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Among different types of interview formats, the structured interview is believed to be the best way to measure the candidates in an equal manner. To interviewers, it is one of the best methods to filter potential candidates and acquire the best hires for their teams. For interviewees, it is a good opportunity for them to demonstrate not only their professional skills but also their personal qualities and be judged objectively. In this paper, we simply provide you with the definition of a structured job interview as well as outline its pros and cons to see if it is actually the key to a fair and effective hiring process.

What Exactly Is a Structured Interview?

This is one of the four main types of interviews, ranging from structured, unstructured, and semi-structured ones to focus group interviews. A structured job interview is a standardized interview format in which candidates are asked the same predetermined questions focused on the knowledge, skills, and characteristics required for the job in the same order and assessed by the same scoring system. This means the interviewers have to prepare a script of questions and decide the criteria to evaluate the answers in advance before meeting up with the first candidate. And the interviewing process is static until the last candidate. The interviewees’ answers will be scored and recorded for further assessment before making the final hiring decision.

The ultimate goal of this type of interview is to evaluate the candidates in the fairest and most objective way. All candidates shall have equal opportunities to perform and showcase what they are capable of to impress the interviewers; thereby, the employers can minimize the subjectivity of each interviewer and collect reliable data for candidate performance predictions. In the end, the true idea behind such types of interviews is to avoid making unfair, biased, or even discriminatory hiring decisions.

Structured interviews can be separated into two smaller types: 

  • Behavioral interviews: It is kindly a performance-based interview in which the interviewees are asked about the specific behaviors they have demonstrated in the past to find out if they have the required skills and qualities for the job.
  • Situational interviews: The interviewees are put in hypothetical situations related to the job and are asked how they would react or what actions they would take. This is to assess their problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities under pressure.

Are Structured Interviews the Effective Way to Hire?

The answer is yes. Obviously, there must be strong-enough reasons for employers to take structured interviews into account when it comes to recruitment. 

Less Bias, More Objectivity

Bias and prejudice within the hiring process are the top HR challenges employers are facing today. As stated before, the structured interview is designed to avoid bias as much as possible. All candidates will face the same set of questions and will be evaluated by the same criteria. This way, job interviewers can focus on the answers and performance of each candidate without being influenced by their looks, personality, or any other non-job-related factors. In addition, the interviewers don’t have to worry about what kind of questions to ask next and how to assess the answers since all these have been decided in advance. This can help prevent any personal unconscious bias or gut feelings from clouding their judgment when making hiring decisions. As a result, you ensure that there will be less or no bias, and the vetting process will be fairer and more objective. In brief, using structured interviews means you can secure fairness and consistency when interviewing candidates and making hiring decisions, leaving no room for personal preferences, biases, and favoritism.

Higher Quality Hires

No matter what positions you are searching for, the hiring quality is always the top-priority employers would like to focus on. With structured interviews, employers and recruiters will have what they want. Less or no bias and a more objective recruiting process with no personal preferences and favoritism will result in better hires for your job vacancies. This is extremely helpful when it comes to high-volume recruitment. Since you have a large number of candidates to interview, the more consistent, accurate, and objective your recruitment process is, the better the outcomes will be.

Predictive Validity 

Compared to other types of interviews, the structured interview has been proven to be more predictive of future job performance. In fact, a structured interview boosts the predictive validity of hires by up to 65%. In other words, if a candidate does well in a structured interview, there is a higher chance that he or she will excel in the actual job. This is because the questions asked in a structured interview are usually based on the specific skills and abilities required for the job. As such, candidates who are able to give impressive answers are likely to perform well in the job too.

Faster & More Efficient 

A structured interview is usually shorter than other types of interviews since all the important questions have been predetermined. This can help you save much time when meeting with candidates, especially if you are interviewing a large number of them. In addition, since the assessment criteria are already decided in advance, it will be easier and faster for you to evaluate and score the candidates’ answers after the interview. And both interviewers and interviewees always stick to the main points and purposes. As a result, you can make quicker hiring decisions without having to spend too much time on each candidate or on side questions. This also means that you can save costs, time, and effort on the recruitment process. To double the productivity and quality, you can also leverage useful recruitment tools to aid your hiring process. 

Some Possible Disadvantages of Structured Interviews

Although structured interviews help employers a lot in streamlining the recruitment process, they are not without drawbacks. The best way to leverage the full potential of this interview type is to know its disadvantages, and here are a few notable ones:

Rigidity and Lack of Flexibility 

Structured interviews can streamline the hiring process, which is one of its best things. But it is also the reason why this interview type can be quite inflexible and even rigid. This is because all candidates have to go through the same set of questions regardless of their qualifications or experience. Additionally, it will be difficult to change the questions and assessment criteria once they have been developed. As such, this limits your ability to ask follow-up questions, probe deeper into a candidate’s answers, or explore different aspects of him or her. In addition, the rigid format of the structured interview can make it less enjoyable for both the interviewer and the interviewee, which can impact the quality of information you can gather from it.

Highly Rehearsed Answers 

An interview with a static structure and a script of questions may lead to rehearsed answers from candidates. In other words, the candidates somehow can predict the frequently asked structured interview questions and prepare the answers in advance. As a result, the answers from the candidates may not be entirely accurate or genuine. This is because they are just repeating what they have memorized instead of actually thinking about the question and giving an honest answer. Even worse, they can give the answers employers want to hear, which makes it difficult to measure the true potential of the candidates and may result in hiring inappropriate people for the positions.

Less Engaging & More Formal   

One unpleasant thing about using a structured interview is that it can be less engaging for both the interviewer and the candidate. This is because the questions are often more formal and direct, and there is little room for small talk or informal conversation. Consequently, the interview can feel more like an interrogation than a conversation, which can make it difficult for candidates to relax and be themselves. In addition, the lack of flexibility in the format can also make it difficult for interviewers to build rapport with candidates.  Obviously, like other types of interviews, a structured one can bring employers different benefits in the recruitment process, but it may pose some obstacles as well. Therefore, it is up to you to decide if structured interviews can be a good option or non-optimal ones in your recruitment best practices based on your own recruitment needs and requirements. For example, the advantages of structured interviews make them more suitable for high-volume recruitment or when hiring non-manager positions. So, employers should decide their goals and objectives before using this interview type to ensure that it brings the most benefits and the least drawbacks in hiring.

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Trung Tran
Technical/Content Writer
Trung is a writer who loves researching and blogging about all HR-specific topics and the latest.
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