A recent study has revealed the importance in interviewing techniques when it comes to hiring across cultural boundaries, which could have severe implications on both immigrants and employers looking to replace the retiring baby-boomers in Canada over the coming years.
University of Toronto Professor Julie McCarthy has been studying the effects of interview techniques on hiring practices – particularly examining the employer “similarity attraction paradigm” as it has been dubbed by researchers. The theory is that employers unknowingly tend to hire candidates who are similar to them more than those who are different.
After studying the interviews and hiring of 20,000 applicants for positions at a U.S. government agency, McCarthy and her colleagues determined the similarity paradigm could be avoided by using highly structured interview techniques – that is, direct interview questions on knowledge, skills, and past experience, rather than more informal “get-to-know-each-other” type interviews.
Experts also encourage employers to have more than one interviewer present. It is especially effective if the interviewers represent different demographics themselves.
This can be of critical importance when immigrants are being interviewed, as they will not always be aware of certain cultural expectations in Canada – such as maintaining eye contact, and taking pride in speaking of their past professional accomplishments.
As immigration increases and the country’s labour force diversifies, employers of all sizes are realizing the importance of adapting new interview techniques. Many are even turning to HR consultants to become more aware of other cultures, which will benefit everyone in the long run, says Nick Noorani, an immigrant employment expert and advisor who founded Canadian Immigrant magazine.
“A lot of immigrant HR professionals are being employed in companies. And that’s an important fact – they’ve walked that walk, they’ve gone that route,” said Noorani. “We need to start becoming colour-blind, looking at people as people rather than ethnicities and hyphenated Canadians.”
Source: Globe and Mail