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Source: General Services Administration
Sales ability is required to succeed in personnel supply services firms, where
most employment interviewers are found.
Employment growth reflects expansion of personnel supply—particularly
Nature of the Work
Whether you are looking for a job or trying to fill one, you could find
yourself turning to an employment interviewer for help. Sometimes called
personnel consultants, human resources coordinators, personnel development
specialists, or employment brokers, among other job titles, these workers help
jobseekers find employment and help employers find qualified employees.
Working largely in private personnel supply firms or State employment security
offices (also known as job or employment service centers), employment
interviewers act as brokers, putting together the best combination of
applicant and job. To accomplish this, they obtain information from employers
as well as jobseekers.
A private industry employment interviewer is a salesperson. Counselors pool
together a group of qualified applicants and try to sell them to many
different companies. Often a consultant will call a company that has never
been a client (cold-calling) with the aim of filling their employment needs.
Employers generally pay private (but not public) agencies to recruit workers.
The employer places a "job order" with the agency describing the
opening and listing requirements such as education, licenses or credentials,
and experience. Employment interviewers often contact the employer to
determine their exact personnel needs. Jobseekers are asked to fill out forms
or present resumes that detail their education, experience, and other
qualifications. They may be interviewed or tested and have their background,
references, and credentials checked. The employment interviewer then reviews
the job requirements and the jobseeker qualifications to determine the best
possible match of position and applicant. Although computers are increasingly
used to keep records and match employers with jobseekers, personal contact
with an employment interviewer remains an essential part of an applicant's job
Maintaining good relations with employers is an important part of the
employment interviewer's job because this helps assure a steady flow of job
orders. Being prepared to fill an opening quickly with a qualified applicant
impresses employers most and keeps them as clients.
Besides helping firms fill job openings, employment interviewers help
individuals find jobs. The services they provide depend upon the company or
type of agency they work for and the clientele it serves.
Employment interviewers in personnel supply firms who place permanent
employees are generally called counselors. They usually place job applicants
who have the right qualifications but lack knowledge of the job market for
their desired position. Counselors in these firms offer tips on personal
appearance, suggestions on presenting a positive image of oneself, background
on the company with which an interview is scheduled, and recommendations about
interviewing techniques. Many firms specialize in placing applicants in
particular kinds of jobs—for example, secretarial, word processing, computer
programming and computer systems analysis, engineering, accounting, law, or
health. Counselors in such firms usually have 3 to 5 years of experience in
the field into which they are placing applicants.
Some employment interviewers work in temporary help services companies. These
companies send out their own employees to firms that need temporary help.
Employment interviewers take job orders from client firms and match their
requests against a list of available workers. Employment interviewers select
the best qualified workers available and assign them to the firms requiring
assistance. Sometimes employees placed with companies as temporaries are later
hired as permanent employees.
Traditionally, firms that placed permanent employees usually dealt with highly
skilled applicants, such as lawyers or accountants, and those placing
temporary employees dealt with less skilled workers, such as secretaries or
data entry operators. However, temporary help services increasingly place
workers with a wide range of educational backgrounds and work experience;
businesses are turning to temporary employees to fill all types of
positions—from clerical to managerial, professional, and technical—to
reduce costs of pay and benefits associated with hiring permanent employees.
Regular evaluation of employee job skills is an important part of the job for
those interviewers working in temporary help services companies. Initially,
interviewers evaluate or test new employees' skills to determine their
abilities and weaknesses. The results, which are kept on file, are referred to
when filling job orders. In some cases, the temporary help company will train
employees to improve their skills. Periodically, the interviewer may
reevaluate or retest employees to identify any new skills they may have
The duties of employment interviewers in job service centers differ somewhat
because applicants may lack marketable skills. In these centers, jobseekers
present resumes and fill out forms that ask about educational attainment, job
history, skills, awards, certificates, and licenses. An employment interviewer
reviews these forms and asks the applicant about the type of job sought and
salary range desired. Applicants sometimes have exaggerated expectations.
Employment interviewers must be tactful, but persuasive, if an applicant's job
or salary requests are unreasonable.
Applicants may need help identifying the kind of work for which they are best
suited. The employment interviewer evaluates the applicant's qualifications
and either chooses an appropriate occupation or class of occupations, or
refers the applicant for vocational testing.
After identifying an appropriate job type, the employment interviewer searches
the file of job orders seeking a possible job match, and refers the applicant
to the employer if a match is found. If no match is found, the interviewer
shows the applicant how to use listings of available jobs.
Some applicants are high school dropouts or have poor English language skills,
a history of drug or alcohol dependency, or a prison record, among other
problems. The amount and nature of special help for such applicants vary from
State to State. In some States, it is the employment interviewer's
responsibility to counsel hard-to-place applicants and refer them elsewhere
for literacy or language instruction, vocational training, transportation
assistance, child care, and other services. In other States, specially trained
counselors perform this task.
Employment interviewers usually work in comfortable, well-lighted offices,
often using a computer to match information about employers and jobseekers.
Some interviewers, however, may spend much of their time out of the office
interviewing. The work can prove hectic, especially in temporary help service
companies which supply clients with immediate help for short periods of time.
Some overtime may be required, and temporary workers may need their own
transportation to make employer visits. The private placement industry is
competitive, so counselors feel pressed to give their client companies the
Employment interviewers held about 87,000 jobs in 1996. About 4 out of 5
worked in the private sector for personnel supply services, generally for
employment placement firms or temporary help services companies. About 1 out
of 5 worked for State or local government. Others were employed by
organizations that provide various services, such as job training and
Employees of career consulting or outplacement firms are not included in these
estimates. Workers in these firms help clients market themselves; they do not
act as job brokers, nor do they match individuals with particular vacancies.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Although most public and private agencies prefer to hire college graduates
for interviewer jobs, a degree is not always necessary. Hiring requirements in
the private sector reflect a firm's management approach as well as the
placements in which its interviewers specialize. Those that place highly
trained individuals such as accountants, lawyers, engineers, physicians, or
managers generally have some training or experience in the field in which they
are placing workers. Thus, a bachelor's, master's, or even a doctoral degree
may be a prerequisite for some interviewers. Even with the right education,
however, sales ability is still required to succeed in the private sector.
Educational requirements play a lesser role for interviewers placing clerks or
laborers—a high school diploma may be sufficient. In these positions,
qualities such as energy level, telephone voice, and sales ability take
precedence over educational attainment.
Entry-level employment interviewer positions in the public sector are
generally filled by college graduates, even though the positions do not always
require a bachelor's degree. Some States allow substitution of suitable work
experience for college education. Suitable work experience is generally
defined as public contact work or time spent at other jobs (including clerical
jobs) in a job service office. In States that permit employment interviewers
to engage in counseling, course work in counseling may be required.
Most States and many large city and county governments use some form of merit
system for hiring interviewers. Applicants may take a written exam, undergo a
preliminary interview, or submit records of their education and experience for
evaluation. Those who meet the standards are placed on a list from which the
top-ranked candidates are selected for later interviews and possible hiring.
Other desirable qualifications for employment interviewers include good
communications skills, a desire to help people, office skills, and
adaptability. A friendly, confidence-winning manner is an asset because
personal interaction plays a large role in this occupation. Increasingly,
employment interviewers use computers as a tool; thus, basic knowledge of
computers is helpful.
Advancement as an employment interviewer in the public sector is often based
on a system providing regular promotions and salary increases for those
meeting established standards. Advancement to supervisory positions is highly
competitive. In personnel supply firms, advancement often depends on one's
success in placing workers and generally takes the form of greater
responsibility and higher income. Successful individuals may form their own
Employment in this occupation is expected to grow about as fast as the
average for all occupations through the year 2006. The majority of new jobs
will arise in personnel supply firms, especially those specializing in
temporary help. Job growth is not anticipated in State job service offices
because of budgetary problems and the growing use of computerized job matching
and information systems, and as States increasingly contract out employment
services to private firms. Other openings will stem from the need to replace
experienced interviewers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or stop
working for other reasons.
Rapid expansion of firms supplying temporary help will be responsible for much
of the growth in this occupation. Businesses of all types are turning to
temporary help services companies for additional workers for handling
short-term assignments or one-time projects, for launching new programs, and
to reduce costs of pay and benefits associated with hiring permanent
Expansion of the personnel supply industry, in general, will also spur job
growth. Job orders will increase as the economy expands and new businesses are
formed; this is expected to heighten demand for employment interviewers. Firms
that lack the time or resources to develop their own screening procedures will
likely turn to personnel firms.
Employment opportunities should be better in private placement firms than in
State job service centers. Entry to this occupation is relatively easy for
college graduates, or people who have had some college courses, except in
those positions specializing in placement of workers with highly specialized
training, such as lawyers, doctors, and engineers.
Employment interviewers who place permanent workers may lose their jobs during
recessions because employers reduce or eliminate hiring for permanent
positions during downturns in the economy. State job service employment
interviewers are less susceptible to layoffs than those who place permanent or
temporary personnel in the private sector.
Earnings in private firms vary, in part, because the basis for compensation
varies. Workers in personnel supply firms tend to be paid on a commission
basis; those in temporary help service companies receive a salary.
When workers are paid on a commission basis (or salary plus commission), total
earnings depend on how much business they bring in. This is usually based on
the type as well as the number of placements. Those who place more highly
skilled or hard-to-find employees earn more. An interviewer or counselor
working strictly on a commission basis often makes around 30 percent of what
he or she bills the client, although this varies widely from firm to firm.
Some work on a salary-plus-commission basis because they fill difficult or
highly specialized positions requiring long periods of search. The salary,
usually small by normal standards, guarantees these individuals security
through slow times. The commission provides the incentive and opportunity for
Some personnel supply firms employ new workers for a 2- to 3-month
probationary period during which they draw a regular salary. This gives new
workers time to develop their skills and acquire some clients. At the end of
the probationary period, the new employees are evaluated, and they are either
let go or switched to a commission basis.
Employment interviewers serve as intermediaries for jobseekers and
employers. Workers in several other occupations do similar jobs.
Personnel officers screen and help hire new employees, but they concern
themselves mainly with the hiring needs of the firm; they never represent
individual jobseekers. Personnel officers may also have additional duties in
areas such as payroll or benefits management.
Career counselors help students and alumni find jobs, but they primarily
emphasize career counseling and decision making, not placement.
Counselors in community organizations and vocational rehabilitation facilities
help clients find jobs, but they also assist with drug or alcohol
dependencies, housing, transportation, child care, and other problems that
stand in the way of finding and keeping a job.
Sources of Additional Information
For information on a career as an employment interviewer/counselor,
National Association of Personnel Services, 3133 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria,
National Association of Temporary Staffing Services, 119 S. Saint Asaph St.,
Alexandria, VA 22314. Homepage: http://www.natss.org
For information on a career as an employment interviewer in State employment
security offices, contact offices of the State government for which you are
interested in working.
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