The Foundation of Structured Interviews

19 Jan, 2023 •

The Foundation of Structured Interviews

There is no doubt that structured interviews are more reliable than the non-structured variants. By structuring interviews you reduce bias, such as the effect of the first impression. As soon as you, as a recruiter, see an applicant, you have (unconsciously) already made an initial judgment about someone, and there is a fair chance that this judgment will influence the nature of the questions and ultimately the final conclusion. For example, candidates with a migration background are more likely to be asked questions about the level of their integration and therefore fewer questions regarding the job. Research shows that these candidates receive a less positive review than native candidates. However, this difference is significantly less or even absent if a structured interview has taken place.

Benefits of Structured Interviews

A structured interview is more effective in determining a person’s competencies. This means that you are more likely to hire the best candidates. Most of the time because there is more focus on the facets that can provide real insight into someone’s performance on the job, such as skills and experience, and factors such as the first impression and glibness make a less important contribution to the decision-making process. Structuring job interviews:

  • Increases the validity of the interview
  • Reduces influences from bias
  • Increases the effectiveness/chance of a good hire
  • Ensures that you can better compare interviews and candidates

The Difficulty of Structuring Interviews

Structuring interviews occasionally provokes resistance from selection professionals. With years of experience in selecting candidates, this structure can feel redundant and can also be difficult to implement. Using structure does not mean that you can’t have a personal conversation or that you can’t dig deeper. As long as you go back to the predetermined set-up so that you ask all candidates the same questions. By doing so you can compare them in a fair way.

But how do you get to such a structured interview? Asking the same questions to all candidates is just one of the conditions for an objective and effective interview process. For example, do you base the questions on the CV? Then there is a lot of bias in the answers, they are difficult to compare and the output is mainly based on someone’s past. Applying structure is not the same as an objective approach. However, it is an important step in this.

How to Structure Your Interviews

To structure an interview effectively, you need to have a clear picture in mind of what kind of person you are looking for. Formulate a number of characteristics and competencies that are important for the position in question. Some traits are more important than others. Give each competency its own weight, so that you know how heavily you should count it in the review. Then translate these characteristics and competencies into very concrete questions that you ask each candidate.

A good method to formulate these questions is the STARR method: Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection. With this method, you ask for practical examples. Do you think the competence “problem-solving ability” is important? You then can ask the following STARR questions: “Can you tell me about a difficult situation that you encountered in your work (or during studies for starters)? What was your role in that situation? What was your approach and what was the result? ” Rate the substantive answers of each candidate with a grade, look at the candidates with the highest score and you have the most suitable candidate for the position!

Nowadays, a digital assessment is often used to find out in an objective way – preferably as early as possible in the process – which candidates you should invite for the first interview. If you have already obtained value-free information about the candidates in this way, you can also use it to conduct a more objectively structured interview by basing the questions on the measured hard output.

A Breakthrough in Interview Techniques

A good assessment can provide insight into the candidate’s characteristics and competencies without being influenced by socially desirable answers. This information gives you insight into the candidate’s match and also clarifies which questions are relevant for the interview for the position in question. The crux here is self-knowledge versus compensation, or, for example, a certain coping style. Are you looking for someone who works in a structured way, but does the candidate score low on this? Then it is important to know whether the person is aware of this and has learned to deal with it. If this naturally less structured candidate, for example, has successfully completed a time management course and applies these lessons, the conditions for a structured approach have been created. This is called coping. In order to find out whether a low score on a predetermined key performance indicator will also cause a problem in practice, a structured questioning of self-knowledge and compensation technique is crucial. And therefore extremely valuable.

Hard Interview Building Blocks for Successful Interviewing

BrainsFirst helps companies to measure what they are looking for in candidates for a specific position. Together with experts, we determine which skills and which behaviors are really important for the position that is being recruited for. With this input, a profile is made for the desired natural behavior, a model based on cognitive skills. By playing the NeurOlympics, validated assessment games, a brain profile is created for each candidate. The degree to which the previously drawn-up target profile and the brain profile match provides a reliable estimate of a match for that specific function. In this way, it is objectively measured to what extent the candidates naturally possess the desired skills and you can ask questions about this in the interview. This is how you kill two birds with an interview: you base the questions on hard (biological) output measures and you can find out in a structured manner whether someone knows themselves well, knows how to use their own cognitive pluses in a smart way and how to compensate for the qualities they might lack.