What’s a structured interview?
During a structured interview an interviewer ask all candidates the same questions and rates their answers using a common grading rubric.
This is opposed to an unstructured interview. During an unstructured interview, an interviewer asks different questions, often at random and without a standard grading rubric
Why are structured interviews better?
Structured interviews provide a more accurate way to compare candidates.
Here’s another way to think about it: Imagine a college professor giving out a final exam where all students are asked different questions, and the professor doesn’t have a scoring rubric to grade the answers. This method is less effective and efficient in comparing students’ knowledge and answers.
In interviews as in exams, consistency is important.
How do we know structured interviews are better?
Structured and unstructured interviews alike have been studied extensively by industrial and organizational psychologists.
Consider this quote from a meta-study of 80 years worth of studies on the different outcomes of structured and unstructured interviews:
“In the 80-year history of published research on employment interviewing (dating back to Scott, 1915), few conclusions have been more widely supported than the idea that structuring the interview enhances reliability and validity.”
What if spontaneity in an interview is important to me?
We’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news: Variations on structured interviews are still proven to be more effective than totally unstructured interviews.
The bad news: Research shows that an interview based in natural conversation will tell you which candidate you like as a person, but will not provide any insight into which candidate will be the best worker.
We tend to gravitate toward people who have things in common with us, but this doesn’t always mean you’ll hire the best person for your team.
How do I make one?
Check out these resources and email us or comment below with your own structured interview experience.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Structured Interviews: A Practical Guide