Interviewing format: how choice of format may impact personality traits elicited

Kerry A. Kiley, The College of Wooster


A range of interviewing formats are used by employers to interact with potential employees or colleagues. In particular, employers often use interviews to assess personality traits to assist in the employment process. However, interviewing formats have not been expansively researched, especially in relation to personality traits elicited during the interview process. This study investigated the Big Five personality traits: extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, and openness in relation to interview style. Personality traits may be diversely displayed depending on the compatibility of the applicant's personality with the format utilized. Three interviewing formats (unstructured, situational, and behavioral) were applied to explore the relationship between the personality traits elicited and the format used. The objective of this study was to investigate whether unstructured interviews would elicit stronger personality traits than situational and behavioral interview formats. Each group of participants (30 participants: 15 males and 15 females) was randomly assigned to one of the three interviewing formats. Each participant completed a 15-minute interview and two self-report surveys, which were compared to the researcher's surveys. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the three interviewing formats and the personality traits elicited. This research may benefit organizations, particularly Human Resources Departments, regarding effective interviewing processes.