“Welcome Structured Interview, can you tell me about yourself?… And it says here that you’re organised and detail-oriented, what are your other strengths and weaknesses?”
It can be daunting to “onboard” a new interview structure but it’s also common for hiring managers or HR professionals to interview in an informal free-form style. This interview type is more relaxed and comforting but makes comparing employees difficult during the recruitment process.
So what can you do to take some of that chaos out of the hiring experience? This is where the advantages of structured interviews come in handy.
In this article, we’ll discuss the main types of hiring structures and how structured interviews help reduce bias during recruitment, increase hiring effectiveness, and more. This way, your team can develop a standard for hiring while also finding the perfect match for your business.
The different interview types
When it comes to the hiring process, there are various interviews that an employee might go through. For example, in-person interviews, video interviews, and job fair interviews (vary in their own way, but how are they structured?
We’ll go over the three different structure types that interviewers tend to use most often. Each type, whether it is structured, semi-structured, or unstructured, will provide a different experience for both the interviewee and the interviewer.
The structured interview follows, you guessed it, a specific structure. In this case, you’ll ask a predetermined list of questions related to the necessary job requirements and skills to do the work effectively.
This means that you’ll establish a standard set of questions to ask each of your candidates. It might get a little repetitive, but this will help organise your team’s hiring organisation while allowing you to evaluate each candidate equally.
Also, structured interviews include the establishment of criteria to evaluate the responses to your questions. To value the quality of your candidates, it’ll be important to note and score their answers based on equal criteria to avoid any sort of bias.
Out of the three types, the structured interview will likely take the most effort to establish. This is because your team or hiring manager must take time to prepare a relevant list of questions and criteria based on the open position.
💡 It can be a good idea to modify the questions or criteria over time as you continue establishing the requirements for interviewees.
The semi-structured interview merges both the structured and unstructured interview into a hybrid. In this case, you’ll use a smaller list of questions from your pre-determined list during your interview while allowing some time for open-ended questions and discussion.
Since you’ll be asking predefined questions during this interview, make sure to once again have a set of criteria to assess candidate responses. Unlike the structured interview, you might not ask the same questions to each person, or ask them in the same order. This can make it more difficult to accurately compare candidates.
The unstructured interview format is the complete opposite of a structured interview. There won’t be a standard set of questions, but you won’t pull random questions out of a hat either. Questions should still relate to the necessities of the job, but this means that each candidate may receive different questions.
This structure type can resemble a conversation between the interviewer and interviewee and might be seen as more informal than the other types. Unstructured interviews will also be less time-consuming since you won’t prepare as much as you would for a structured interview. On the other hand, you won’t be able to directly compare candidates due to the lack of equal criteria or questions.
This table will help give you an overview of the main differences between each interview structure.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of structured interviews?
✅ Efficiency and accuracy: In a structured or formal interview, your team will have all the questions and assessment methods planned out beforehand. Since the hiring party will have a clear picture in mind of the key qualities and skills required for the position, your hiring process will become more efficient and streamlined.
✅ Quicker process: Recruitment interviews will now be that much faster. Interviewers now only need to focus on asking the same list of questions for each candidate and noting down their responses. No more time wasted on thinking of relevant questions in the middle of an interview!
✅ Better comparisons: By following the same criteria or rubric, you can easily compare each candidate. Seeing as the interviewer asks the same questions in the same order, all you have to do is compare their answers and see which candidate is the right fit.
✅ Reduce bias with equal treatment: By providing candidates with a structured format that is equally similar, you can reduce potential biases. Whether your questions are based on the technical requirements of the job or relevant hard and soft skills, each interviewee will have the same chance to come out on top.
Your team can even use software to make this process easy. The Greenhouse recruiting solution helps you find the best candidates for the job while providing a meaningful unbiased candidate experience with key attribute scorecards, organised interviewer plans, and more.
❌ Preparation time: Structured interview questions and the applicant rubric require more time to develop. It’s also important to review your questions and criteria after hiring rounds to make any necessary modifications and assure that they respond to the company’s expectations.
❌ Lack of leeway: Because the interviewer has a set list of questions that they must ask each applicant, this makes the interview less flexible. They may also omit an important question during preparation and have to modify the question list afterward.
❌ Less personal: A structured interview can be considered more formal and rigid than the other types. This can be slightly remedied by the tone and methods of the interviewer.
The advantages and disadvantages of semi-structured and unstructured interviews
Pros and Cons of Unstructured Interviews
✅ Flexibility: This type of interview is the most flexible purely because it is unstructured. You won’t need to worry about following a specific line of questioning, and you’ll be able to interview as you wish.
✅ More natural: Because the structure is less strict and rigid, the interview is more natural. This could potentially make the candidate more comfortable and result in a back and forth conversational exchange.
❌ Increased bias and difficult comparisons: It is much more difficult to compare applicants effectively and make hiring decisions due to the lack of equal questions or criteria. Unstructured interviews are also the least objective, leaving room for potential biases and an unequal hiring experience.
❌ Forgetting key questions: The interviewer could skip important job-related questions by not using a predetermined list of questions. It is essential to have a clear understanding of the role to help avoid this.
Pros and Cons of Semi-structured Interviews
✅ Some flexibility: The hybrid format allows you to have some of the flexibility of an unstructured interview without fully forgoing the structure of predetermined questions. This can make the interview experience less rigid and formal.
✅ Slightly easier comparison: Semi-structured interviews make it easier to compare candidates based on the questions that were asked. Despite this, it is difficult to compare the other interview portions since they won’t be the same for all candidates.
❌ Less objective: This format is less objective than a structured interview when it goes beyond the pre-set list of questions. The team should keep potential biases in mind for the remaining interview sections.
Tips to establish a structured interview
If you’re getting ready to start using structured interviews for your hiring process, check out these tips to help you implement it:
- Collaborate with your team to establish an ordered list of questions to ask each candidate based on the technical requirements, certifications, and soft skills that are essential to the role
- Set criteria to help create a rubric allowing you to rank candidate responses during or after interviews
- Ensure that interviewers understand the process of the structured interview to reduce the chances of bias
Structured interviews provide many advantages when it comes to providing equal treatment to candidates and streamlining the hiring process for businesses. But, each interview type has pros and cons which makes it important to choose the structure that works best for your company. So, are you ready to find the perfect candidate?