The Case for Structured Interviews and Why Companies Don’t Use Them


While interviews are an enormously popular selection practice, I am becoming increasingly aware that they are rarely used in a structured or standardized manner in organizations. Van der Zee et al. (2001), for example, suggested that structured interviews are underutilized because they hinder interviewers’ need for autonomy and power

, they may not be in alignment with organizational culture and norms, they require time and money to implement, and quite simply, practitioners are not aware of their credibility and practical usefulness. I want to use this blog to convey the criticality of structured interviews as a selection tool.
First, a brief description of what I mean by a structured interview: Compared to unstructured interviews, structured interviews use 1) questions that are more sophisticated (i.e., the questions are based on job analysis), 2) consistent procedures (i.e., the same questions are asked to everyone, follow-up questions are limited), and 3) consistent evaluation procedures (i.e., the same interviewer or group of interviewers are used across candidates, interviewers are trained in administering and scoring structured interviews, and they utilize anchored rating scales).
Practitioners need to know that
, they are less likely to be challenged in court, and they exhibit less adverse impact. One of the reasons structured interviews are so successful in improving the quality of your hires is because they combat a host of interviewer biases such as the similarity bias (i.e., interviewers are likely to rate candidates more highly when they perceive them as similar to themselves), the pre-interview bias (i.e., interviewers, after reading a candidate’s resume or recommendations, develop preconceived ideas about the candidate and use this preconception to filter information during the interview), and the contrast bias (i.e., interviewers will judge interviewees based on their perception of previous candidates). To combat biases in the interview process, evade legal troubles, and ultimately improve the quality of your employees, I highly recommend that you integrate more structure into your selection interviews. One method to do it is to train your interviewer, another way is also implement debriefing procedures that are consistent from a content and rating prospective (more here).