How to Conduct a Structured Interview

In a previous post, we discussed what structured interviews are and how they help you make better hiring decisions. In this post, we give you a list of actionable items you can easily put into practice to conduct structured interviews. 

Step 1: Conduct a Job analysis to identify skills

  1. Conduct a job analysis - Start structuring your interview process by conducting a job analysis on the position you are hiring for. This helps to develop a short list of skills to assess. 
  2. Start to determine job-related skills - Consult resources that contain job-related data such as O*Net or existing job descriptions to develop an understanding of exactly which skills a candidate needs to excel in the role. Your goal should be to develop a list of between five and eight skills that are distinct from each other. The more skills you choose to assess, the more interview resources are required. 
  3. Finalize skills to assess - Choose between five and eight skills so you can assess them reliably and effectively across a few interviews.

Note: With Hireguide Hireguide, hiring managers don’t need to create a job analysis. We do that for you!

Step 2: Prepare behavioral and situational questions to assess skills

Take the list of skills you identified in your job analysis and develop at least two questions for each skill. Use questions that are behavioral or situational to ensure your interview questions are predictive of how a candidate will perform on the job. 

Behavioral questions ask candidates how they solved certain problems or performed in specific situations in the past. This type of question is based on a psychological theory that states that past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior. They usually start with, “Tell me about a time when…” 

An example behavioral question that assesses creativity is: Tell me about a time when you encountered a challenging problem at work and developed a creative solution.

Situational questions present candidates with a hypothetical problem they could encounter on the job and ask how they respond to the situation. This style of question is based on a different psychological theory that states someone’s intention to behave in a particular way is a great predictor of how that person will behave in the future. They usually start with, “Imagine a scenario where…” and follow by asking the candidate how they would respond. An example situational question that assesses accountability is: Imagine a scenario where you were managing a team and they missed an important deadline. What steps would you take in this situation?

Both behavioral and situational questions are ideal for assessing skills and are relatively equal in terms of predicting job performance. Regardless of which style you choose (or use both), ensure the content is specific to the job you are hiring for, and prepare to ask all of your candidates the same questions. These questions will ensure you make fairer and more accurate hiring decisions. 

Step 3: Create answer guides and a standardized scoring method

In addition to using behavioral and situational questions, another structured interview practice that improves your interview quality is to develop an answer guide and use a standardized scoring method for all your interview questions. 

  1. Develop an answer guide - We suggest writing a list of three to five bullets that represent what a ‘good’ response looks like to each question. This allows you to compare each of your candidate’s responses to an ideal response. As long as your answer guides are developed thoughtfully, the candidate whose responses most closely align with your answer guide is the one that will perform best in the role. Answer guides also make evaluating your candidates more efficient by standardizing your process. 
  2. Develop a standardized scoring method - When comparing candidates’ responses to your answer guides, you also need a systematic method for scoring their responses. A common scoring guide practice is using a scale of one to five to rate candidate responses, where one reflects poor performance and five reflects great performance. 
  3. Rate each question on this scoring guide - Since your questions assess specific skills, you can aggregate responses across interviewers to develop overall skill scores for your candidates. This generates a valid and reliable set of data that you can use to inform your hiring decisions. 

Step 4: Schedule interviews with multiple team members who are trained in the process

Involve multiple team members in the hiring process to interview and assess your candidates. There are many benefits of creating a hiring team. The ultimate goal is to capture multiple observations on each of your candidates to reduce the bias that occurs when only one person is assessing candidate performance. It is common to create an interviewer team consisting of a recruiter/HR specialist, the hiring manager, and at least one or two future team members. If the position is higher in seniority, more senior leaders should also be involved and have an opportunity to interview and assess the candidates. 

The most important practice when including multiple members on a hiring team is ensuring everyone is trained on the specific process. They should all be aware of the skills you have chosen to assess, the questions you plan to ask, and the evaluation and scoring system. Like other structured practices, this will help maximize the fairness and accuracy of your hiring decisions. 

Step 5: Use the same script/questions in the same order for all candidates

As emphasized above, once you’ve decided on a list of questions with answer guides and a standardized scoring rubric, ask that list of questions to all of your candidates in the same order. This is an incredibly important step for ensuring you minimize bias and treat candidates equally, in addition to helping you make higher-quality decisions.

Hireguide makes structured interviewing easier than ever. Once you choose five to eight skills, instead of writing questions we suggest behavioral and situational questions for you. Each of these questions also has an answer guide and a standardized scoring key, taking all the work in content development off your plate. Are you ready to make your interview process better, fairer, and faster? 

The easiest way to conduct a structured interview is with Hireguide. You can prepare a custom interview in minutes using our structured interviewing method. Create an account with Hireguide, free and start improving your interview process today!

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