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25 Role Plays For Interview Training

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					25 Role Plays for
Interview Training
                 Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault
               Castle Consultants International




   HRD Press, Inc. • Amherst • Massachusetts
© 1993 by Geof Cox


The materials that appear in this book, other than those quoted from prior sources, may be
reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no requirement to obtain special permission
for such uses. We do, however, ask that the following statement appear on all reproductions:


                Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training, by Geof Cox and
                Chuck Dufault, Amherst, Massachusetts: HRD Press, 1993.


This permission statement is limited to reproduction of materials for educational or training events.
Systematic or large-scale reproduction or distribution—or inclusion of items in publications for
sale—may be carried out only with prior written permission from the publisher.




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Cover design by Old Mill Graphics
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments.....................................................................................................            v
Introduction ...............................................................................................................    1
Part A: Selection........................................................................................................ 17
      Introduction ........................................................................................................... 17
      Selection Interviews .............................................................................................. 19
            1. Campus Interview .................................................................................... 23
            2. Job Interview—First One ......................................................................... 47
            3. Job Interview—Second One .................................................................... 81
            4. Evaluating for Promotion.......................................................................... 97
            5. Project Team Selection............................................................................ 107

Part B: Appraisal ....................................................................................................... 113
      Introduction ........................................................................................................... 113
      Appraisal Interviews.............................................................................................. 115
            6. Alex Sainsbury: An Underperforming Young Graduate............................ 121
            7. Chris Handy: Eager But Has a Behavioral Problem................................. 129
            8. Lesley Smith: Overlooked for Promotion.................................................. 137
            9. Pat Jones: An Excellent Performer .......................................................... 145
           10. Bobby Martin: Developmental Needs Analysis ........................................ 153

Part C: Counseling .................................................................................................... 161
      Introduction ........................................................................................................... 161
      Counseling Interviews........................................................................................... 163
           11. Eliminating Jobs....................................................................................... 169
           12. Suspected Alcohol Abuse ........................................................................ 175
           13. Performance Problem .............................................................................. 181
           14. Sick Leave Absences............................................................................... 187
           15. Career Guidance...................................................................................... 193

Part D: Discipline....................................................................................................... 199
      Introduction ........................................................................................................... 199
      Disciplinary Interviews .......................................................................................... 201
           16. Sexual Harassment.................................................................................. 207
           17. Unsafe Work Practice .............................................................................. 215
           18. Racial Discrimination ............................................................................... 221
           19. Interpersonal Conflict ............................................................................... 227
           20. Poor Punctuality....................................................................................... 235


                                                                                                                               iii
Part E: Exit ................................................................................................................. 241
     Introduction ........................................................................................................... 241
     Exit Interviews....................................................................................................... 243
          21. Terminating Employment ......................................................................... 249
          22. Resignation .............................................................................................. 255
          23. Voluntary Early Retirement ...................................................................... 261
          24. Dismissal.................................................................................................. 267
          25. Closure/Relocation of Business ............................................................... 273




iv
Acknowledgments
Our work in interpersonal skills training throughout the world has highlighted the fact
that managers everywhere experience similar difficulties in communicating effectively,
especially during formal interviews. Very often we find that the interviewee is far better
trained and prepared than the interviewer (for example, when the interviewee is a recent
graduate of a business school and is seeking employment). This manual is devoted to
helping improve the skills of interviewers through practice in simulations derived from
real-life situations. We trust that you will use them to facilitate learning and thus improve
the standard of interviews within organizations.

In compiling this collection of role plays, we have drawn not only on our own personal
experience of interviewing on four continents, but also on the experiences and teaching
of many organizations and individuals. We would like to pay tribute to some of our
mentors and trainers who have helped to form our insights into the skills and behaviors
for successful interviewing: Bob Preece, Ron Owen, Robert de Board, Garth Spiers,
Walt Hopkins, Jean-Antoine de Mandato, Nick Oakley, and Waldan Setzfand. Also, our
thanks go to all those managers whom we have worked with and for who helped us
begin to understand how not to do it!

Our approach has been shaped by colleagues and consultants with whom we have
worked in developing various internal programs and in conducting interviews: David
Frankel, Rob Helpburn, Suzanne Kemper, Dominique Herrmann, Chris Nettleton,
Robert Vuille, and Jacques Wolff.

Finally, it is impossible to say how much we have learned from the thousands of
candidates, colleagues, and clients we have interviewed over the years, but they
certainly deserve credit for their contribution to ideas and insights shared here.

Any errors, omissions, or oversights remain ours alone.



                                                                                 Geof Cox
                                                                              Chuck Dufault




                                                                                           v
Symbols
          Handout


          Exercise




                     vii
Introduction
                            Using the Role Plays
This manual is divided into six sections—a general introduction and five parts, each
dealing with a different type of interview. The Introduction contains information on the
general approach and skills associated with interviewing and conducting role plays. This
information can be used as the basis of initial presentations in a general interviewing
skills program or training course. It also presents some of the assumptions and
definitions we have used in compiling this manual. The five interview types are:
    1.   Selection
    2.   Appraisal
    3.   Counseling
    4.   Discipline
    5.   Exit
Each specialist section contains five different role plays that were developed from real
life experiences and that represent some of the problems and situations that inter-
viewers encounter. The role plays are designed to have a successful conclusion, not to
be solely confrontational, and allow the interviewer to practice and develop the skills
associated with that particular type of interview.

At the start of each of the main sections, there are some general guidance notes on the
logistics and timing of the role plays, followed by a handout giving further detailed
information on the specific skills, approach, and pitfalls of that type of interview. Each
role play has trainer guidance information covering the objectives and points to consider
appropriate to that situation. This will help you:

    •    Choose the most appropriate role play for the learning objective.
    •    Observe and analyze the role play effectively.
    •    Guide and present feedback to the participants on the effectiveness and
         appropriate use of behavior.

The role plays are designed primarily to allow participants to practice their interviewing
skills in simulations of real life circumstances. They can also be used to test partici-
pants’ skills in decision making and analysis, and in overall organizational and legal
knowledge. For instance, some of the role plays in the selection interviews call for a
choice to be made between candidates, and for interviewers to be able to give informa-
tion on the organization to prospective employees. The role plays in the discipline and
counseling sections could be used to test knowledge of organizational policies and pro-
cedures and of legal limitations. The role plays in the appraisal section can test knowl-
edge of career and development opportunities.



                                                                                           1
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Making the connection between the role play and the real-life organizational conditions
and procedures of the participants will enhance the learning, and wherever possible,
participants should use knowledge of the structure and procedures of their own organi-
zation (that are not confidential) to build on the role play given to them. In some of the
role plays, this instruction is made explicit.

Finally, we would ask that you use these role plays to facilitate the learning in whatever
way you find appropriate. While we have written them with some specific objectives in
mind, these are only our perceptions of how they can be used, and we welcome your
adapting and developing the main theme as appropriate.


                        Introduction to Interviewing
In all aspects of our lives, we interview others. We are constantly involved in talking to
people, most often with a purpose. We want to obtain information about who they are,
what they have done, what they want or need, and what motivates them. We want to
clarify objectives or objections to ensure mutual understanding and agreement. These
interviewing skills are essential to managers, supervisors, teachers, students, buyers,
sellers, professionals, parents, or anyone who wants and needs to understand others
and to be understood. This manual provides a series of exercises to facilitate training to
acquire or refine skills that will bring results when interviewing others.

In today’s workplace, most managers and professionals are well prepared to grasp the
strategic, financial, and technical elements of their jobs. However, one major challenge
has always been to communicate effectively with people and mobilize the organizational
resources to carry out strategic projects. The main problem often lies in fully under-
standing and developing individuals and teams in order to cope with complexity, diver-
sity, and change. If effective communication is the ultimate interpersonal skill, then the
ability to interview for results must be key to understanding customers, suppliers, and
staff, and to developing successful teams.

Ironically, in many recruitment interviews, the hurried, pressured line manager who must
choose the best future collaborator to achieve his or her organization’s goals is less
skilled in interviewing than the applicant. The cost of an error in hiring based on gut
feelings or the loss related to a misunderstanding of a client’s real needs can be dis-
astrous. Many leading organizations have recognized this and invest in interviewing
training for their staff. Universities and colleges, and outplacement and recruitment
consultants have also recognized the benefit of developing and preparing their can-
didates for the job market by training interviewees. The role plays contained in this
manual and the overviews on interviewing are based on years of experience in many
interviewing contexts and reflect real life situations, whether in recruitment or some
other aspect of interviewing.




2
                                                                                   Introduction


What Is an Interview?
The interview is a form of discussion or face-to-face conference between two or more
people. As opposed to casual conversation or spontaneous discussion, it has a purpose
or objective. The Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word interview as “a
meeting of people face to face, as for evaluating or questioning a job applicant.” Public
interest surveys, attitude or opinion polls, and market research studies rely heavily on
the interview. It is also a well-known technique in psychological counseling and psychi-
atric treatment.

The business and management worlds have taken the basic idea of an interview as
being a conversation with a purpose and expanded it both beyond the dictionary defi-
nitions and beyond face-to-face situations. While most interviews still take place face to
face, the rapid development of communications technology has led to an increase of
interviewing through the media of teleconferencing or electronic message exchange.
Even without the physical presence of the parties involved, we find interviews con-
ducted using high-tech media are still an option. Although it may be difficult to imagine
interviewing through video-conferencing, we must recognize that the skills required (i.e.,
careful planning and preparation, the use of listening and questioning techniques, and
analysis of results) can be learned and developed.

The Industrial Society∗ has defined an interview as “a meeting of persons for discussion
where there is an explicit objective to the conversation and where one party is responsi-
ble for achieving this objective.” Thus the purpose of each interview will influence its
planning, organization, and structure. The skills that we admire and respect in suc-
cessful interviewers who regularly meet and achieve their objectives can be developed
and learned.

Most of us can probably recall a successful interview of a public figure on television,
radio, or in the press, where we admired the journalist’s apparent success at eliciting
information, as well as his or her ability to put the other person at ease. We can
probably also recall occasions when the need to meet with someone made us feel
uncomfortable and nervous, whether we were the interviewer or the interviewee. Some
of these latter occasions probably turned out badly and left us feeling dissatisfied.

Conversely, most people can also remember examples of others who were particularly
skillful in involving us through their attitude, ability, and behaviors: someone who helped
us recall a positive impact; who was genuinely interested in helping us understand; who
wanted to help us improve our performance or accept more challenging goals; who
really made us feel it would be stimulating and satisfying to work for his or her company;
or who overcame our objections and helped us swallow a bitter pill. The role plays that
follow will help develop the necessary skills to become more effective in interviews in
common situations that one might encounter.


∗
    Janis Grummit, A Guide to Interviewing Skills, The Industrial Society, 1980.



                                                                                             3
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Types of Interviews
In the world of management, there are several different situations that call for inter-
viewing skills, and in this Introduction, we will review these to clarify the common points
for planning, procedure, and execution. Then we will present a choice of role plays to
develop skills in the more frequent forms of interviews, with some guidance on the
specific style and skills associated with that form. The main forms of interview we
encounter in our professional lives are those that deal with:

    1. Selection: Recruitment and selection; final employment; induction
    2. Appraisal: Assessment; performance evaluation; objective-setting; work
       planning
    3. Counseling: Advice; complaints; conflict-resolution; guidance; grievance
    4. Discipline: Unacceptable actions or attitudes; performance problems, repri-
       mands; disregard for rules, policies, or procedures
    5. Exit: Terminations; work force reduction and subsequent layoffs; resignation

Under the above headings, the general purpose or objective may seem quite evident to
both interviewer and interviewee. However, in many cases, an interview may have more
than one objective and could therefore be confusing to the participants unless the per-
son who initiated the interview combines the various objectives and keeps the conver-
sation on track. Most interviews contain elements of both information-gathering and
information-giving, and it is important to identify and manage both. It is also possible
that issues other than the official or formally stated purpose of the interview may be part
of the agenda, often called the “hidden” agenda. Wherever possible, these should be
identified in planning for the interview and should also be given adequate attention to
achieve satisfactory results.

Most interviews take place between two individuals in a one-to-one format. However,
sometimes—often where several opinions or special expertise is required—it may be
advisable to hold panel or team interviews (for instance, when several people from one
or more work groups interview a candidate for employment; when a personnel officer is
included in an exit interview; or when a work council, union, or staff association repre-
sentative is present for a disciplinary interview).

The panel interview can enhance the quality of the interview by providing an extra view-
point, providing specific expertise, or introducing third-party objectivity. However, the
presence of more than one interviewer requires very careful planning and scheduling for
all parties. It must be decided, for instance, who should take what role, who will focus on
what factors, who is responsible for recording and reporting the information, how the
information will be evaluated, and who will be responsible for making and carrying out
final decisions. As in any group or team situation, the process, roles, and responsibilities
should be thoroughly coordinated, planned, and understood by all involved. The poten-
tial benefits of the panel interview format can easily be undermined by a lack of suffi-
cient coordinating and planning.

4
                                                                                        Introduction


None of the role plays in this manual has been specifically written for a panel interview,
but many could be used in that way. Where it is felt that a panel interview is appropriate,
a note to this effect will be found in the relevant Trainer Guidance section. The role play
also contains instructions for the interviewers to review their own roles and procedures
both before and after the interview.

Following is a summary of the main interview types included in this book, their main
objectives, and the expectations in both giving and gathering information. At the start of
each part, further specific information on each type is given.

      Interview              Objective(s)                        Giving/Gathering
        Type                                                        Information

    Selection           Select the person who        Giving: Organization culture and structure, job
                        would best fit into the      description, required skills, employment condi-
                        position and the total       tions, career possibilities, etc.
                        organization.
                                                     Gathering: Education, experience, intellectual
                                                     and interpersonal factors, motivation


    Appraisal           Evaluate performance;        Giving: Positive and constructive feedback,
                        review past objectives;      new objectives, career and development plans
                        set new objectives; review
                        areas for improvement,       Gathering: Feedback, needs, areas for devel-
                        development, or training.    opment, career goals


    Counseling          Listen to and understand     Giving: Process and systematic approach,
                        problems, and help indi-     support, and feedback
                        viduals find their own
                        solutions.                   Gathering: Nature and source of problem, pos-
                                                     sible solutions


    Discipline          Advise and correct gaps      Giving: Standards expected, training and
                        between expected and         resources to meet these standards, information
                        actual standards of          on consequences for non-conformance
                        behavior or performance.
                                                     Gathering: Reasons for non-conformance,
                                                     acceptance of standards, and process for
                                                     improvement


    Exit                Explore reasons for          Giving: Reasons for and terms of leaving the
                        leaving, and explain and     company
                        clarify conditions.
                                                     Gathering: Reasons for living, perception of
                                                     organization




                                                                                                       5
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Systematic Planning
It is important to use a systematic approach to planning, organizing, and controlling the
various elements of an interview. Since most interviews are formal, there is usually time
available for this. Learning and practicing a systematic approach will also enable us to
use the various elements and techniques when unexpected situations occur and there
has been no prior time to prepare adequately.

The following should be considered in preparing for an interview:


Purpose
    •    What is the main reason for holding the interview?
    •    What is the desired outcome or result?
    •    What other secondary objectives are there, if any?

The old saying “If you do not know where you’re going, any road will take you there”
sums up the need to set a clear objective for the interview.

Planning
    Why?
    • Establish specific objective(s) and purpose.

    When?
    • What time constraints, deadlines or schedules are there? Are they appropriate
      for all parties?

    Where?
    • Is there a suitable location, room, or environment that will minimize distractions
      and interruptions from people, telephones, and noise?
    •    Is there access to other information or documentation about the individual or
         about the situation (for example, company literature, policy or procedures
         manuals, application form or résumé, job description)?

    How?
    • Duration: Allow appropriate time to establish rapport, discuss all pertinent
       issues, and conclude with a satisfactory result.
    •    Establish structure, content, and approach for type of interview.
    •    Control Review: Before—Does plan meet objectives? During—Am I going
         according to plan? After—What went well, and what can be improved? Devise
         or review a summary or checklist that can be used during the interview to
         ensure that all of the relevant points have been covered.



6
                                                                                Introduction


    Who?
    • Who are the parties involved? Is a third party appropriate or present? Is it a
      panel interview or one-to-one?

    What next?
    • Determine conclusion, analysis, and follow-up action.


Structure, Content, and Approach
The structure of the interview should be planned and consist of three phases: introduc-
tion; exchange, or giving and getting information; and conclusion.

Plans should establish which subjects will be covered, what questions will be asked, in
what order, and for what purpose.


Introduction
This is the start of the interview. This should cover establishing the climate, putting the
meeting in perspective, giving an overview of what is to be discussed, clarifying the
structure and objectives of the interview and how these will be approached, establishing
the timetable, and determining what will happen after the interview.


Exchange
This is the body of the interview. This should be a thorough exploration of the objectives
and any points related to them, checking and summarizing that all issues raised are
understood by both parties. If there is disagreement on a certain point, the interviewer
should ensure the understanding of both parties and the mutual willingness to explore
the issue further, or accept the disagreement.


Conclusion
This is the summary and closure. This should restate the objectives as established in
the introduction, summarize what has been agreed to and accomplished, and clarify and
agree to any action plans and next steps.

The content and approach of the interview will flow from the definition of the type of
interview, the specific objectives, and the detailed planning of the structure. The suc-
cessful interviewer will then blend a positive, constructive attitude and skillful use of
conversational, listening, and questioning techniques to guide the progress of the
discussion. This is a communication meeting where the objective is to exchange infor-
mation, arrive at a common understanding, and agree on a plan of action.



                                                                                            7
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Many interviews deal with sensitive issues that can be stressful for both parties. This
can be reduced through careful preparation, a relaxed approach, and calm control. It is
always more appropriate to address the issues or problems and not attack personality
or individual character traits.

If possible, it is also more effective to separate, or make distinctions between, interviews
that have different objectives. So it is better to separate the performance review and
appraisal from the discussion of salary increase; to separate the preliminary selection
interview of a new employee from the discussions of detailed employment conditions;
and to separate the interview informing a person of layoffs from a meeting covering the
actual terms of a separation package and any available outplacement counseling. In
practice, however, there are often time constraints and extenuating factors that have to
be weighed by each organization. The skills and behaviors of the interviewer are then
critical in being able to give clarity to the process and different objectives, and also to
observe the behavior and responses of the interviewee, checking for symptoms that
indicate the interview is no longer meeting its objectives.


Interviewing Skills
The interviewer has to convey the importance of the meeting and the objectives, while
projecting an attitude of involvement, concern, and professionalism. The interviewer
should be interested, well prepared, and in control, moving naturally from one topic to
the next. Airing differences, exchanging views, and reaching common understanding
are all part of an intelligent discussion. Arguments or defensive justification will not
resolve differences, and it is best to allow sufficient time to deal with one subject at a
time.

Conversational skills are key to establishing rapport and controlling the interview. While
different approaches may apply in different types of interviews, the same general skills
will be required: questioning, listening, and analyzing.


Questioning
The good interviewer will balance and alternate different types of questions to explore
facts, feelings, and attitudes. The objective is an exchange of information, so the
interviewee should be encouraged and allowed to talk for at least half of the allotted
total time. When obtaining information is the main concern, the time balance should
swing toward the interviewee. When giving information, the time balance will swing
toward the interviewer, who should still allow enough time for the interviewee to check
understanding and ask questions.

In controlling the interview, the use of different questioning techniques will help the
interviewer obtain information, extract more detail, probe for reasons and feelings,
explore options and alternatives, and moderate the flow of information.


8
                                                                                 Introduction


Open questions encourage the flow of information. They generally begin with the words
what, why, when, where, or how, and encourage expansive response. For example,
“What are the reasons for your poor punctuality?” or “Tell me more about what you did
in your work at Alpha Corporation.” These require a more complex answer than just
“yes” or “no” and lead the interviewee to express emotions, attitudes, and feelings as
well as facts.

Closed questions are direct and focused, calling for a straight and simple answer. For
example, “Did you refuse to wear a hard hat on site?” These questions are concluding
and summarizing and often require no more than a “yes” or “no” response. They control
the flow of information, and are effective in altering the pace of an interview or in pinning
down a verbose interviewee.

Probing questions are used to follow up and obtain more detail (for example, “Can you
be more specific about the responsibilities you had in your last position?”). Their pur-
pose is to draw out more information about specific points, aiming for depth rather than
breadth of information.

Leading questions are directive, indicating the preferred answer or even revealing the
interviewer’s opinion. For example, “Surely you agree that early retirement could be an
alternative, don’t you?” These are not productive in obtaining depth and quality of infor-
mation, but can be effective to confirm agreement; limit a rambling, garrulous interviewee;
or signal a move on to another topic. Their use should be limited, or the interview will
become interviewer-dominated with the interviewee merely confirming or disagreeing.

Hypothetical questions are open questions that pose a “What if…” scenario. They can
be useful in analyzing knowledge, attitudes, reactions, creativity, and speculative
thinking: “How would you react to…?” “What would you do if…?” “Have you considered
this approach…?”

Multiple questions are several questions joined in a series and tend to confuse the inter-
viewee, resulting in limited information: “Did you prefer economics or natural sciences?
Why did you choose engineering over business studies? How did you manage to com-
plete your studies and finance your college education?” They also allow the interviewee
to choose to answer only one question, usually the easiest or the least important: “What
examples of real leadership experience have you had? Is there any significant work
experience that is appropriate to this job? Do you think you have as much experience as
your peer group?” It may be useful in a selection interview to combine questions requiring
several repetitive factual responses: “For each prior job, could you please tell me your
employer, dates of service, responsibilities, salary, highlights, and reasons for leaving.”
This avoids having to interrupt regularly with the same questions and gives the inter-
viewee responsibility for covering all the points. If he or she avoids or overlooks certain
details, the interviewer should probe further.

Linking questions both provide summaries to confirm correct understanding and make a
transition to new subjects: “So, your education prepared you well for your professional
goals. Now can you tell me how it helped you in your first job?”


                                                                                           9
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Listening
Active, attentive listening is an important skill for the interviewer. Most of us have
learned that it is quite difficult to listen when speaking and therefore the first rule of
effective listening is to stop talking. This includes talking to ourselves by thinking of what
to say next. Careful listening and analysis of what was said, how it was said, and what
was left unsaid are keys to being an effective interviewer.

Another rule of effective listening is to observe and analyze the conduct and behavior of
the interviewee. The words, tone of voice, and gestures or body language can all be
indicators or clues to direct the interviewer where to probe further and when to explore
feelings as well as facts. There may be contradictions or discrepancies that need to be
explored, and good observation will allow the interviewer to infer what was not said, as
well as hearing what was said.

Summarizing and paraphrasing what has been heard are active listening skills that
clarify the content and ensure understanding. Interviewers should paraphrase regularly
to check that they have heard what was said, and more importantly, to understand what
was meant. There are many possible barriers between the interviewer and interviewee
such as position, education, experience, information, status, age, gender, race, etc. All
have a bearing on how individuals will interpret information. Repeating what we have
heard will check any perception distortions that may have occurred in sending and
receiving a message and ensure accurate listening. The process of paraphrasing and
summarizing also reassures the interviewee that we are interested and involved, listen-
ing carefully with concern.

The interviewer’s approach and style of questioning should establish rapport, put the
interviewee at ease, and show genuine interest. The attitude should be fair and equita-
ble, be reinforcing and supporting, and reflect empathy or the ability to understand the
other’s feelings from his or her position. Active listening is a powerful skill that goes
beyond having good eye contact and occasional nodding gestures. It is not judgmental
and encourages real involvement and sharing information to achieve a level of open
communication based on a sensitive understanding of the other person’s perspective.
Once the information has been obtained, it must then be analyzed.


Analyzing
The analysis of what is being said and the information that comes out of the interview
should be noted on a checklist or form devised in the planning stage. This will enable
the interviewer to check whether there are still points to cover and to note conclusions
and action steps to be taken after the interview. The notes will serve to review the
interview and confirm the important points.

Also, good interviewers will remember to analyze the interview itself. What worked well
and what was not effective? Were the objectives achieved and was the planning appro-
priate? Was there time balance between the interviewee and the interviewer? How


10
                                                                                  Introduction


much information was obtained? What could be improved next time? The skills and
techniques of interviewing that can be learned or refined through the role plays in this
manual will only develop to the fullest extent if they are reviewed continually, analyti-
cally, and systematically.


                      Introduction to Role Playing
The purpose of the role plays in this manual is to demonstrate some basic skills of inter-
viewing and to develop these through practice with feedback. Role playing enables
people to discover how others see them and therefore helps bridge the gulf between
knowing and doing.

Role playing requires the participants to act out the way in which they would conduct the
interview. The feedback is generally directed to the interviewer and is particularly pow-
erful when comments are fed back from the interviewee. This feedback on behavior and
its effects on the receiver is rarely available in a “real-life” interview. However, it is not
just the interviewer who can learn: the interviewee stands to learn from the process, too,
by being on the receiving end of the interview and experiencing effective and ineffective
behaviors. Where the interviewee role is played by a peer or fellow participant in the
learning event, the “role reversal” is another real learning opportunity. Even the obser-
vation is a useful experience for trainees, as each role play is a demonstration of skills
and approaches that can be analyzed and discussed.

Some people object to the practice of role playing. Typical comments are:

    •   It is acting and does not reflect real life.
    •   I can’t act.
    •   The cases are always written to produce confrontation.
    •   The situations are too contrived.
    •   I would not behave the same way in a real interview.

These objections need to be discussed openly if the role play session is to be a suc-
cess. In defense of role playing as a learning medium and the situations contained in
this manual, we would respond by noting that:

    •   There is a low-risk opportunity, by simulating real life, to try out new or different
        skills or behaviors and note their impact. Trying something out in a real life
        situation is a high risk.

    •   Acting ability or being an extrovert is not essential to be an effective role player.
        Our experience is that almost everyone can role play well enough to derive a lot
        of benefit from it. Even when someone is asked to play a role where they have
        no personal experience, such as a member of the opposite sex, they usually do
        so with uncanny ability and insight.


                                                                                            11
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


     •   All the role plays in this manual are written to be able to have successful out-
         comes. While the cases will be written from two perspectives (as with real life),
         there are no substantive differences in information given to the parties. Often
         the roles are based on real people and events, and each case is one that has
         been part of our own experience.

     •   Role playing is a powerful method of displaying behavior and probing beliefs
         and values. In the current environment of social legislation and codes of prac-
         tice, it is best to highlight potential conflicts between personal and organiza-
         tional or societal values before they land the individual or the organization in
         trouble.

Some simple hints on how to role play effectively will also help groups and individuals
overcome any reservations or concerns and get the best out of the session:

     •   Role playing is not acting, and participants should be discouraged from indulg-
         ing in amateur dramatics. They should be instructed to carry out the role of
         interviewer or interviewee in the way that seems most natural to them, given the
         facts described in the role play instructions.

     •   Each player can elaborate and build on the case to add detail to the content of
         the interview. However, they should not introduce facts that conflict with the
         instructions or could be contentious. A role play is not a game in which each
         player invents facts to outwit the other.

     •   The participants will obviously derive more benefit from a role play that they
         perceive to be realistic. The room should be set up to reflect a “real-life” setting
         as closely as possible, and the players should be encouraged to take up their
         usual seating position behind a desk, or around a coffee table.

     •   The interviewee should respond, following the role play instructions, to the
         behavior and actions of the interviewer. Again, the role play is not a game to
         make it hard for the interviewer, and honest responses are far more effective for
         learning.


Giving and Receiving Feedback
In role play, some of the greatest opportunities for learning are created through feed-
back—the feedback from the interviewees about how it felt and why they responded to
your questions the way they did, feedback from observers of the role play about what
they saw, and feedback from the trainer about skills and behaviors used. Most people
like to give feedback—they like to share their opinions and give advice. However, most
people do not like to receive feedback—they are defensive when someone relays
information that may differ from their own feelings or perceptions. It is therefore impor-
tant to make the giving and receiving of feedback effective so that it supports learning
and development rather than being a source of conflict.

12
                                                                                     Introduction


Our colleague and mentor, Walt Hopkins, has published some insights into the
feedback process that will help people give feedback in a way that can easily be heard
and help people hear feedback in a constructive way.∗ Rather than giving feedback as
“positive” and “negative,” give feedback in terms of “keep” and “change.” Keep feedback
is “Keep doing that” or “That was effective.” Change feedback is “Try it this way” or “I
suggest that you change to….” The defensive mechanisms that operate to argue
against negatives are avoided by using this approach, especially if the keep and change
feedback are balanced. When getting feedback, we like to hear “keep” feedback; when
giving feedback we like to give “change” feedback. If we give feedback the way we like
to receive it—prefacing change feedback with keep feedback—then it will be received
more effectively.

Other ways of helping people hear feedback are:

       •    Give it immediately. Feedback about what happened last week, or even a
            couple of hours ago is less effective than what just happened.

       •    Make it personal to you; don’t speak for others.

       •    Describe what happened rather than make judgments about right and wrong or
            good and bad.

       •    Focus the description on the impact on you rather than trying to guess or judge
            the intention of the interviewer.

To help you receive feedback:

       •    Listen to it.

       •    Focus the feedback on your own learning goal to limit the quantity of informa-
            tion received.

       •    Accept it as you would a gift—thank the giver and then decide later what you
            wish to use, what you wish to get further information on or about, and what you
            wish to ignore. To argue with the givers is like throwing their gift away in front of
            them—they are unlikely to give you any more.


Observing and Recording
While the interviewer and interviewee will be able to learn a lot from playing their parts
and giving and receiving feedback from each other, the experience will be enhanced if the
role play can be observed or recorded. A third party can comment from the perspective


∗
    Walt Hopkins, Learnings, Castle Consultants International Ltd., November 1984.



                                                                                               13
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


of an impartial observer not involved in the content of the role play, and note behaviors
and actions that would otherwise be missed. A form for recording observations is
always useful and ensures that observers focus their attention on the important aspects
of the interviewer’s behavior. A sample format appears at the end of this introduction
and specific forms appear within each of the five parts of this manual.

By far the most effective learning medium is video. By recording the role play with a
video camera, participants can hear and see themselves and the reactions of the other
party to their behavior and actions, both verbal and nonverbal. The use of video in the
home and during training sessions is common, but there are still some people who have
not had any experience with this form of medium and may find it daunting. If you decide
to use video, as a trainer, you should be sympathetic and explain the process in detail.

One final comment: The objective of role playing is to help develop skills in particular
areas, not to demonstrate how badly an interview can be conducted. There is little or no
benefit to be derived from allowing an interview role play to continue when it is clearly
not meeting the learning or exercise goal. It is far better to intervene and stop the role
play, give and get feedback, reappraise the plan or skills to be used, and restart the role
play. This makes for a much better use of time, develops skills more quickly, and
enhances the learning environment.

Also, remember that no one likes to give or receive all change feedback, especially if it
is repetitive. In the words of the One Minute Manager∗, “Help people to reach their full
potential—catch them doing something right.”




∗
    K. Blanchard and S. Johnson, The One Minute Manager, Collins 1983.



14
                                                                                           Introduction



                             Sample
                  INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                             Role Play
Observer                                                Date

                                              Observed                           Comments

1. Preparation



2. Opening
   Setting the scene and climate.
   Objectives, timetable, etc.


3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Balance of time.


4. Skills
   Questioning, listening.


5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and
   nonverbal behavior.


6. Closure
   Summary, analysis, next
   steps.


7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up


                                        Giving Feedback
               Immediate:      Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                  Impact:      Focus on the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                Personal:      Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
              Descriptive:     Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.




                                                                                                    15
Part A: Selection
                                   Introduction
The selection interview is probably the most familiar form of interview. Most of us have
some experience in employing subordinates, and we have been through the process of
applying for schools, colleges, or jobs. We have all exercised some sort of selection in
choosing a doctor, babysitter, tennis partner, or car dealer in whom we have confi-
dence. The manager’s decision on which candidate to hire for employment is as impor-
tant as any other business decision we are called upon to make. The real expense of an
error in selection can be very significant and there is no justification for a careless, hap-
hazard approach.


Method
Each role play consists of a description for the interviewer and for the interviewee. The
interviewer’s role play includes documents and information he or she is likely to have for
that particular type of interview. This will include items such as an application form, a job
description, comments from previous interviewers, etc. In making selection decisions,
participants should use their own organization’s evaluation criteria and procedures. The
organization’s brochures and descriptive literature, policy manuals, and organization
charts may be available for giving information and any standard application forms, job
descriptions, evaluation forms, personal qualifications, or job profiles could be used.
Interviewees may use their personal data to fill out the background of their roles. There
are five different interviews, Chapters 1 through 5, depicted in the role plays, each taken
from real life and each with a specific focus and challenge. They are:

    1.   Campus Interview
    2.   Job Interview—First One
    3.   Job Interview—Second One
    4.   Evaluating for Promotion
    5.   Project Team Selection

Some guidance notes are provided in each role play to explain its main features and to
indicate some of the points to watch for in the interview. The interviewee should be
encouraged to build on the role play given, responding to the approach and style of the
interviewer while staying within the role. The objective here is to practice and experi-
ence the skills and techniques of interviewing, not to try to trap or upstage the other.
The interviews should last about 30 minutes. Feedback should be focused on the use of
skills and techniques as well as on the balance of time allotted to information-giving and
information-gathering.




                                                                                          17
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Time
For each role play, the minimum time allowed for preparing, conducting the interview,
and reviewing should be 1 hour and 45 minutes:
     •   Introduction to situation and allocation of roles—5 minutes
     •   Planning for interview—10 minutes
     •   Conducting interview—30 minutes
     •   Review of interview, feedback, and discussion—60 minutes
Some of the role plays give the opportunity to interview more than one candidate and
make a selection decision. The time limits above relate to the time needed for each
interview. Allowance needs to be made if more than one candidate is interviewed, both
for the extra time for interviewing and also to review the decision-making process.

If video recording is used, then the review time will be between two to three times the
length of the interview.




18
                                                                 Handout A.1a

SELECTION INTERVIEWS
The objective of selection interviewing is to place the right person in the right job at the
right time. This implies that individual applicants are given the opportunity to learn
enough about the organization, the job, and its environment to be able to make the right
decision from their perspective. This handout reviews some general features and spe-
cific characteristics of selection interviews. For preparation, the interviewer typically has
at least two documents available:

    •   An application form (or letter, résumé, or curriculum vitae)
    •   A job description for the particular opening to be filled

Sometimes there is also a specification for personal qualification, job profile, or person-
nel requisition form and other complementary documents such as written references,
agency referral reports, or screening test results. If this is not the first preliminary inter-
view, there should also be reports or checklists from earlier interviews. These help in
the preparation and planning for an interview to find the person with the right experience
and qualifications.

Both the analysis of the supporting documents and the interview have to concentrate on
the most relevant personal qualifications or attributes. These might include the required
level of intelligence, relevant education, sufficient experience, high standards, a good
track record, emotional maturity, motivation, and interests that converge with those of
the company, its function, and the current opening.

Giving full information about the company and the job in its context is equally important
to help the applicant make the right choice. For this reason, and to find out as much
relevant information as possible about the candidate, often panel interviews are held or
several one-to-one interviews in a series that can last several days. This gives both
sides more exposure to different opinions and diverse perspectives on which to base
their selection decisions. The more interviewers involved, either sequentially or in pan-
els, the more important it is to pass on information and coordinate decisions effectively.

The objective is always to probe more deeply into critical areas and explore gaps,
apparent contradictions or inconsistencies. The first contact or exploratory interview
should generally devote equal proportions of time to three different stages:

    •   Getting to know the applicant
    •   Giving the applicant the opportunity to get to know the organization
    •   Exploring the job in its context to establish whether or not the experience and
        qualifications fit



                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                19
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout A1.a (concluded)


Subsequent follow-up interviews should continue to explore and probe into any areas in
question after initial screening. There is generally a progression through interviews
toward obtaining more precise facts, attitudes, feelings, behaviors, styles, beliefs, and
values.

It is important to be alert to any preconceived ideas or prejudice that can lead to dis-
crimination on either side. Applicants occasionally reveal that they have strong moral or
ethical convictions about working in certain industries, for example biogenetic research,
non-biodegradable chemicals, automotive industry, tobacco, fast-foods, etc. While their
ignorance of your products or specific position says something about their research
before applying, it may also tell you something about the organization’s communica-
tions. While most candidates will tend to avoid organizations and industries for which
they hold strong opposing feelings, it is always possible that there will be some who will
deliberately apply for interviews to disrupt, gain publicity, or voice their opposition. Inter-
viewers working for sensitive industries and organizations should be prepared for this,
and be able to respond effectively without creating unwelcome publicity.

Prejudices and discrimination in other areas are potentially more serious. Legislation
exists to combat bias or discrimination regarding age, race, gender, disability, religion,
country of origin, or other criteria. The law even prohibits gathering certain information
on application forms. Interviewers must avoid questioning that might later be construed
as evidence in court that a decision was based on bias or discriminatory practice. This
is a delicate and sensitive area where expert advice should be sought and adhered to.

Organizations often have application forms or interview preparation checklists that
generally preclude such problems, but the individual interviewer must be attentive to
these risks in preparation, planning, analysis, and reporting phases. It is never possible
to attain absolute objectivity, but good interviewers will be aware of their own frames of
reference and strive to overcome any inherent bias.

Finally, the interviewer needs to analyze the results of the interview and make a rec-
ommendation on the candidate. The precise needs will be determined by the type of
interview. A campus interview might require the interviewer to summarize the candi-
dates individually according to a set of evaluation criteria and recommend whether to
ask the candidate back for a second interview. A selection committee would need an
analysis and decision-making process that allowed each of the board members to give
their analysis and then to make an employment selection. Here the use of a matrix of
candidates, employment criteria, and individual opinion is often a help.




20                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                      Handout A.1b

SELECTION INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                            Role Play
Observer                                               Date

                                             Observed                          Comments

1. Preparation
   Analysis of application forms
   and job description.


2. Opening
   Setting the scene and climate.
   Objectives, timetable, etc.


3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Gathering more than giving.
   Job specification information.

4. Skills
   Probing questions, listening,
   and following up; weaknesses
   and inconsistencies.
5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and
   nonverbal behavior.


6. Closure
   Summary, analysis, next
   steps.


7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up
   Quality of decision and
   analysis of candidate.
   Interview report.
                                         Giving Feedback
               Immediate:      Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                  Impact:      Focus the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                Personal:      Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
              Descriptive:     Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.


                       Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            21
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
 1       Campus Interview

Trainer Guidance
The campus interviews present certain features that differ from most other selection
interview situations. First, interviewers have limited time to spend with each applicant.
They may have to see as many as 20 in a day. Often such sessions are organized on a
sign-up basis where any student who is interested in learning about your organization
can attend. Part of the process is therefore a public relations exercise for the organiza-
tion, especially where candidates might be potential future customers.

Certain campus sessions may allow you to specify what vacant positions there are or
what kind of specifically qualified people you seek—for example, accounting majors,
pre-law students, or engineering majors. Even if the organization pre-screens the appli-
cants on this basis, it is only to eliminate candidates who may not be considered
because of other factors. This still leaves many applicants from all different abilities and
disciplines to interview, many of whom may be just curious or seeking practice in inter-
viewing. This, then, is the second main difference from other interviews—the shortage
of, and sometimes absence of, information and preparation time for the interview.

Given the nature of these two differences, you, as trainer, might wish to revise the time
limit for the session to reflect this.

If the campus works on a “show up and be seen” basis, the interviewer may not have a
completed application form prior to the interview, and may not even be able to get indi-
viduals to complete one. The only candidate information would then be an individually
written, often creative résumé, from which it is harder to extract relevant information. In
the role plays in this section, we have assumed that an application form has been com-
pleted, and that this is the only information that the interviewer has.

The interviews will usually last between 10 and 30 minutes during which time the inter-
viewer has to develop accurate first impressions of the candidates, and record these for
future analysis. Meticulous notes and immediate summary report writing is essential so
as not to confuse the president of the Debating Society with the chairperson of a less
august body when short-listing candidates for invitations to second interviews. The
impressions gained in these campus interviews are often very subjective due to the time
constraints and the lack of specific data available. The third main difference and chal-
lenge in these interviews is, therefore, that applicants are evaluated on their potential
promise rather than actual work experience.

Part of the interview time may be taken up in expanding on the organization, the nature
of the job, and opportunities for career progression. The interviewer has limited time and
must therefore be careful not to take up more than a small percentage of the time avail-
able. Sometimes, organizations arrange a general presentation to a large group using


                                                                                          23
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


high-quality graphics, brochures, annual reports, and general literature from the public
relations department. This enables the interviews to be more focused on the candi-
dates, giving the opportunity to check their understanding of the general presentation
and confirm their understanding of the available entry-level positions.

Despite the obvious drawbacks and limitations to these interview situations, there are
several advantages to the company. They offer an opportunity to select the top gradu-
ates and develop the company’s future management cadre. The public relations exer-
cise of being seen and heard at the better schools can only enhance the organization’s
image among future decision-makers and market-shapers. Even if there are not many
immediate opportunities, the organization can build up an internal database of potential
candidates for other positions in the future.

Often an organization’s trained and experienced recruiters are joined on the campus
visits by its recently recruited young graduates, both to swell the numbers of interview-
ers, and to match the interviewee’s age and experience more closely. Although a panel
interview format may be used with the more experienced person taking the lead role,
given the large number of people to see, one-to-one interviews are usually necessary.
The organization is therefore fielding some inexperience in a critical area, both regard-
ing ability to recognize good potential, and in the public relations aspects of the inter-
view.

You may decide to carry out these role plays with a panel of two or three interviewers, if
that is common practice in the organization. In this case, more time may be required for
the interviews, but all interviewers will receive the same role play and they must be
attentive to coordinating their efforts.

In campus interviews, the objective is to decide whether to retain applicants for the next
step of the formal interview process or not. The interviewer should assume the candi-
date has little or no company information and use available company brochures and
documentation. It is important to maintain a balance between giving and receiving
information. This can be difficult when the interviewee is very interested, curious, and
enthusiastic. Feedback and review should address this balance of time.

The two different interviewee briefs provide an opportunity to address bias based on
gender or stereotypical factors. The first applicant role is written for a man who has
been an itinerant musician. The second applicant is a career-minded woman. The feed-
back and review should concentrate on these points as well as on the interviewers’
ability to find and probe gaps in background, education, or experience, and evaluate
each applicant’s potential for retention.

The applicant role players can be given a blank Graduate Application Form (Exercise 1.4)
to be completed before the interview if that is normal practice for their organization.
Otherwise the prepared application forms enclosed with the interviewer and interviewee
role plays should be given to the interviewer and to the interviewee(s). As is common in
campus recruitment situations, the interviewer will have no other documentary information


24
                                                                       Part A. Selection


on the candidates before meeting them. Included in the interviewer’s documents is a
Graduate Interview Assessment Form (Exercise 1.4) that can be used for recording the
interviews. If the organization has forms of application and appraisal, these can be
substituted.


Materials Required
   1. Handout 1.1 and Exercises 1.2 and 1.3 and Exercises 1.1 and 1.4 (if required)
      for Interviewer.
   2. Handout 1.2 and Exercise 1.2 for Interviewee 1.
   3. Handout 1.3 and Exercise 1.3 for Interviewee 2.
   4. Handout A.1a for each participant.
   5. Handout A.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                     25
                                                                Handout 1.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are a recent graduate of Redbrick University and have worked in the finance
department of your organization for the past three years. You have been asked by the
personnel department to be one of its recruitment team meeting final-year Redbrick
University students exploring potential job offers. Your company is looking for bright,
qualified, young business majors, and it seemed quite natural to invite you along since
you know the function.

You are quite pleased to be going back to visit the campus after three years and to find
yourself on the other side of the table. There are a few things you would like to help
these graduates understand before they jump into the “real” world and this is your
chance.

You are also quite pleased with how things have gone for you since you started. You’ve
been given the chance to learn a lot about financial analysis in a good, successful com-
pany through various challenging projects where you have had increasing responsibili-
ties and the opportunity to be recognized for your work. Within a year, you’ve been told,
you will be promoted.

There is no doubt in your mind that your company is a fine one for a graduate to start in,
and you’re proud to have the chance to help in the search for good new people. How-
ever, this is your first experience interviewing, and you are aware of the busy schedule
ahead of you. There was a presentation last night to a large group on the organization
by people from the personnel and public relations departments. That should have satis-
fied most people who attended and save you from having to talk too much about what
the organization does. Unfortunately, you could not attend yourself, and you know that
not all the candidates attending today were there.

You can certainly talk about the job and the company in general. You know the financial
department well enough to assess whether someone would fit in, but you have only
your own knowledge and experience to answer any questions about other parts of the
organization or career development.

You have an application form for the candidates and an assessment form to complete.
Your objective is to assess whether the person should be invited to the head office of
the company for a second round of interviews.

The schedule says your first candidates are Roderick Stohner and Cassandra Clarkson.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            27
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 1.2

ROLE PLAY—INTERVIEWEE 1:
RODERICK STOHNER
You are making the rounds of the companies visiting campus to get some experience in
interviewing and try to find where the best jobs are. This organization is advertising for
new graduates in the business area to be financial analysts. Its information says that
these analysts go through an intense, highly visible management development program
where it intends to prepare tomorrow’s leaders within the company. It sounds great, but
of course they’ll promise the moon.

You don’t know much about the organization. It seems successful but low-profile.
Someone said it is very involved abroad. You couldn’t find an annual report in the
library. There was a presentation last night, but you had a prior commitment and could
not attend. So you want to learn more about the organization, what it does, and what it
has to offer. You are looking at launching your career and you intend to do your home-
work very thoroughly. You don’t intend to take the first job offer that comes along.

You’re a bit older than most of the class. It took you a couple of years to think things
through and really decide that you wanted to enter college. You were drifting around,
even thinking of becoming a musician and working at some pretty mundane jobs. You
have an edge over your fellow students, however. You have a bit more maturity and the
certainty that finance is really what you want. You’ve earned the top grades in all the
finance courses.

Your work experience is not impressive. The odd jobs as a musician don’t look very
good on an application form, and you have not done anything more substantive during
the long vacations. Spending time traveling was most important, so there were the usual
odd jobs to finance the trips. You think it’s probably best not to put anything down on the
application form, since there’s such a contrast in your goals now.

This financial analyst job sounds exactly like what you want, but it could be a fancy title
for a backroom job with no management exposure. You expect to get into a job with
management responsibility quickly, as you are older than most graduates. You are also
interested in receiving an MBA, and there is often a possibility that a company will offer
tuition assistance.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              29
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 1.3

ROLE PLAY—INTERVIEWEE 2:
CASSANDRA CLARKSON
You are making the rounds of the companies visiting campus to get some experience in
interviewing and try to find where the best jobs are. This organization is advertising for
new graduates in the business area to be financial analysts. Its information says that
these analysts go through an intense, highly visible management development program
where it intends to prepare tomorrow’s leaders within the company. It sounds potentially
interesting, but of course they all look good on paper.

You have no intention of wasting any more time than necessary in moving into a senior
management position. You chose finance because you have always excelled in it and
you have had some exceptional opportunities for summer jobs through your father’s
friends. Also, the statistics have shown a clear trend that, increasingly, chief executives
come from the finance area. It’s a field where many women have already made their
mark, and for you, it is a clear, calculated path to the top.

However, one can’t be too careful about choosing the right company as a springboard
for a brilliant career, and you can afford to be selective. You’ve got some rather unique
credentials thus far. You were the first undergraduate woman ever chosen for the
Dean’s Economics Research Round Table. You have spent two summers at the World
Bank and before going up to Redbrick, there was a year in a Swiss finishing school. You
are now completing a post-graduate degree in management. You don’t want to com-
promise that potential with a company that cannot appreciate all you have to offer.

You don’t know much about the company. It seems successful but low-profile. Someone
said it is very involved in joint ventures abroad, so you’ll want to learn more and check it
out carefully. Even if you might learn something through its management development
program, you cannot risk being too far away from the city, unable to make the right
contacts and keep up with your friends. There was a presentation last night that you
were invited to that was probably aimed at the “hopefuls” rather than the “definites.” You
didn’t bother to attend.

The first step is to get past the first interviewer here on campus. Often it is someone
from personnel who does not have the specialist knowledge of your function to recog-
nize potential. You must not be too aggressive, however, and from the interview skills
training, you know you must present yourself well, and to be pleasant but firm in stating
your opinions and expectations. Don’t overstate the case.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              31
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 1.1

GRADUATE APPLICATION FORM: EXAMPLE
Please answer all questions fully.

Personal
Name                                         College/University
Department                                   Major
Year of Graduation


Place of birth
Date of birth                                Age


Home/permanent address:                         Local address (if different):




Telephone: (          )                         Telephone:    (       )


References

Personal                                        Academic
Name:                                           Name:
Address:                                        Address:




                      Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by      33
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
     Exercise 1.1 (continued)


Education

                           Major Course Work                                       Dates




Any post graduate or research work:




Achievements:




Interests and Employment

What are your principal interests? What attracts you to them? Mention membership of
organizations, societies, teams, etc., with details of any positions of responsibility held.




34                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                      Exercise 1.1 (continued)

List any work experience—summer or part-time. Use a separate sheet if necessary.

           Employer                                  Job                        Date




What benefits have you acquired from this work?




Career

What are your career plans? What factors have influenced them?




                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             35
          Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 1.1 (concluded)



What abilities do you have that will enable you to succeed in this organization?




To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date                          Signature




36                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 1.2

GRADUATE APPLICATION FORM: INTERVIEWEE 1
Please answer all questions fully.

Personal
Name     Roderick Stohner                    College/University    Redbrick University
Department      School of Business           Major     B.S. - Economics
Year of Graduation      2005


Place of birth Washington, D.C.
Date of birth    April 10, 1980              Age      25


Home/permanent address:                         Local address (if different):

13 Main Street                                  N/A
Washington, D.C. 20007




Telephone: ( 202 ) 555-0000                     Telephone:    (      )



References

Personal                                        Academic
Name: Rev. P. Smith                             Name: Prof. K. Wright
Address:     140 Jones Drive                    Address:     Dept. of Economics
             Washington, D.C. 20007                          Redbrick University
                                                             Washington, D.C. 20007




                      Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            37
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
        Exercise 1.2 (continued)


Education

                             Major Course Work                                       Dates

     B.Sc. – 1st year Econ/Pol/Philos                                           2001 – 02
             2nd year Economics/Finance                                         2002 – 03
             3rd year Economics/Finance                                         2003 – 04
             4th year Economics/Finance                                         2004 – 05



Any post graduate or research work:

      N/A




Achievements:

      Business school award for financial analysis essay




Interests and Employment

What are your principal interests? What attracts you to them? Mention membership of
organizations, societies, teams, etc., with details of any positions of responsibility held.

      Music—Play several instruments and active in a number of ad-hoc bands.
      Sports—Member of university soccer team. Also play tennis, ski, and run.
      Reading and current affairs
      Member of economics society (Secretary, 2003), Soccer Club, Debating Society



38                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                         Exercise 1.2 (continued)

List any work experience—summer or part-time. Use a separate sheet if necessary.

                   Employer                                     Job                   Date




What benefits have you acquired from this work?




Career

What are your career plans? What factors have influenced them?

   I have a desire to succeed in management, particularly in financial services. My ability
   in the subject and my interest in analysis has influenced my choice of possible careers
   in the financial area. I believe I have the ability to manage a department and motivate
   people. Further academic pursuits such as an MBA would also be attractive to further
   develop my skills.




                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                    39
          Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 1.2 (concluded)



What abilities do you have that will enable you to succeed in this organization?


     Proven ability in finance.

     Maturity and keen mind.




To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    January 14, 2005          Signature Roderick Stohner




40                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 1.3

GRADUATE APPLICATION FORM: INTERVIEWEE 2
Please answer all questions fully.

Personal
Name     Cassandra Clarkson                  College/University    Redbrick University
Department      School of Business           Major    B.A. – Finance (1st Class Honors)
Year of Graduation      2005


Place of birth Virginia
Date of birth    March 11, 1983              Age     22


Home/permanent address:                         Local address (if different):

c/o B. L. Clarkson                              Redbrick University
1410 Madison Street                             P.O. Box 10
Washington, D.C. 20007                          Washington, D.C. 20007



Telephone: ( 202 ) 555-0000                     Telephone:    ( 202 ) 276-4702


References

Personal                                        Academic
Name: John Smith, Esq.                          Name: Dr. B. Torrance
Address:     1515 19th Street                   Address:     Dept. of Management
             Washington, D.C. 20007                          Redbrick University
                                                             Washington, D.C. 20007




                      Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             41
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 1.3 (continued)


Education

                             Major Course Work                                          Dates

  B.Sc. Finance—courses taken include:                                              2001 – 05
       Statistics, business law, corporate finance, banking, and
       Economic theory




Any post graduate or research work:

     Diploma in Business Administration (to be completed in May)




Achievements:

     Dean of Faculty Economics Research Round Table
     Grant from World Bank for the third year of study
     University Prize for Finance Majors (top student)



Interests and Employment

What are your principal interests? What attracts you to them? Mention membership of
organizations, societies, teams, etc., with details of any positions of responsibility held.

     Travel is a major part of my life, as my father is an international businessman. This
     has allowed me to practice my languages and observe different cultures first hand. In
     college I belong to the debating society, the finance club (President, 1990), and the
     economics society. I play tennis and do aerobics to keep fit. I love to read, especially
     current affairs and foreign newspapers.



42                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                         Exercise 1.3 (continued)

List any work experience—summer or part-time. Use a separate sheet if necessary.

                   Employer                                     Job                  Date

World Bank, Washington, D.C.                         Clerical Assistant          2000/2002

J.W. Francis Advertising, Inc., Washington, D.C.     Account Executive           2001

Baker Chemicals, SA, Zurich, Switzerland             Financial Analyst           2003




What benefits have you acquired from this work?

    The work with the World Bank and Baker Chemicals has given me a deep insight and
    understanding of international business and financial management plus the oppor-
    tunity to live and work in a multicultural society.
        In Washington, D.C., the work with the advertising agency was creative and
    brought me into contact with customer relations and quality in a fast-moving culture.



Career

What are your career plans? What factors have influenced them?

    Having proved my ability academically, I wish to make my mark in the business
    world. After a period of working in the finance operation of a large company, I would
    hope to be able to use my language ability and knowledge of other countries to work in
    management on an international basis. My ultimate intention is to attain a senior
    management position. I have worked with many different nationalities and in varied
    businesses, and I am convinced I am capable of this.



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                  43
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 1.3 (concluded)



What abilities do you have that will enable you to succeed in this organization?


     I have an excellent academic record and my business experience is now being supported
     by a degree in Business Management. In all of my travels and work, I have been able
     to build a rapport quickly, mix well, and grasp ideas quickly. I am ambitious and not
     afraid of hard work and long hours in order to get what I want.




To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    January 13, 2005        Signature Cassandra Clarkson




44                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 1.4

GRADUATE INTERVIEW ASSESSMENT FORM
Name
College/University
Course

Place a checkmark ( ) in one of the boxes below to reflect your rating of the respective
factor. Briefly state your reason(s) for the rating.
                                                                     Very        Don’t
           Factor             Negative   Acceptable    Positive
                                                                    Positive     Know
Professional appearance
                            Reason:

Motivation and drive
                            Reason:

Judgment
                            Reason:

Professional appearance
                            Reason:

Tenacity
                            Reason:

Leadership experience
                            Reason:

Creativity/adaptability
                            Reason:

Social skills/
communication               Reason:

Maturity
                            Reason:



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              45
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 1.4 (concluded)


Other Information

Ambitions and work plans:




Management potential:




Summary of Appraisal
Summarize your appraisal and its reasons. Please also record your impressions of likely
job performance, potential, and any areas that merit further probing at second interview.




Recommended Action
     1.   Strongly recommend second interview
     2.   Worth seeing
     3.   Not recommended
     4.   Follow up later (state reasons)


Interviewed by:
Name

Date




46                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
 2       Job Interview—First One

Trainer Guidance
While it is important to give an applicant adequate information about the company and
the position itself, the balance in this interview is in favor of getting more information
from the interviewee and probing in depth. The interviewer has an application form and
some general impressions from the applicant’s letter, résumé, and other supporting
documents.

In preparation, the interviewer will be able to review the application file and should be
highlighting any areas of confusion and any gaps or discrepancies in background data.
The objective of this interview is to decide whether to recommend hiring the applicant,
or whether to recommend a second, follow-up interview to look further into areas of
doubt or hesitation. The evaluation should be made on the basis of corporate norms, job
specification, and comparison with the qualifications of other candidates.

It may be assumed that the applicant has little or no company information, and for the
purposes of the exercise, the interviewer may use his or her own organization as an
example. It would be useful to have some company literature available for this purpose.

There are four different applicant role plays, and you may decide to do panel or one-to-
one interviews. The panel format will require members to agree to relationships and
responsibilities among themselves as well as preparing the content of the interview. In
either format, it is necessary to establish the decision criteria before starting the
sequence of interviews. The four separate applicant role plays can be done as indi-
vidual interview case studies to practice interview technique, or they may all be used as
a full-scale selection exercise to check the interviewer(s) decision criteria and approach
to comparison and evaluation.

One of the coaching points is the use of probing questions to get sufficient depth of
information. There are some gaps in the background data on application forms for inter-
viewees 1 and 3. Interviewee 2 has some good job titles in the work experience, but
there is a need to clarify and define what work was actually done in each of the jobs.
The same applicant is also involved in a potentially dangerous sport and this provides
an opportunity to test corporate rules or personal bias against excessive risk-taking in
external activities. Interviewee 4 is nervous and insecure and will require an empathetic
approach.

Included in the interviewer’s documents is the job description for the job (Exercise 2.1)
and an Interview Rating Summary form (Exercise 2.2) that can be used for recording
the interview. If the organization has forms for application and appraisal, these can be
substituted.



                                                                                         47
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
     1. Handout 2.1 and Exercises 2.1, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 and Exercise 2.2 (if required)
        for Interviewer.
     2. Handout 2.2 and Exercise 2.3 for Interviewee 1.
     3. Handout 2.3 and Exercise 2.4 for Interviewee 2.
     4. Handout 2.4 and Exercise 2.5 for Interviewee 3.
     5. Handout 2.5 and Exercise 2.6 for Interviewee 4.
     6. Handout A.1a for each participant.
     7. Handout A.1b for each observer (if required).




48
                                                                 Handout 2.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are recruiting a manager for a small department involved in merchandising services
support. This is an urgent priority, because the department has not been functioning
well for some time. It has taken an inordinate amount of time and effort to persuade
management to approve this new position, while trying to avoid a crisis in the operation.
Everyone agrees it’s a necessary function, but no one quite understands it. The function
is a bit of an anomaly, dealing with the retail side of business in a production and engi-
neering oriented industry.

Personnel has identified four applicants who seem to meet the basic criteria and you will
be interviewing them for the job. The outcome of these first interviews will be a decision
to recommend a candidate for hiring or to recommend a second interview for some or
all of the applicants. Your evaluation should be based on the requirements for the job
and a comparison between the candidates. You have the authority to make the
appointment.

You have received an application form for each candidate and will have to base your
preparation and planning for the interviews on the background data they contain. As it
will be their first interview, you will need to give them some specific information about
the company and the job. You may use your own organizational structure as an
example.

As this is a new position, there is not much historical data available nor a detailed job
description. A limited job description was drafted with Personnel (copy attached) to get
the head count and budget approvals to proceed. The person hired will have a key role
in creating the scope and content of the job. Also attached is an Interview Rating
Summary form to be completed for each applicant.

The Merchandising Services Support Department deals with designing, sourcing,
purchasing, warehousing, and shipping of promotional articles. These are gift items,
giveaways, and point-of-sale merchandising materials used in support of your main
product lines. It is an intense activity dealing with a large catalogue inventory of hun-
dreds of different items to supply internal and external clients. The six people in the
department are highly specialized professionals who handle very distinct activities.
These include design and specification of items, purchasing and quality control, inven-
tory and warehousing, publishing catalogues, processing orders, and coordinating
shipping.

These sub-functions are clearly related and interdependent, but each is constantly
working under excessive pressure to meet unrealistic demands or deadlines. The new
manager’s role will be to coordinate, organize, and plan for the department as a unit.



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                 49
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 2.1 (concluded)


The ideal candidate will need a good general sense of business, proven skill in man-
agement, a familiarity with each of the diverse functions, and the ability to lead them
together.

Contact with third-party suppliers and a range of demanding customers is also impor-
tant. The person will have to be a self-starter and have the confidence and ability to
manage the function with little reference to others for supervision or guidance.

The trainer may ask you to play this interviewer role as a member of a panel. If so, the
brief remains the same. However, you should devote part of your preparation time to
working with the other panel members. You need to agree to what the objectives are,
who will ask what questions, who will lead the panel, and how you will analyze the
results and make your final recommendations.




50                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 2.2

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 1—
STEVE LOVERN
You have applied to one of your company’s main competitors, which is looking for a
manager to head the merchandising services function. Its organization is similar to
yours, very heavily oriented to production engineering, but obliged to do aggressive
marketing and support retail sales in a highly-competitive market. You respect the
technical quality of the company’s products, but realize that it has to use merchandising
to get the products out to customers. You have always been involved in sales-related
activities.

You are now responsible for purchasing point-of-sale (POS) materials, and are tempted
toward the new position that would offer more responsibility, higher pay, and the
opportunity to coordinate the whole function. You have had some sales and merchan-
dising experience in the past and actually managed a small regional sales team of three
people for two years. It would be good to manage a group again and you have some
strong ideas about how to run the whole process effectively from design to shipping.

Of course, you want to know more about the company and how it sees this position. Is it
considered a “necessary evil” as in your current company, or is it committed to giving
the function all the resources to make it work well? What happened to the previous
manager or is it a new position? If it is a new job, why hasn’t the company considered it
important enough to have one up to now? What is involved? Is there a job description?
What is its structure and reporting relationships? Can one do a good job? Will it be
recognized and rewarded?

It is slightly uncomfortable to be presenting an application form again because of the
gap in your education and background. You dropped out of college for a while after
freshman year, which was not successful, and this always looks a bit strange on paper.
It took some time to know what you wanted to do. That was years ago, and you have
proven what you’re worth with the present company and you’re ready for more. You
would rather not discuss that past period unless pressed to reveal it. You have a
degree, and that is what people should be looking at.

You are also concerned about confidentiality. It would be better not to meet their
purchaser, whom you see at trade shows quite often, and some of the company infor-
mation may be sensitive. But they have assured you this would be no problem.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            51
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                Handout 2.3

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 2—
LEE REDDY
You are to be interviewed for a department manager’s position at a strong, well-
established company that is considerably larger than those you have worked for since
leaving school. You know you can fit into a bigger organization and you are eager to
take on some big challenges in a company where success will be noticed and
rewarded. You are confident that your background and experience will fit.

It is true that you have had some “smaller” jobs, but there was not much depth of
structure and you had to be a generalist. This has helped you learn a lot more about
business and your knowledge and experience would be greater than someone whose
experience was part of a large organization with specialist backup.

When you were Customer Service Manager, you had to deal with all the order process-
ing and customer service correspondence, following up queries with production sched-
uling, and checking on the status of shipments from the plants and warehouses. As a
senior accounts analyst, you looked after all the accounts receivable for a new affiliate
and actually projected part of the business planning cycle. That gave you experience in
working with the top financial planner in the head office.

As Operations Distribution Executive, you did all the transportation scheduling for the
northern counties. If there were any problems with shipping or deliveries, there was no
one but you to ask. So you are confident that you have gained the best advantage out
of working for smaller company operations: you have had to learn to do it all. You have
become quite a generalist.

You also know how to organize and manage multiple projects. Outside of work you
have been leading a local scout unit, which takes a lot of time and effort, but brings
great satisfaction. You have always been an active person, interested in sports, and you
manage to play both golf and tennis at least once a week. Competition and challenge
bring out the best in you. You will probably impress the interviewer with your energy and
dynamism; you are not afraid to take risks, can look after yourself, and have what it
takes to be a real leader. You read somewhere about a top management training
course that did white-water rafting and had directors jumping off bridges (with a harness
around their waist)!

So whatever challenge they have, you’re certainly up to it.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            53
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                   Handout 2.4

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 3—
LESLIE KEAN
You are going to be interviewed for the position of manager of an internal service and
support department dealing with merchandising materials. The organization is a large
company whose products have a great technical reputation. It appears that the organi-
zation is looking for a business generalist with a flair for marketing and sales, but a good
appreciation of the engineering and production side that has made the company and its
products well known.

This should be a good job for you since you received an undergraduate degree in engi-
neering before going on to take some graduate courses. Your background includes
sales, promotions, and marketing responsibilities in recent years. For over a year, you
have managed the logistics and distribution function for a high-tech company. You have
a staff of 12 and the responsibility for coordination and liaison with the distribution man-
agers of seven affiliates.

It will be important to learn more about what is involved and how the company positions
the job. You also want to get a feeling about the potential career prospects with the
company. You want to get in to a solid, stable organization and grow with it. The high-
tech business is very competitive, and you are interested in a stable company only.

You also cannot afford to make another mistake. Although the past five years have
gone pretty well, the job before that was a disaster. You have not completed the part of
the application form covering job experience (beyond the past five years) as you would
prefer not to discuss it. You were involved as managing director of a small company that
imported promotional gift items from the Far East. The experience would be quite rele-
vant to the current opening, but unfortunately that company went out of business
because the equity partners got into some bad financing arrangements.

It was not your fault, but still you feel that it’s not in your favor to have been connected
with a failed business, especially as managing director. You hope that the recent
experience will be sufficient not to raise any questions or doubts over previous experi-
ence. You will have to persuade them with the more recent achievements.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               55
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 2.5

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 4—
MORGAN STERN
Friends have persuaded you that this should be an interesting job opportunity. They
have said it combines several challenges and responsibilities in areas where you
already have some experience. You have done purchasing and were fairly successful.
You have worked in warehousing and inventory management as assistant to the ware-
house manager, who appreciated your careful analyses of various problems and actu-
ally implemented some of your recommendations.

Your first job after school was on the shipping side of order processing, so this might be
relevant as well. It’s hard to tell from the advertisement exactly what the company wants
and you would prefer not to speculate or try to sell yourself before you really understand
what it is looking for. For example, you have done work preparing, editing, and circulat-
ing a catalogue of available materials and items, but you are not certain whether this
might have any relevance.

The best thing to do will be to listen to what they have to say in the interview and then
describe yourself accordingly. You will find it hard to listen well because you never have
been very good at interviews and they make you very nervous. With luck, perhaps they
can review your application form and draw their own conclusions. Then if they ask you
the right questions, you can reply with a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Maybe this time the interview could go quickly if you don’t interrupt. You find it unpleas-
ant and distasteful to “blow your own horn.” Your bosses have often asked you to be
more outspoken and assertive, but you are not comfortable with that behavior. You find
it difficult to draw the line between assertiveness and aggressiveness. If you make a lot
of noise, you may get the attention, but you know that your quiet approach gets the
results that are then recognized and rewarded.

It is probably best to ask a lot of questions, listen carefully, and then comment on the
information received. Lengthy discussions make you more nervous and uncomfortable,
so keep it short and simple, but hope for more discussions later or another time.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             57
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 2.1

APPLICATION FOR NEW POSITION APPROVAL
Job Title:          Merchandising Services Support Manager

Department:         Merchandising Services Support Department

Location:           Head Office

1.   Purpose of the Job

     To provide supervisory management of the Merchandising Services Support
     Department in coordination, organization, and planning. To provide expert service
     of any or all of the individual departmental functions as necessary to improve the
     effectiveness or cover for absence and increases in workload.

2.   Statistics

     •   Total sales and support workforce            325
     •   Merchandising services support               6 (excluding job holder)
     •   Annual merchandising budget                  $350,000

3.   Principal Accountabilities

     Provide the organization with a high-quality service in designing, sourcing,
     purchasing, warehousing, and shipping of promotional articles.

4.   Job Content

     •   Coordinate the design and specification of items; purchasing and quality-
         control; inventory and warehousing; publishing catalogues; processing orders
         and coordinating shipping so that client needs are met in a timely fashion.
     •   Develop further ranges and opportunities for point-of-sale merchandising
         materials.

5.   Background and Experience

     •   High school, some college preferable.
     •   Experience with at least four of the individual responsibilities is desirable.
         Proven ability to work without supervision and in high-pressure situations
         essential.


                      Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             59
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                         Exercise 2.2

INTERVIEW RATING SUMMARY
Candidate:                                             Position:
Interviewer:                                                       Date:

       Rating of Factors as           Negative   Acceptable   Positive    Very      Comments
      Related to This Position                                           Positive

 1.    Professional appearance

 2.    Drive

 3.    Motivation

 4.    Initiative

 5.    Maturity

 6.    Personality

 7.    Self-confidence

 8.    Stability/stress tolerance

 9.    Communication skills

10.    Interpersonal skills

11.    Relevant education

12.    Professional experience

13.    Achievements

14.    Leadership capacity

15.    Management potential

16.    Interest in position

17.    Knowledge of company

18.    Adaptability/compatibility

19.    Additional factors (specify)

20.    Other criteria (specify)


                         Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               61
                Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
     Exercise 2.2 (continued)


GENERAL QUESTIONS
How (through what means) did the candidate approach the company?



What was the candidate’s reaction to the company and the position?



What job requirements does the applicant meet completely?



What specific criteria or factors are lacking?



What are the candidate’s major accomplishments?



What does the candidate perceive as his or her principal strengths?



What are the candidate’s self-admitted weaknesses?



What are the candidate’s reasons for leaving his or her present position?



Does the candidate have interests and values that are suitable for this position, are
compatible with its functional structure, and adapt to corporate culture?



Additional observations:




62                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Exercise 2.2 (concluded)


CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATIONS (check one)
Overall Rating (potential for this position):

        Below Average
        Average
        Above Average
        Outstanding

Recommendations:

        Hire
        Reject
        Second Interview
        Hold

Reservations/Areas of Concern (give examples):




Signature:                                                    Date:


Please return this form to Human Resources as early as possible after your interview.
Thank you.




                      Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           63
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Exercise 2.3

APPLICATION FORM—INTERVIEWEE 1
Position applied for:     Merchandising Services Support Manager

Personal

Name:      Steve Lovern
Address:   47 London Road
           Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53210
Telephone: (Home) ( 414 ) 555-0000                  (Work)    ( 414 ) 555-1111

Place of Birth:   California
Date of Birth:    1/21/77                            Age: 28


References

Name: Rev. P. J. Brook                        Name: Mrs. S. P. March

Address: 41 North Drive                       Address: Brown Bros., Inc.
           Milwaukee, WI 53210                            Milwaukee, WI 53211

                                                          (Do not contact before job offer)



Military Experience
    Service Branch, Duties, Rank, and                 Location                 Dates
             Special Training

    None




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              65
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 2.3 (continued)


Education
High School:                                                   From:                To:

     Southpool High School                                     1991                1995

College/University/Degree:                                     From:                To:

     State University, B.S.                                    1995                2000

Post graduate or other professional training and qualifications:

     Member, Institute of Marketing and Supply


Other Interests

What are your principal interests?

     Singing—member of church and local choir
     Renovating old property
     Reading and travel


Employment
Please start with your present or most recent employer

Employer 1:                                                   Job Title            Dates
     Brown Bros., Inc.                                         P.O.S.          2004 -
     Milwaukee, WI                                            Manager          Present
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay      Final Pay
     Purchasing P.O.S. materials                               $26,560         $27,550
     Coordinating distributors
Reasons for leaving:

     To seek improvement and more responsibility.



66                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                       Exercise 2.3 (continued)


Employment (continued)
Employer 2:                                                  Job Title          Dates
   Purchasing P.O.S. Materials                                Sales         2002 - 2004
   Coordinating distribution                                 manager
Primary job responsibilities:                               Initial Pay      Final Pay
   Manage team of 3 sales representatives                    $22,000          $26,560
   Promote products in regional area
   Meet sales and budget targets
Reasons for leaving:

   Internal career development move.


Employer 3:                                                  Job Title          Dates
   Engineering Employees Federation                         Promotion       2000 - 2002
                                                             manager
Primary job responsibilities:                               Initial Pay      Final Pay
   Promote Federation to business                            $18,500          $20,000
   Coordinate sales/promotion materials
   Develop campaigns and exhibitions
Reasons for leaving:
   To take up field sales position with engineering company in my home town (I married
   that year)


Employer 4:                                                  Job Title          Dates



Primary job responsibilities:                               Initial Pay      Final Pay



Reasons for leaving:




                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                67
          Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 2.3 (concluded)


Employment (continued)
Employer 5:                                                     Job Title          Dates




Primary job responsibilities:                                  Initial Pay       Final Pay




Reasons for leaving:




What qualifications, abilities, and strengths will help you succeed in this job?

     I have the academic background in marketing and have held positions of increasing
     responsibility in the promotion, sales, and marketing functions. I am a hard worker
     and have some clear ideas on improvement of the whole P.O.S. process from design
     to shipping. I have experience managing a group.



What are your career plans? What has motivated you to apply for this job?

     I applied for this job because it is in an area where I have both the functional and
     industry knowledge and it gives me the opportunity to obtain a position with higher
     responsibility.

     My short-term plans would be to be successful in the position of Merchandising
     Support Manager, and then progress further in the sales and marketing functions.


To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    August 26, 2005         Signature Steve Loren



68                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Exercise 2.4

APPLICATION FORM—INTERVIEWEE 2
Position applied for:    Merchandising Services Support Manager

Personal

Name:      Lee Reddy
Address:   482 Smith Close Court
           Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53210
Telephone: (Home) ( 414 ) 010-5555                  (Work)    ( 414 ) 000-5555

Place of Birth:   Wisconsin
Date of Birth:    3/5/76                             Age: 29


References

Name: Jane Smith                              Name: Dr. P.S.G. Alliston-Jones

Address: 301 Smith Close Court                Address: Southpool Volunteers
           Milwaukee, WI 53210                            Milwaukee, WI 53210




Military Experience
    Service Branch, Duties, Rank, and                 Location                Dates
             Special Training

    None




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          69
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 2.4 (continued)


Education
High School:                                                   From:                To:

     Branch High School                                        1990                1994

College/University/Degree:                                     From:                To:

     Anyshire Junior College, A.A. degree                      1995                1997

Post graduate or other professional training and qualifications:

     None


Other Interests

What are your principal interests?

     Running local Scout troop
     Sports—golf, tennis, hang-gliding, running



Employment
Please start with your present or most recent employer

Employer 1:                                                   Job Title            Dates
     Allpart Services (Spares), Inc.                          Operation        2004 -
                                                              Manager          Present
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay      Final Pay
     Responsible for all sales administration and services     $25,000         $25,000
     for 16-person unit.
Reasons for leaving:

     To take on challenges in a larger organization.



70                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Exercise 2.4 (continued)


Employment (continued)
Employer 2:                                                 Job Title            Dates
   Smith & Sons (Transport), Inc.                            Transport       2002 - 2004
                                                              manager
Primary job responsibilities:                               Initial Pay      Final Pay
   Complete responsibility for order processing and          $22,000          $25,000
   customer service for the company production
   scheduling.
Reasons for leaving:

   Move to Allpart Services


Employer 3:                                                 Job Title            Dates
   Trans World Supplies, Inc.                             Intl. strategic    2001 - 2002
                                                         business analyst
Primary job responsibilities:                              Initial Pay       Final Pay
   Interfacing with business plans and needs of a            $22,000          $22,000
   new African trading company.
Reasons for leaving:
   Move to Smith & Sons


Employer 4:                                                 Job Title            Dates
                                                          Operations dist.   1999 - 2001
   Wilson Distribution Services
                                                            executive
Primary job responsibilities:                               Initial Pay      Final Pay

   Distribution operation in the Northern counties

Reasons for leaving:

   Move to Trans World to take up international post.


                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                71
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 2.4 (concluded)


Employment (continued)
Employer 5:                                                     Job Title          Dates
                                                               Management       June 1999 –
     Wilson Distribution Services
                                                                 trainee         Dec. 1999

Primary job responsibilities:                                  Initial Pay       Final Pay

     Various positions in the total operation of the
     company

Reasons for leaving:

     Internal promotion.



What qualifications, abilities, and strengths will help you succeed in this job?

     I have a great deal of experience in transportation management, warehousing,
     production management, and business planning. Working for small, specialist
     organizations has meant a great amount of responsibility in early career and a broad
     understanding of business.

     I have a great deal of drive and energy and like to work hard and play hard. I am
     not afraid to take risks and have proved myself as a leader.



What are your career plans? What has motivated you to apply for this job?

     I would like to use my generalist background in small companies to build a sound
     career in a larger organization where the challenges are greater.


To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    August 30, 2005          Signature Lee Reddy


72                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Exercise 2.5

APPLICATION FORM—INTERVIEWEE 3
Position applied for:    Merchandising Services Support Manager

Personal

Name:      Leslie Kean
Address:   Tower Building 3
           16 Walker Road
           Smithfield, WI 53210
Telephone: (Home) ( 414 ) 555-0000                  (Work)    ( 414 ) 222-1111

Place of Birth:   Michigan
Date of Birth:    2/6/74                             Age: 31


References

Name: M. Pyre                                 Name: P. R. Jones

Address: 26 Jackson Close                     Address: Managing Director
           Smithfield, WI 53210                           Apex Software, Inc.
                                                          Milwaukee, WI 53210


Military Experience
    Service Branch, Duties, Rank, and                 Location                Dates
             Special Training

    Army Officer Training Corps                    New University          1992 – 1994




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             73
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 2.5 (continued)


Education
High School:                                                   From:                To:

     Smith Street Private School                               1988                1992

College/University/Degree:                                     From:                To:

     New University, B.S., Business                            1992                1996

Post graduate or other professional training and qualifications:

     Selected course work


Other Interests

What are your principal interests?

     Reading, cycling, travel, and current affairs


Employment
Please start with your present or most recent employer

Employer 1:                                                   Job Title            Dates
     Apex Software, Inc.                                      Logistics         2003 -
                                                              Manager           Present
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay      Final Pay
     Manage staff of 12 professionals, coordinate              $26,000         $28,200
     distribution to 7 European affiliates.

Reasons for leaving:

     To attain a position where my engineering and business background would be equally
     important.



74                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Exercise 2.5 (continued)


Employment (continued)
Employer 2:                                                  Job Title           Dates
   Wild Engineering Design                                     Sales       2002 - 2003
                                                             promotion
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay
   Consultant to engineering companies on sales and           $25,000        $26,000
   marketing operations.

Reasons for leaving:

   Headhunted by software company (subsidiary of client)


Employer 3:                                                  Job Title           Dates
   West Point Management, Inc.                              Marketing      2000 - 2002
                                                            coordinator
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay
   Sales and promotion consultant, specializing in            $20,000        $22,000
   exhibitions and point-of-sale promotion.

Reasons for leaving:
   Opportunity to expand consulting role with engineering bias.



Employer 4:                                                  Job Title           Dates



Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay



Reasons for leaving:




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              75
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 2.5 (concluded)


Employment (continued)
Employer 5:                                                       Job Title           Dates



Primary job responsibilities:                                     Initial Pay       Final Pay



Reasons for leaving:




What qualifications, abilities, and strengths will help you succeed in this job?

     A good appreciation of engineering and marketing and promotions seem to be the
     right combination of skills.




What are your career plans? What has motivated you to apply for this job?

     After a couple of years in the high-tech business, I would like the stability of a more
     established industry and the opportunity to use my engineering and sales promotion
     experience to the fullest.



To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    September 9, 2005        Signature Leslie Kean




76                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Exercise 2.6

APPLICATION FORM—INTERVIEWEE 4
Position applied for:     Merchandising Services Support Manager

Personal

Name:      Morgan Stern
Address:   12 Spenser Hill
           Milwaukee, WI 53210
Telephone: (Home) (          )                      (Work)    (    )

Place of Birth:   Virginia
Date of Birth:    8/14/79                             Age: 26


References

Name:                                         Name:

Address: Can be provided at a later date      Address:
           if needed.




Military Experience
    Service Branch, Duties, Rank, and                 Location                Dates
             Special Training

    N/A




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          77
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 2.6 (continued)


Education
High School:                                                   From:                To:

     Western High School                                       1996                1999

College/University/Degree:                                     From:                To:




Post graduate or other professional training and qualifications:




Other Interests

What are your principal interests?

     Reading; home computing—writing software; music


Employment
Please start with your present or most recent employer

Employer 1:                                                   Job Title            Dates
     Berwick Machines                                        Purchasing        2003 -
                                                               officer         Present
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay      Final Pay
     All main purchasing for company.                          $25,000         $26,000
     Negotiating just-in-time systems.

Reasons for leaving:

     More responsibility.




78                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Exercise 2.6 (continued)


Employment (continued)
Employer 2:                                                  Job Title           Dates
   Berwick Machines                                         Asst. ware-    2001 - 2003
                                                           house manager
Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay
   Warehouse and inventory management.                        $23,000        $25,000
   Project work.

Reasons for leaving:

   Internal promotion.


Employer 3:                                                  Job Title           Dates
   Plant Supplies, Inc.                                       Various      1999 – 2001

Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay
   Sales and promotion consultant, specializing in            $17,500        $23,100
   exhibitions and point of sale promotion.

Reasons for leaving:
   Opportunity to expand consulting role with engineering bias.



Employer 4:                                                  Job Title           Dates



Primary job responsibilities:                                Initial Pay    Final Pay



Reasons for leaving:




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              79
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 2.6 (concluded)


Employment (continued)
Employer 5:                                                       Job Title          Dates



Primary job responsibilities:                                    Initial Pay       Final Pay



Reasons for leaving:




What qualifications, abilities, and strengths will help you succeed in this job?

     I have the background needed in terms of experience as listed in the advertisement. I
     work hard in a quiet way to achieve results.




What are your career plans? What has motivated you to apply for this job?

     Several colleagues suggested that I should apply for the job since I have the right
     experience.




To the best of my knowledge and belief, the above information is true and I agree that it
may be verified should I receive a conditional offer of employment.


Date    September 8, 2005        Signature Morgan Stern




80                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
 3       Job Interview—Second One

Trainer Guidance
The second and subsequent follow-up interviews are aimed at both parties obtaining
more specific information, before final approval and the decision to hire a candidate is
made. These interviews can be carried out by a panel, or as a series or sequence of
one-to-one interviews. Many organizations prefer the one-to-one format because its
focus can be specific and more personal.

The initial interviews should have covered basic, general information about the appli-
cant’s background, qualifications, and experience as well as information about the
company and the position. The purpose now is to probe more deeply and to focus on
specific points where there are still uncertainties or lingering concerns. Less attention
will be paid to the events and experiences of the past and more on realities of the
present and a projection into the future. Initial screening interviews use a telescope
technique to get a “big-picture” overview; follow-up interviews apply a microscope to
explore issues in detail.

Interviewers will have to make a final recommendation to hire or reject, evaluating the
candidate against corporate norms and the job specification. The evaluation will con-
sider earlier interview information and the specifics identified in this round. The evalua-
tion and decision criteria must be refined, reviewing what specific elements are abso-
lutely critical: “musts” as opposed to “wants.” The interviewer will have to distinguish
between which qualities, characteristics, abilities, experience, or skills that the finalist
will need to have and which might be nice to have. Decision criteria may also come from
the reasons that have led to elimination of other finalists.

The interviewer or panel now has the application form and interview rating summaries
from the first interviews. They will be highlighting specific areas for further questions.
More detailed company and job information must be available because applicants will
also be refining the focus of their questions. For training purposes, participants should
use their own organization when appropriate for examples, where necessary.

The interviewer or panel members must be more alert to building rapport through
attentive listening, encouraging tone, and gestures. The objective is to probe gaps and
superficial, unsatisfactory answers obtained in the first round, and it is most important to
get the applicant to share information, attitudes, and feelings openly, without defensive
reservations. It is also critical to check and ensure full understanding by the applicant
before you reach the point of commitment or it will become an expensive process for
both parties to have to go back and cover the same ground. The specific information
required for a decision should be clear.




                                                                                             81
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


If a panel format is chosen, roles and responsibilities must be clearly identified, and it
must be established how the decision will be reached and who will make it.

The roles and situation continue from the previous role play about first job interviews.
The training session could therefore use the first and second interview process in
sequence, or the second interview only. The decision will be based on the objectives of
the training session. If the interviews are carried out in sequence, the review forms and
summaries from the first interviews in the previous role play can be used. The com-
pleted interview rating summaries are included within the interviewer’s information. The
interviewer and interviewee should read both the relevant role information for this inter-
view and for the first interview to get a total picture. The interviewee roles in the second
interview relate as follows:

                                  Second Interview          First Interview
             Leslie Kean               Interviewee 1         Interviewee 3
             Morgan Stern              Interviewee 2         Interviewee 4


Materials Required
     1. Handout 3.1, and Exercises 3.1 and 3.2 (and Handout 2.1 and
        Exercises 2.1, 2.5, and 2.6 for information) for interviewer.
     2. Handout 3.2 (and Handout 2.4 and Exercise 2.5 for information) for
        Interviewee 1.
     3. Handout 3.3 (and Handout 2.5 and Exercise 2.6 for information) for
        Interviewee 2.
     4. Handout A.1a for each participant.
     5. Handout A.1b for each observer (if required).




82
                                                                Handout 3.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are about to interview one or two short-listed finalists for the new position of
Merchandising Services Support Manager. The first round produced some interesting
applicants and helped you and your colleagues refine your focus on the characteristics
and competencies required for this job. It has been helpful to understand what skills and
experience are available, but now you must reach a decision: who to hire.

Your evaluation should be based on the essential characteristics and criteria for
success. In your preparation, you can review the questions or gaps that were noted on
interview summary reports from the first interviews (copies included). When these ques-
tions have been answered satisfactorily, you should be able to make your recommen-
dation.

Some questions you might wish to consider are:

    •   Have the applicants understated or overstated their strengths?
    •   Have you correctly evaluated them?
    •   Do they have the real capacity to do the job?
    •   Can they manage the conflicts and pressures?
    •   Are they overqualified or potentially better suited to another job?

You should be alert to any defensive or evasive behavior by the applicants. They must
be ready to talk openly and freely. The decision should be made by a full exploration
and understanding of pertinent facts, not simply on interpretation or inference or
clouded by assumptions, perceptions, and feelings. The applicants will also have more
specific questions about the company and the job, so you must be prepared to give
detailed responses. You may use your own company organization, rules, and proce-
dures as a model.

(Refer also to Handout 2.1, and Exercises 2.1, 2.5, and 2.6 contained in Role
Play 2.)

The trainer may ask you to play this interviewer role as a member of a panel. If so, the
role play remains the same. However, you should devote part of your preparation time
to working with the other panel members. You need to agree to what the objectives are,
who will ask what questions, who will lead the panel, and how you will analyze the
results and make your final recommendations.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           83
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 3.2

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 1—
LESLIE KEAN
You have been invited back for a second round of interviews for the position of
Merchandising Services Support Manager. The first interview went well and you have
been able to understand a bit more about the structure and positioning of the job.
Clearly this is a challenge for the organization. They want and need the function to be
there as soon as possible and to start performing from the beginning. However, the
function seems misunderstood and could be potentially undervalued in an organization
that is driven by reference to norms and values of production engineering.

There is no doubt in your mind that you can do the job and do it well. But what will that
bring you in the longer term? Will your efforts and abilities be recognized and help you
move toward more mainline jobs? Will you be taken for granted and left alone in a job
that is well within your ability? What are the risks that, in a couple of years’ time, the
company will go through a zero-based budget reorganizing exercise and decide to
consolidate all purchasing, inventory, and shipping elsewhere?

There was only general talk about career planning and individual development in the
first interview. Of course all companies pay lip service to those ideals, but you need to
know whether they are serious and what the specific possibilities are for you. You will
be too old for another career change if this one doesn’t work. They did seem to under-
stand quite openly your experience in the failed business and take it on face value.
Perhaps they are more enlightened than other companies. What do they actually do
about career development?

You could be honest and let them see that you perceive this job as an entry-level
opportunity for you to prove your worth, and that you would expect to take on bigger
responsibilities after successfully starting the function. However, this is a delicate
point—it may scare them off by giving the impression that you’re not really interested in
this job and that you are pretentious or overly ambitious. It depends on what they are
judging you on—long-term potential or short-term results.

It will be important to get some clear answers and reach mutual understanding during
this interview so that you can both make the right decision.

(Refer also to Handout 2.4 and Exercise 2.5 contained in Role Play 2.)




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             85
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                Handout 3.3

ROLE PLAY: INTERVIEWEE 2—
MORGAN STERN
You have been invited back for a second round of interviews for the position of
Merchandising Services Support Manager. The first interview went well and you have
been able to understand a bit more about the structure and positioning of the job.
Clearly this is a challenge for the organization. They want and need the function to be
there as soon as possible and to start performing from the beginning. They need to get
good, dependable results out of this service function.

You have been thinking about it a lot and you are quite excited about the possibilities.
There is potential for some analysis of the interfaces between the functions, and with
careful planning and organization, it should be possible to deliver a quality service.

It seems to you that a calm, cool, efficient manager with a laid-back style would be the
right element to counter the excessive creative instincts of the designer, the tough
negotiating of the purchaser, and the unrealistic promises and desire to please of the
shipping coordinator. You understand the operations of cataloging and inventory, could
fit in with the other more extreme personalities, and could build a well-oiled team.
Maybe you are the right person for the job!

They were able to make you feel quite relaxed at the first interview, and you opened up
more than you had planned. Perhaps now you could build on that and overcome your
fear of interviews. You could certainly start in a more confident mode. What if your
confidence is misplaced? Should you tell them that you think you are the right person
for the job? What are they thinking? What do they want to know more about this time?
Did they really understand what you have done and have achieved? Should you be
clearer about your achievements and analysis of the job? What are they really inter-
ested in? What are they offering in real terms?

Perhaps you don’t want to say too much until you know your position. But it will be
important to get some clear answers and mutual understanding out of this interview so
that both parties can make the right decision.

(Refer also to Handout 2.5 and Exercise 2.6 contained in Role Play 2.)




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                87
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                         Exercise 3.1

INTERVIEW RATING SUMMARY
Candidate:          L. Kean                            Position: Mgr. Merch. Service Support
Interviewer: T. L. Manners                                         Date:     8/30/05

       Rating of Factors as           Negative   Acceptable   Positive    Very         Comments
      Related to This Position                                           Positive

 1.    Professional appearance

 2.    Drive

 3.    Motivation

 4.    Initiative

 5.    Maturity

 6.    Personality

 7.    Self-confidence

 8.    Stability/stress tolerance

 9.    Communication skills

10.    Interpersonal skills

11.    Relevant education                                                           B.S. Eng./MBA
12.    Professional experience                                                      Engineering
13.    Achievements

14.    Leadership capacity

15.    Management potential

16.    Interest in position

17.    Knowledge of company

18.    Adaptability/compatibility

19.    Additional factors (specify)

20.    Other criteria (specify)



                         Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                  89
                Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 3.1 (continued)


GENERAL QUESTIONS
How (through what means) did the candidate approach the company?
     Advertisement

What was the candidate’s reaction to the company and the position?
     Good overall, eager to know about future prospects.

What job requirements does the applicant meet completely?
     Has management experience and sales/promotion/engineering knowledge.

What specific criteria or factors are lacking?
     Could do with more experience in purchasing and supply of gifts and point-of-sale
     materials.

What are the candidate’s major accomplishments?
     MBA. Consulting at early stage of career.

What does the candidate perceive as his or her principal strengths?
     Business and technical expertise.

What are the candidate’s self-admitted weaknesses?
     Relative age.

What are the candidate’s reasons for leaving his or her present position?
     Uncertainty of future of high-tech business.

Does the candidate have interests and values that are suitable for this position, are
compatible with its functional structure, and adapt to corporate culture?
     Yes

Additional observations:
     Gap in work experience between MBA and first job.
     When questioned, mentioned a small business venture that failed.


90                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Exercise 3.1 (concluded)


CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATIONS (check one)
Overall Rating (potential for this position):

          Below Average
          Average
          Above Average
          Outstanding

Recommendations:

          Hire
          Reject
          Second Interview
          Hold

Reservations/Areas of Concern (give examples):

    Need to probe ability to handle purchasing and supply.




Signature: T. L. Manners                                     Date:    8/30/05


Please return this form to Human Resources as early as possible after your interview.
Thank you.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            91
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
92            Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
     Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                         Exercise 3.2

INTERVIEW RATING SUMMARY
Candidate:          M. Stern                           Position: Mgr. Merch. Service Support
Interviewer: T. L. Manners                                         Date:     8/30/05

       Rating of Factors as           Negative   Acceptable   Positive    Very         Comments
      Related to This Position                                           Positive

 1.    Professional appearance

 2.    Drive                                                                        Nervous
 3.    Motivation

 4.    Initiative

 5.    Maturity

 6.    Personality                                                                  Quietly confident
 7.    Self-confidence

 8.    Stability/stress tolerance

 9.    Communication skills                                                         Soft spoken
10.    Interpersonal skills                                                         Nervous
11.    Relevant education

12.    Professional experience                                                      Applicable
13.    Achievements

14.    Leadership capacity                                                          Don’t know
15.    Management potential

16.    Interest in position

17.    Knowledge of company

18.    Adaptability/compatibility

19.    Additional factors (specify)

20.    Other criteria (specify)



                         Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                   93
                Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
      Exercise 3.2 (continued)


GENERAL QUESTIONS
How (through what means) did the candidate approach the company?
     Advertisement

What was the candidate’s reaction to the company and the position?
     Very interested. Job as explained began to interest him more and more.

What job requirements does the applicant meet completely?
     All.

What specific criteria or factors are lacking?
     Nervous in interview meant any leadership or management potential must be questioned.

What are the candidate’s major accomplishments?
     Quietly successful. Manages projects well. Works unsupervised.

What does the candidate perceive as his or her principal strengths?
     Job knowledge.

What are the candidate’s self-admitted weaknesses?
     Nervousness and dislike of “blowing own horn.”

What are the candidate’s reasons for leaving his or her present position?
     Opportunity to progress.

Does the candidate have interests and values that are suitable for this position, are
compatible with its functional structure, and adapt to corporate culture?
     Yes

Additional observations:




94                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                       Exercise 3.2 (concluded)


CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATIONS (check one)
Overall Rating (potential for this position):

          Below Average
          Average
          Above Average
          Outstanding

Recommendations:

          Hire
          Reject
          Second Interview
          Hold

Reservations/Areas of Concern (give examples):

    Needs to be sure about ability to lead a team.




Signature: T. L. Manners                                     Date:    8/30/05


Please return this form to Human Resources as early as possible after your interview.
Thank you.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            95
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
 4       Evaluating for Promotion

Trainer Guidance
The objective of these interviews is to get the right person in the right place at the right
time. This involves looking to the future, although it may be a very near or immediate
future. The interviews qualify a specific candidate for the next step in the planned pro-
motion and development process. Many organizations have promotion and succession
planning systems in place to ensure that potential replacements are identified in
advance to fill key positions with the least disruption.

Organizational plans for promotions should be continually reviewed and compared with
individual career interests, aspirations, or potential, and can be carried out together with
performance appraisals and development reviews (see Part A). An individual may have
been identified for a specific promotion or career development move and this is typically
validated by reviewing the individual’s performance history and readiness to move on to
the next position. This final evaluation is often done through an interview, possibly with
a panel who is familiar with the requirements of the new position, including some mem-
bers who already know the candidate.

The outcome of the interview is a decision whether or not to recommend the individual
for the next step. Evaluation criteria come from corporate norms and specific require-
ments of the new position. Often, needs for training or development activity may be
identified to complete the candidate’s readiness to assume the new job.

The interviewer or panel has the individual’s personnel files, job history, and some notes
and comments from the candidate’s present manager. A job description and personal
qualifications for the new position should also be available, and in this role play, the
details are included in the interviewer’s role play.

Obtaining sufficient depth of information about the candidate and probing for gaps or
superficial competencies that are assumed but have not been tested are important
points to consider in this interview. There should also be verification that the candidate
understands the dimensions and scope of the new job, and this can be done by hypo-
thetical “what if” questions.

In this role play, the candidate has shown excellent ability in accounting positions, but
has had little exposure to senior management and supervision. There is no record of
training in presentation skills, report writing, or supervisory management, and these are
necessary for this new position. The interviewer notes these potential weaknesses and
suggests possible solutions through training or coaching.

If a panel is used, the respective roles, relationships, and responsibilities between the
members should be agreed to and planned in advance.


                                                                                            97
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
     1. Handout 4.1 and Exercises 4.1 and 4.2 for Interviewer.
     2. Handout 4.2 and Exercise 4.1 for Interviewee.
     3. Handout A.1a for each participant.
     4. Handout A.1b for each observer (if required).




98
                                                                Handout 4.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are asked to interview an internal candidate for promotion to the position of Internal
Controls Supervisor.

The individual has a record of superior performance in three progressively responsible
positions over the past five years since joining the accounting department. Having
begun as an accounts payable clerk, the candidate was promoted to accounting analyst
after one year and then appointed senior analyst two years later. In this role, the candi-
date effectively handled expense reimbursements and petty cash functions, setting new
standards of efficiency and creating a very positive image of value-added service from
the internal accounts department.

The candidate’s personnel records and job history are available to you as well as a
positive recommendation from his current manager. You may compare your own com-
pany’s structures, titles, evaluation system, and career planning policy, when appropri-
ate, to expand on this background.

The new position will require supervision of five employees in the accounts payable
section. In addition, the person will have to review, update, and communicate the com-
pany’s internal controls policies and procedures. Working with the Controller, the Inter-
nal Controls Supervisor will have to submit drafts of revised policies or procedures to
senior management for approval and ensure communication and understanding of
these by all department heads and ultimately compliance by all staff.

The candidate has good accounting skills and experience and a thoroughly professional
approach to any task assigned. In addition, the person has shown an infectious enthu-
siasm for expanding the limits of any job he has been given.

Based on the information you can gather from the person and the records available, you
will have to decide whether or not to recommend the candidate for this next step and
any actions that might be necessary to ensure readiness to assume the tasks.

The trainer may ask you to play this interviewer role as a member of a panel. If so, the
role play remains the same. However, you should devote part of your preparation time
to working with the other panel members. You need to agree to what the objectives are,
who will ask what questions, who will lead the panel, and how you will analyze the
results and make your final recommendations.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             99
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                Handout 4.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY:
TERRY AUSTIN
You are to be interviewed by the person(s) responsible for recommending you for a
promotion as part of the company’s development process. They will have access to
your personnel files, job history, performance evaluations, and a note from your current
manager. They will also have a description of the proposed job that you understand to
be a supervisor in the Internal Controls section of the Accounting Department.

You are not certain of all the tasks or responsibilities of this new job, but believe it
includes accountability for the Senior Analyst function, which you now occupy, as well
as for internal payables, travel, and general administrative expenditure controls.

You are pleased and proud to be considered for a promotion and believe you can
handle it, especially since your supervisors have recommended you. So far you have
been able to do your various jobs very well and have consistently been rated as a
superior performer.

Your accounting qualification and two years’ previous experience in a financial services
company prepared you well for what you have encountered since joining the company’s
Accounting Department five years ago. After one year you were promoted from an
accounts clerk to an accounts analyst and you streamlined the handling of the internal
payables. You worked with the computer systems staff to refine the applications and
your deadlines were always met with almost perfect accuracy. It was fun working with
the other departments and they always appreciated your visits because you helped
make their tasks easier.

After two years, you were appointed Senior Analyst and you were able to achieve a new
standard of reimbursing travel and petty cash expenses within 48 hours. People began
to have a new attitude toward the accounting staff and you looked for other ways to
provide service to employees. Since you were functioning as an internal bank, you
thought about making travelers checks and foreign currency available for business or
personal trips and even selling stamps to save people from having to go to the post
office. After careful planning, you did it.

There has been a good atmosphere in the Senior Analyst’s office over the past two
years. You enjoy meeting people when they come in and helping them understand the
finer points of reimbursement policy. You have volunteered to do a presentation on
Travel Expense Report procedures for all new employees as part of the Personnel
Department orientation program, and in doing this, you get to meet all your new internal
“clients” early on. Then they know they can come and ask your advice on a complicated
reporting point before it becomes a messy problem to unravel.


                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           101
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 4.2 (concluded)


So now, if your bosses think you are ready to move on to something bigger, you are
eager to hear more about it. Whatever it is about, there will be some ways to do it
better, and you are confident that you can find them. You have always worked in pure
accounting roles up to now, and haven’t supervised anyone before. Your experience in
writing reports and making presentations has been limited to the induction program. So
you might need some training or have to learn some new skills, but surely the company
will help with that.




102                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Exercise 4.1

Personnel Record                                                        Confidential
Name: Terry Austin
Date of Birth: September 12, 1977

Education and Qualifications
            College/University                                  Degree
Pennsylvania State University                B.S.—Accounting, 1997


Employment History
           Previous Employers                              Job Titles/Dates
Northwest Bank                               Clerk, 1997 – 1998
Capel Insurance                              Accounts clerk, 1998 – 2000


     This Employment—Job Titles                                 Dates
Accounts clerk                               2000 – 2001
Accounts analyst                             2001 – 2003
Senior analyst                               2003 – present

Training Record
      Courses Attended (in house)              8. Cash management
1. Orientation                                 9. Management: Part 1
2. Basic accounts                            10. Internal control systems
3. Advanced accounts                         11. International budgeting
4. Supervisory introduction                  12.
5. Writing reports                           13.
6. Making presentations                      14.
7. Law and accounting                        15.


                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by      103
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Exercise 4.1 (concluded)


Appraisal Record
               Job Title/Date                                  Appraisal Ratings
Accounts clerk        12/00                       Excellent. Ready for promotion.
Accounts clerk        6/01                        Excellent. Promotion.
Accounts analyst      12/01                       Good
Accounts analyst      12/02                       Excellent. Ready soon.
Senior analyst        12/03                       Adequate; one month in job.
Senior analyst        12/04                       Excellent. Ready for move.


Comments

5/01     Terry is proving to be an excellent clerk and will progress far in the department.

7/01     Opportunity for accounts analyst. Suggested Terry and job accepted. Terry will do
         well.

5/02     Terry suggested a new system to streamline the internal payment system. This will
         bring in savings of approximately 13K per year, and the new computer system is more
         flexible. Commendation placed on record.

10/02 Agrees with Controller to promote Terry to senior analyst when Arthur retires in
      November. Terry was eager to progress.

8/03     Introduced new system of issuing traveler’s checks and currency for foreign trips.
         Saving in external costs of 5K and good PR for the department.

12/04 Developed presentation on expense procedures for staff orientation.




104                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Exercise 4.2

                              MEMORANDUM
Private and Confidential


TO:        Human Resources

FROM:      A. P. South, Assistant Controller, Cash and Payables

RE:        Internal Controls Supervisor

SUBJECT: Terry Austin


                               *   *    *   *   *   *   *


I would like to recommend Terry’s move to the position of Internal Controls
Supervisor, effective immediately.

Terry has worked in my section for the past five years and has proved to be an excel-
lent worker and is a source of many creative ideas. There have been annual savings of
over 20K as a result of improvements and innovations that Terry has introduced.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by       105
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
    5       Project Team Selection

Trainer Guidance
The project team selection interview is held to evaluate and decide whether a specific
candidate will fit into a project team. The team may already be established or be in the
process of being assembled. In this role play, the team exists already, but the departure
of one of its members has created an opening.

Here again a panel may be used to assess the candidate’s potential, or one or more
individual interviews can be held. The criteria should derive from the team’s needs and
requirements. In this case, an already established team has lost a key member whose
skills and competencies need to be replaced. If a team leader were setting out to build a
new project team, he or she would likely want to consider a blend of skills and various
contributing roles to enable the team to function optimally (e.g., Meredith Belbin’s model
of team roles∗).

The interviewer or panel has certain subjective source data available including job
history, track record, verbal references from colleagues and the current manager
indicating the candidate has good interpersonal skills and has been a catalyst on
previous projects, though may be weak in the area of technical competence.

Among the points to watch for is obtaining sufficient depth of information—probing for
gaps in background or experience and exploring superficial areas of qualification.
Hypothetical “what if” questions should be used to assess whether the candidate has
sufficient understanding of what is required and adequate depth of technical knowledge
to suggest viable solutions.

The purpose is to get the right information about the candidate. The candidate may also
require some information about specific tasks and expectations of responsibility to be
able to give a valid self-assessment. Any plausible frame of reference within the partici-
pants’ organization may be used to provide details.

The interviewer must avoid attaching too much importance to the success of previous
contributions. There is a serious question regarding the candidate’s ability to deal with
the technical issues, and that is crucial for the team at this stage.

If a panel is used, time must be devoted to planning and coordinating respective roles,
relationships, responsibilities, and final decision-making.




∗
    R. Meredith Belbin, Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail, Heinemann, 1981.


                                                                                        107
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 5.1 for Interviewer.
      2. Handout 5.2 for Interviewee.
      3. Handout A.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout A.1b for each observer (if required).




108
                                                                 Handout 5.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are head of a project team studying Nationwide Distribution Expansion sites. The
company’s European Distribution warehouse, service, and supply center is located in
Illinois. This location was carefully chosen five years ago based on numerous advan-
tageous factors. The facilities there receive parts and equipment from all over the world
and then ship them to clients all over the United States.

Business has expanded rapidly, and the distribution center is already at capacity. Mini-
mum delays are the key to your marketing strategy in a very competitive sector, and you
cannot accept any loss of efficiency. At current sales growth projections, the facility will
be saturated in less than 18 months. The company has given you nine months to study
the alternatives and to recommend a new location for a second regional distribution
center. Product demand is growing at a faster rate in the Northeast and Southwest
since your penetration is already quite high elsewhere.

After four months into the project study, you have a good team and you are advancing
on target. Morale has been high and everyone has been pulling their weight since you
spent a team development weekend away from work.

Unfortunately, you have just lost a key member of the team—the tax lawyer who had
been studying the relative advantages of various locations. The basic documentation
has been gathered, and meetings with local government authorities and fiscal consult-
ants have been held and documented. But you are going to need thorough analysis of
the fiscal issues within the next two months. In many ways, the various costs of con-
struction, start-up, local staffing, relocation, the transportation system, communication
networking, and other elements seem to be balancing out between the different poten-
tial sites now under review. The tax issues may be the deciding factor.

You have to interview Dale Lynx as a potential replacement on your team. A bright
young MBA who has a good reputation as a business analyst since joining the company
three years ago, Dale has been a highly-regarded contributor to two other project teams
studying operations enhancements and manufacturing efficiencies. The managers of
those two projects recommend Dale as highly personable, dedicated, and a hard worker
who was a real catalyst in the success of their projects. Two of your team members
have already approached you to suggest that Dale could be a real asset on the project.

You want to keep up the high morale level and you need someone who can handle the
tax issues. You know that Dale’s MBA was in finance, so there is no question about his
ability to deal with numbers, but the legal implications will require expert analysis. No
one else on the team can provide backup in this area.

You will have to probe into Dale’s potential contribution and make the decision fast.


                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            109
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 5.1 (concluded)


The trainer may ask you to play this interviewer role as a member of a panel. If so, the
role play remains the same. However, you should devote part of your preparation time
to working with the other panel members. You need to agree to what the objectives are,
who will ask what questions, who will lead the panel, and how you will analyze the
results and make your final recommendations.




110                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                   Handout 5.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY:
DALE LYNX
You are about to be interviewed for an assignment on a project team studying possible
sites for expansion of nationwide distribution facilities. This is an exciting project, and its
findings will be the key to future growth for the next few years. The team is to present its
recommendations to the corporate executive staff in about five months and you are very
eager to be part of it.
A couple of friends with whom you play tennis are on the project team, so you have
been hearing a lot about how they are doing. You regret not being available when it
started four months ago, but you were wrapping up another project on operations
enhancements. You joined the company three years ago and quickly made your mark
as a strategic business analyst. You have since done your best work on project teams.
You enjoy the pressure and the camaraderie, the obligation to learn new insights, and
the opportunity to work closely with others. It brings out the best in you and you know
you’ve had high marks for both teamwork and your hard-working contribution to the
other projects.
The opening has now arisen because the tax lawyer had to leave the project. It appears
that the relative tax advantages will be a major factor in the recommendation of where
to locate the new distribution center. This would be an interesting area to explore. You
are not a lawyer, nor a fiscal specialist, but you did take a few courses in tax law while
earning your MBA in finance. You did two summer internships in the tax department of
an accounting firm specializing in consulting, and your fiancée is a tax lawyer, but you
cannot really claim to be qualified in the field.
You are not certain how essential this expertise is. You have never handled anything
this detailed on your own—there has always been backup available. The final result has
to be quantitative analysis of the financial impact of fiscal incentives, and you have done
this kind of work before. If the basic research on tax legislation was available and you
could get some support in talking with the various local tax authorities, you are sure that
you can get by. If the Project Manager will allow you some outside legal assistance, you
know you can do it.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               111
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
Part B: Appraisal
                                   Introduction
The role plays in this part deal with the interviewing process as applied to a formal
appraisal situation. Many organizations now use a formal staff appraisal system as part
of their total human resource management strategy. Those that do not have a formal
system usually employ an informal system, where managers will review individual
performance sporadically. Formal systems are often based on the completion of a per-
formance appraisal form, and then reviewing the content with the individual concerned
at an appraisal interview. The role plays that follow can be used to help train the man-
ager in the effective use of the organization’s assessment form, but their main purpose
is to help managers and supervisors conduct the interview.

If an organization has its own formal system of staff appraisal, then it will probably have
its own definitions and policies. If so, you should follow these guidelines when introduc-
ing and debriefing the role plays. A handout follows that provides general notes on the
purpose and conduct of performance and staff appraisals for the guidance of trainers
where no such organizational policies exist, or where the training covers people from
more than one organization. You should be prepared to highlight the main points about
appraisals before conducting any role plays, and the following handout could form the
basis of a presentation or information input.


Method
Each of the role plays contains information on the situation and separate information for
the interviewer and interviewee roles. There are five different role plays, Chapters 6
through 10, each addressing a common situation or a common problem for interviewers.
They are:
    6.   Alex Sainsbury: An Underperforming Young Graduate
    7.   Chris Handy: Eager but Has a Behavioral Problem
    8.   Lesley Smith: Overlooked for Promotion
    9.   Pat Jones: An Excellent Performer
   10.   Bobby Martin: Development Needs Analysis
After deciding on the learning objectives and selecting the appropriate role play(s),
distribute the roles and allow each person some time to prepare for the interview. Given
the amount of information in the roles, the interviews should last between 20 and 45
minutes, depending on the depth of discussion. The interviewees should be encouraged
to expand their roles within the role play, and to respond with the approach and style
outlined. The interviewers should plan to respond in the most appropriate way to the
situation, given the information in the role play, the approach favored by the organiza-
tion or training, and their personal style.

                                                                                        113
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Time
For each role play, the minimum time allowed for preparing, conducting the interview,
and reviewing should be 1½ hours:

      •   Introduction to situation and allocation of roles—15 minutes
      •   Planning for interview—15 minutes
      •   Conducting interview—25 minutes
      •   Review of interview, feedback, and discussion—45 minutes

The role plays should run for not more than 45 minutes. Exceeding this time will usually
mean that either the role players are inventing too much material, or the interview has
become deadlocked. In the latter case, the role play can be stopped and the effective-
ness of the appraisal can be evaluated using the observations to that point, which will
probably be sufficient. In the former case, the role play should be stopped to prevent its
usefulness from being lost.

If video recording is used, then the review time will be between two to three times the
length of the interview.




114
                                                                           Handout B.1a

APPRAISAL INTERVIEWS
Performance appraisals, objective setting, and reviews are among the oldest manage-
ment tools available and have been used, adapted, and abused almost everywhere.
They have been studied extensively, and most of the problems associated with them
have been well established. Interviews are a key element in their implementation, and
the interviewer must have strong listening, questioning, and exchanging information
skills.

Some organizations have standard appraisal forms, which can be extensive and com-
plex, with links to salary and compensation programs, training and development needs,
and career development and succession planning. Other organizations ask for a free-
form memo or evaluation letter, being careful to specify the minimum content, feeling
that this free-style approach leads to more thought and personal involvement on the
part of the appraiser.

When these systems have been found unwieldy or inflexible, it is often because organi-
zations have put more emphasis on the process, structure, form, and format than on the
content. While systems give us a certain consistency and empirical approach to meas-
urement, they do not necessarily lead to individual growth, motivation, involvement,
development, or performance achievement. The potential deleterious effects of non-
evaluative reviews, skirting confrontation or avoiding conflict, are discussed elsewhere
in the handouts on counseling, discipline, and exit interviews. They are important
enough to bear mention here again. It is often the attitude and the approach of the
appraiser that has the most impact.

Norman Maier∗ identified three different types of appraisal interview styles with specific
and different objectives: “Tell and Sell,” “Tell and Listen,” and “Problem-Solving.” These
styles have been studied and taught for over 30 years and research articles on the
appraisal process and the appraisal interview continue to appear regularly in the leading
management journals.∗∗

This handout is designed to help develop skills in appraisal interviewing, but first it is
useful to summarize the reasons behind the attraction of the appraisal. The value of the
appraisal system can be examined under three headings:




∗
    N. R. F. Maier, The Appraisal Interview, 1958 (rev. University Associates, 1976).
∗∗
 Among authors who have done important study and research on the topic of performance appraisal are
Michael Beer, Marion Kellogg, Douglas McGregor, Herbert Meyer, Marshall Sashkin.

                         Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               115
                Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
          Handout B.1a (concluded)


Value to the organization…
      •   To assess performance.
      •   To survey talents and skills for staffing decisions.
      •   To provide information for salary administration.
      •   To determine who to promote and whose contract to terminate.
      •   To audit potential.

Value to the individual…
      •   To provide recognition of effort and an acknowledgment that work has been
          appreciated.
      •   To establish future work objectives.
      •   To provide an opportunity to discuss future prospects and job security.
      •   To establish training and development plans based on assessment of the need.
      •   To tell the appraisee how he or she is doing.
      •   To identify areas for coaching.
      •   To give an opportunity to exchange personal ideas, objectives, ideals, anxieties
          and difficulties. (Ideally, this should be an ongoing process, as indeed should
          the whole process of appraisal. It often isn’t, and an appraisal interview allows a
          formal opportunity for discussion.)

Value to the supervisor…
      •   To be able to improve individual performance through the development of talent
          and skills.
      •   To ensure that individuals are capable of doing the job.
      •   To provide proper incentives for staff.
      •   To ensure a steady supply of individuals who can be promoted.

The value of appraisals can be further appreciated if we compare people to scarce
capital equipment. With items of equipment, we must necessarily ask:
      •   Is it the proper type of equipment for the job it is being used for?
      •   Is it being effectively used?
      •   Has it any shortcomings? If so, how well will they be overcome?
      •   By what standards is equipment performance measured?




116                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                       Exercise B.1a (continued)


Similarly, the responsible supervisor/manager should be asking similar questions about
scarce human resources:

    •   Are my staff competent? Do they meet all the required standards?
    •   Are they sufficiently trained?
    •   Are they being effectively used in their present jobs?
    •   By what standards can their performance be measured? Do they know these
        standards and accept them?

The objective of holding an interview is to review job performance. The employee needs
to know:

    •   What is expected?
    •   How am I doing?
    •   Where am I going?
    •   What can I do to improve?

Based on these four questions, it’s quickly apparent that the role is to appraise perform-
ance in the job, and this appraisal is conducted against the background of the job
description, standards of performance, and objectives set previously. What is also
apparent is that the employee’s perception is as important as the manager’s perception
when arriving at an overall assessment, so the appraisal needs to be a discussion.

So how do interviewers successfully promote discussion? Assuming they have made all
the correct preparations regarding reviewing performance and completing the paper-
work, how do they actually begin the interview and promote reasonable discussion?

First, it is worth restating objectives and how the interview is to be conducted at the
beginning of the interview. Interviewers should also inform the interviewees that notes
will be taken. In classic interview style, interviewers should encourage conversation by
the use of open-ended questions. These are questions that avoid the “yes” and “no”
response and help promote conversation. By creating a conversational atmosphere,
they will help the interviewees relax. This will aid a freer exchange of views, opinions,
and facts. Open-ended questions should be directed to obtain facts and opinions from
the employees on how they have seen their job and their performance during the period
under review.

Some of the answers given may need more probing. The interviewer should be
prepared to react to statements made to obtain more information, or to cut through
generalities.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           117
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
            Handout B.1a (concluded)


The key skill of the appraisal interview, as in all interviews, is the ability to listen.
Listening is not passive; it means interpreting what is heard by paraphrasing and
summarizing to check for understanding. It is also essential to listen for the underlying
feelings behind the words.


Summary
Points to remember when conducting an appraisal interview:

       1.    Put the interviewee at ease by creating a relaxed, informal atmosphere.
       2.    State the objectives of the process.
       3.    Explain the procedures involved (i.e., forms, time limit, etc.).
       4.    Explain how you wish to conduct the interview.
       5.    Ask the interviewee to assess his or her performance first.
       6.    Use open-ended questions.
       7.    Probe if details are missed.
       8.    Ensure your review covers all the key areas of the job, the standards, and
             objectives.
       9.    Balance the discussion so that the interviewee is speaking for most of the
             time.
      10.    Practice active listening.
      11.    Be alert to possible training or developmental needs, or modifications to the
             work environment to meet objectives, such as budget, staffing needs, etc.
      12.    Reach agreement on the next year’s objectives and standards.
      13.    Find out the interviewee’s view of the future.
      14.    Summarize.
      15.    Agree to any action points.
      16.    Record the main points.




118                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
               Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                     Handout B.1b

APPRAISAL INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                           Role Play
Observer                                              Date

                                                  Observed                      Comments

1. Preparation
   Review of standards and performance.
   Completion of appraisal forms.


2. Opening
   Setting the scene and climate.



3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Gathering on performance and needs
   first. Giving feedback on performance
   and opportunities.
4. Skills
   Open-ended and probing questions,
   listening, encouraging, summarizing.


5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and nonverbal
   behavior.


6. Closure
   Agree to future standards and objec-
   tives. Summarize interview. Complete
   documentation.
7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up
   Record interview and follow up on
   promises made.
                                           Giving Feedback
                Immediate:    Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                   Impact:    Focus the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                 Personal:    Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
               Descriptive:   Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.




                       Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             119
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
    6       Alex Sainsbury:
            An Underperforming Young Graduate

TRAINER GUIDANCE
Alex Sainsbury is a high-potential person who is underperforming in his∗ current job and
expects an automatic promotion or move. This is a common problem and can often be
traced back to unrealistic impressions made at the initial interview to attract good candi-
dates into a job. It is also typical of another problem area where individuals have little
job experience and are working for large organizations where they can observe their
colleagues following different career paths.

First, the manager needs to avoid a confrontation. The styles of the manager and Alex
are different, and there is a potential personality clash. So it is important that the right
atmosphere be established at the outset.

Second, Alex needs some help to understand that it is good performance on the job
now being performed that is the criteria for recommendation for promotion, not promises
that were made a couple of years ago, or comparison with colleagues. This is the most
important point, and success can be determined by the degree of commitment and
motivation that Alex has to putting in the extra effort in the future.

There are some differences between the information given to each party that will identify
the skill of the interviewer in listening and probing. First, Alex’s own assessment of his
effort is not accurate, especially since getting married. Second, Alex has the underlying
feeling that the manager is “old school,” only interested in performance. Both pieces of
information should make the manager think about his overall assessment and com-
ments, if these points surface, and if they are listened to, personally consider the fol-
lowing points: Could the manager have done more to coach and counsel Alex during
the year to get higher performance? Has there been total candor in the past on the
standards expected? The manager is looking for targets to be exceeded; Alex seems to
think that merely meeting them is sufficient.

Feedback and review of the role play should reflect the behaviors and skills shown by
the interviewer, and the investigation of the deeper insights into the situation as outlined
above.




∗
    Alex may also be feminine case.


                                                                                          121
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Exercise 6.1 and Handout 6.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Exercise 6.1 and Handout 6.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout B.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout B.1b for each observer (if required).




122
                                                                   Exercise 6.1

SITUATION
Alex Sainsbury has been a member of the sales team for two years, having joined direct
from his six-month’s initial training. Alex joined the company directly from college, with a
bachelor’s degree in geography and economics. Alex has been moderately successful
in meeting his objectives over the past couple of years, and had an “adequate” assess-
ment this time last year. This will be the second review of his performance in this job.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            123
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 6.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Although Alex has met sales targets and objectives over the past year, he is not setting
the world on fire. As a graduate with a couple of years or so experience, you would
normally expect a lot more—show some enthusiasm to improve on targets, take on
some special project work, or just put in that extra effort to repay the investment so far
and warrant your recommendation for promotion. You don’t give your support lightly—it
has to be earned, especially where you have a young person who thinks that having a
degree is the fast track to promotion. You believe Alex is just coasting along.

Six months ago you had a chance to chat informally about Alex’s career aspirations
when you both traveled to Wisconsin for the national sales meeting. You got the
impression that Alex was impatient for a promotion and eager to move to an analytical
role, rather than selling. Alex seemed to feel then that sales was a necessary evil, a
stepping-stone to more important and interesting jobs. You tried to point out then that
people had to perform highly in all the jobs they undertook, otherwise there was no
basis on which a manager could recommend a move, but Alex didn’t seem to listen.

You intend to state this more clearly and encourage Alex to put in greater effort. In this
year’s appraisal, you can’t give a higher rating than another “Adequate,” so it will be
another year before there is any chance for Alex to be considered for another job, and
only then if both attitude and performance improves.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            125
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 6.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been with the company for 2½ years and are eager to move away from your
mundane sales rep job. When you joined the company out of college, you got the
impression that the first few promotional moves were routine; anyway that is what you
understood “management development” to be about—moving soon between jobs to
gain a good grounding for a real management position. You certainly did not still expect
to be a sales rep after two plus years. At the national sales meeting six months ago, you
met some of the people who you started out with, and all were moving into their next
assignment, some of them even knew where they were going after that.
Your manager is “old school”—expecting results on paper and questioning expenses.
Anyway, the paper results are there this year—you have met all your targets and objec-
tives on the nose. So, a pat on the back, and recommendation for a move into head
office is in order, where you can at last make use of your economics background and
work with people who are more your type. You could really shine in a planning role—
they don’t do it very well: The objectives are always changing, they are not particularly
challenging, and you have managed to achieve them with no effort at all. At least your
manager knows how you feel since that conversation on the way to the sales meeting,
though that has been the only time he has shown any interest in your career moves—all
the other times it’s just been about job performance. Surely potential is more important
than current performance!
Anyway, now your manager knows what you expect and what you were promised at
your interview. He has seen all the others who started with you moving on. You have
slacked off a bit the past six months, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time:
Getting married and moving to a new home during this time have been time consuming
and you needed time to get things situated. The production figures are okay, so there’s
no problem.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          127
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
    7       Chris Handy:
            Eager but Has a Behavioral Problem

TRAINER GUIDANCE
This case centers on the manager’s ability to maintain the enthusiasm and motivation of
a young person, but making her∗ accept that enthusiasm is only one attribute necessary
for the next step. Some behavioral issues need to be addressed before any considera-
tion can be given to a career move.

Handled well, Chris should be motivated to improve and be willing to make the effort to
conform. Handled badly, Chris could be totally deflated and become resentful. The
manager has to concentrate on a behavioral problem that is open to dispute and could
be seen differently by either party.

In the manager’s role play, there are several aspects of the behavioral issue—impa-
tience and inability to accept criticism. These are affecting work performance, and a
successful approach to deal with this would be to refer to specific instances and
examples rather than hearsay or subjective criticism. Examining objective data and the
results of Chris’s behavior will lessen the likelihood of a dispute caused by different
perceptions of the problem. The criticism will not be new to Chris, as the difficulties
experienced with customer contact have been the subject for discussion and disagree-
ment in the past. A summary of these individual instances should show a clear trend
and a need for improvement.

The second main issue is Chris’s expectation of a career move. Certainly the customer
contact skills will need to be improved in order for this to be a feasible option. There is
also an obvious reluctance among the sales force to accept this brash and impatient
person as a colleague. Chris needs to recognize that the existing sales force can pro-
vide some support and coaching to help develop the sales skills needed, but not if they
are feeling alienated. Again, the most successful approach is likely to be to refer to
factual situations rather than subjective opinion.

The final question is one of development. Chris has shown little interest in investing
personal effort and time, expecting the organization to contribute all. The manager is
willing to help Chris’s development with some skills training. This should be on a quid
pro quo basis in return for effort and investment from Chris to accept the need for and
implement change.




∗
    Chris may also be masculine case.


                                                                                        129
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Exercise 7.1 and Handout 7.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Exercise 7.1 and Handout 7.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout B.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout B.1b for each observer (if required).




130
                                                               Exercise 7.1

SITUATION
Chris Handy joined Associated Medicals four years ago, at the age of 21, after three
years of college. Since leaving school, Chris spent several short periods in office work
with local insurance companies and sales firms. Chris is unmarried, has an enthusiastic
attitude toward life, is active and participates in sports, and always shows a positive
attitude at work. She started a degree program in business at night after the appraisal
interview last year.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          131
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 7.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Chris is one of those people you can never relax with. She has an excellent grasp of the
statistical work and procedures that are part of the job of the Customer Service Officer,
but occasionally she makes a silly mistake that means double-checking everything. It’s
the same with customer contacts—the approach is sound, but when dealing with a
customer who is persistent or does not respond in a predictable way, Chris can become
brusque and impatient. When these shortcomings are pointed out, Chris tends to go off
and sulk, taking it out on other members of the team. Chris just doesn’t seem able to
see that these actions can cause a lot of extra work for other people.

Chris has always seen the job as a way into marketing—the objective being to become
a sales representative. At the last appraisal interview, you suggested that taking
courses toward earning a degree in business would give her a basic qualification level
on a par with the other reps, and would also show initiative and a serious attitude
toward self-development. You haven’t heard much about the course over the past
month or two, and you suspect that it has been dropped. Chris continues to harp on the
same old subject of becoming a sales rep, though, and it’s becoming tiresome. When
out among sales reps at the sales meetings, Chris is far too blunt in her views, which
come across in an “I’m as good as they are” fashion. The people who could help her are
being alienated.

Chris will need to think about personal style and perhaps some help with a training
course would be appropriate. Chris could also benefit from some training in presentation
skills and, if that works well, then you could look at some basic sales training to test
aptitude for sales.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          133
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 7.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You are nearly 24, are unmarried and have no obligations, and can’t wait around much
longer in these dead-end administrative jobs. You have only stuck to this one for four
years because the money is good, and you thought there were some prospects of
getting out on to the road with this firm.

You like to work with customers, especially when you get the opportunity to do a bit of
telephone selling, but some of the queries and complaints drive you up the wall—some
customers are really tiresome. Your boss is always at you for not being patient and not
treating all the customers with respect and care—but then your boss doesn’t have to
deal with the people who just don’t listen and get things wrong—how often do you have
to tell some people?

The others on the team are okay and help out well—it’s a good working environment,
though you are determined to make sure that you don’t end up as another old-timer
waiting for dead men’s shoes. What you actually want is to become a sales rep—you
know you perform well at the sales meetings you go to, and you are always quick to
speak up so that you are noticed. Some of the reps are so slow you wonder how they
got the job in the first place.

What else do you have to do to catch people’s attention? Last year you enrolled in a
business degree program when it was suggested. The other interests in the evenings
got in the way and, anyway, since no move was forthcoming, you dropped the course.
Why won’t the company invest some of its own effort in you? It’s all one-way when it
comes to training.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by         135
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
    8       Lesley Smith:
            Overlooked for Promotion

TRAINER GUIDANCE
The Lesley Smith case should provide an interview in two distinct and very different
parts: the first, and relatively easy part, will be to reflect on another year of good per-
formance; the second part, and main focus of learning for the manager, deals with
development and the future.

The situation is becoming increasingly common—excellent employees who would have
been promoted into supervisory and management positions without hesitation some
years ago are now finding that the reducing numbers of positions and the increased
competition from other people with different qualifications are making that promotion
more difficult, if not impossible. The facts may be easy for people to see—reducing
levels of management, increased automation, promotions going to younger and differ-
ently qualified people—but many would still be blind to the potential that this could also
mean to them. This is the situation with Lesley.

One approach that managers take when faced with this type of problem is to try to solve
it with insufficient data. The tendency will be to suggest retirement and then try to per-
suade Lesley that this is the best option, even in light of Lesley’s resistance on practical
grounds. Another potential pitfall is avoidance of the main issue, with the manager
merely talking around options and possibilities and not confronting the issue.

A good approach would be for the manager to state the position in a clear but fair way
that there is likely to be no promotion, recognize that this information will be a shock,
and allow time for Lesley to express any concerns or anger he∗ may have. The manager
should probe options and opportunities with Lesley and listen carefully to the responses
so that appropriate solutions can be developed. There is no one right solution to the
case since it will depend on how the Lesley role and manager role are read and played,
but the outcome should be that Lesley has heard a clear statement and has accepted
that promotion is not possible, that some options have been discussed, and that there is
an understanding of the position on both sides.

Other issues to watch for will be the age factor and other discriminatory tendencies by
the manager. Also watch for the manager putting the blame for the decision on the
company or “them,” rather than taking ownership.




∗
    Lesley may also be feminine case.


                                                                                              137
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Exercise 8.1 and Handout 8.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Exercise 8.1 and Handout 8.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout B.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout B.1b for each observer (if required).




138
                                                               Exercise 8.1

SITUATION
Lesley Smith has been a loyal and hard-working member of the Administration Depart-
ment for 25 years, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the job. Lesley has
been the number one “stand-in” for the Administration Manager for the past five years,
covering for sick days and vacations, and recently, standing in for a longer period when
the manager was working on a prolonged study out of town. One result of that study has
been a reorganization of the administration activities with a subsequent reduction in the
number of local departments and positions. This department is one that will grow in
size, with people joining from other areas, needing to be trained and integrated into the
group.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          139
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                Handout 8.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are very happy with Lesley’s performance and will be putting the usual “Good”
rating on his appraisal to go with all the others over recent years. You were also very
pleased to have been able to arrange for him to “stand-in” when you were away on the
reorganization study. Your boss had wanted to put in a young accountant from the head
office for experience, but you managed to place Lesley. The main problem for the future
is Lesley’s potential—there is ability to do a higher level job, but age is now a limiting
factor as he nears retirement. All of the available jobs are being taken care of by
younger people with qualifications—the job is so different now, with computers and so
on. Your job with regards to promoting Lesley has not been made easy by your prede-
cessors either—they have all promised Lesley the earth, and didn’t deliver. Perhaps
they thought Lesley was too valuable in the current job, but even so, that was no reason
to raise expectations. Now it’s too late.

This reorganization hasn’t helped. Your unit is expanding, but there are a lot of redun-
dancies elsewhere in the company, and there are good people among them that the
new company wishes to retain. Lesley would do a superb job in sorting out the new
group, but you would also like to get hold of some of the younger people from other
units. Perhaps Leslie might be interested in early retirement—the terms are beneficial,
and now his family has grown and moved away from home. Perhaps not this year, but
you could raise the subject and sow the seed for the future.

Anyway, the main message this time is “Well done again.” In addition, you must clear up
any confusion about promotion: “However good you are, it just won’t happen when an
employee is near retirement, especially with the ‘log-jam’ of younger people the com-
pany has.”




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           141
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                Handout 8.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been with the company 20 years and have at last had an opportunity to show
your aptitude for a management job. You have been a vacation stand-in for some time,
but it was the recent four-month period when your boss was away and you stood in for
him that really shows that you can make the necessary decisions, and make an impres-
sion, not just keep things going.

With this reorganization, there must be an opportunity to be upgraded, especially as
there are more people in the department, and it will fall to you to train and motivate
them. Anyway, you were told you would definitely be considered for a promotion ever
since you reached the top of your salary range six years ago. You have always had a
consistent “More than Adequate” or “Good” rating—some of the younger people,
especially those with qualifications, seem to get a promotion every time they get a good
rating on their appraisal. Qualifications seem to mean more than ability to do the job
these days—they don’t see that it is people like you with the experience who are most
valuable.

At least your new manager is a likeable person, wanting to listen to your point of view
and appreciating your expertise, although you feel you didn’t have an opportunity to
make a pitch for the job when it became available.

You are really looking forward to your last few working years on a higher salary—it will
give you an opportunity to put away a little nest egg. You’re 58 now, so there is not long
to go before you voluntarily retire.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           143
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
 9       Pat Jones:
         An Excellent Performer

TRAINER GUIDANCE
Many managers find it difficult to appraise someone with no faults. Too often we are
conditioned to look for something wrong and give negative feedback. The Pat Jones
case study is one where the evidence is clear—excellent performance with no blem-
ishes—and will give managers the opportunity to test their attitude toward giving praise.

In observing and giving feedback, you should be alert to the problems of giving praise
and watch for managers picking on the very small amounts of negative information in
the role play information that relates to the possible lack of ambition in Pat. The reluc-
tance of Pat to move or to take on supervisory responsibility could also be used to high-
light another common perception that “up is the only way” and people with no ambition
have no value.

The interview with Pat should be positive, contain praise and appreciation for a job well
done, and refer to Pat’s standing with other managers and among peers.


Materials Required
    1. Exercise 9.1 and Handout 9.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Exercise 9.1 and Handout 9.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout B.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout B.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                       145
                                                               Exercise 9.1

SITUATION
Pat Jones has been employed for five years as a Customer Service Assistant. In that
time Pat has attended several training courses and has helped train new staff members
to the department in procedures and activities. In previous appraisals, carried out annu-
ally, Pat has been rated highly for work quality, work quantity, and personal skills.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           147
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Handout 9.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Pat is a credit to the department, and you wish everyone were like this; then you could
manage with fewer staff and less stress! Over the past 12 months since the last
appraisal, Pat’s work has been at a consistently high standard, and you have never had
cause to criticize or be concerned that tasks will not be carried out.

Several examples come to mind over the year of Pat’s excellent work. First, Pat took
over the responsibility of training staff new to the department. This entailed writing a
simple procedures manual for the department, and then helping new staff work through
the activities of the department, and find their way around. The procedures manual has
proved to be very useful for existing staff as well, as it simplified the existing myriad of
policies, procedures, and instructions that previously existed in the organization. You
have recommended that a similar approach be taken by the rest of the company, and
this has received favorable reviews.

A second sample of Pat’s working style of simple efficiency shows up all the time in
reports from other managers, and from customer feedback. Many other managers with
whom Pat has contact have commented on the pleasant and efficient approach, and
that work is always presented accurately and on time. Customer feedback surveys and
reports consistently place Pat at the top of the list for service and efficiency. You could
go on and on with examples.

In ranking Pat with peers in other departments, you and your colleagues have placed
Pat in the top 10 percent for the grade level.

Pat has shown no interest or desire for promotion, and is very happy to remain in the
same job in your department, taking on new projects and responsibilities as they arise,
such as the new staff training project this past year. You wonder whether there will
come a time when ambition gets the upper hand, and Pat wishes to move on. Although
your department’s work is always varied and interesting, you can’t see how an active
mind like Pat’s could stay loyal for all time. You are always having to resist requests
from other managers for a transfer, and one day you may not be able to resist any
longer. You don’t want to stand in Pat’s way, but you also don’t want to lose a key
member of your staff who would be very difficult to replace.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             149
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 9.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You enjoy your work, the variety it gives you, and the friendly atmosphere in the
department. You know people in other departments in the company, and their descrip-
tion of the working conditions and climate makes you want to stay where you are.

Your work is fairly routine, like most Customer Service Assistants—looking after
customer records on sales and checking queries. This brings you into contact with cus-
tomers and with many other departments in the company, especially when you have to
check a wrong delivery or a customer query. You don’t mind the routine and don’t fore-
see moving into a supervisory position where you would take on extra responsibilities
and not have direct contact with customers.

One thing you do like about the job and your boss is the way you have autonomy on a
project. During the past year, you took on the task of training the new members of the
staff. This meant that you first had to arrange all the policy documents, instructions, and
procedures into systematic order. Previously they had never been documented in one
place, and many of them were written in complicated jargon that you didn’t understand
until you had been in the job for weeks. The procedures booklet you produced worked
well in helping new staff become oriented with the job quicker than before. Your boss
liked the idea so much that you have been discussing the booklet with other depart-
ments who might want to copy it. You enjoyed doing the project, and working on similar
projects in the future would be a real bonus.

Your last appraisal interview was very positive, and you got some excellent feedback on
your performance. Your boss is always complimenting you, and you know that you rank
highly on the customer service surveys. You expect another good interview.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            151
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
10       Bobby Martin:
         Developmental Needs Analysis

TRAINER GUIDANCE
In the Bobby Martin case, the manager is confronted with a new employee (three
months) who seems to be doing the technical side of the job well, but something is not
quite right. The need therefore is to find out what the problem is, if indeed there is a
problem, and then develop some way of dealing with it.
The first step for the manager is to build confidence. The technical content of Bobby’s
work is good—he has successfully completed the training program and moved into the
new area. These, and the other positive notes in the role play, such as the previous
manager comments, can be used effectively to build the right climate for a discussion
about current problems and the future.
The next issue for the manager is to identify any issues that are causing Bobby
problems with any aspect of the job. Here the skills to develop and observe are those of
active listening and asking open-ended questions. Bobby will be reluctant to open up
too much, and the skills of the manager can be judged by the extent to which Bobby
discloses the true nature of the difficulty, and the embarrassment that it causes. Only
when all this information is obtained through careful and empathetic questioning can the
manager then progress to the final stage of developing a plan of action.
The action planning stage should be one where there is joint development of an
appropriate solution to help Bobby develop the interpersonal skills necessary to cope
with the Bigtown operation. There are many options, and no guidance is given in the
role play. The tone of the discussion thus far, and personal style of the interviewer will
therefore be determining factors in how this stage develops. Points to observe will be
the extent to which the manager involves Bobby in the development of options and
solutions, and the extent to which they are listened to and acted upon. At one extreme,
Bobby might resign due to feelings of inadequacy and lack of support. At the other
extreme, there might be the agreement to personal coaching from the manager on a
more direct and assertive style of approach.


Materials Required
    1. Exercise 10.1 and Handout 10.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Exercise 10.1 and Handout 10.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout B.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout B.1b for each observer (if required).

                                                                                        153
                                                             Exercise 10.1

SITUATION
Bobby is a graduate who has been working as a management trainee for two years.
This period has included many assignments in supervisory and management positions
as well as a series of courses on technical knowledge training and management skills.
For the past three months, Bobby has been in a permanent management position in
your department and, while showing excellent motivation and technical knowledge, has
seemed to dislike the content and environment of the job. It is normal in the company to
conduct an appraisal interview after the first three months in a new position, and annu-
ally after that. This interview is designed more as an opportunity to review any immedi-
ate problems in the job rather than as a serious attempt at performance appraisal
because there is little actual or comparative data on which to make assessments.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          155
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 10.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are Transportation Manager of the Bigtown Depot of United Distribution Services.
Bobby has been working for you for the past three months in the position of Transport
Controller. This position deals with the day-to-day running of the transport fleet:
scheduling drivers, dealing with delays and queries, coping with customer inquiries, and
generally trying to get the best possible utilization of vehicles and drivers with the least
amount of delay and best possible customer service. The job demands quick thinking,
the ability to make decisions under pressure, and a high level of interpersonal skills to
be able to deal with company and contract drivers, customers, and other company staff.

Before Bobby took up this permanent position, there were several other assignments,
and in particular a three-month period as a Controller at one of your other smaller
depots near Bobby’s home town. It was the very favorable report from the Depot
Manager that attracted you to Bobby in the first place, and at the interview for the
position, Bobby recognized that this job was going to be a bit different, because it is a
much bigger operation and in a part of the country that would be new to him.

You were therefore expecting Bobby not to be at peak output for the first couple of
months, what with learning a new territory, making new contacts, and moving. However,
the past month has still not shown the sort of work that you would normally expect, and
you are a little concerned. You believe you have made the right choice, but something
isn’t quite right, and you would like to find out what it is in order to help Bobby sort it out
and reach peak performance.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               157
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                  Handout 10.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You finished your two-year training program and for the past three months have been in
the position of Transport Controller at the Bigtown Depot. In this job you deal with the
day-to-day running of the transportation fleet, scheduling drivers, dealing with delays
and queries, and coping with customer inquiries. The difficulty centers on balancing the
demands and problems that the drivers encounter during the day, such as vehicle
breakdown and traffic delays, with the customer demands of on-time delivery and trying
to give the best possible customer service, like helping out when people have genuinely
forgotten to put their order in on time.

You really like the urgency and minute-to-minute nature of the job, and you liked the
Controller position best out of the assignments you had in your training period. That was
a really interesting assignment—it was close to your home town, so you knew the area
well, and you “spoke the same language” as the drivers and customers. They all
seemed to respond well to a local person doing the job and were generally a friendly
group who wanted to help each other.

Bigtown is very different. You did not realize just how different a job could be between
locations. It isn’t the technical side of the job that is different—your utilization figures are
no worse than anyone else’s and match the budget predictions fairly accurately. The
aspect you find most difficulty is the difference in people. The scale of operation is much
larger, and you cannot rely on your personal standing and friendship to get things done
as much as you did at Homestead Depot. What others use to get results here is a fairly
direct approach to people that you find difficult. On the customer side too, the general
style seems to be straight talking and little time for general conversation and social
discussion that you found so helpful in building relationships at Homestead.

In general, people don’t seem to have enough time to be friendly and to listen to
explanations or options. You have also found this with the new friends you have made
outside work as well as inside. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, and very often it
seems more important to have a quick response or decision than to have the right one.
You have never worked this way before, and find it difficult to make the changes
necessary to adjust to the local way of doing things at Bigtown. You are not looking
forward to the interview because you would like to ask for some help in this area, but
don’t see how the company would be willing to spend more time on you after the
training program. They expect you to perform well anywhere. You also feel
embarrassed to raise such an issue that deals with personality and relationships rather
than skills and facts.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                159
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
Part C: Counseling
                                    Introduction
These role plays concentrate on the manager or interviewer in a counseling situation.
They are not designed to train professional counselors, though the situations could be
developed for such use. They are written from a perspective of using counseling tech-
niques in a work environment to deal with issues that affect the individual. Greater
emphasis of social changes on behavior in the workplace, and greater demands for
more participation in decision making come together in the counseling interview. Often
the need for counseling is identified through the behavior of people at work, signs of
stress, performance problems, or unacceptable actions. Also, changes in attitudes to
authority have placed the emphasis on more self-responsibility, and social legislation
has limited the arbitrary power of management. In this environment, the development of
the manager as a counselor and coach is seen by many as a key issue.

Later in this introduction we explain the purpose, approach, and skills of counseling.
Any training in counseling skills should involve some discussion on the difference
between this form of helping and the more common forms that are associated with
advising, telling, or manipulating.


Method
Each role play consists of a brief for the interviewer and for the interviewee. There are
five different situations, Chapters 11 through 15, depicted in the role plays, and each
has its own particular emphasis and pitfalls for the interviewer. All are drawn from real-
life situations and can be used in any environment and within any given set of legislative
and company rules and procedures. The situations are:

    11.   Eliminating Jobs
    12.   Suspected Alcohol Abuse
    13.   Performance Problem
    14.   Sick Leave Absences
    15.   Career Guidance

With each role play, some guidance notes are provided to explain its main features and
to indicate some of the points to watch for in the interview. They will also examine and
test the different skills of the interviewer, such as asking probing questions, establishing
the right climate, etc. The interviewee should be encouraged to build on the brief given,
staying within the guidelines on approach and style. The interviews should last between
30 and 45 minutes.




                                                                                         161
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Time
For each role play, the minimum time allowed for preparing, conducting the interview,
and reviewing should be 1¾ hours:

      •   Introduction to situation and allocation of roles—5 minutes
      •   Planning for interview—10 minutes
      •   Conducting interview—30 minutes
      •   Review of interview, feedback, and discussion—60 minutes

Counseling interviews are typically of a longer duration than other types. If time permits,
the role plays could be allowed to run for more than 45 minutes. Exceeding this time
should only be allowed by the trainer if the interview is still meeting its purpose and
effective use of counseling skills is being demonstrated. There is little benefit in allowing
a role play to continue where the interviewer is not using the skills effectively. It is better
to stop the role play, discuss the experiences so far, then try again with the benefit of
feedback and coaching.

If video recording is used, then the review time will be between two and three times the
length of the interview.




162
                                                              Handout C.1a

COUNSELING INTERVIEWS
Purpose
The purpose of counseling interviews is to enable individuals to talk about a situation or
problem with someone else in a constructive and helpful way so that they can:
    •   Make a realistic diagnosis of the situation they are faced with
    •   Choose the most relevant action and develop their capacity to meet future
        situations or problems


Approach
The interviewer/counselor must take a non-judgmental, non-critical, and non-evaluative
approach. The objective is to help people help themselves. The emphasis on this
process objective identifies counseling as different from other types of interview where
the interviewer has the objective of imparting a decision or information. In a counseling
interview, the emphasis is on the interviewee rather than the interviewer.

The interviewee is encouraged to talk about the situation or problem, and the inter-
viewer listens carefully and avoids any arguments or conflicts. The interviewer helps the
individual clarify and accept his or her own feelings, and make his or her own decisions.
This approach has two important implications:

    1. The need to develop responsibility for ownership and solution of the problem by
       the interviewee
    2. The need for acceptance of the other person by the interviewer

An attitude of acceptance by the interviewer will encourage trust, which in turn will allow
the interviewee to talk about important issues such as feelings and problems they might
wish to avoid discussing. In this way, individual responsibility for problems is increased;
dependency and tendencies to blame others are reduced. Solutions, goals, and judg-
ments are largely defined by the interviewee, not the interviewer. Giving advice and
information or using authority may be appropriate in individual situations, but they are
not counseling.

To understand more clearly what a counseling interview and approach is like, consider
a professional counseling situation such as marriage counseling. Here spouses have
identified problems and are seeking professional help. They have already taken the first
steps to accepting responsibility for their problem, although they are probably expecting
to be given a solution. The professional counselor will not give a solution, but will work



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            163
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
         Handout C.1a (continued)


to help the spouses take responsibility for identifying possible solutions. Experience
shows that attempting to give an expert solution will either be met with resistance, be
carried out without ownership and therefore fail with the blame being laid at the expert’s
door, or not be heard because one of the spouses is too emotionally upset to listen to
rational thought.

When the counseling interview is taken into the work environment, as with all the role
plays in this section, the model outlined above is not as clear. Very often the counselor
is the manager of the individual, or at least in a position of authority such as a Human
Resources Officer—not a professional, full-time counselor. The identification of the
problem could also have come from the organization or manager rather than from the
individual. The question of establishing responsibility in the interviewee is therefore
critical. The feeling often is that the interview is based on “You have a problem and I’m
going to help you” rather than the ideal “I have a problem, please help me.”

No progress will be made unless the individuals accept that they have a problem in the
first place, and then the problem must also be identified correctly. Where managers
observe performance or behavioral problems in their staff, they can jump to conclusions
and make an incorrect diagnosis, then try to “sell” their analysis to the individual. A bet-
ter approach is to test your theories and ideas with the individual concerned and listen
to responses that might indicate a different underlying problem driving the one that is
observed.

Much of the training in counseling at work should therefore center on helping managers
develop skills to be non-directive and non-judgmental, and to avoid the logical problem-
solving approach that they would normally prefer to follow.


Skills
Behaviors to Cultivate:

      Active            Note the nonverbal and verbal messages, and continuously
      Listening         check for understanding and perceptual distortion. Use open
                        questions that invite the interviewee to continue talking, and
                        paraphrasing and summarizing the conversation to check for
                        understanding and to promote clarity.
      Encouraging       Use sub-verbal (“uh-huh”) or nonverbal (nods) methods to
                        indicate a wish to hear more.
      Attending         Use nonverbal behavior (posture, surroundings, eye contact) to
                        show interest and acceptance.




164                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                 Handout C.1a (continued)


Topic            Follow the messages and direction that the interviewee is taking
Following        rather than taking the topic in a new direction or following your
                 own judgments. This will help particularly when the interviewer is
                 unsure of judgments or when data does not support the initial
                 analysis. The idea is to go for depth of information, not breadth.
Immediacy        Often an interviewee will exhibit the behavior or action that you
                 are trying to examine during the interview. In these situations,
                 concentrate attention on what is happening in the “here and
                 now.” This is particularly powerful behavior that may also be very
                 threatening.
Goal             Focus on success and the nature of success to avoid being
Orientation      caught in a downward spiral of “isn’t it awful” that focuses on
                 problems, not solutions.
Handling         Give both parties time to think and also express empathy and
Silences         understanding. Usually the interviewer should not break a
                 silence. However, silence can also be threatening or convey a
                 strong sense of resentment, in which case it may be important
                 for the interviewer to check out what is going on to feel confident
                 in allowing the silence to continue.
Changing         Interviewees will often avoid issues through their use of lan-
Language         guage, using “we,” “you,” “it,” “the company,” rather than “I”; and
                 “can’t” and “shouldn’t” rather than “won’t.” Changing the lan-
                 guage may help focus on individual responsibility.
Disclosure       Self-expression and self-disclosure by the interviewer can help
                 reduce his or her own tensions and give freedom for the inter-
                 viewee to open up.
Confronting      Focus on any conflict between different statements or viewpoints
                 that the interviewee is making. For instance, “You keep saying
                 that you want a promotion, but you do not seem prepared to
                 accept the responsibilities in your current job.” This will help the
                 interviewee be aware of and address such conflicts. However,
                 this can be threatening, especially if information is misinter-
                 preted.
Advice Giving    The goal of counseling is to help other parties make their own
                 decisions and plans, thus advice giving is not appropriate.
Persuading       Attempting to change other people’s beliefs, attitudes, and
                 behavior by persuasion will invoke resistance and undermine the
                 empathic relationship.


               Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             165
      Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
        Handout C.1a (continued)


      “War Stories”    There can be a strong temptation for the interviewer to tell of his
                       or her own experiences under the guise of building rapport or
                       information giving. Interviewees are not interested in anyone
                       else’s problems, unless it gives them an opportunity to avoid
                       examining their own problems.
      Problem          When dealing with issues that can be clouded by emotion, a
      Solving          logical problem-solving approach may not be appropriate. A
                       solution or process may be clear to the interviewer, but not to the
                       interviewee who needs to deal with his or her emotions first.
                       Facts do not change feelings.


Further Reading
Robert de Board, Counseling People at Work, Gower, 1983.




166                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                      Handout C.1b

COUNSELING INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                            Role Play
Observer                                               Date

                                                    Observed                     Comments

1. Preparation



2. Opening
   Setting the scene and creating a
   relaxed climate.


3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Depth rather than breadth of infor-
   mation. Avoidance of advice-giving
   and persuading.
4. Skills
   Non-directive questions, active listen-
   ing, encouraging, summarizing.


5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and nonverbal
   behavior.


6. Closure
   Summary, analysis, next steps.



7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up


                                             Giving Feedback
                Immediate:     Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                   Impact:     Focus the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                 Personal:     Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
               Descriptive:    Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.




                       Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              167
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
11        Eliminating Jobs

Trainer Guidance
In this interview, the decision to eliminate jobs has been made—this is therefore a
counseling interview, not an interview to deliver the initial notice of the need to reduce
the size of the work force (see Role Play 21).

Some points to watch for in this role play include:

    1. The interviewee may not relate immediately to the interviewer, who represents
       the same organization, and therefore could be associated with the eliminating
       process. It is very likely that the interviewer will not be viewed as impartial, and
       it is therefore vital that he or she makes efforts to build rapport and credibility at
       the outset.

    2. For the same reasons, the interviewer’s empathy may not appear to be genu-
       ine. Despite experiencing similar difficulties on mortgage payments, the scale of
       problems that the interviewee has is much greater. Often staff and specialist
       departments have the appearance of being cushioned from the real effects of
       business failure.

    3. There is a strong tendency for interviewers to be too ready to offer financial
       help. The counseling interview is designed to help individuals help themselves,
       and therefore the emphasis should be to allow the interviewee to express anger
       and acknowledge the actual problems faced before trying to give advice and
       solve the problem. When the interviewee has managed to think through options
       and has come to a decision, then is the time to offer appropriate help and finan-
       cial assistance. To do so before will only delay the real issues coming to the
       surface. The interviewer should also be careful not to make promises that can-
       not be kept, such as a commitment to discretionary assistance.

    4. There is a bias in the role plays toward speed and treating the interview as a
       negotiation. The interviewer is on a tight schedule; his/her line manager is
       pushing for results and has indicated willingness to agree to extra support. The
       interviewee is pushing for further financial assistance, and thus a quick settle-
       ment is possible without any consideration of the underlying problems of the
       family, finances, schooling, job opportunities, and the like.

    5. Depending on the initial briefing, you can check for possible sexual bias in the
       interview. For male interviewers, there is often an assumption that the stable
       income is the male income in the family, and that relocation assistance is simi-
       larly weighted toward the male party.



                                                                                          169
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 11.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 11.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout C.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout C.1b for each observer (if required).




170
                                                              Handout 11.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Your organization has some severe financial problems and has decided, reluctantly, to
make cutbacks. These have taken the form of the usual decreases in spending: no new
equipment, strictly controlled expenses, and a freeze on pay increases. The latter has
made your job as Human Resources Director extremely difficult, not only in explaining
the situation to staff, but also personally. You were counting on the planned increase to
help with the increased mortgage payments you took on when you recently moved to a
new house.

The cutbacks on spending were not enough to satisfy the banks and accountants, so
now your organization has decided to formally reduce its work force on the last in, first
out basis. The initial identification of jobs to be eliminated has been made by line man-
agement, and they have informed those concerned over the last two weeks. The
organization has tried to be reasonable and generous within its constraints, and has
given three months’ notice. You also provide a personal counseling service to all staff
who will be laid off, and you have been asked to counsel several individuals.

You are not the individuals’ line manager but the local personnel advisor. This has some
benefits in counseling, because you can remain detached from the decision, and can try
to help the individuals to find out what opportunities there are, rather than dwell on the
problems. You enjoy the successes you have had in other cases.

Regarding assistance available beyond the three months’ notice, your organization is
paying the statutory severance payment plus an ex-gratia sum of the same amount.
There is also discretionary assistance available with job search, retraining, and reloca-
tion to a new area to take up a new job. These discretionary areas are not publicized,
cost money, and should only be used sparingly and in real cases where the money
would be well spent. You do not have the authority to commit these assistance monies,
only to recommend their use to the line manager. But your recommendation carries a lot
of weight, and it would be unusual for your recommendation to be turned down.

You have not met the next interviewee before individually, only as part of a group at
social events and when you have been in her office. The records you have show ten
years’ service, married with two small children, and a working spouse. Local conditions
are not good for further employment, but the local papers always have some advertise-
ments for similar positions. The competition is quite fierce.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            171
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 11.1 (concluded)


You have allowed up to one hour for each interview, which includes time to write up
your notes and prepare for the next one. You can always schedule further meetings if
that is necessary, though the local line manager feels that you should be able to handle
all his staff today, without the need for a return visit. He wants to get all the loose ends
tied up quickly so that he can put his final budget proposal together. You are sure he will
agree to anything you suggest; he is being relocated soon, due to a promotion, and
wants to leave a clear agenda for his successor.




172                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                             Handout 11.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
The company has some financial problems and you have been aware of these from
general comments for some time. Over the past few months, there have been several
talks about the problems from managers, and recently there have been some severe
cutbacks in spending, including a pay freeze. This pay freeze caused some problems
for you personally because you had just moved to a new house to accommodate the
children better, and to live closer to a good school. You had to take out a larger mort-
gage and had hoped that the annual pay increase would have helped a little, especially
as your spouse’s work as a taxi driver has been very erratic recently, and your income
has provided the stable platform on which to build your finances.

Then, last week, your boss gave you formal notice that your job was being eliminated
with three months’ notice.

You are shattered by the notice. You have worked for the organization for ten years,
and didn’t realize that you were now the last in. Several other people had moved
recently to new jobs, and they happened to be all the ones who joined the department
after you. You hadn’t realized this at the time.

You don’t know what to do next, but you will have to find a job quickly because you
have two small children, and you need the income to pay the mortgage. The children
are not yet firmly established at school; they are six and five years old, so you could
relocate to get a job. The job market locally is not good; there are some vacancies for
your skills, but the competition for these jobs is intense. You know of situations where
dozens of people, all with good qualifications, have been chasing one opening. Some of
your friends have been without work for over a year, and they have better qualifications
than you.

You are disappointed that the severance pay is so low—you would have thought that
ten years’ loyal service would have brought in more than that. Your feeling of being let
down by the organization makes you want to get as much out of them as possible. You
know that one of your friends from another office has been offered some substantial
financial and practical help with her layoff—help with her job search by having time off
to attend interviews and to research opportunities, expenses incurred being paid, and
the offer of a job-placement service. She has also been offered relocation expenses if
she gets a new job in another area—that is the sort of package that would make your
problem easier to accept.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          173
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 11.2 (concluded)


You now have an opportunity to discuss issues with the personnel advisor—it’s called a
counseling meeting. In other words, it’s “how to persuade you to go quietly.” It is the
Human Resources Department who has access to these extras, but they don’t publicize
them, the same way they keep quiet about everything else that goes on with pay and
benefits. You don’t see too many of them being laid off. It’s always the working staff who
get laid off; managers and head office staff keep their jobs, and your boss is even being
promoted.




174                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
12        Suspected Alcohol Abuse

Trainer Guidance
The purpose of this interview is to establish the main cause of an individual’s decline in
performance, persistent lateness, and increased sick leave absences. Are these issues
symptomatic of no discipline, or are they alcohol related? The interviewer needs to have
clear judgment on this after the interview. During the interview there needs to be an
atmosphere of trust; an acceptance that there are some problems that need to be
addressed and agreement to follow up, probably with a second counseling meeting
soon. These are the expected outcomes, given the way the role plays are constructed.
It would be unrealistic to expect in this first interview that the interviewee will admit to an
alcohol-related problem and accept treatment.

There are several “red herrings” in the role plays, such as the new policy on alcohol
abuse. This policy should not form a central part of the discussion. The interviewer
should concentrate on the behavior of the interviewee and how it falls below acceptable
standards, and probe for the reasons behind this progressive decline. Getting drawn
into side issues such as discussion on the effectiveness or relevance of the policy, or
how it applies to other departments will increase the possibility of the interviewee
avoiding the main topic.

There is an indication in both role plays that the interviewer’s style is usually fairly direc-
tive and therefore does not fit immediately into a counseling mode. He or she must
therefore spend some time and effort building rapport and trust to allow open discussion
of the background to the behavioral problems and gain sufficient respect for the inter-
viewee to be willing to return fur further discussions. There is every likelihood that the
interviewee is expecting a disciplinary interview, so a different style will be unsettling
and could be threatening, and therefore be construed as manipulative. Equally, if the
interviewer treats it in a disciplinary style, there is little chance that the real causes of
the problems will surface and be discussed.

There is also a possibility that an astute interviewee could use the new policy in defense
against a disciplinary measure by claiming to be an alcoholic and citing the no discipli-
nary action rule. On the surface, that admission of alcoholism might appear to be
achieving the objective and therefore a success. In reality, using this tactic allows the
interviewee to question the manager’s procedure, divert attention to this away from the
real issue, and claim at some future date that the admission was false.




                                                                                           175
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 12.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 12.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout C.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout C.1b for each observer (if required).




176
                                                               Handout 12.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Your organization has a policy statement that recognizes alcohol dependency as a
medical problem and not a disciplinary offense, provided the individual will accept
treatment. This is a new policy that has been adopted as a result of pressure from your
organization’s medical advisors and in response to other organizations having similar
policies.

There have also been some well-publicized problems in various small groups in your
organization where excessive drinking has caused some real concern to management
due to the associated decline in work output, and also because it makes you vulnerable
to criticism and even prosecution. Many areas where drinking is a problem are very
sensitive in terms of safety and public opinion. Your immediate area is not one where
there has been a problem in the past—the policy has really been adopted to deal with
other areas, but rather than single them out for special attention, it has been adopted
organization-wide. This has been criticized by some of your peers, comparing it to
“using a tank where a rifle would suffice.”

However, you suspect that two of your staff might have a problem. They have been
seen drinking heavily, particularly at lunch times, often arriving back very late and
clearly smelling of alcohol. Associated with this, there has been a general decline in
performance by the two individuals concerned. When you joined the department three
months ago, there was an audit of the group, which was found to be satisfactory. Since
then there has been an increasing number of silly mistakes made, most of which can be
attributed to the immediate work group of the two individuals concerned. The feeling you
have is that a lot of these mistakes happen during the afternoon, but you don’t have any
facts to back this up.

In one case, there has been a marked increase in the number of one- and two-day sick
leave absences over the past couple of months.

You have no objection to people drinking socially on their own time, but you do need to
control attendance and improve the general work accuracy. Before the new policy, you
would have dealt with both problems as disciplinary items; now you have to consider the
possibility that the cause might be alcoholism, and it therefore has to be treated as a
medical case.

The first step in the policy guidelines requires you to conduct an interview with the other
parties to explain the position and to find out whether there is evidence and admittance
of alcohol dependency. If so, the individuals have to seek medical help within three
months. If they do not admit the problem, and you are convinced it is alcohol related,
the policy then states that you have to continue the counseling process. If, after three
months, there is no breakthrough, then the disciplinary procedure can begin.


                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            177
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 12.1 (concluded)


You have previously spoken to both of the individuals concerned, individually and
together, about their poor attendance. The increase in mistakes in the group has been
evident through a lot of rework and meetings to rectify the problem. You have shown
your dissatisfaction with the situation both at group meetings and in one-to-one meet-
ings with your staff. You have not yet mentioned the connection with alcohol abuse, nor
the increase in sick leave absences.

Your normal style of managing is fairly open. You have an open door policy where any-
one can come in and talk about his or her problems, and some do. You also run a fairly
tight operation where anyone not pulling his or her weight will cause the output of the
whole department to suffer, and that shows up immediately to your boss.

You have asked for a meeting today with each of the individuals and have told them that
it is concerning the attendance and accuracy problems, and that you have allowed up to
one hour for each of them. The first to see you (the subject of this role play) is the one
who has the additional evidence of sick leave absence and who is normally a very
approachable and talkative person, but typically becomes defensive when this subject is
brought up.




178                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 12.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
Your manager has asked to see you today to discuss your late return from lunch and
some mistakes that have been made recently in your work group. One of your col-
leagues who you go to lunch with regularly has also been called to the manager, an
hour after your interview.

You have regularly taken long lunch breaks, and it is common practice in other parts of
the organization as well. You find you get a lot of important work done over lunch—it’s
not as if you spend the time just socializing. You tend to go out with work people and
talk work. You discuss all the issues that you can’t talk about on the job because you
are too busy with routine work—you talk about the future, how to do things better, and
meet people from other departments to find out what is going on there. Communication
is very important, and there is not enough time to talk to people during work hours.

Your new boss has consistently singled you and a colleague out for criticism concerning
long lunches. This is a bit unfair; no other managers in the other departments seem to
have the same standard. You don’t do it regularly, only a couple of times a week or so.
Anyway, you always get the work done before you go home. The criticism over the past
couple of months has also included reference to your tendency to have a couple of
drinks for lunch. You suspect this is because there is a new policy on alcoholism.

There was a presentation on this to all staff three months ago, and at your last physical,
the company doctor insisted on talking about it because your admitted consumption was
likely to cause problems. You have also seen a program on TV recently, where they
talked about units of alcohol and how many you could have a week. If you followed their
guidelines, you could only have a drink twice a week! You can’t remember much about
the policy meeting, but you recall something about recognizing alcoholism as a medical
condition, and it not being a disciplinary matter.

There have also been some well-publicized problems within small groups in your
organization where excessive drinking has caused some problems with adverse pub-
licity. Your immediate area is not one that is critical in this regard. Some of the manag-
ers you have had a drink with have described the policy as being similar to “using a tank
instead of a rifle.”

The mistakes recently have been as a result of too much work being done by too few
people. There has been an increase in the amount of work and no increase in staff. A
lot of this work has to be done late in the day, and this is not your best time, especially
when you have to stay late as well. You like to get detailed work out of the way in the
morning, then settle down to planning and other work in the afternoon. None of the
mistakes has been really serious; your boss is just trying to assert authority, being new
on the job.


                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            179
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 12.2 (concluded)


You are not looking forward to this interview. Your boss keeps saying that there is an
“open door” policy, but you have never found it that easy to talk and be listened to. Also,
you have a bit of a hangover today after celebrating a friend’s birthday last night.
Normally, you would have called in sick, or kept out of the way, but you didn’t want to
give your boss any more ammunition against you, and you have probably been taking a
few too many days off recently.




180                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
13        Performance Problem

Trainer Guidance
This interview is designed to be a one-to-one discussion where the emphasis is on
obtaining information. The interviewee has a lot of information and a brief time to share
it in response to the development of a feeling of empathy from the interviewer. This role
play is therefore ideal for testing interview skills in building rapport and active listening.

The obvious problem that has necessitated this interview is the individual’s performance
level that has been declining for a period of time. It is possible therefore that the inter-
viewer could hold a disciplinary interview, demanding an improvement or the imposition
of sanctions. If this is treated in this way, there is little likelihood that any of the extenu-
ating circumstances will be revealed, and little hope that a long-term improvement in
performance will be affected. A more likely outcome will be that the interviewee will
retreat deeper into his or her depression and problems, perform at a lower level as a
result, and might even leave the organization in frustration or get fired.

There are therefore definite benefits in dealing with this type of situation in a counseling
manner, and this can be discussed with the trainees. It might even be possible to test
what would happen in a very short role play of the situation using a disciplinary
approach, and compare it with a counseling interview. By using a counseling approach,
it can be determined that the situation requires understanding, time, and supportive
help, not disciplinary action.

The role play for the interviewee has instructions to limit the amount of information given
out dependent on the feeling of empathy and support that is shown by the interviewer.
In this way, comparison of the detail obtained by different interviewers could give further
data on which to base a post role-play discussion on effective and less effective behav-
iors and strategies. The number of stressful situations included in the role play may
appear to be many, but it is our experience that once someone has begun to feel over-
whelmed with one or two issues, then they will continue to find and magnify problems
that add to their depression. Some may then appear to be very small-scale issues, and
often these are the ones presented initially in an interview. The interviewer must there-
fore resist the temptation to dismiss these as minor and insignificant, but continue to
probe empathetically for the largest issues that may remain hidden by the interviewee
for some considerable time.




                                                                                            181
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 13.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 13.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout C.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout C.1b for each observer (if required).




182
                                                               Handout 13.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
One of your staff has been behaving differently over the past three months. Perform-
ance has been declining steadily, and the number of mistakes made has been
increasing. There does not seem to be any pattern to the mistakes or performance
problem—no connection to one skill deficit or time of the day or week. You wonder why
this is happening.

On occasions you have had cause to speak out and give a reprimand to this individual,
particularly when there has been a serious mistake. When you do this, there is always a
most apologetic response. Performance then seems to improve for a short period of
hours or days, before once again there is another slip. Plotted over months, there is a
general downward trend in performance.

This is puzzling. Up until three or four months ago, this individual was one of your best
staff members. Not outstanding or the best in your selection, but someone on whom you
could normally rely to work diligently and not make mistakes. There seem to be occa-
sions when nothing is right, and others when it is all okay again.

You have also observed some times when he/she appears to be preoccupied and
secretive, especially when on the telephone. You suspect that many of these telephone
calls are personal, which is not allowed under company policy, but you usually turn a
blind eye to all staff making personal calls unless it begins to interfere with their work.
This is now a problem that you will have to deal with.

The final problem you have is that this staff member is a very private person, who is not
open to discussing what is going on in much detail. Any time you have tried to guess at
problems in the past, the response has been silent. You have decided that you cannot
delay a discussion any longer; the performance problems and mistakes are obvious to
the rest of the staff, and you cannot risk not exercising discipline.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            183
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 13.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been asked to see your manager for a discussion on your recent perform-
ance, which has not been good lately. You are very aware that your preoccupation with
other matters has meant that you have been making far too many mistakes, and some
of them have been quite serious. Each time you have apologized and managed to
improve a bit, but then the other worries start again and it is not long before you make
another mistake. It is now beginning to cause real problems, and you suspect that your
boss will not allow it to go on much longer without taking disciplinary action against you.
There is sufficient cause now.

The truth of the matter is that you have so many problems to worry about. Some days it
is not too bad, then other days a simple delay in getting to work or a letter from your
sister will just cause everything to come to the surface. Then you can’t concentrate on
anything else. To start, there is the problem with making the mortgage payments. You
bought your house a few years ago, and for a time, everything was fine. Then you
decided to build an addition to accommodate your parents who were getting quite
elderly. You had to take out an extra mortgage, and that is when the problems started.
Your spouse was laid off and this cut the family income by half. You managed to keep
things going for a while with savings and the severance pay, but now the mortgage is in
arrears and you have several other personal loans from the bank.

Your parents can’t help much since they are both infirm and need constant care, and
they have no income or savings other than their small retirement. On the other side of
the family, your father-in-law recently had a serious operation and is in the hospital. He
lives some 300 miles away and there is no other family around to visit, as your mother-
in-law has been in a nursing home suffering from dementia for many years. So there is
no one to look after your father-in-law should he be discharged from the hospital, and
that seems likely soon. It’s a worry to know how he will cope, and meanwhile, you are
traveling there at least once a week to visit, and you can’t really afford this expense.

The rest of your family is widespread. You have a sister who is well off and divorced,
but she doesn’t seem to want to help shoulder any of the burden. She just calls you all
the time to find out how Mom and Dad are and does not listen to anything else. On top
of this, your son is about to take his exams at school, and seems to be spending more
time with his friends than studying, and the car is always breaking down and costing
money. The last straw was last night when the washing machine broke down.

You are a very private person and have always managed on your own. You certainly
don’t need anyone’s advice, since you get enough of that from your sister and other
well-meaning neighbors and friends who always have the right answer or claim to be
worse off than you. What you can’t stand is someone who starts to show interest in



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            185
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 13.2 (concluded)


your problems, only to then try and tell you that they are not as bad as the problems
they have. On the other hand, things are now getting really desperate, you don’t really
know how you are going to cope, and you can’t really think clearly about anything. You
could talk to someone who showed some real understanding and could give you some
support, not advice. And now you have to go explain your work situation to your boss.




186                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
14        Sick Leave Absences

Trainer Guidance
Many organizations monitor sick leave absences in detail, not just to reduce costs asso-
ciated with long-term use and abuse of benefits payments, but also out of a genuine
concern for the health of their employees. In this role play, there is a question over the
motive behind the increase in sick leave absence, only some of which is covered by
doctor verification.

The interviewer, therefore, needs to collect as much data as possible, rather than form-
ing an opinion before the interview or on the basis of limited amounts of evidence. The
interviewer could put too much emphasis on the apparent short-term problem, that is
undocumented absence at the beginning and end of the week, and reach an opinion
that this is evidence of malingering. The interviewee role is written so that an aggressive
approach is likely to receive a similar aggressive response, and the real background
and severity of an injury will not be uncovered.

An open, listening approach is more likely to uncover the real extent of the injury and,
through counseling, help the interviewee make a decision about taking further expert
advice on surgery. The importance of keeping an open-minded approach can be
emphasized by this.

Some of the difficulties faced by the line manager/interviewer can be identified in this
role play. The manager is under pressure to maintain “acceptable” standards for
absenteeism, often by a system and management that are more cost-biased than
people-biased. There may even be a prejudgment that undocumented absences are
always suspect and that back problems are simple enough to fake. As the interviewer,
the responsibility is to uncover any deeply rooted problems and help individuals make
decisions that will help solve them.

Finally, this interview would normally be carried out on a one-to-one basis. Some
organizational precedent might require, or allow the attendance of, a trade union or staff
representative with the individual to help protect his or her interests, as the initial per-
spective is that it is a disciplinary matter. The presence of a third party could change the
character of the interview toward a more formal disciplinary approach. If this is likely in
your organization, then the interviewers should be given an opportunity to practice with
a third party present and to develop effective behaviors to handle the situation effec-
tively.




                                                                                        187
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 14.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 14.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout C.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout C.1b for each observer (if required).




188
                                                                  Handout 14.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Your company’s policy is to monitor long-term sickness and regular short-term absence
from work. You receive a report every month, and when someone is nearing the sick
pay limits, you are asked to report on the situation. Frequently, if the person is still ill but
likely to return to work, the sick pay will be extended so that no hardship arises. The
organization is very good to its people. It is also very firm, and if someone will not be
returning to full fitness in the foreseeable future, it will arrange for termination on medi-
cal grounds.

In the case of regular short-term sick leave, the organization takes a similar firm but fair
stance. If a person is genuinely sick, he or she should seek help; if he or she is malin-
gering, then an opportunity should be given for reform, and if he or she does not, then
dismissal will take place.

One individual in your group has had long periods off work for back trouble. The lengths
of absence are either one or two weeks, or one or two days at a time. The longer
absences are backed up by a doctor’s letter, usually stating back pain or tension. The
shorter absences usually occur at the beginning and end of the week. Often they also
are supported by a doctor’s note, but usually not. These are the absences that cause
you and your manager most concern. The increase in these absences means that you
cannot plan work effectively, and others on the team suffer. If it is genuine, then you
should recommend expert medical help; if not, then you want to see an improvement in
attendance.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                189
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                             Handout 14.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been summoned to see the boss about your sick leave absence record. You
don’t take time off that you are not allowed. The sick leave policy allows you to have
some days off without loss of pay, and you take them.

Anyway, you do have back trouble. Sometimes your back is so bad that you can’t move,
and it was caused by doing some heavy lifting some years ago at work. You never
reported the injury at the time, but it now gives you some serious problems. Your doctor
agrees every so often and gives you a medical verification. He wants you to go into the
hospital for a checkup to see if it is serious enough to require an operation. You have
said no until now; you don’t like hospitals, and the idea of an operation on your back
frightens you—what if it went wrong. Anyway, it’s not always bad, and therapy every so
often helps somewhat.

You have noticed that management has been putting more emphasis on absence over
the past few months, and several people have been singled out for their attendance
record and given an ultimatum of “get well or else.” How can anyone in management
demand that you get well? If the doctors can’t help, what can a manager do? The whole
idea seems silly to you, and you are not afraid to say so. There is nothing that man-
agement can do to make your back better.

Over the past few months, you have had about three or four absences where your back
has been bad for about a week at a time, and you couldn’t even get out of bed. That
was also when the doctor started to talk about surgery. On other occasions, it hasn’t
been bad enough to even go to the doctor, and you have just taken a day or two off.
There is a particular problem on Mondays if the weekend gardening or golf brings on
the pain. When the weather is bad, the cold and wet seem to worsen the pain also.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by         191
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
15        Career Guidance

Trainer Guidance
This interview should be balanced between giving information and obtaining informa-
tion. The interviewer has little information on the career aspirations of the interviewee
and could therefore be distracted by perceptions and prejudices caused by the role
description and comparisons with others.

Confronted by someone who does not know what he or she wants in the way of life or
career goals, many interviewers will not probe for deeper motivations and patterns that
could help in channeling energy; instead, they will use themselves or others as an
example and overload the interviewee with advice and information. The interviewer
should remember that this is a counseling interview, not an interview to persuade the
interviewee to accept a promotion or any other arbitrary plan.

The interviewer must listen to the interviewee’s needs and responses to build a clear
picture of the individual and then look for all the development options—moving up in the
organization is not the only way to develop. It is possible to move across to a similar job
in a different area to widen experience; move in to the job by developing greater exper-
tise in the particular function; or move out into a totally different area, or even a different
organization. All of these are possibilities, and the information about these options
should be driven by the interviewee, not the interviewer.

The other opportunity in the interview is to concentrate attention on individual responsi-
bility, not on specific opportunities or decisions. The interviewer can help by introducing
a process for life and career planning that will give the interviewee the opportunity to
make his or her own decisions better.

The role plays are written to be expanded upon by the players. The real life organization
of the interviewer should be used to describe options and opportunities. This will also
test the interviewer’s knowledge of what opportunities do exist in the organization. It
would be useful to agree to the actual job and function that the interviewee is starting
from before the interview. Again, using the real-life situation of the interviewee will
enhance realism. The interviewee is instructed to use his or her own feelings and moti-
vations to guide the discussion.




                                                                                           193
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 15.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 15.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout C.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout C.1b for each observer (if required).




194
                                                               Handout 15.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
One of your younger staff members does not seem to have a clear idea of a career
path. He has potential to succeed and could have a great future in the function you run.
You feel that with a bit more drive and determination, there would be the possibility of
more responsibility now and a promotion to a supervisory position in the very near
future. Several other options might also help, such as getting further education.

You are eager to push your staff to progress; not only does this mean that you always
have a healthy turnover in the department and avoid stagnation, but the atmosphere is
much better, with people feeling that they are being valued and given the opportunity to
develop. It also reflects well on you in your peer group—it’s far better to be seen to be
managing a dynamic group. You are also a great believer in the idea that people should
take more charge of their own development, not leave it to someone else’s efforts. Your
objective for this interview is at the very minimum to get the idea of individual responsi-
bility across.

Every once in a while, you come across someone who does not seem to respond. Often
when people are young, they don’t have a real idea of what to do, and need some help
and guidance. This organization has a great deal of opportunities, even outside your
own area, and you have a good track record of placing people wherever they want to
go. Use your own function and organization as the basis for describing opportunities in
the interview.

(Make sure that you agree with the interviewee role player on the job that he or she is
now doing.)




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            195
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 15.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You don’t know what to do next—you are not attracted by supervisory work or the func-
tion you are now working in, and these seem to be the only options available.

Your boss is well known in the organization for promoting the department, both promot-
ing staff and by publicizing it as a developing department for staff. The emphasis very
often seems to be on just this, and you are always being pestered to have a career goal
and to get further qualifications, or to do something different. It is as if the only way is up
or out.

Although you don’t like the job much, you are eager to understand it in more depth, and
to see whether you would like to remain there, perhaps as a specialist. The idea of
supervising others is not attractive, and you prefer to do practical things that have some
meaning, not control others and handle people problems and paperwork all day. Except
for that, you don’t know what you want.

You were hired straight out of school at 18, have been here for about three years, and
have been in one other department. You have friends in other parts of the organization,
but don’t talk to them much about what they do.

Your boss has asked to have a discussion about your career path today. You hope it’s
not another pep talk. It would be good to see if the organization has planned anything
for you—that will save making a decision for yourself. You recognize that you need to
make a decision soon, as you are getting older, and if you are not careful, you will be
stuck in a dead-end job.

Use your own interests and motivations as a guide to help you elaborate on the role
above and respond to the interviewer accordingly. Use your own organization as an
example, where appropriate, and agree with the interviewer on your current job position.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               197
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
Part D: Discipline
                                   Introduction
The effective handling of discipline is based on ensuring that all action taken is fair and
consistent with both organizational policy and precedent, and is regarded as such by all
parties concerned. Most organizations will have a disciplinary procedure and guidelines
for its implementation. However, it is the existence of this formal process and the asso-
ciated punishments, leading ultimately to dismissal, that distorts the true meaning and
purpose of discipline. The definition of discipline in Webster’s New World Dictionary is
“a branch of knowledge or learning”; “training that develops self-control, character, or
orderliness or efficiency.” “To punish” is at the end of the list of definitions.

The principle of a disciplinary interview is that the interviewer should be concentrating
on correction through training and instruction. Too many managers see the interview as
an obligation to punish and as a result may not take appropriate action. In the handout
that follows, we outline some general features of disciplinary action, procedures, and
interviews. The role plays are all designed to test both the manager’s decision-making
in taking appropriate action in different circumstances, and to develop skills in handling
this type of interview. The emphasis is therefore placed on the process of establishing
the facts, identifying a gap between actual and expected standards, and taking action to
prevent reoccurrence.


Method
There is a separate role play for the interviewer and for the interviewee. The appropriate
legislative and company procedures should be used in the context of making decisions
on appropriate action to be taken. There are five different situations, Chapters 16
through 20, depicted in the role plays, each written from real-life situations with its own
particular problem. The situations are:

    16.   Sexual Harassment
    17.   Unsafe Work Practice
    18.   Racial Discrimination
    19.   Interpersonal Conflict
    20.   Poor Punctuality

With each role play, some guidance notes are provided to explain its main features and
to indicate some of the points to watch for in the interview. The interviewee should be
encouraged to build on the role play given, responding to the approach and style of the
interviewer while staying within the role. In real work situations, interviewers often have
the right to be accompanied, and sometimes represented, by a colleague or trade union
or company representative. If this is the norm in your organization, the role play should


                                                                                        199
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


include such a third person to take on this role. The interviewee and his or her “friend”
should work from the same role play and agree to their plan jointly. You may wish to set
up parallel interviews with and without the third party to highlight any different needs in
preparing for, and conducting, the interview. The interviews should last about 30
minutes.


Time
For each role play, the minimum time allowed for preparing, conducting the interview,
and reviewing should be 1¾ hours:

      •   Introduction to situation and allocation of roles—5 minutes
      •   Planning for interview—10 minutes
      •   Conducting interview—30 minutes
      •   Review of interview, feedback, and discussion—60 minutes

If video recording is used, then the review time will be between two and three times the
length of the interview.




200
                                                                Handout D.1a

DISCIPLINARY INTERVIEWS
The principle of a disciplinary interview is that the interviewer should be concentrating
on correction through training and instruction. Too often, “discipline” is used synony-
mously with dismissal or other punishments associated with formal disciplinary proce-
dures that exist in most organizations. This often results in managers opting out of the
disciplinary responsibilities contained within their jobs, or rushing in and starting formal
proceedings without adequate preparation, which may then have to be reversed.

The existence of legal safeguards on unfair dismissal for employees, grievance and
appeal procedures, and the protective nets provided by trade unions and staff asso-
ciations have all helped both to limit the excesses of irresponsible management and to
concentrate attention on the top of the disciplinary iceberg (see Figure 1). Here, as is
typical of icebergs, the bulk is under the surface and managers should direct their effort
here where most cases of unsatisfactory performance occur. These cases are likely
either to be handled badly or ignored. Also at the base of the iceberg, managers could
carry out the training and instruction side of discipline and probably prevent many
issues from escalating into problems that have to be dealt with further up.

                                            Legal Issues

                                                      Dismissals
                                                       Suspensions
                                                         Written warnings
                                                         Formal verbal warnings
                                                           Informal verbal warnings

                                Instances where action
                                should be taken, but is
                                not




                           Figure 1. The Disciplinary Iceberg



                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by              201
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
          Handout D.1a (continued)


The disciplinary interview has three functions:

      •   Establishing the facts
      •   Identifying a gap between actual and expected standards
      •   Taking action to prevent reoccurrence

The action in most formal disciplinary procedures will be progressive, from informal ver-
bal warnings to formal verbal warnings to written warnings to dismissal. Sometimes the
seriousness of the misdemeanor is such that entry into the procedure is at a higher
level, including immediate dismissal for acts of gross misconduct. It is therefore impor-
tant that managers understand the formal procedure, their own authority level, and any
precedents that will affect the decision in any particular case. This requires careful
preparation, and implies that disciplinary interviews are not carried out in the “heat of
the moment.”

Once again though, by spending too much time in the analysis of action in formal cases,
the manager will be deflected from looking at the base of the iceberg. Here, no formal
disciplinary punishment is required, but staff need to be trained in the achievement of
expected standards. The most effective way of handling discipline in any organization is
to ensure that problems never arise. The manager must therefore ensure that all staff
are made aware of the standards expected from their performance and behavior at
work. Often these are not clearly laid out and can vary between organizations, locations,
departments, and even between different managers within the same organization. Staff
members need to know what is expected of them so that they can comply in terms of
performance or behavior. Often a clearly expressed standard that is understood by staff
is sufficient to cause the change required. This is step one in the training for correction
process.

If the standard is known and performance still falls below an acceptable level, the man-
ager must take further action. This should not be by an overreaction and rushing in and
invoking arbitrary punishments, nor by underreacting and ignoring the continued under-
performance. In the latter case, the manager will allow a new, lower standard of per-
formance to be established through “custom and practice” that will be a defense in the
event of future action. Conversely, overreacting omits the essential feature of making
decisions that are based on facts, not emotion.

The training approach involves the manager in investigating the breach of standards
from both perspectives, and establishing with the individual the gap that exists between
the expected and actual performance or behavior. This is done by establishing the facts
in a neutral manner and getting agreement to them. Once the gap is established, indi-
vidual circumstances will guide the next steps that are to establish a process for closing
the gap and carrying out the action.




202                   Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
             Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Handout D.1a (concluded)


The manager should consider taking punitive action in this initial interview only if the
individual has consistently failed to reach accepted standards or the breach is of a seri-
ous nature. Even if it was thought to be necessary, managers are well advised to delay
any punishments to a second or subsequent interview and take the opportunity to
review the facts as presented in the interview, with any mitigating circumstances. Most
organizations have a clear procedure for applying punishments, and these should be
adhered to since consistency of application is vital.

Taking this approach to disciplinary interviews is often compared with counseling (there
is a separate handout available on counseling interviews—see page 163), especially as
many issues could, at first sight, be seen as disciplinary or counseling issues. There are
some distinctions that can be drawn between the two types of interview. Primarily, the
counseling interview is client-centered, whereas the disciplinary interview is organiza-
tion-centered. The form of disciplinary interview outlined above that does not involve
applying punitive sanctions is more correctly identified as coaching rather than coun-
seling, with the emphasis on tutoring and teaching. Some of the behaviors and skills are
the same, but the objective of the interview is different.

Another important difference that exists between the counseling and disciplinary inter-
view is the possibility of a third party being present. In a counseling situation, the inter-
view would be between the interviewer and the interviewee on a confidential one-to-one
basis. (The only exception being the inclusion of other parties who might intimately be
involved in the situation or solution, and only with the agreement of both parties.) In a
disciplinary interview, there is a very real possibility of a third party being present “to
ensure fair play” or to represent the interests of the interviewee. Many trade union and
staff agreements establish the right of the interviewee in a disciplinary case to be repre-
sented or accompanied by a colleague or representative of the appropriate union or
association. In severe cases, the interviewee has legal representation present. Simi-
larly, in the organization, the immediate manager may have access to support from a
personnel or employee relations specialist at the interview. The dynamics of the third-
party presence makes for a very different style of interview—more formal, procedural,
and factual than most others.

Finally, if a punishment is deemed necessary, the manager must follow the established
procedure and precedent. Most procedures would follow a sequence of an informal
verbal warning, formal verbal warning, first written warning, subsequent or final written
warning, suspension with and without pay, and finally dismissal. Depending on the
severity of the offense, entry into the procedure might be at any point, and most organi-
zations have policies and precedent to cover this. Once in the process, there is a pro-
gressive move through the next steps if the improvement is not made to the standard
expected. Time limits should be set, and the interviewee should be left in no doubt as to
the need to improve, exactly what is required, how this will be measured, the time limit
for the improvement, and the consequence of not achieving this improvement.



                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             203
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                     Handout D.1b

DISCIPLINARY INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                           Role Play
Observer                                              Date

                                                  Observed                      Comments

1. Preparation
   Review of standards of performance,
   precedence, and authority. Gathering
   facts and preparing case.
2. Opening
   Setting the scene and creating a
   relaxed climate.


3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Establishing standard, facts,
   performance gap, and process to
   close.
4. Skills
   Open-ended and probing questions,
   listening, summarizing.


5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and nonverbal
   behavior.


6. Closure
   Agree to future standards and objec-
   tives. Summarize interview and next
   steps.
7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up
   Record interview and decision. Correct
   level of action taken?


                                          Giving Feedback
                Immediate:    Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                   Impact:    Focus the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                 Personal:    Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
               Descriptive:   Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.


                       Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             205
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
16       Sexual Harassment

Trainer Guidance
The interviewer is given many questions in this role play, including:

    1. There is an uncorroborated complaint of sexual harassment:
       • Is it a genuine complaint or trouble making?
       • Is it possible to get corroboration without publicity?
       • Are there other potential complaints?

    2. The two parties have had a previous relationship:
       • Does this indicate revenge?
       • Is one party trying to take advantage of the past?

    3. The environment has been and is allowed to be relaxed:
       • Is it productive fun or just lax?
       • Is there an accepted and understood standard of behavior?
       • Has this action gone against that standard?
       • Does it offend his/her own behavioral standards?

    4. The manager has been part of that relaxed environment:
       • Has he/she been compromised?
       • Does he/she now need to set himself/herself apart and set new standards?
       • Will he/she lose respect and friendships as a result?
       • Does he/she like the environment the way it is?
       • Has he/she been, or is now, a willing participant?

    5. How close is the manager’s relationship with the interviewee?
       • Does this affect his/her approach?
       • Should he/she refer this to a third party who is not involved?

These individual problems will affect the way in which the interview is conducted, and
the interviewer’s attitude and decision making. You should be aware of these possible
biases and distortions and be prepared to challenge them during the planning or review
stages. As well as the problems listed above, there is one important distortion that will
affect most people’s ability to handle the interview in a neutral way—the genders
involved.




                                                                                      207
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


The roles have been deliberately written to be asexual, but in carrying out the role play,
the importance of gender and stereotyping will become evident. It is important to be
aware of potential bias and possible discrimination. It is also a very sensitive subject,
deeply rooted in behavior and value systems, and therefore you should take particular
care with feedback. There is likely to be an assumption that the complainant will be
female, making a complaint about a male. The roles could easily be reversed, or be
male/male or female/female. Investigating managers’ reactions to these different
scenarios will help in raising individual awareness as well as in facilitating equal oppor-
tunity and discrimination training.

The emphasis in the interview will be on fact-finding to compare the two perceptions of
the case, and then to carry out whatever action is deemed necessary. The actions
chosen by the interviewer might include:

      •   Doing nothing.
      •   Punishing one of the two parties to make an example:
          - The complainant for making malicious allegations
          - The other party for the harassment
      •   Establishing and communicating an acceptable code of behavior.
      •   Transferring one of the parties to another department.
      •   Referring the matter to a higher authority.
      •   Setting up training sessions for the whole department.
      •   Interviewing both parties together in a counseling interview.

Whatever the choice, this should be considered in light of the information discussed
during the role play; the procedures and policy of the organization; the social legislation
that might be applicable; and from the perspective of good management practice. From
the information about the environment and situation in the role play, a good outcome
would be to:

      •   Establish a code of conduct in the department. There is no evidence that one
          currently exists, so it is impossible to apply any rule except those of general
          moral and acceptable behavior.

      •   Establish some training and coaching sessions so that individuals can be
          educated in the subject, thus helping to protect victims and potential victims.

      •   Gain acceptance that there will be an immediate improvement in behavior in
          general, with reference to the specific parties, and that any further complaint
          from any source will be treated with an appropriate level of penalty (which
          should be quantified).




208
                                                                            Part D. Discipline


This is not the only action that would be effective, and it is not suggested as the “best.”
As already stated, the actual decision will be dependent on the way in which the role
play is carried out, and the general social and organizational environment.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 16.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 16.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout D.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout D.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                          209
                                                              Handout 16.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
The individual in question has been reported to you for sexual harassment by another
staff member. The complainant alleges that there has been a long period when sugges-
tive remarks have been made. This has recently escalated to explicit sexual comments
frequently being made.

You manage an office environment where there is an even mix of male and female staff,
and there is a general atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. There has been gossip about
several affairs between staff members, and a few couples have gotten married in the
past year. You don’t mind this, provided that the activities do not interfere with employ-
ees’ work. One relationship went sour last year, and the two parties found it impossible
to work together. You spoke to both, and managed to get a transfer to another section
for one of them, which solved the problem.

Now you have a formal complaint that has never been made before. You suspect the
complaint has been filed for two reasons: first, the publicity surrounding sexual harass-
ment over the past few months has brought the subject more out into the open, which is
a good thing; second, you believe that the two staff members involved have been in a
relationship that has ended and the complainant is seeking revenge and is out to make
trouble. You have no other evidence at this time to back up the complaint. You do know
that the person implicated is well known for being loud and outspoken, and often boasts
about sexual prowess and activities. You hadn’t been aware that this caused any
offense to people—it certainly didn’t when you were working in this department before
your promotion a couple of years ago.

You would like to clear up this whole matter before it gets out of hand and becomes a
public issue. You certainly don’t want to be the first manager in the organization to have
an investigation of this type going on. You have therefore asked to see each of the pro-
tagonists separately. Your first interview with the complainant has not helped to clarify
the position. The general description of behavior is only what you know has been going
on for some time, and could be regarded by some as lighthearted horseplay. There was
an admission that there had been a casual relationship when the couple were together
on several occasions after office social events, but no more, and you formed the
impression that the complaint was genuine. The advances were now being directed
without any provocation and continued after it was made clear that they were not appre-
ciated. You now need to hear the other side of the story and decide what action to take.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           211
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                              Handout 16.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been called in to meet your office manager to discuss a complaint made
against you of sexual harassment. It’s a joke. You are well known in the office, and in
the rest of the organization, for being outspoken about your dating activities, and it has
never caused any problems before. People appreciate your little jokes, insinuations, and
flirting. When your manager worked with you a couple of years ago, there weren’t any
complaints.

You work in an office environment where there is a fairly even mix of male and female
staff, and there is a general atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. Everyone jokes and
teases each other, and several co-workers date each other. Some have even gotten
serious and resulted in marriage, several in the past year alone. Most relationships are
casual, and you get to hear of them eventually, mainly through gossip. Nobody has ever
minded in the past, just as long as they do not get in the way of work.

No one has ever filed a formal complaint before, or at least you have never heard of
one. What makes it worse is that the person who has complained was enjoying your
company and advances only a couple of weeks ago. There were no complaints then,
and it’s only to make trouble for you now that it has been referred upward. Okay, there
were some comments about stopping the attention and the comments, but you were
only trying to resurrect the fun you both had after the last party. Why can’t people be
more consistent? One day they want attention and compliments, the next day they are
taking you to court for harassment.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           213
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
17        Unsafe Work Practice

Trainer Guidance
In this role play, there is a history of many minor breaches of rules and procedures and,
while no one particular incident will necessarily be sufficient for a disciplinary interview,
the combination suggests that there might be a deeply rooted attitude and behavioral
problem that does need attention.

This most recent incident provides an opportunity to look at performance over time and
establish the gap between actual and expected behavior in general, as well as in each
specific case.

There are some other features in the role play that might affect the supervisor’s/ inter-
viewer’s approach and action, and will test ability in probing for underlying motivations
and feelings:

    •   Does the fact that this incident was reported by a director have any influence on
        the supervisor’s attitude, action, or decision?

    •   Does the fact that the supervisor had to clear up the work have any influence on
        his or her attitude, action, or decision?

    •   Does the work environment—self-supervised operation with staff establishing
        their own priorities—have any effect on the individual’s behavior?

    •   Has the training and explanation of safe methods of work been sufficient?

    •   Does the interviewee have any attitudes that are in conflict with good practice
        that need to be addressed through coaching and training?

The interviewer should strike a balance between giving information and obtaining infor-
mation. Giving information should be about standards of safe operation and behavior,
establishing the gap between actual and expected standards, and explaining the con-
sequences of non-compliance. Obtaining information should focus on the other side of
the story, the opinions on safety and good work practice, and the general attitude to
rules and procedures.

This is probably the last opportunity the supervisor has to help establish personal
responsibility and motivation to achieve the acceptable standard of performance before
a formal disciplinary procedure is invoked. In the role play, individuals playing the inter-
viewer role may feel that this stage has already been reached and that a formal



                                                                                          215
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


warning is appropriate. If so, you should review with them their reasons for that deci-
sion, and whether it is based in whole or in part on the intervention and perceived
expectation of a senior manager.


Materials Required
      1. Handout 17.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 17.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout D.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout D.1b for each observer (if required).




216
                                                               Handout 17.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are a supervisor of a small maintenance group in the office building with responsi-
bility for all the services and handling goods received. This entails each member of the
staff working on their own initiative: responding to calls where there has been a break-
down or problem reported; carrying out routine maintenance activities according to a
fixed schedule; clearing away trash and tidying the building; and receiving incoming
goods.

As with any service and multi-task operation, you can never get everything right all the
time, but you do try. There is always the client whose problem has not been resolved,
the delivery driver who is delayed because everyone was doing something else and
could not sign his delivery note, the urgent job that can’t wait, and the person who
doesn’t finish a job before moving on to the next one. You do a lot of training on the job,
and continually walk around, fixing things yourself and looking for improvement oppor-
tunities.

Recently, one of your staff has had a run of getting things wrong. You have had cause
to comment on not wearing protective clothing when the rules said it must be worn, not
completing two jobs that were left in a potentially dangerous state, and reporting for
work late three times in the past month. None of these incidents in themselves war-
ranted more than a quick reminder—a bit of instant discipline—but looking at it as a
whole, there seems to be a trend of not complying with the organizational rules and
procedures.

Now the most serious incident has taken place, not that it was a life or death situation,
but it was seen and reported to you by a director. Apparently, there was work being
carried out on some storage cupboards, and all the contents were moved out and
stacked somewhere else. The job was interrupted so that some incoming goods could
be signed in and was then forgotten for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the “some-
where else” where the boxes were stacked was a fire exit. The corridor was blocked,
and the fire door could not be opened. You had to clear the boxes yourself.

You have called the person involved into your office at the end of the day to discuss this
event and the growing trend of mistakes. You are determined that you will put a stop to
them somehow.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            217
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 17.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have just been told to report to your supervisor’s office to discuss today’s work.
Apparently there was some panic during the day about some boxes stacked up in front
of a fire exit. You remembered about them and the job you had left undone and went
back, but by that time, someone else had cleared them away, so there was no real
problem. You got sidetracked from the work you were doing on the storage cupboards
by a delivery driver. It was close to the receiving area, and the drivers get very angry if
they are kept waiting. Because you are short-staffed in the service crew, and everyone
is expected to do everything, there is often a delay in getting someone down to receive
the deliveries. You used to be a delivery driver yourself, so you know what it is like to be
kept waiting, and you enjoy chatting to them whenever possible.
After receiving a couple of deliveries, one of which was urgent, so you had to courier it
personally to the addressee, a couple of senior managers asked you to do some simple
things, and you forgot the storage cupboards. Anyway, there was no harm done, there
wasn’t a fire, and someone had cleared them away by the time you got there, which
could only have been an hour later. Since then you have been tidying up the basement
area that was a long overdue routine task.
Your supervisor has been particularly critical recently. You have been reprimanded for
not wearing protective clothing, leaving a couple of jobs to do something else more
urgent, and reporting for work late three times in the past month. None of these inci-
dents was serious; they were not a disciplinary case, and you have a clean record. You
always admit your mistakes and apologize. There was a suggestion that the jobs you
left were dangerous, but no one was injured, so what was the fuss? You think the
organization has too many rules and regulations that delay getting the work completed.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            219
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
18        Racial Discrimination

Trainer Guidance
The purposes of this disciplinary interview are to reinforce a known standard of perform-
ance with the individual, establish the gap between the actual and expected performance
against this standard, obtain acceptance of the need to conform, and understand the
consequences of non-conformance. The situation is made more complex by the subject
matter of racial discrimination. This is a subject that is often highly charged with feelings
and individual values that can cloud rational argument and action. The interviewer must
therefore prepare the case and conduct the interview on the facts of the situation.

The evidence of discrimination has been highlighted through a trend-monitoring proc-
ess, not by direct observation or complaint. The monitoring information would not be
sufficient in itself to justify a disciplinary interview, but the additional evidence from
direct observation and from staff gives collaboration necessary to take action. The
supervisor concerned has more evidence of the actual discrimination. The skill of the
interviewer in probing and listening to the interviewee could uncover this extra informa-
tion.

Again, the interviewer must decide what action is appropriate and whether the evidence
is sufficient to warrant punitive action, and if so at what level. (As a guide, participants
should use their own organization’s policies and disciplinary procedures.)

Care needs to be taken not to put too much emphasis on a previous disciplinary case.
The resulting caution cannot be considered in determining action at this time, because it
is outside the two-year limit contained in the organization’s rules. However, the inter-
viewer can use the example as evidence of a trend in discrimination to probe the super-
visor for evidence of values and actions.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 18.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 18.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout D.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout D.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                         221
                                                               Handout 18.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are about to interview one of your supervisors on the subject of racial discrimination
in the allocation of overtime and opportunities for transfer. The problems have been
uncovered as a result of your own investigation, following a new procedure to monitor
the operation of equal opportunities and antidiscrimination policies within the organiza-
tion.

The ethnic mix of your department is predominantly white—over 80 percent of the total
of 60 staff. The other 20 percent is a mix of people from Asian, African, and Afro-
Caribbean backgrounds, though none are first-generation immigrants. The 12 non-white
staff are mainly concentrated in two groups—maintenance and cleaning, and your
accounting group. The supervisor in question supervises the accounting group, where
there are three white, two Asian, and three Afro-Caribbean staff.

Some six months ago, to improve the record in equal opportunities in the organization,
and to investigate complaints of preference being given to some groups, a monitoring
process was introduced. This process brought together personnel and payroll records
and kept track of items such as overtime worked, promotions, performance bonuses,
transfers, and time off by racial and gender groups. While the records themselves do
not prove discrimination, it was hoped that they could highlight trends and possible
problem areas.

In your own department, the records have shown a marked tendency in the accounting
group to discriminatory practices against the non-white staff. They consistently work
less overtime per head than the white group (overtime should be allocated in rotation so
that everyone receives the same opportunity). The three white staff have also received
higher performance bonuses and have all been recommended for internal transfer and
promotion, despite being the juniors in the group in service and experience. You have
spoken informally to the staff and your other supervisors, and they confirm the evidence
from their observation and experience. There is no one main act that is central to the
discrimination, but it is the combination of several actions taken together that proves the
case.

You have had reason to reprimand the supervisor before regarding racial discrimination
during a job interview. On that occasion, three years ago, the supervisor had rejected a
well-qualified accounts clerk who was Asian. There was a complaint, and the supervisor
was found to be in the wrong. At the time, there was some confusion regarding the
training and information given to interviewers on the legislation and interviewing
process. The supervisor was given a warning and attended a training course. The
organizational policy states that previous disciplinary records are removed from the file
after two years.



                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            223
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                             Handout 18.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been summoned to a disciplinary interview with your manager who is alleging
that you have been practicing racial discrimination in the accounting group that you
supervise.

In this group there are three white, two Asian, and three Afro-Caribbean employees.
The ethnic mix of the department is predominantly white—over 80 percent of the total of
60 staff. The other 20 percent is a mix of people from Asian, African, and Afro-
Caribbean backgrounds, though none are first-generation immigrants. The 12 non-white
staff are mainly concentrated in two groups—maintenance and cleaning, and your
accounting group.

About six months ago, to improve the record in equal opportunities in the organization
and to investigate complaints of preference being given to some groups, a monitoring
process was introduced. This process brought together personnel and payroll records
and kept track of items such as overtime worked, promotions, performance bonuses,
transfers, and time off by racial and gender groups. While the records themselves do
not prove discrimination, it was hoped that they could highlight trends and possible
problem areas.

The records in your department have shown that the non-white staff consistently work
less overtime per head than the white group. The three white staff have also received
higher performance bonuses and have all been recommended for internal transfer and
promotion, despite being the juniors in the group in service and experience.

You have been discriminating in the allocation of overtime. Overtime is allocated in
rotation so that everyone receives the same opportunity—you follow this policy and
have kept a record of offers and refusals of overtime. However, your records show that
the Afro-Caribbeans always refuse the overtime offered on Sundays on religious
grounds (they are from a fundamentalist group that has a strong presence in the local
area). This means that they go back to the end of the rotation, and you offer the over-
time during the week to the others. This would not have shown up if it were not for the
monitoring system.

As far as the promotion and transfer discrimination is concerned, you can argue that, in
your department, the white staff are better workers than the others: they seem to work
more accurately, are less volatile, and work independently. They are always ready to
help, and they understand your approach and requirements better. When you make
recommendations, they are based on performance.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          225
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 18.2 (concluded)


Three years ago, you were cited in a discrimination case when you rejected an Asian for
an accounts clerk job. At the time you were able to get fairly lenient treatment because
the organization had no proper rules and training for interviewers. This is, therefore,
your second offense and could be serious.




226                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
19        Interpersonal Conflict

Trainer Guidance
In this role play, the interviewer has to establish what happened and hear both sides of
the story. The ground rules should be that what occurred fell outside the acceptable
standard of behavior and that a recurrence is not expected. The most important action
then is to understand why it happened, and find ways of ensuring that there is no
repeat. Immediately handing out a punishment to both parties is unlikely to deal with the
cause of the conflict, which will then possibly flare up again in the future.

Depending on the choice of the interviewer, the interviews can either be carried out
individually or jointly. Considering that the subject is one of interpersonal conflict, having
an initial joint interview would probably put too much of a strain on the interviewer in
keeping the peace, and therefore not achieve the objective of understanding what
happened. Thus, initial individual interviews are favored, with the strong possibility of a
final joint interview to reinforce the message given to each individually.

The interviewer must be aware that conducting individual interviews can cause a bias,
either actual or perceived. Whoever gets the chance to put their side of the story first
can color subsequent descriptions and influence in their favor. The interviewer must go
to some length to be, and appear, impartial and neutral. A third party observer can be
very effective in ensuring that this takes place.

The interviewer must also decide the appropriate action to take, given the statement of
policy in the role play. As threatening behavior was reported, does this constitute sum-
mary dismissal? Is it not that serious, since no fight took place, but serious enough to
warrant a formal warning of some kind? Does it require a plan of action and improvement
in behavior? What does the staff who witnessed the event expect? Is that of any rele-
vance? How will the disciplinary policy and procedure be viewed by all concerned after
the action is taken?

There is shared blame in this situation. Interviewee 1 started behaving aggressively, but
with provocation over a long period. This is still not an acceptable way to resolve differ-
ences. Interviewee 2 has a poor attitude about the quality of work. Neither are promot-
ing good teamwork and cooperation, and neither help the bonus payment for the whole
group.

(Note: As there may be a series of interviews associated with this role play, more time
is required to complete the role play and to conduct the review. A guide would be to add
at least 50 percent to the time estimates identified in the introduction to this section.)




                                                                                          227
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 19.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 19.2 for Interviewee 1.
      3. Handout 19.3 for Interviewee 2.
      4. Handout D.1a for each participant.
      5. Handout D.1b for each observer (if required).




228
                                                                Handout 19.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You are a manager of a small department that is set up as an integrated operation.
Work arrives at regular intervals from your supplier departments and you pass on the
jobs, after your department’s work has been done, to subsequent internal and external
customers. It is one link in a production flow. In your department there is a small version
of this, with each staff member being responsible for one or two operations before
passing it on to the next person. Each person is dependent on the one before in the
work flow for his or her input.

Yesterday, you were at an all-day meeting, and you arrived this morning to find that two
of your staff were involved in a very heated argument yesterday. Your assistant, who
saw the end of it, reported that if it wasn’t for the action of fellow workers separating
them, there would have been a fight. You have no further information on the reasons for
the dispute, only that they were shouting and accusing each other of being the cause of
the mistakes. Making mistakes affects the team’s pay, because there is a bonus system
based on the number of problem-free production items per week.

Your organization’s policy states that:

    Employees render themselves liable to disciplinary action when they fail to
    observe known, accepted standards of performance and behavior. For example,
    when they:
    •   Consistently fail to achieve satisfactory standards of job performance;
    •   Disregard generally accepted standards of behavior and common decency
        while on company premises;
    •   Take action detrimental to…

and:

    There are certain offenses that must be regarded as so serious as to render the
    offender liable to summary dismissal; that is, without previous warning. These
    offenses include:
    •   Fighting, threatening behavior or physical violence;
    •   Theft;
    •   Drunkenness…

You are a firm but fair manager, leaving people to manage their own tasks, work on a
day-to-day basis, and develop a feeling of team effort. However, while you are often
happy to be in the background, you are not afraid to take a clear stand when someone
breaches the rules and upsets the team.

                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           229
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout 19.1 (concluded)


You need to find out what happened and why, and decide what action to take. One of
the people involved (Interviewee 1) is usually a very quiet, conscientious worker who
rarely makes mistakes, possibly taking too much time and holding up the team on occa-
sions. The other (Interviewee 2) is outspoken and very quick, making more than the
average number of mistakes, but also pushes the team to always do more. You had no
idea that there was any ill feeling between team members and nothing like this has ever
happened before.




230                 Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                             Handout 19.2

INTERVIEWEE 1—ROLE PLAY
You work in a small department that is set up as an integrated operation. Work arrives
at regular intervals from supplier departments and you pass on the jobs, after your
department’s work has been done, to subsequent internal and external customers. It is
one link in a production flow. In the department, there is a small version of this, with
each staff member being responsible for one or two operations before passing it on to
the next person. Each person is dependent on the one before in the work flow for his or
her input. Your manager is firm and fair, leaving people to manage their own tasks, work
on a day-to-day basis, and develop a feeling of team effort, but is not afraid to take a
clear stand when someone breaches the rules and upsets the team.

You have to work on this team with someone who continually boasts that she is the
quickest worker, and that you are the one continually causing delays. It has been a
source of irritation for some time, and yesterday you lost your temper and had a heated
argument with this person. Eventually you were both calmed down by your fellow
workers.

The main problem is that you like to make sure that you have everything right before
you pass it on to the next stage, being careful to check and ensure that there are no
mistakes. There is a bonus paid for error-free work, and so it is important to do things
right. Your colleague, on the other hand, rushes the job and makes errors. It seems as
though it is a race to be first, whatever the consequence. So you are seen as the slow
worker who is causing delays overall, and therefore earning a lower productivity bonus,
when actually it is the other person who is causing the lower bonus for not taking time
and care with the work.

You couldn’t stand the comments and insults any longer and lost your temper, but you
shouldn’t get the blame since you were provoked.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by          231
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 19.3

INTERVIEWEE 2—ROLE PLAY
You work in a small department that is set up as an integrated operation. Work arrives
at regular intervals from supplier departments and you pass on the jobs, after your
department’s work has been done, to subsequent internal and external customers. It is
one link in a production flow. In the department, there is a small version of this, with
each staff member being responsible for one or two operations before passing it on to
the next person. Each person is dependent on the one before in the work flow for his or
her input. Your manager is firm and fair, leaving people to manage their own tasks, work
on a day-to-day basis, and develop a feeling of team effort, but is not afraid to take a
clear stand when someone breaches the rules and upsets the team.

Yesterday you were involved in an argument with one of your colleagues, the person
who supplies your input who is the slowest worker on the team, forever checking and
rechecking the job to make sure nothing is wrong. This leaves you doing nothing a lot of
the time. You can do your process at twice the speed, and could do twice as much if
you had a faster worker before you. Then you could earn larger bonuses for the whole
team. There is a productivity bonus based on output and error-free work.

Your colleague criticizes you all the time for trying to be too quick and making errors. All
this is doing is to deflect ownership of the low bonus from where it really lies—with low
productivity. Yes, you make mistakes, but they are never serious and they are always
checked later. The best idea is to be as quick as possible, get the total output up, get
the job done, and go home early.

The argument was not too serious, and there was no fight, although it came close.
Usually your colleague just keeps quiet and does not react to your comments. Yester-
day, there was this sudden reaction that you had never seen before. You almost came
to blows, but fellow workers separated you. Now you are both in for a disciplinary inter-
view. You are determined not to take the blame for this since it wasn’t you who started
it. Your colleague attacked you, and all you did was defend yourself.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            233
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
20       Poor Punctuality

Trainer Guidance
The interviewer needs to strike a balance between giving information and obtaining
information in this role play. The interviewer role suggests an almost undercover opera-
tion to catch poor timekeepers, and a determination to believe that his or her own stan-
dards should be imposed in general. The tendency could be to introduce a penal
discipline element to the interview immediately, without giving an opportunity to listen
and understand the other side. The interviewer, therefore, must be aware of the possi-
bility of jumping to conclusions, and the need to check out assumptions before taking
action.

If the interviewer decides to take an aggressive stance, there is a high probability that a
good worker will leave. The interviewee has already considered moving and is under
stress. If, however, the interviewer takes a more balanced approach, the background
information could be introduced to the situation and taken into account. Then clearly this
is not the time for punitive action, but the time to help the person overcome difficulties
by allowing some flexibility. It still might not work out in the end, but at least the man-
ager will have made every effort to solve the problem.

The role play, therefore, tests the attitude of the interviewer in the planning stage and
his or her skills in the interview in being able to suspend judgment and listen and probe
for reasons and opportunities to help. Discipline in this example is all about establishing
the acceptable standard of behavior and finding ways to help the individual meet these
standards.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 20.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 20.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout D.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout D.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                        235
                                                                Handout 20.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You run the dispatch office in a large organization. While the operation is not organized
as a production line, the level of work creates a situation where if someone is absent,
there is more strain on all the other workers.

One of your staff has been persistently late over the past month—three or more times a
week, usually for no more than 10 minutes, but sometimes half an hour or more. You
don’t have a clocking-in system or flextime—staff are trusted, so there are no records.
You have been observing the punctuality for the past six weeks, since you had a feeling
that some people were taking advantage of the system.

Poor punctuality shows a low standard of personal responsibility and reflects badly on
the individual. You have always prided yourself on never being late for work in all your
years of employment. So having observed this pattern, you are now determined to do
something about it. You are surprised at the culprit though; one of the best workers you
have in terms of workload and ability. However, you cannot turn a blind eye just
because of that. This morning he was half an hour late, and the third day in succession.
You have decided now is the time to take action.

Here is an extract from your staff disciplinary procedure that is in a handbook given to
every staff member when they are hired. It highlights the appropriate section referring to
poor punctuality:

    An employee renders himself or herself liable to disciplinary action when his or
    her conduct is judged to constitute a breach of company standards of
    performance and behavior. Although it is not possible to give an exhaustive list
    of offenses, examples of behavior that may constitute misconduct are:
    •   Actions that affect the work of the organization, such as:
        - Persistent poor punctuality
        - Absenteeism without adequate reason
        - Refusal to carry out reasonable instructions
    •   Failure to follow established policies and procedures…




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            237
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                               Handout 20.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You work in the dispatch office in a large organization. While the operation is not
organized as a production line, the level of work creates a situation where if someone is
absent, there is more strain on all the others.

You are aware that you have been putting your colleagues under that sort of pressure
by being late several times over the past month—three or more times a week, usually
for no more than 10 minutes, but sometimes half an hour or more. There is no clocking-
in system or record of times and hours because it is based on trust. You have always
made up the time, and more, by working through the break times or staying late, if pos-
sible. Your colleagues have recognized this and accepted that you make up the time
and help them out on occasions to compensate for the pressure on them in the early
morning.

The trouble is that your transportation to work is not reliable. You have missed your bus
sometimes, and there is no other alternative. There is half an hour between buses, so if
you catch the right one, you have a few minutes to spare. If you miss that, you have half
an hour to wait, and that gets you to work about 10 minutes after the official start time.
That is not too bad, but on some occasions recently, it has been worse.

You are a single parent with a five-year-old daughter. Before leaving for work yourself,
you have to get her ready for school and off to your mother’s house. Your mother then
takes her to school, picks her up after school, and looks after her until you finish work.
But over the past month, she hasn’t been too well, so the arrangements have been
somewhat difficult. So much so that you have been thinking that you will have to find
another job that is closer to home.

Your mother is getting older, and she can’t cope every day with a boisterous five-year-
old. You have some backup from neighbors and friends, and have been experimenting
with a babysitter over the past week. None of these solutions is satisfactory so far. The
worst is having to make last-minute arrangements on a day-to-day basis, and that
makes you late for the first bus.

You need some more time to sort out these problems, but feel that it would be easier to
work closer to home. You don’t really want to leave the company you are with now,
since you have always been very happy there, and they have always treated you well.
But you can’t go on taking advantage of the good will and tolerance of your fellow
workers and managers. This morning your babysitter did not arrive on time, and that
really made you late.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            239
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
Part E: Exit
                                    Introduction
The role plays in this section deal with the interviewing process at the opposite end of
the employment spectrum to the selection interview, when for diverse reasons,
employer and employee are parting company. Trends in the workplace, new forms of
employment agreements, economic pressures, and other factors have made the sepa-
ration scenario increasingly more common. Departures may be voluntary or involuntary,
amicable or traumatic, planned or unplanned, but in all situations they require effective
communication. There is a need for exchange of information and clarification to ensure
mutual understanding of terms and conditions, reasons and options, and this is typically
done through one or more formal interviews. The five role plays presented in this sec-
tion will allow managers and supervisors to practice common types of separation inter-
views.

Many organizations have formal policies and procedures for exit interviews and these
will include guidelines, definitions, and codes of practice. This applies particularly where
there are legal issues and union requirements. Where such procedures exist, you
should use these guidelines and recommendations in introducing and explaining the
role plays. General considerations on the differences between various separation situa-
tions and the conduct of appropriate interviews are offered as a handout to present an
overview of the separation interview if no organizational policies are available. The
guidance notes with each of the typical situations form the basis for feedback and
review.


Method
Each role play consists of a brief for both the interviewer and for the interviewee. The
interviewer’s role play includes documents or information he or she is likely to have for
that particular type of interview. The organization’s policy and procedure manuals and
any relevant guidelines, exit checklists, or separation interview record forms should be
available where these exist. Interviewers and interviewees may use their personal data
or plausible facts to fill out the background of their roles, keeping in mind that the objec-
tive of the exercise is to practice conducting a constructive interview. There are five
different interviews, Chapters 21 through 25, depicted in the role plays, each taken from
common situations and each within a specific focus and context. The situations are:

    21.   Terminating Employment
    22.   Resignation
    23.   Voluntary Early Retirement
    24.   Dismissal
    25.   Closure/Relocation of Business


                                                                                         241
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


With each role play, some guidance notes are provided to explain its main features and
to indicate some of the points to watch for in the interview. The interviewee should be
encouraged to build on the role play given, responding to the approach and style of the
interviewer while staying within the role. The objective here is to practice and experi-
ence the skills and techniques of interviewing, not to try to argue, rebut, bargain, or
redress the situation, nor to attack, trap, or upstage the other. The interviews should last
about 30 minutes. Feedback should be focused on the use of skills and techniques as
well as on the balance of time allotted to information-giving and information-gathering.


Time
For each role play, the minimum time allowed for preparing, conducting the interview,
and reviewing should be 1¾ hours:

      •   Introduction to situation and allocation of roles—5 minutes
      •   Planning for interview—10 minutes
      •   Conducting interview—30 minutes
      •   Review of interview, feedback, and discussion—60 minutes

If video recording is used, then the review time will between two and three times the
length of the interview.




242
                                                         Handout E.1a (concluded)


EXIT INTERVIEWS
The first objective of exit interviewing is to inform or confirm the decision to end an
employment relationship. The second objective is to explore and clarify the reasons,
conditions, options, and terms to reach the most satisfactory conclusion. When the
departure is voluntary, there is an implication that the employer is given the opportunity
to clarify the reasons for the employee’s decision to leave the job. In an involuntary
departure, it implies that the employee is given the opportunity to learn the causes and
reasons for the company’s decision and any possible implications for the future (for
example, what type of references the employee may expect to receive, any outplace-
ment assistance or continuation of certain benefits, effective date, severance payment,
remaining vacation entitlement, transfer of insurance coverage or pension funds, etc.).
In both cases, the employer and the employee should both have the opportunity to
explore and exchange information for mutual understanding of the terms, conditions,
and any possible options.

This handout reviews some general aspects and specific characteristics of exit inter-
views. The ideal outcome is to reach the most satisfactory conclusion possible of a
working relationship, given all the factors and circumstances involved.

In today’s workplace, where nothing is permanent and the only constant is change,
leaving a company is becoming more common. New employment trends are toward
independence, self-development, self-sufficiency, freelancing, cottage industries, project
assignments, and term contracts. Companies rarely promise, and employees less
frequently expect, a life-long commitment to employment. However, the effective
manager and enlightened supervisor must not ignore the fact that a separation, even
when planned, desired, and expected, represents breaking a link or a bond. It can,
therefore, be a highly sensitive, stressful event.

Even when retirement is anticipated, carefully prepared through company-sponsored
workshops and initiated through the ritual ceremonies of farewell dinners, speeches,
toasts, and gold watches, it is still a traumatic shock to the system. It is a lesser shock
certainly than other types of “separations,” and with diminished reactions of denial,
bargaining, anger, and reluctant acceptance, but a real shock just the same. Countless
stories abound of people who could not adjust to this change after a lifetime of faithful
service, relating at least part of their identities to their jobs. The exit interview requires
careful, thoughtful preparation and sensitivity to the underlying issues.

When separation is sudden, unexpected, and misunderstood, such as in cases of invol-
untary termination or dismissal, layoffs, or company closure, the shock and trauma are
of far greater magnitude. Managers must then be prepared to deal with the emotional
reactions, the protesting or denial, the attempt at bargaining or renegotiating “another
chance” before resigned acceptance of the fact. The person is reacting to a break in a


                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               243
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
       Handout E.1a (continued)


link—the disintegration of a relationship, which may appear to be no more than a
monetary link and source of financial security. Nevertheless, this is a human reflex of
resisting change, reacting to uncertainty in the future and fear of the unknown.
The response is likely to be the same as in the breaking of a human bond, such as
bereavement or divorce. The interviewer must be aware of this and be able to provide
support and information to reduce uncertainty about the future (possibly including coun-
seling, as described in Part C).

The shock is real and usually directly proportionate to the lack of preparation and
expectation. There is more shock related to a sudden, accidental death than to one that
has been slowly prepared for over time. The grieving process we must go through over
the loss of a loved one is similar to the grieving reaction we experience over the disin-
tegration of a relationship. When a marriage or a close friendship falls apart, we also
experience an emotional reaction. As in a work situation, the reaction can be one of
euphoric relief or trauma. We find ourselves rejected by the other person or by the com-
pany and consider this a failure, feeling shame and self-doubt, and trying to explain
where it went wrong, whose fault it is, and who is to blame. The interviewer must take
the blame off the person and clarify that the situation is due to conflicting or diverging
individual and organizational goals, or a mismatch between the job’s requirements and
the individual’s strengths and skills.

Separation is often a serious blow to people’s self-esteem. In many cultures and social
strata, self-image is related to the job, income, and lifestyle. The loss of these can be
damaging, even for the most hardened or outwardly confident person. While a person
needs to know and understand the reasons, the interviewer can avoid prolonging the
denial of the situation or contesting the facts by helping the person direct the conver-
sation from a review of past history to planning for the future. Here again, information
should be given about termination benefits and what help the company can give toward
finding new employment.

Confronting people with their inadequacies is often personally painful. Other sections of
this book cover interviews relating to performance evaluation, counseling, or disciplinary
interviews. These may also be situations where the manager or supervisor has to give
negative feedback or criticism of inadequate performance or unacceptable behavior.
The temptation to avoid conflict frequently leads the supervisor to do a superficial, non-
evaluative appraisal. Likewise, the real need for counseling may be overlooked to avoid
confrontation.

Procrastination in taking corrective disciplinary action, shallow or superficial counseling,
and a lack of negative or “change” feedback will inevitably lead the manager or supervi-
sor to spend more time in unpleasant dismissal interviews. Perhaps no other aspect of
the working relationship is so full of emotion, tension, and potential misunderstanding as
the moment when a manager has to dismiss someone.



244                  Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                        Handout E.1a (concluded)


When the decision has come to separate, the manager must face the responsibility of
discussing the facts, reasons, and future with the employee. Because of the potential for
emotion and tension, this is generally done in a one-to-one interview. In certain circum-
stances, where legal or procedural issues are involved, a third party may be required,
such as a trade union or Human Resources representative, or even a legal advisor. A
Human Resources representative may also be helpful in clarifying the dismissal pack-
age or where personal problems, hardship, and stress are important issues.

There should be a balance between giving information:

    •   Clarifying the facts of the situation (the decision)

    •   Explaining the reasons or the causes behind the decision

    •   Discussing the future conditions (details of separation payment, any terms and
        conditions, transfer of benefits, final date, providing references, outplacement
        assistance, etc.)

and gathering information:

    •   Checking the employee’s understanding and acceptance of the situation and
        the reasons for the decision

    •   Exploring the employee’s reasons for leaving and his or her observations about
        the job, the company, and the environment (particularly in resignation or volun-
        tary retirement)

    •   Listening to any other issues or lingering concerns

The interviewer needs to remain calm and not get caught up in any emotional reaction
or contradictory argument. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on the past or
trying to attribute blame to anyone, including third parties. The divorce courts have an
expression that says it well: “No fault divorce.” It is best to strive for an acceptance of
the reality of the situation and look to the future on amicable terms. A constructive con-
clusion cannot be built on enmity or vindictiveness.

The interviewer must pay attention to clarity to preclude any possible misunderstanding
or potential problems. The interviewer needs to exercise empathy and use active
listening to verify complete understanding by the employee and to appreciate the
employee’s perception of future plans.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            245
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                     Handout E.1b

EXIT INTERVIEW OBSERVATION GUIDE
Interviewer                                           Role Play
Observer                                              Date

                                                  Observed                      Comments

1. Preparation



2. Opening
   Setting the scene and climate.



3. Information Giving and
   Gathering
   Confirm decision. Establishing
   reasons. Establishing perceptions and
   any needs.
4. Skills
   Open-ended and probing questions,
   listening, summarizing.


5. Flow
   Control, pace, verbal and nonverbal
   behavior.


6. Closure
   Summarize interview and any agreed
   to next steps.


7. Decision Making and
   Follow-up
   Record interview and decision. Correct
   level of action taken?


                                         Giving Feedback
                Immediate:    Give feedback as soon as possible after the event.
                   Impact:    Focus the impact on you; don’t guess at the intention.
                 Personal:    Give your own feedback; don’t guess how others reacted.
               Descriptive:   Describe what happened; don’t make judgments.


                       Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             247
              Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
21       Terminating Employment

Trainer Guidance
This exit interview takes place between a manager and a female subordinate, one-to-
one. The manager has made a decision to eliminate the administrative assistant posi-
tion, so the purpose of the interview is to give the information: the facts, the reasons,
and information about possible future plans. It is not a counseling interview (see Role
Play 11).

The role plays describe the situation from both sides and no further materials or infor-
mation should be needed. The interviewer and interviewee may supplement the infor-
mation given by personal data to amplify the case, and refer to their organization’s
policy or procedure guidelines, where appropriate, when positions are eliminated.

Among the points to watch for in this role play is the clear intention of the manager to
treat the employee with respect and deference. In fact, there is a considerable amount
of regret and discomfort on the part of the manager who has put off execution of this
decision for several weeks.

The interviewee may not hear the information as intended, nor perceive the manager’s
concern and solicitude, due to the shock of the situation. In feedback, it would be useful
to check the amount of information received by the interviewee and the level of under-
standing. Often, she will have totally misheard the content of the interview and misread
the context. The interviewee is unwittingly practicing a form of “selective listening” con-
ditioned by her perception of the situation.

The interviewer should show empathy, but be aware of the real possibility of not
appearing to be genuine (again because of the employee’s prejudged conclusion of
what was about to happen).

Also be aware of the possibility of a gender discrimination claim that could be filed
against the manager because of the employee’s physical condition (pregnancy).


Materials Required
    1. Handout 21.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 21.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout E.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout E.1b for each observer (if required).


                                                                                        249
                                                                Handout 21.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Your company has some financial problems and needs to make some cutbacks. It has
been decided to make a reduction in administrative overhead costs. The logical choice,
although you don’t like it, is to let your administrative assistant go. You operate a small
consulting organization, and the only other option that will reduce costs is to cease
operating in some areas. You are considering this as an option, but it will have the effect
of reducing income further.

Robin has been working for you for the last 12 months, and is four months pregnant.
She has been told by her doctor to try to do less, but has a desire to keep active and
continue working throughout and after the pregnancy.

There have been some problems in work priorities and clashes of personality in the
small office environment. These have arisen when she has been trying to make
improvements that do not fit in with established operations. However, you are happy
with the standard and output of work she produces, particularly when closely defined
and guided by fixed limits.

Reluctantly, you have finally decided to eliminate her position. She was the last person
to be employed and the only one in an administrative assistant position. The other staff
remaining in the office will have to pick up some of the work, but because part of their
time is directly billable to clients, you will have reduced the fixed overhead costs.

You have a further offer that will hopefully soften the news. You can offer her some
freelance work on other projects that she can do at home, while waiting for the baby.
You are willing to lend her a computer to do this work. If things pick up a bit, there is a
good possibility that this freelance work could continue after the baby is born, and it
would be good for you to have part-time availability of someone who knows the busi-
ness and the routines.

You are dreading the interview with her and have been putting it off for several weeks.
There is no other way, and you have tried every other possible solution.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             251
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                              Handout 21.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY: ROBIN TROTTER
The company you work for has some financial problems, and you are aware of these
from general comments made by your colleagues in the small office in which you work.
Since joining the company about a year ago, you have constantly suggested ways the
company can save money and be more efficient by letting you do things differently. But
people don’t always listen. Even when they do, they don’t really understand and are not
prepared to make the necessary investments.

You are four months pregnant and have been told by your doctor to try to take it easy.
Your doctor is concerned because you had a previous miscarriage. The advice is easier
said than done. You need the money and you would go crazy if you had to sit around at
home with your feet up all day. You have always been busy and employed. You really
crave the social contact and the satisfaction of getting things done. There is no one to
talk to in your neighborhood during the day and your family is in another town. Your
husband travels in his job, and is often away for weeks at a time.

You want to continue working throughout and after your pregnancy. The job can be
frustrating, but it’s interesting, varied, challenging, and fun. There have been some
problems with the owner of the business over setting work priorities—he doesn’t always
see that you are trying to help by making things more efficient. You have recently had a
couple of arguments about the systems and procedures.

Your job is essential to the business; someone has to do the administrative work and
everyone else is busy.

You have thought of leaving before because of the frustration, but the people are like-
able, friendly, and very supportive. Now is definitely not the time to leave a job because
you are pregnant and no one would hire you now.

Your boss has just asked you to see him privately. You are afraid you are going to be
dismissed because of the disruption he says you are causing by wanting to make
changes in the office systems.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            253
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
22        Resignation

Trainer Guidance
The individual concerned has made the decision to resign, so this is an obtaining infor-
mation interview, not an attempt to give information and try to persuade the person to
change his or her mind.

The emphasis here will be to explore the reasons behind the individual’s decision, to
clarify his or her motivation, and understand the real reasons for leaving. If this person
is honest and forthright, it will enable the interviewer to gather information that could be
helpful in determining possible corporate policy changes to keep other key staff from
leaving.

The interviewer should use active listening techniques and probing questions with
empathy to try to see things from the other person’s perspective.

The role plays can be expanded upon by the players, and their organizational structure,
policies, and procedures may be used to amplify certain points. It should be a positive,
constructive discussion aimed at the individual leaving the organization on good terms.
The interviewer should not be hypercritical for the sake of getting even or settling old
scores.

The interviewer may not be prepared to hear all the information available, due to a cer-
tain amount of personal bias based on assumptions and perceptions of the motivation
for leaving. Feedback and review can therefore focus on the risks of listening filters and
blocks to understanding that occur when we base our plans on inference and assump-
tion.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 22.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 22.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout E.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout E.1b for each observer (if required).




                                                                                         255
                                                                Handout 22.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
One of your key staff has resigned to join another company for a similar job. You need
to find out what the reasons for his/her decision are so that you can try to prevent others
from leaving. It is more difficult to get staff with these skills, and a number of people
have left in recent months.

You want to understand this person’s motivation to leave to help you decide whether or
not to revise corporate policy before the business begins to suffer.

You are personally convinced that it is purely money that is causing the staff to leave,
although the amounts quoted in the job advertisements you monitor regularly and your
networks indicate that your compensation levels are still competitive, although at the
lower end of the range.

You have put off revising your salary scales to keep your cost structure competitive,
particularly in light of the complications and new costs arising from the staff turnover.

However, it may now be time to take some action if yet another person confirms he or
she is leaving for more money.

You want to ask questions to get to the heart of the matter and listen carefully to obtain
the information you need to know to resolve this potential crisis.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by                257
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                              Handout 22.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have resigned and are leaving for another job. The new job pays a bit more money,
but the true reason for going is that the other company is offering greater opportunities
for responsibility, advancement, and training. You were a bit skeptical about this, but the
company actually showed you a career path planning system it uses and some exam-
ples of people with similar qualifications to yours who are advancing in their careers.
Your present company truly manages its system.

It also has in-house training for its employees with a regular schedule of training and
development courses. Training and development needs are identified and given priori-
ties for employees at their annual performance review. The manager has to sign an
approval of these priorities and, in actual practice, the average employee attends two
courses a year. That is what attracts you to the new company: it practices what it
preaches and a person has the chance to develop to his or her limits.

If you stayed with your present company, you might never have a clue what your limits
are. As far as your boss is concerned, you have probably reached them already.

That has been your frustration. You have consistently requested greater responsibilities,
training, and advancement opportunities in your current job, but your boss has never
listened to you. The immediate assumption is that any request to do something different
is a direct attack on his/her management ability and that you are just seeking more
money in another direction.

You are going to have your exit interview with your ex-boss. He/she will want to know
how much more money you will be getting in the new job.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            259
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
23       Voluntary Early Retirement

Trainer Guidance
This role play takes place between the manager of a department and an older person in
a support position. The department head is faced with the obligation to reduce the head
count before year’s end and believes that the older employee should be interested in
the company’s generous package for voluntary early retirement.

The employee, being of the right age and level of service, could qualify for the package,
but has not given it any thought or consideration since he/she has substantial financial
obligations.

The manager has found a seemingly easy solution to get a head count reduction and
will interview the employee to explore his/her reaction to the possibility.

This is essentially an information-gathering interview, but the interviewer has a very
strong bias and personal interest to get the employee to accept the proposal.

Among the points to watch for is the projection of the interviewer’s strong bias. The
manager can give the impression through an assertive tone that the decision is already
made and the employee has no option but to accept. This can then appear to the
employee that he/she is effectively being dismissed.

The interviewer will have to use empathy and effective listening skills to be aware that
the employee may not even have considered the option. Having other priorities and
commitments, he/she may be shocked by the blunt proposal. The interviewer should
understand that security and financial obligations are the major concerns from the
employee’s perspective.

Participants may use personal details of hobbies or interests and company structure or
voluntary early retirement procedures for supplementary information.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 23.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 23.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout E.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout E.1b for each observer (if required).



                                                                                         261
                                                               Handout 23.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
The company is going through another exercise of cost reduction called “right-sizing” (it
has been called down-sizing for the past two years running). You have been informed
that you need to reduce the head count in the current financial year by two support
persons.

There is a very attractive voluntary early retirement package that gives maximum bene-
fits to people over 55 years of age with more than 25 years of service.

One member of your support staff has completed 27 years of service and is 55 years of
age. It would be an ideal solution for you if that person took the voluntary early retire-
ment package. To you, there is no reason why he/she shouldn’t be interested.

Everyone knows about this voluntary early retirement package because it has been in
place for about three years. In times of need, it has been an easy way to reduce head
count without transgressing the company’s proud old policy of guaranteed employment.
It has worked well and there is usually many people volunteering to take the terms. In
fact, you have already indicated to your boss that you would like to volunteer for this
package in a couple of years yourself. It will be the perfect opportunity to open that
antique shop by the coast and have time to write some business manuals.

You are going to talk to this one eligible individual in the team to explain what the pack-
age could mean to him/her and find out why he/she hasn’t volunteered already. Then all
you have to do is fix a date before the end of the current year. It should simply be a
matter of asking a few questions to make sure he/she has understood all the benefits of
the package. You are quite pleased to have found such an easy solution—at least for
one head.

Once that is settled, you can then concentrate on how to reduce the other head.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            263
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                                 Handout 23.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
You have been with the company for about 27 years. It’s hard to believe how time has
flown. You find it hard to imagine that you could have turned 55 this year. It seems like
only yesterday that you were worrying about what it meant to reach 40. Several of your
friends and colleagues who were around to celebrate that birthday have left. But, no
matter, you’re still fit as a fiddle and going strong.

The company has a very attractive voluntary early retirement package that is particularly
beneficial for people over 55 years of age and with more than 25 years of service. That
explains where most of the folks who were around in the old days have gone. They’re
all traveling now, golfing, and looking after the strawberries and the roses.

You haven’t given any thought to the package yourself, because you are not interested
in retiring just yet. Even if you wanted to leave or retire, you can’t afford to consider it
now. You started a family fairly late in life and your oldest child is only just starting a job
and becoming independent. Your middle child is just finishing college, and the third child
is about to start college next fall. There will be quite a financial commitment for at least
the next three years. Then you’ll see what you want to do.

Meanwhile, the boss wants to see you about something.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by               265
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
24        Dismissal

Trainer Guidance
This role play takes place between a Human Resources manager and a young man-
agement trainee.

The trainee has not performed adequately or consistently in three different assignments
over 18 months and has been absent or ill excessively in recent weeks. He/she is con-
stantly asking for recognition of superior talent and abilities; however, he/she does not
understand that there will not be greater responsibilities assigned until the small jobs
are completed satisfactorily.

A decision has been made to dismiss the trainee. Because there are indications of
potentially serious social and attitude problems and the individual is leaving the third
employer in less than five years, there is an option in the interviewer role to offer exter-
nal counseling services.

This is an information-giving case and the interviewer has to inform the employee of the
facts, reasons, and proposed actions for the future.

It is important that the interviewer verify the trainee’s understanding of the situation,
what has happened, and what will happen in the coming weeks. The only information to
obtain is confirmation of this understanding. It appears that there has not been under-
standing of the warnings and coaching given at monthly review meetings. The inter-
viewer may perceive that the trainee will be expecting a dismissal interview due to the
“warning” issued at the last meeting. The attitude of the trainee has been to ignore
these warnings and continue the inappropriate behavior.

The interviewer should be empathetic, but should avoid getting caught up in the inter-
viewee’s tendency toward a self-pitying, victim role. The interviewer has made several
attempts in the past to help the trainee see the problems and may react to an emotional
outburst with anger and frustration.


Materials Required
    1. Handout 24.1 for the Interviewer.
    2. Handout 24.2 for the Interviewee.
    3. Handout E.1a for each participant.
    4. Handout E.1b for each observer (if required).


                                                                                          267
                                                               Handout 24.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
You personally hired this employee as a management trainee some 18 months ago
thinking that there was some high-level potential that had not been developed thus far.
The trainee has superior intelligence, good interpersonal skills, facility in several lan-
guages, and the ability to learn and adapt to new situations rapidly. There were also
signs of potential problems—dropping out of college because of drug and alcohol
problems, an early marriage and twin children, and previous work experience as a shop
assistant and shipping clerk. However, you saw the potential and were willing to take a
chance.

The training period would be an opportunity to demonstrate that a change was possible.
This period would provide the trainee with the opportunity to work as an assistant to
managers or professionals who could be mentors. The opportunity was seen as that,
and the individual was grateful for the chance to prove his/her ability.

This worked satisfactorily for a few months. The trainee then became bored, and told
anyone who would listen about his/her potential of being a brilliant marketing manager.
Work began to deteriorate. A second more challenging position was found in market-
ing/sales support and the same pattern was repeated. The trainee is now with a third
mentor and is again proclaiming loudly that superior potential is not being recognized.

The trainee has begun to call in sick on Mondays and Fridays over the past few weeks
and has been reported drinking heavily on trips to trade shows out of town. The clam-
oring for recognition and greater responsibility has begun again. The third mentor is
asking for the trainee to be transferred elsewhere.

You have decided there is no other solution than dismissal. You feel personally angry,
bitter, and deceived at having invested so much time and energy in this person. You
met every month to review progress and have tried to help the person understand what
had to be learned. You have repeatedly defended the person every time there was a
crisis, while warning that an improvement in behavior was necessary. At the last discus-
sion, you gave a final warning.

Now, with regret, you believe external professional counseling for the various problems
is the only solution you can offer, and that will need to be after the dismissal has taken
place.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by            269
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                              Handout 24.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
The company has given you a chance by moving you from a dead-end job as a shipping
clerk to a management trainee. They have said that you would have to spend about
three years as a trainee working with managers or professionals in marketing and sales
jobs to learn the basics of the business and prove yourself since you don’t have a
degree.

You had to drop out of college after some drug and alcohol problems that started when
your parents were divorcing. Immediately after your recovery, you married and had
twins—instant family and instant responsibilities. You took any job you could find to
make money for the family budget—first as a store assistant selling guitars and then as
a shipping clerk in a warehouse.

The trainee position is a good start in something more stable, but you get bored quickly
with the mundane jobs like delivering boxes to display shows in smaller towns. You
know you have a brilliant mind for marketing; why don’t they give you a chance? You
even went up to the vice president of Marketing at the Christmas party to introduce
yourself and tell him you had some ideas to share, with no effect.

The Human Resources manager who hired you keeps telling you to learn the basics
and to be less forceful. You meet every month for a review, and one is due now. Being
in Human Resources, he/she does not understand what it is like traveling to trade
shows and living in hotels. At the last discussion, there was even talk about reviewing
your continued position with the company.

Sometimes you’re so bored you want to leave, but it’s been almost six months in the
current position, so it’s time for a change. Hopefully the next assignment will be less
boring. If only they’d make you a Branch Manager now, you could show what you’re
worth. Meanwhile you just drink yourself to sleep in hotels and take a few days off sick.
The marriage is also beginning to break up—the family is becoming impatient too.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by           271
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
25       Closure/Relocation of Business

Trainer Guidance
This interview would normally take place on a one-to-one basis, between a department
head and a member of staff. It may be possible to include a person from the Human
Resources Department to make up a panel. This would imply the need to clarify roles
and responsibilities of panel members.

The objective is an exchange of information, following the decision to close down and
move to a new location. The interviewer must give full information about the new loca-
tion and the terms offered for relocation, as well as an explanation of the settlement
package for those who choose not to move. The interviewer also needs to get full infor-
mation on the interviewee’s position, his or her willingness to move or wish to stay, and
on what terms.

The interviewer must be clear in giving the details about the two options so that the
interviewee can make an informed decision.

It is also necessary to listen carefully to the interviewee’s reactions and responses,
using clarifying questions, paraphrasing, and summarizing to ensure precise under-
standing of the interviewee’s desire to relocate or acceptance to leave the company,
and under what terms and conditions.

The interviewer must strive to keep an objective, but empathetic attitude. If the inter-
viewer appears to favor one or the other solutions (oversell or undersell the relocation),
it may unduly influence the interviewee to make a decision that would be neither in the
employee’s nor the organization’s interest.

Feedback should be directed to the balance between giving and gathering information
and a balanced presentation of the options. The interviewee should be questioned
during the review on whether any pressure was felt to adopt either one of the solutions.

Participants may need to include personal data or organization information to elaborate
on the roles.




                                                                                         273
25 Role Plays for Interview Training


Materials Required
      1. Handout 25.1 for the Interviewer.
      2. Handout 25.2 for the Interviewee.
      3. Handout E.1a for each participant.
      4. Handout E.1b for each observer (if required).




274
                                                                Handout 25.1

INTERVIEWER’S ROLE PLAY
Your company has been taken over by another company, and in the new organization,
the location for which you are responsible is to be closed. All the staff are to be offered
two choices: relocate to a new site or leave the company with minimum severance
payments based on years of service.
You have a very loyal and hard-working team, one that is also tied to the history of the
company and the local area. The company has been here for generations and it has
become a matter of pride for families to have been associated with it.
The interviewee you will be meeting is typical of the staff that you have to see to com-
municate the bad news. You have decided to meet people individually and present the
case to each person. This will enable each one to make a decision based on his or her
individual perceptions and situations.
You would dearly like to try to influence all of them to come to the new site. You might
be able to apply added pressure if you met with them all as a group, but you want to
avoid that. It is important for each to weigh the alternatives and make his or her own
decision. That will also be in the organization’s best interests.
You are determined to present the options fairly and objectively so that no one will make
a choice, under undue pressure, that they could regret and want to change later.
Neither the individual nor the organization would be well served by such an outcome.
Meanwhile, you are being pressured by the head office for some early feedback on the
likely decisions so that they can start to plan numbers and budgets.




                     Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by             275
            Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993
                                                             Handout 25.2

INTERVIEWEE’S ROLE PLAY
Your company has been taken over, and there are rumors that the new organization is
going to close the location where you have worked all your life.

If you had to leave the company, then you would hope to get more than a minimum
severance payment. There have been many closures in the area recently, most with
rather generous payments. With all these closures, the job market is not very good, so
some money would be needed to cover the time it will take to find new employment.

You are a very loyal and hard working person. You have always worked for the
company, as has your father, two uncles, and one sister. Your son works here during
vacations and was hoping to get an accounting job when he graduates next year.

You are closely integrated into the local area—it has always been your home. You
cannot imagine moving to a new location, but you would consider it if you had confi-
dence that the new organization was trustworthy. It would have to have the same sort of
feeling as the current location, the one you have always known.

The boss has asked to see each person individually, at which time you expect to hear
the news. You want to listen very carefully to understand what will be proposed. They
will probably give you some time to think it over before you have to decide.




                    Reproduced from 25 Role Plays for Interview Training by         277
           Geof Cox and Chuck Dufault, HRD Press, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1993

				
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