A structured interview is a systematic approach to hiring where interviewers ask the same predetermined questions to all candidates in the same order and rate them with a standardized scoring system. Additionally, questions are developed by subject matter experts and utilized by a trained group of interview panelists.
Upon reading this description, it might seem evident that structured interviewing is a more predictive and fair practice; however, many organizations take a more informal approach. While there could be many drivers of an unstructured process, it often is due to an overestimation of the effectiveness of unstructured interviewing or because structured interviewing requires more up-front effort. At FirstWho, we consider unstructured interviewing the most straightforward approach to hiring an unqualified candidate.
Nonetheless, many companies of all sizes take hiring very seriously and practice structured interviewing, which has been studied and proven to be the most effective and fair approach to hiring.
Successful organizations achieve their objectives through the activities of the people they hire. As such, hiring is the primary driver of any organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Anything other than hiring that you might attribute to a company’s success gets acted upon by a person who was first attracted, assessed, and hired before their ability to leverage timing, strategic thinking, unique skills, or any individual contribution.
Since hiring is crucial, hiring methods must be valid, reliable, fair, and practical.
Lastly, the costs of a “bad hire” are high. The financial costs are well documented. For example, Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos, once calculated that poor hiring decisions cost that business well over $100 million. But there is also lost productivity, diminished morale, and damage to reputation that are harder to calculate but potentially can lead to the failure of an entire organization.
At its heart, structured interviewing provides all candidates with a consistent interview experience while also applying consistency in rating candidate responses. As an organization, if you are going to go to the trouble of predetermining what questions to ask and how to assess them, you might as well go the extra mile and ensure you are asking the right questions. The right questions differentiate between a candidate who will thrive and a candidate who may struggle in the role. In general, this requires the engagement of subject matter experts who deeply understand job-related competencies.
If you haven’t read the section on Job Analysis, please do so. Essentially, you want questions that illuminate “must-have” competencies; but even “must-have” competencies can be hard to determine—the most accessible way to get to “must-have” competencies is through a task inventory.