If you’re hiring via unstructured interviews in your early-stage business, it probably means you interview each candidate based on a random set of questions, letting the conversation stir in various directions that differ from person to person.
Once the evaluation stage rolls around, you’re at your wit’s end, not sure of who the right person for the role is.
This is why large companies like Google use standardised – or structured – interviews. The senior recruiter Lisa Stern Haynes has said:
“Structured interviews are more predictive of a candidate’s future performance on the job compared to unstructured interviews.”
Need more convincing? Let’s look at how a structured interview works in practice and what its benefits are. Then we’ll unpack some examples of great interview scorecards and question bank ideas to show you how to create your own interview process.
Let’s jump right in and start this off with a question bank. This is a set of questions that target various facets of the candidate’s personality and skills, such as:
Your question bank might include dozens of questions, but you should choose only about eight to ten that are most suitable to the position you’re hiring for. When you’re hiring a sales development representative, for instance, your questions will vary from those you ask an engineer.
Next, ask each candidate the same questions in the same succession.
Keep your answer guidelines and interview scorecard at hand. This is a document that details the signs of an excellent and a poor answer. Based on what your candidate says, rate their answer on a scale of 1-5.
When all interviews are done and dusted, compare your candidates’ scores to determine who the best person for the job is.
And voila! There you have it – a structured interview process in a nutshell.
Minimised bias. You may not realise it, but the questions you ask are influenced by subconscious assumptions that hinder the hiring process.
To give you an example, research has shown that men and women get asked different questions during unstructured interviews. Namely, women are required to prove their worth more often through questions such as:
When you ask each candidate the same set of questions, you’re less likely to fall for these unconscious biases, which in turn makes for a fair and equal interview process.
More diverse teams. Seeing as you’re not operating on gut feelings or assumptions, you have a better chance of hiring the right people and providing fair opportunities for diverse candidates.
Efficiency and speed. Instead of racking your brain trying to figure out how you feel about this and that candidate, you’re looking at objective data. This makes it much easier to compare candidates and make a final decision.
Validity. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology confirms that “structured interviews, regardless of content, are more valid than unstructured interviews for predicting job performance criteria.”
And this also means that you might benefit from…
Higher employee retention. If you hire the right person for the job, there’ll be less need to look for someone else. And that’s definitely a plus for busy startups like yours. Of course, keep in mind that a structured interview is only one cog in the machine– employee retention largely relies on other factors, such as career opportunities, salary, and flexibility.
Better interview experience. Finally, the results of Google’s internal research are clear – structured interviews make for happier candidates and interviewers. The process is fair, clear, and saves time.
Let’s say you’ve gathered some questions for your question bank.
(If not, scroll down – at the end of this section, you’ll find 10 questions you can ask your candidates.)
The next step is to create answer guidelines and an interview scorecard.
Create a table with six columns:
The wonderful thing about structured interviews is how much confusion goes out the window once clear and objective data is in the picture.
Remember to tailor each set of questions to the specific role you’re hiring for and to optimize your hiring process for ED&I as much as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to ask your candidate whether they have any questions or feedback for you. This is a collaborative process, after all. The more feedback you have, the better your hiring process becomes.
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An interview scorecard is a document or a sheet of paper that allows the interviewer to give their candidate a rating based on their answer. It is most frequently used in structured interviews.
A structured interview is an effective way to ensure your hiring process is optimized for ED&I and mitigates any unconscious bias. It’s also a better predictor of job performance than an unstructured interview and it makes for a more enjoyable interview experience.
Ask the candidate whether they have any questions for you. Then thank them for taking the time to speak with you and ask if they have any feedback to give you (or if they’d be happy to complete a short email questionnaire about their interview experience).