"Culture"-The elephant in the room in structured behavioral selection interview

Choon Hwa Lim, Meena Chavan, Christopher Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In spite of the popularity of the structured behavioral selection (SBS) interview in the candidate selection process, little is known about its suitability in an intercultural context. Informed by attribution theory and analyzed through an inductive qualitative approach the study calls into question the suitability of the SBS interview as a means of recruiting candidates from another culture. The research presents the findings from a study of 11 job interviews for entry-level positions in an Australian financial institution. A total of 11 live interviews, 11 candidate debriefs and 12 interviewer debriefs were recorded and analyzed to identify the significant factors that impacted the outcomes in an intercultural SBS interview. The major findings highlight the imperceptible impact of culture on candidates' performance, and the obliviousness of interviewers to this phenomenon of "culture" and its effect on the interview outcome. The interview debriefs identified differences in perceptions where interviewers attributed much of the successes and failures of candidates to internal factors whereas candidates attributed them to external factors. The findings indicate that the SBS interviews may not be as robust as many researchers claim because they tend to focus on required behavioral traits and characteristics essential for the job and do not have the mechanisms to identify these in the culturally coded candidates from another culture, thereby missing out on suitable candidates. The outcomes suggest the need for a cultural expert on the SBS interview panel and a hands on mechanism to test the job fit suitability of candidates from another culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014


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