Interviewer decision-making information processing by cognitively complex and cognitively simple raters
The advantages to decision making provided by a structured format in the selection interview has been generally acclaimed as beneficial (Hakeli, 1971; Wright, 1969). Many authorities who have studied the selection interview have argued for the use of some type of form or external guide for the interviewer to guide his evaluation. Alternately, cognitive.complexity is a theoretical concept that represents individuals' ability to conceptually structure situations into few to many dimensions. Specifically, in interpersonal situations cognitively complex raters are said to sort gathered information about another person into several to many dimensions or factors. Using the same individual as a target, the cognitively simple raters are said to conceptualize only along few dimensions. Cognitively simple raters have been studied evaluating targets in a global manner or under the influence of halo. Research investigating the selection interview and cognitive complexity converge over the issue of structure: the interview literature supporting the use of extrinsic formats, complexity literature supporting the intrinsic structuring abilities of raters. In order to assess the importance of cognitive abilities in making interview judgments, complexity was studied in a selection interview situation using hypothetical subject stimuli. A combined sample of 346 subjects were measured on complexity. These subjects received an applicant's resume and listened to an audio recording of the person being interviewed for a management position. Several variables were constructed from each subject's evaluation of the applicant. These variables provided the means to evaluate the effects of complexity in a selection interview. Generally, results showed that cognitively complex (CC) raters evaluate using more dimensions than the cognitively simple (CS) raters. Support was found showing that CC raters were less influenced by halo effects. Accuracy of evaluation was also of primary importance. Because of the low agreement among the experts conclusions in this area were inappropriate. However, ths untrained experimental groups did show a profile more similar to one another than to the expert profile. Additionally, the agreement of CC and CS raters within their respective groups was studied. Some support was found indicating CC raters display more interrater agreement than CS raters. The benefits of cognitive complexity were discussed and suggestions for interviewer selection and or training were made. The CC rater does seem to better structure the situation as requested by interviewing authorities.