Conducting an Interview


You may not have the time or inclination to create structured situational interviews. However, there are several things you can do to increase the standardization of the interview or otherwise assist the interviewer to ask more consistent and job relevant questions. They include:

  1. Base questions on actual job duties. This will minimize irrelevant questions based on beliefs about the job’s requirements. It may also reduce the likelihood of bias, because there’s less opportunity to ‘read’ things into the answer.
  2. Use job knowledge, situational, or behaviorally oriented questions and objective criteria to evaluate the interviewee’s responses. Questions that simply ask for opinions and attitudes, goals and aspirations, and self-descriptions and self-evaluations allow candidates to present themselves in an overly favorable manner or avoid revealing weaknesses. Structured interview questions can reduce subjectivity and therefore the chance for inacurate conclusions, and bias. Examples of structured questions include: (a) situational questions like, “Suppose you were giving a sales presentation and a difficult technical question arose that you could not answer. What would you do?”; (b) past behavior questions like, “Can you provide an example of a specific instance where you developed a sales presentation that was highly effective?”; (c) background questions like, “What work experiences, training, or other qualifications do you have for working in a teamwork environment?”; (d) job knowledge questions like, “What factors should you consider when developing a TV advertising campaign?”
  3. Train interviewers. For example, review laws with prospective interviewers and train them to avoid irrelevant or potentially discriminatory questions and to avoid stereotyping minority candidates. Also train them to base their questions on job-related information.
  4. Use the same questions with all candidates. When it comes to asking questions, the prescription seems to be “the more standardized, the better.” Using the same questions with all candidates can also reduce bias “because of the obvious fairness of giving all the candidates the exact same opportunity.”
  5. Use rating scales to rate answers. For each question, provide a range of possible ideal answers and quantative score for each. Then you can rate each candidate’s answers against this scale. This ensures that all interviewers are using the same standards.
  6. Use multiple interviewers or panel interviews. Doing so can reduce bias, by diminishing the importance of one interviewer’s idiosyncratic opinions, and by bringing in more points of view.
  7. If possible, use structured interview form. Interviews based on structured guides usually result in the best interviews. At the very least, list your questions before the interview.
  8. Control the interview. Limiting the interviewers’ follow-up questions (to ensure all interviewees get the same questions), using a larger number of querstions, and prohibiting questions from candidates until after the interview are other “structuring” techniques.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Figuring out what to charge


The hardest part of developing a fee schedule is figuring out what to charge. The professional fees in all fields are rather idiosyncratic. Rarely can a freelance professional set an across the board price for services. Most professionals have sliding fees. Some old, favored clients are always charged less than newer, more affluent clients. Some clients are charged overtime and for rush jobs, while others never are. And in almost every field professionals charge different rates for corporate or commercial work as opposed to creative or literary work.

Then, too, there are various ways to structure a professional fee. In the course of one year a professional is likely to take on jobs that pay by the hour, the day, and by flat fee.

What does it all mean to someone starting out in freelancing who is unsure what to charge or even how to figure out a fee schedule? Basically, a freelancer should not get too caught up in working for one preset fee—for one hourly rate. Sometimes a client will pay you less per hour, but you can pad the bill so you end up earning as much as you would if you charged a higher hourly rate. Sometimes you take a consulting job that is not particularly interesting or challenging but which pays well, so you can later take on creative work that does not pay so well. The trick is to charge enough overall so that you earn what you need to earn. But even a sliding scale or a willingness to negotiate does not mean that you will not require a well-planned rate schedule. If you ever go into a meeting to settle a fee and are unsure what to charge or what you would like to earn, then you will probably walk away a loser. You must always be prepared to negotiate, and you should expect to earn what you are worth 90 percent of the time. To do this, you need to figure out in advance what the general fee ranges will be for your services. The only danger is in setting an hourly fee and measuring all your work by that one standard.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Picking up on Lower Transaction Costs


Suppose a firm was pondering whether to integrate vertically into supplier activities or to keep buying supplies from the open market. One important factor is the decision would be the cost of each option. If the firm was buying the supplies from the market, it would have to search for the best price, best quality, and best on-time delivery, negotiate and sign a contract, and make sure that the terms of the contract are enforced. All these activities have costs associated with them—transaction costs. If the firm decided to integrate vertically, it would have to establish a value chain for the activities. It would hire, train, organize, motivate, and lead employees who carry out the activities of the supplier value chain internally—all of which also costs money. The firm would integrate vertically if its costs of organizing transactions internally are lower than those of doing so externally. That would depend on four things: asset specificity, uncertainty, the frequency of transactions, and whether the supplier is opportunistic. Asset specificity refers to how idiosyncratic an asset in the relationship becomes as it (the relationship) develops.

 

All else being equal, the higher the asset specificity, uncertainty, and frequency of transactions, the higher the transaction costs of market transactions, and the more the manufacturer should think about vertical integration.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com