Employment Interviews and How They Have Changed Ethically From the 1950's Until Today Thesis

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¶ … job interview is the most important aspect of acquiring a job. Throughout the years different aspects of the job interview have changed, yet many things have remained the same. The purpose of this discussion is to examine how employment interviews have changed ethically since the 1950's until today.

Employment Interview Ethics

Anyone who has ever applied to a job position knows just how important an interview is in determining whether or not they acquire a position with the company or organization (Ilkka, 1995). In fact some research has suggested that once an interview begins an interviewer determines very quickly whether or not the individual will be hired. According to Kulik (2004)

Interviewers make up their minds about an applicant's suitability very quickly. In one often-cited study, a researcher concluded that interviewers made their decisions within the first 3 to 4 minutes of the job interview! That 3- to 4-minute estimate is probably extreme, but recent research finds that interviewers express confidence that they have made a final decision 15 to 16 minutes into the interview (Kulik, 2004, pg. 71)."

Employment interview ethics involves the ethical behavior of both the organization (interviewer) and the individual seeking the job, the interviewee. Employment interview ethics involves various aspects of the interview process including pre-employment screening and the manner in which the interviewee presents information such as job experience. In either case, employment interviews have changed ethically from the 1950's to the present.

1950's and 1960's

Throughout the history of employment interviews ethics have been emphasized. Employers have always wanted to know if the potential employee was trustworthy and could perform the job in a manner that was ethical and trustworthy. During the 1950's and 1960's significant changes were occurring in the workforce. These changes were influenced by the civil rights movement and the women's liberation movement.

As it pertains to the civil rights movement, certain social changes occurred which had an impact on employment interview ethics. In addition to the civil rights movement, the women's liberation movement resulted in an increase in the number of women applying to jobs.

In many ways these two movements had a profound effect on employment interview ethics; however, these effects were not realized right away.

For the most part during the 1950's and 1960's employment interview ethics were not as prominent an issue as it is today (Buzzanell, 1999). It was a different type of society and information on possible employees were not as accessible as it is at the current time. As it pertains to women and minorities and pre-employment screenings there was a great deal of discrimination but for the most part such discrimination was legal until the civil rights act of 1964. Until this time and for some time after the passage of the bill, there were certain places that women and minorities were not allowed to work as such the interview wouldn't have even taken place.

At places where women and minorities could get jobs businesses could be quite cruel to people during the interviewing process (Woodzicka & Lafrance, 2005). This cruelty could be seen in the manner in which women had to endure sexual harassment/sexism and minorities had to deal with racism. These attitudes concerning women and minorities in the workplace were perpetuated by society. As such organizations often had policies that allowed this type of unethical behavior continued throughout the 1950's and a great deal of the 1960's. The passage of the civil rights act in 1964 made illegal some of the practices taking place during employment interviews that were unethical. However it took a great deal of time and the adoption of additional laws before organizations change the manner in which minorities and women were treated on job interviews.

As it pertained to people who were not minorities or women, job interviews during the 1950's and 1960's were often quite different depending on the job that was sought, just as they are today. For the most part, applicants were made aware that certain positions were available and told when to show up for an interview. In addition people who had completed college were often geared into certain positions as colleges had relationships with different organizations and employers. If an individual had to prove that they could carryout certain tasks, this was done during the interview process or before the potential employee was interviewed. In many cases the person seeking employment may have been offered the job the same day.

Because the nature of the world was quite different in the 1950 and 1960's ethics and the job interview were not as prominent as these issues are today. Interviewers did not have the technology nor did the need to investigate the personal lives of applicants. In some cases the criminal record of an applicant was checked but people were a bit more trusting of one another and the ethical issues that now arise during job interviews were not as prevalent at that time.

Overall, during the 1950's and the 1960's many organizations were unethical before and during the interview process because they discriminated against women and minorities. This meant that the interviewing process was unfair to certain segments of the population. On the other hand people outside of these groups were often treated fairly and during the course of their interviews, both the interviewer and the interviewee tended to have certain ethical standards as it pertained to the fairness of the interviewer and the honesty of the interviewee.

1970's and the 1980's

During the 1970 and the 1980's many organizations started to adapt certain policies as it pertain to employment interviews. The 1970's was a challenging time in the nation and human resources management became the center of discussion within the organizational context. In the 1970's greater emphasis was placed on asking the interviewee ethical questions. That is organization began to develop comprehensive ethical standards and as such they wanted to ensure that potential employees would adhere to these standards once they were hired.

It is during this time that other prescreening methods were developed. Theses methods include written test that are given to applicants prior to having an interview. Such test assists organizations in understanding the character of the applicant and assist in determining whether or not the applicant is a correct match for the position.

Several narrative reviews and a comprehensive meta-analysis have produced a consensus about pre-employment integrity tests. These measures predict various honesty-related criteria regardless of job type or organizational setting. They lack adverse impact against females or members of racial and ethnic minorities, which means that they meet stringent criteria of legal fairness. Applicants generally regard them as appropriate for job screening. Finally, these tests tap a broad personality construct, probably workplace conscientiousness, which influences a wide range of job attitudes and behaviors (Sackett, Burns, & Callahan, 1989; Sackett & Harris, 1984)."

Such tests are frequently given for positions in which the employee would be responsible for sensitive information or have access to large amounts of money or valuable accounts.

During the 1980's the use of such tests in the interviewing process grew substantially and became the norm in many industries. The 1970's and 1980's also marked the beginning of the introduction of new technologies and the increased use of computers in the workplace. Interview ethics and organizational ethics in general became a greater part of the overall organizational strategy.

During these two decades, organizations began to understand the importance of ethics in the interviewing process because of the need to secure the best candidates for certain positions. There was an increased concern that some applicants were not providing truthful information concerning job experience and/or education. However, the ethics of interviewees in this regard was not as questionable as it became in the 1990's and into the present.

1990's through the present

Many of the most dramatic changes in employment interview ethics have taken pace over the past twenty years. During the late eighties and early nineties advances in technology drastically changed the manner in which organizations conducted interviews and the type of information available about the interviewee. The internet is the most significant reason for the changes that have occurred over the last 20 years.

Not only does the internet provide employers with information about employees, it also provides potential employees with a great deal of information about organizations. As a result of this readily available information many issues of ethical behavior arise. On the one hand, organizations have to consider whether or not information available on the internet concerning an applicant's past should be used in determining whether or not the person gets a position. On the other hand, applicants are often faced with the dilemma of whether or not to pad their resumes to appear more qualified for the job position.

Each of these issues is currently questioned as it pertains to ethical behaviors as it pertains to interviews. Although these issues have recently been more prevalent according to Pawlowski & Hollwitz (2000) there has been a great deal of attention… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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