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Guide: Use structured interviewing

Introduction

Structured interviewing simply means using the same interviewing methods to assess candidates applying for the same job. Research shows that structured interviews can be predictive of candidate performance, even for jobs that are themselves unstructured. Google uses structured interviewing - using the same interview questions, grading candidate responses on the same scale, and making hiring decisions based on consistent, predetermined qualifications.

So why don’t more organizations use structured interview questions? Well, they are hard to develop. You have to write them, test them, and make sure interviewers stick to them. And then you have to continuously refresh them so candidates don’t compare notes and come prepared with all the answers. Research has also shown that structured interviews aren’t more frequently used because, in general, interviewers everywhere think they’re good at interviewing and don’t need the help. Surely many of us like to think we’re excellent judges of character.

But when it comes to hiring, don't trust your gut. Research shows that during first encounters we make snap, unconscious judgments heavily influenced by our existing unconscious biases and beliefs. For example, in an interview context, without realizing it, we shift from assessing the complexities of a candidate’s competencies to hunting for evidence that confirms our initial impression. Psychologists call this confirmation bias.

Structured interviews can work for organizations of any size, from a small team up to the federal government. The US Office of Personnel Management encourages government agencies to use structured interviews in hiring and offers a set of free resources for anyone to use.

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