An interview can sometimes be unsuccessful because of communication barriers. Do you agree/disagree?

An interview can sometimes be unsuccessful because of communication barriers. Do you agree/disagree?









An interview can sometimes be unsuccessful because of communication barriers. Do you agree/disagree?




















Effective communication is essential in any social settings. Communication is a phenomenon that is multifaceted that allows individuals to portray their feelings, thoughts and needs to others in a vivid manner. It constitutes the sending, receiving and understanding of information using diverse channels (Lunenburg, 2010, p. 1). Communication involves various elements such as the sender, receiver and the medium of communication. Lunenburg (2010, p. 2) explains that any hindrance to any of the elements involved in communication results in a decline in the quality of communication.  Truter (2006, p. 55) further explains that these communication interferences cause confusion and distortion of the communication process. In the most worst case, communication interferences may cause a total blockage of the communication process. According to Erven (2002), communication plays a critical role in situations such as how people interact, provision of instructions, motivation of individuals and influences and one’s interpersonal life. Erven further explains that communication plays a critical role in determining the effectiveness of the process of hiring of employees as well as other information seeking interviews. The existence of communication barriers can cause failure of an interview session. This paper considers the physical, psychological, cultural and semantic barriers as they are revealed in interview sessions and their effects on communication.

Interviews comprise various psychological and social conditions such as nervousness and fear that may result in declined communication effectiveness (Truter, 2006, p. 55). Psychosocial and social barriers primarily affect how a message is perceived due to their influence on nonverbal communication. Psychosocial barriers affect nonverbal communication in three ways. These include filtering, fields of experience and psychological distance. Lunenburg (2010, p. 5) explains that field of experience concerns with the needs, perception and expectations. In an interview, the interviewer and the interviewee have different fields of expectations. Overlap in these fields of experience translates to close-mindedness to either of the participants in an interview. Filtering refers to hearing or seeing only that which we are emotionally tuned in to hear or see due to personal interests and needs. Field of experience and filtering primarily affect a person’s guide to listening. Consequently, they affect the listening skills that hinders effective communication and thus compromising the process of interviews. Psychological distance concerns with the social differences such as the interviewee considering the interviewer as superior and hence feeling of being talked down. These effects of psychosocial barriers relate to listening skills and the rapport between the interviewer and the interviewee. Consequently, processes such as of seeking clarification of instructions and feedbacks are hindered and hence compromising with the course of an effective interview. Koneru (2006, p. 26) also accounts for the effect of attitude and timing as possible psychosocial barriers. Sands, Bourjolly and Roer-Strier, 2007, p. 366) account for adverse effects of improper timing during questioning of an interviewee. Often, participants fail to make proper timing during a conversation due to such as nervousness and fear.

There exist various physical barriers to communication. Physical barriers range from the physical environment to an individual’s physical state, For instance, some of the physical barriers that may interfere with communication include such as noise, body positions, cleanliness and note taking. Truter (2006, p. 55) explains that physical barriers interfere with the process of message transmission or even causes confusion to the receiver by creating conditions in which effective communication is difficult to attain. Moreover, the physical barrier may cause a person to conceal their ideas or thoughts. For instance, Quill (1989, p. 56) accounts for this fact in physician-patient interviews whereby patients fail to disclose information to their physicians due to discomfort, lack of safety and privacy. Note taking is a form of physical barrier. Note taking by interviewers may cause discomfort to the, often nervous, interviewees. Besides, meeting places influence comfort of both the interviewer and the interviewee. In case these actions cause any form of discomfort to either or both the interviewer and the interviewee, message distortion or transmission hindrance occurs. Consequently, listening skills are affected due to interference with the concentration (Erven, 2002). Telephone calls are some of the most disastrous physical barriers. Telephone calls during an interview session cause a communication barrier. Moreover, Truter (2006, p. 55) explains that phone calls can be used rudely in an interview session since one is likely to answer a call despite the importance of the conversation that was taking place causing disruption in communication which is the primary element in an interview.

Communication problems occur among people of the same as well as different cultures. These cultural barriers include such as lack of cultural sensitivity, judgmental attitudes and stereotyping. Sands, Bourjolly and Roer-Strier (2007, p. 354) account for the adverse effects of culture on interviews.  Sands and colleague state that culture may be perceived in the context of such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Cultural barrier is primarily conveyed in the form of stereotypes due to its effects on verbal patterns (Pfeiffer, 1973, p. 4). Stereotyping causes communication distortion. Stereotyping can occur during interviews whereby interviewers perceive interviewee as being dismissible and the visual impact of the speaker. Visual impact during interviews often occurs when either the interviewer or the interviewee has a physical appearance that is unconventional. Erven (2002) explains that stereotyping causes people to act as if they already know what is being communicated by the other person or dismisses it as being of inferior quality. Moreover, Truter (2006, p. 57) account for the possibility of cultural barriers to affect meaning during communication. Moreover, diverse cultures give different meaning to various symbols. Lack of cultural sensitivity by either or both the interviewer or interviewee can hence cause ambiguousness or distortion of messages during interviews. Moreover, various cultures have different meanings for the distance between the interviewer and the interviewee. Therefore, failure to consider such cultural implication of the nonverbal patterns may result in communication barriers and hence prevent interview process. Social identity and categorization are aspects of culture that affect the nature of communication (Dovidio et al., 2006, p. 485).

Often, words have different meanings. Semantic barriers occur when such words cause distortion to the message being conveyed (Truter, 2006, p. 56). Semantics primarily affect communication by causing messages to be muddled. Muddled messages affect the clarity of information during an interview and hence causing ambiguous interpretation (Erven, 2002). The interviewer or the interviewee does not get the clear intent of the message and hence causing digression from the topic of the interview (Truter, 2006, p. 56). Semantic barriers may also occur in cases when technical jargon is used. The interviewee, and in some instances the interviewer, may not be conversant with the technical jargon. In such cases, Erven (2002) explains that people feel embarrassed to enquire or admit that they do not understand the meaning of the terms used and hence that of the message being conveyed. Moreover, vague wording and different interpretations are also possible semantic barriers. Vague wording and different interpretations result in variance in the meanings of the message by the receiver during an interview and hence causing misinterpretations. Words that often cause these form of vagueness and different interpretations relate to those of times such as, “when not busy” which May be interpreted as “never” by some individuals. Moreover, vagueness may occur in cases of verbal diarrhoea. In some instances during an interview, a participant may over-explain something causing loss of the intended message.

Everyone has their unique way in which they perceive reality. These lenses through which individuals perceive reality is shaped by an individual’s experiences such as personality, interests and education. According to Truter (2006, p. 56), a person’s perception may affect the real meaning or its accuracy. During an interview, participants often have differences in such as education, gender, personality and backgrounds. Such differences correspond to various perceptions and hence diverse ways of message interpretation. An individual’s perception of the other during an interview forms the basis for the communication that results that is mainly affected by the needs of the participants. Perceptual barriers, similarly to cultural barriers, relates to stereotyping and the halo effect. Stereotyping, as mentioned above, refers to the classification of an individual based on perceived characteristics. On the other hand, the halo effect refers to judging an individual based on a single trait. These perceptual barriers affect communication by interfering with the accuracy of the messages being conveyed.

Interviews refer to social interactions that are intended to elucidate certain information using sets of questions asked by the interviewer and directed to interviewee (Sands, Bourjolly and Roer-Strier, 2007, p. 354). Therefore, interviews are primarily based on communication. The existence of communication barrier implies compromised communication effectiveness.  The above discussion draws out the possible communication barrier that may occur during an interview. Such include physical, psychosocial, perceptual, cultural and semantic barriers. These barriers have been shown to cause vagueness, misinterpretation, concealing of information or blockage of a message. The occurrence of one or more of these barriers affects the process of communication that forms the core of the process of an interview. Consequently, message sharing and understanding are interfered with and hence the process of an interview. Therefore, it would be prudent to infer that failure in the process of an interview may be due to the existence of communication barriers.




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