Structured Interviews: Four Key Advantages to Using Them

The center of a fair and effective hiring process

Structured Interviews

During her tenure as CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer personally reviewed each new hire. While this might seem like an admirable approach to ensuring cultural alignment, consider the significant amount of time this policy required (Yahoo had 12,300 employees at that time). Yahoo could have reduced time to hire and increased confidence in hiring decisions by incorporating structured interviews in their hiring process. Structured interviews and pre-employment assessments can provide leadership with greater confidence in hiring decisions, yielding a more efficient, effective, and time-saving process.

A structured interview is a standardized method of evaluating job candidates with pre-set questions focused on the knowledge, skills, and characteristics required for the job. Asking the same questions across all candidates, and using a standardized method for scoring responses, can ensure hiring decisions are based on job-relevant information, and not on irrelevant details.

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The four powerful advantages to using structured interviews you should know:

  • Effectiveness. One structured interview can provide the same amount of accurate information as four unstructured interviews – making your hiring process not only more accurate, but more efficient. To increase accuracy even further, we recommend including more raters or using a panel interview format.
  • Consistency. All candidates are treated the same. Because decision-makers have the same information for every candidate, comparisons can be made quickly in terms of candidates’ potential for success if hired, further streamlining the decision making process and improving confidence in those decisions.
  • Fairness. All candidates are treated objectively because questions are based on job requirements. This also makes it easier for candidates to see the link between what they are being evaluated on and the job, improving the candidate experience.
  • Legal protection. Because structured interviews predict performance better than unstructured, and provide more detailed job-related documentation, they are markedly more defensible in court. In a recent case review, only 13 percent of structured interviews were found discriminatory, but half of unstructured interview cases received the same ruling.
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Structured interview questions can take many forms. Candidates can be asked to respond to situations encountered on the job, or describe past experiences that measure essential abilities and characteristics. Interviewers might use a behavioral checklist to measure how well candidate responses overlap with core competencies. For a dynamic company like Yahoo, structured interviews might reflect future needs and goals, as well as include core job requirements.

What is your experience with interview practices?  How do you assess future performance with interviewing, while maintaining a positive candidate experience?  We’d welcome the chance to connect and learn from your challenges and successes.

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Schmidt, F. L., & Zimmerman, R. D. (2004). A counterintuitive hypothesis about employment interview validity and some supporting evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 553−561.

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