So you’re looking to implement structured interviews? Makes total sense to us, especially because unstructured interviews tend to be wrought with error and bias. If you’re looking to hire impartially, quickly or you’re experiencing a stage of rapid growth, it’s very possible you’re looking to implement some form of structured hiring to help organize it all.
Struggling to get consistent hiring manager feedback that is useful and effective is one of the most common problems all recruiters and talent acquisition professionals face. The problem gets even worse when you are looking to hire for many roles, and in a short period of time.
Structured interviews help standardize interview questions asked and incorporate a scoring system so that feedback is easy to get and candidates are easy to assess. Without structured interviews, it’s difficult to compare candidates effectively and to hire the right people.
Download our Complimentary structured Interview Guide!
What are structured interviews?
Simply put, structured interviews are a series of interview questions designed to assess candidates on a range of qualities important to the organization. They are provided to hiring managers ahead of time, and every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order.
Structured interviews usually consist of job-specific questions, as well as behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions. The behavioral and situational interview questions are designed to assess candidates on a range of qualities, including:
- Attention to detail
- Behavioral characteristics
- Critical Thinking
Many of these qualities are important to look for in all candidates in any type of role, but some qualities can be more important to specific roles and de-emphasized in other roles. As a whole, the 5 qualities above are important to assess for any role and in any type of organization.
Why use structured interviews?
Running unstructured interviews runs the risk of many things, including:
- Interviewer bias (gender, race, age, similarity to the interviewer, etc)
- Confirmation bias (tendency of the interviewer to look for qualities in the candidate that confirm an initial bias formed on first impression)
- Inaccurate evaluation of candidates (candidates are not asked the same questions)
- Violation of EEO or OFCCP compliance (illegal interview questions, partial interviewing)
- Inaccurate assessment candidates’ behavioral qualities and harder-to-measure traits
How to implement structured interviews
There are a few key pieces of creating a structured interview process and then implementing structured interview questions. It takes a bit of preparation for each role, but the process is well worth it and gets easier and easier each time. The end result is a much more efficient hiring process that increases hiring manager satisfaction, gets you better candidates, loosens hiring bottlenecks and speeds up movement through the pipeline. The main steps to take are:
- Determine dimensions important to each role
(hard and soft skills)
- Create questions to evaluate against each quality / dimension
- Weave in role-specific interview questions
- Create a rating scale or scorecard to measure against
- Train hiring managers on rating scale / questions if necessary
(tell them to ask questions in the same order, tell them what the rating scale means, ask them to provide feedback using scorecards provided)
- Distribute questions and rating scale to hiring managers prior to interviews
- Schedule feedback connect-calls with hiring managers to ensure feedback is received
- Conduct interviews
- Evaluate candidates using ratings
If you’re looking for specific behavioral or situational interview questions to measure your candidates against, you’re in luck! We’ve hired an industrial psychologist to create a list of questions designed specifically to measure candidates against 5 key traits crucial to any role in our complimentary structured interview guide.
We’ve also created role-specific structured interview guides based on scientifically backed research to help you assess candidates on dimensions and qualities essential to specific jobs.
How to score structured interviews
In order to create a standardized system to evaluate candidate responses against, you have to create a scoring system. This is where interview scorecards come in, which should be distributed prior to the interview. The scale you decide to use is up to you, but generally speaking you want to use a scale that no greater than 10. Here’s an example:
- Lowest Rating – Very Low Quality Response
- Medium Low Rating – Low Quality Response
- Neutral Rating – Neutral Response
- Medium High Rating – High Quality Response
- Highest Rating – Very High Quality Response
In addition to providing the questions and scorecards / rating system, a rating key should be provided to help hiring managers understand what is considered a quality, or high rated response vs a low rated response. A rating key makes it easy for hiring managers to evaluate candidates against behavioral and situational questions without an intuitive knowledge of what is desired for the role. Example:
Attention to Detail
High Rated Response
- Takes time to plan and prepare before starting something new or different
- Has established ways of tracking what needs to be done
Low Rated Response
- Likes detail work but gives weak examples of experience
- Seldom uses checklists or other methods for following through on tasks
Structured interview questions
Here are a few examples of behavioral interview questions or situational questions you can use in an interview. For the full list of questions, download the complimentary structured interview guide.
Attention to Detail
- How do you keep track of things that you are responsible for at work? For example, schedules, tasks, ongoing goals, etc. Be specific.
- Would you rather formulate a plan or carry it out? Give an example of a plan you have implemented.
- What is your definition of success? Follow-up: How are you measuring up? How will you go about achieving it?
- What role do you usually take in a group meeting or discussion? What are the advantages of that? Disadvantages?
- Describe which job and which manager got the most out of your potential. What made that situation so productive?
- If you could go back to when you were first thinking about your career, what advice would you give yourself?
- Tell me about a time when you had competing deadlines at work. What did you do? How did you come to that conclusion?
- Give me an example of a decision you had to make quickly or under pressure. How did you approach it and how did it work out
- Tell me about a mistake you made in a past job that you regretted. What happened and what did you learn from it?
- In your last job, if you didn’t think you could meet an expected deadline, what did you do? Can you give me an example?