Aviation Articles

Presentation v. Job Performance in an Interview


Recently Michael Homula, of Bearing Fruit Consulting, read my article "In An Interview, What Message Is Your Body Language Sending?" and responded with an insightful post on his blog regarding common practice, and common mistakes, performed by interviewers far and wide.  Here is the link if you are interested in reading his post.  In his post, he asserts that the best employees are more focused on result oriented job performance, therefore often do not perform well in an interview and that interviewers are more concerned with interview performance than actual job competence.
I completely agree with Michael’s assessment of many human resource departments and their representatives who conduct interviews.  It is unfortunate that interviewers fall back on a primal perception of a candidate rather than to evaluate actual job performance and the ability to perform in a new workplace. 

Why does this happen?  We can formulate as many assumptions are there are people in this world, but the sad fact of the matter is interviewers relying on perception is actually commonplace. 

My opinion as to why this occurs in an interview is twofold. 
First, it has been only in recent years that the Human Resources department is becoming recognized and valued as a viable contributing entity to an organization.  Historically, HR has been the department where employees were dispensed when employers had no idea where else to assign them.  Many HR departments were, and in many cases still are, comprised of “friends” of top executives.   Some of these folks may very well be qualified for the position they hold, but in many cases, they may not be qualified.  If the unqualified superior possesses any insecurities regarding their own position they are subject to hiring people into the department who will not “show them up” and thus not hold the requisite skills or training for the department.  This unfortunately results with a trickle down of under qualified subordinates who lack proper insight to a behavioral based interview evaluation.  Again, historically the Human Resources department was considered an inconsequential entity to the entire organization and a relatively safe department to employ friends.  Thankfully, the notion of unimportance for this department, and vocational field, is changing.

Second, I believe there is a lack of training for the people conducting interviews.  Particularly in aviation, I have witnessed a widespread lack of training for those HR representatives (and pilot interviewers) on proper interviewing methods, techniques and evaluation. 

Not all interviewers are unsuccessful at evaluating a candidate’s job performance and it is worth noting that it seems, albeit ever so slowly, recognizing the need for behavioral interview training for interviewers is on the rise in Corporate America. 

In the aviation world, some airlines have implemented evaluation procedures that I believe are more in line with evaluating the pilot candidate’s viability accurately.  FedEx, Southwest, Frontier and SkyWest airlines implement a section of their interview that physically places the candidate in a situation for them to resolve utilizing their piloting skills.  Each airline has a different name for this section of the interview, often termed “SBI” (Situational Based Interview) or” LOI” (Line Oriented Interview.)  This portion of the interview places the candidate in a paper mock-up of the airplane’s flight deck, complete with a First Officer and sometimes a jump-seater.  The idea is to simulate an actual flight.  Then a particular occurrence, or emergency, ensues and the candidate, acting as Captain of this mock flight, responds to the emergency.  This is a role-play where each person acts out the scenario.  In essence, the resolution process that the candidate executes shows the interviewers a piece of their potential job performance. 

Personally, I believe this is one of the best forms of evaluation for an airline pilot candidate as it allows the candidate to demonstrate performance capability and gives the interviewer a more accurate picture of the candidate.   It illustrates one of the most important factors of the skill of an airline pilot, which is how they handle an emergency or high-pressure situation in the air.  Of course, this is not a complete picture of the candidate and a face-to-face interview is still necessary to determine company “fit.”  This is where Michael and I agree – interviewers need training.

Although Michael and I agree with regard to interviewer training, it does not negate the fact that these instinctual fallbacks of evaluation still exist.  Hence, I took to writing an article on how to recognize and conquer your own physical demeanor in an interview.  Sadly, with current times and the slowly evolving HR world, we, as job candidates, are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the interviewers are not distracted with knee-jerk reactions to our personal presentation so that they may see our skills and performance capabilities. 

Another important fact to remember is that some candidates have trouble communicating appropriate answers.  People are human and rely on effective communication for better understanding of a candidate’s skill and potential job performance so without proper behavioral interview training of the interviewer and communication training for the candidate; the interview could be a bust for no good reason.

About the Author:
Lori Clark, Owner of Clark Consulting (FlyTheLine.com), helps pilots to understand how an airline interview board perceives them. As a former Manager of Pilot Recruiting, she has interviewed thousands of airline pilots. Clark now helps pilots prepare for airline interviews by working with each client individually teaching techniques for better communication and understanding. For more information, please visit Clark Consulting at http://www.FlyTheLine.com.
©2008 Clark Aviation Consulting, All Rights Reserved.  Reprints with permission.

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