It’s important to hire employees who can be trusted to carry out the overall mission of your business. Structured interviews are one of the best places to start. In this post, we will explore how structured interviews help acquire the right talent and allow you to build a team of people dedicated to achieving your business’s goals. We’ve included insights from Jacqui Maguire, Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse, a leading provider of applicant tracking and recruiting software.

Why Should I Incorporate Structured Interviewing In The Hiring Process?

A structured interview is a standardized method of evaluating job candidates based on the knowledge, skills, and characteristics required for the job.1

Most of the time, each candidate applying for a specific role is asked the same questions and interviewed by the same people. This is different than unstructured interviews, in which questions are not planned and different candidates are measured on different traits that haven’t previously been established by the hiring and recruiting team. According to Jacqui, structured interviews “yield better hiring outcomes and a transparent experience.”

The practice of structured interviews helps acquire the right talent and brings great long-term benefits for your company:

  1. Better job performance: A study from Google found that structured interviews are more predictive of job performance than unstructured interviews when comparing interview scores to performance scores. Research shows that unstructured interviews predict only 16% of performance, while structured interviews predict 26%2. Additionally, good results in structured interviews correlate to job performance at a rate of .51 on average3. According to Jacqui, this is because structured interviews help “companies hire candidates that display the attributes that are necessary for success in a role.”
  2. Increased retention: Structured interviews provide more transparency and clear expectations for applicants. From the second employees begin interviewing, the questions you ask will clearly communicate the skills needed to perform well in that particular role. Clearer expectations increase retention rates, reducing the time and money you have to spend for interviews in the future.
    Structured interviewing allows you to easily hire employees that are well equipped for a position. This helps to increase a company’s retention rates,” said Jacqui.
  3. Selecting the right applicant: Structured interviewing prioritizes thinking about what an applicant will need to accomplish in a role, both long and short-term, instead of desired qualifications such as “two years of experience in a particular industry.” When interviewing, you can focus on the applicants’ past projects and learn how that experience will contribute to the role you’re interviewing for.
  4. Mitigating bias: With structured interviews, interviewers focused on the attributes necessary to be successful in a role. “Structured interviewing shifts decision-making away from biased, gut-instinct driven decisions and assessments,” said Jacqui.
  5. Breaking down silos: Without a structured interview, departments across your organization are likely interviewing differently. This can lead to different levels of qualifications and caliber for employees across the company, creating silos. Not only do structured interviews help acquire the right talent, but they help to centralize expectations throughout your entire business. Jacqui suggests creating one consistent portion of an interview across departments to assess the candidate for your business’s shared values and/or cultural attributes.

As you incorporate structured interviews, you may find benefits unique to your business. At Ease, we’ve found that structured interviews help to reduce redundancy in questions for roles where we host several rounds of interviews with different interviewees. This provides a faster hiring process for applicants and minimizes the interviewer’s time commitment.

How To Design A Structured Interview

A structured interview entails determining what factors to assess and how to assess them, organizing the logistics of the actual interview, and collecting feedback.

What To Assess

The amount of time one has been working isn’t always telling of their skills or qualifications. Before writing a series of questions or assessments, it’s helpful to evaluate which factors you are looking to assess for a particular role. Does their past experience need to align perfectly? Are you looking for someone who is metrics driven and goal oriented, or is this something you’re willing to teach later?

Jacqui suggests starting by defining how you would like to see this role impact your business. From there, decide what long and short-term goals will be associated with achieving that impact. Then, determine the attributes that are necessary to achieve success in both the long- and short-term goals. That list of attributes is what you should measure for during the interview.

How To Assess

Once you decide which factors you want to interview for, map out how you will assess those factors during an interview. We recommend using a combination of questions and assessments to gauge the skill set of the candidate. For example, if you’re interviewing an engineer, the first round of the interview can focus on behavioral questions and learning about their past experience. The second round can be a series of technical questions or algorithms they are required to solve in front of you.

“It can be helpful to create custom questions designed to assess for the specific attributes necessary for success in the position. This will keep your interviews focused, reduce bias, and create a better experience for the candidate,” said Jacqui.

No strategy has to be set in stone, but you do want to measure against job performance. Stick with the questions and assessments where the score correlates with high job performance.

Structuring The Interview

Once you know what characteristics you want to assess and how you will assess them, consider how you want the interview to look. Then, design what the interview, including logistics, will look like. Factors to consider include:

  1. How many rounds of interviews are necessary to assess the candidate? Will each stage assess different qualities, or will you have different interviewers assess the same qualities each time?
  2. How long will each stage of the interview be?
  3. If you’d like to test skills during an interview, like writing a marketing email or solving a coding problem, how will you choose the problem or prompt?
  4. Who in your company or on your team would you like to interview the candidate, and what questions would you like them to ask?
  5. Will you have one person manage each step of the interview and communicate with the applicant?

“The number of interviewers and length of the interview should be enough to cover all of the attributes without being redundant – so it can vary quite a bit from role to role. There is no magic number, but Google recommends 4,” said Jacqui.

Measuring Feedback

After the interviewing is complete, review the qualities you originally decided you wanted the applicant to possess. Determine whether the applicant had the qualities necessary to succeed in the role you are hiring for.

It’s pivotal to collect feedback from each person who interviewed the candidate. At Ease, we’ve implemented a scorecard system with Greenhouse to help minimize bias. Each interviewer scores the applicant based on the metrics set by the hiring manager before discussing the interview with anyone else. This prevents one person from influencing another.

Are There Tools To Help?

Designing structured interviews is difficult and time-consuming, especially if your company is growing and hiring an increasing number of employees. There are tools, resources, and solutions you can use to help you create a structured hiring process.

Technology

Greenhouse is a leading talent acquisition software designed to help companies automate all aspects of their hiring process. With Greenhouse, companies can implement structured interviewing which will help to mitigate bias and improve the candidate experience.

Greenhouse allows interviewers to:

  1. Design a scorecard of key attributes that should be measured during the interview. Your employees can then use this scorecard to measure each attribute when conducting the interview.
  2. Mitigate bias with data-driven measurements of each candidate.
  3. Eliminate chaos with an organized plan that helps interviewers assess the right skills and traits.
  4. House resumes and any other materials like writing tests and project overviews in one location.

Greenhouse also makes it easy to refer applicants, a great tool especially if your company has a referral program. Both you and/or the hiring manager can see which employee forwarded the candidate’s resume, and the referrer can see where the applicant they referred is in the hiring process.

Resources

Interviewing for new positions your company may not be familiar with can be a complicated task. There are several free tools out there that can help you design questions and assessments for specific positions.

For example, Indeed has a bank of questions for several different specific roles and skills from a civil engineer to an accountant. You can use this as a starting point when designing what qualities you’d like to assess for a specific role. Glassdoor and LinkedIn have similar resources.

Additionally, re:Work by Google has outlined a free guide you can follow for implementing a structured interview. The guide includes a customizable grading rubric to help assess multiple candidates’ answers. This is a great starting point if interviewing technology isn’t in your budget or if you want to test the structured interview strategy before committing to software.

Recruiting

No matter how solid your structured interviews are, you won’t be able to use it without applicants. Recruiting can be very expensive, but there are plenty of low-cost tools you can use to initiate the hiring process with applicants.

  1. LinkedIn: You can advertise positions on different networks and use keywords to find potential hires. LinkedIn’s InMail service allows you to send direct emails. This will help you interview candidates that match your requirements.
  2. Hello Talent: You can source, screen, share, and manage candidates in one place to streamline the hiring process. Hello Talent allows you to pull together information from social media, CVs, emails and more.

Structured Interviews Help Acquire The Right Talent

Structured interviewing enables you to grow your company with the right people to help you carry out your mission and achieve your business goals.

  1. http://corvirtus.com/four-key-advantages-to-using-structured-interviews/
  2. http://leadershipsuccessgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Candidate-Assessment-Predicting-Job-Performance.pdf
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=LefcAAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false