is scored within the job interview.

Interview Identity

It is the applicant’s perceived level of industry knowledge and sector experience vs their level of interview confidence, when combined, that forms the ‘interview identity’. This has little to do with how well an employee performs in the actual workplace – as this can not be observed in a job interview, it is therefore, how the applicants interview performance is measured against the requirements for the advertised job role.

Interview prediction test:

To check your job interview identity – how an employer views you, read the 4 statements under each sub-heading and choose the one that most sounds like you.


Specialist Knowledge/Experience

4 Points – 10yrs+ sector experience; able to build on industry-related academic research contributing to the field

3 Points – 3-10 years sector experience; experienced in the implementation of proven theories and models into business as usual

2 Points – 1-3 years relevant experience; academic level of industry knowledge without experience of applying concepts to day to day tasks

1 Point – No experience; possesses soft skills; communication, teamwork, problem-solving

Academic Ability

4 Points – Masters – Doctoral Degree/Post-grad Qualifications (Level 7-8) Professional Industry Qualification (eg a chartered engineer)

3 Points – Degree Level Qualification up to Bachelors (Level 6)

2 Points – Graduate – up to Higher National Diploma (Level 4-5)

1 Point – GCSE/A-Level (Level 2-3) or below

Read the next 4 statements under each subheading and choose the one that most sounds like you. Total up both points and for an odd number result round down to the nearest even number



4 Points – A self-promoter fully aware of their expertise. Demands to be treated with authority and respect, and will challenge anyone with contradictory opinions

3 Points – Believes in their ability, recognizes own skillset and will discuss strengths when questioned

2 Points – Aware of both strengths and areas of development, but can easily disclose weaknesses and mistakes without prompts from others

1 Point – Has a negative view of their abilities and lacks self-appreciation

Communication Style

4 Points – Commands attention and dominates meetings. Complex ideas are explained clearly and competently combining statistics with examples. Able to influence others to take on a new point of view, using logic and reasoning to overcome barriers to objections.

3 Points – Speaks with authority, presents ideas within a structure and uses vocal variety to maintain interest. Able to debate a technical subject, arguing points clearly while expressing their own ideas.

2 Points – Can discuss a familiar subject when asked but finds it difficult to respond when challenged. Feels strained explaining new concepts, however, with comfortable topics speaks clearly and varies pitch/volume.

1 Point – Feels nervous when being the centre of attention. Communication is weak due to hesitations, excessive filler words, low volume and short snappy sentences

You will now possess two figures; one indicating your level of knowledge/experience and the second, your level of confidence. Combined together your score indicates your interview identity.

Once an interview identity has been chosen, a description is given that explains how an employer’s view this interview identity, and their strengths and areas of development.

To access a full overview of your interview identity, click the Interview Prediction Grid.

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