What’s the difference between an unstructured interview and a structured interview? Unstructured interviews are more informal, and the interviewer often bases later questions on the candidate’s previous answers. The interviewer may go in with a list of questions but not ask them all. The interview tends to be more conversational in nature and can cover a variety of topics. Candidates may feel a lot more at ease in this situation, which may help build trust between the two participants. However, bias can also come into play. And if there is more than one interviewer in the process, there may be differences in the way they conduct the interview, which could lead to bias having an effect on the outcome.
Unstructured interviews aren’t necessarily bad, but they don’t provide reliable data. Most people pride themselves on being excellent judges of character, but we all know bad hires happen!
When interviews lack structure and rating guidelines, interviewer decisions can be based on bias, including subconscious factors like applicant attractiveness, perceived similarities, perceived differences, halo effects, first impression biases and more. Sticking to an approved script and a predetermined rating scale can help eliminate bias and improve the selection process by adding consistency and structure.
Structured interviews are formal. They make the interview process job-related and systematic. Research shows that structured interviews are twice as effective as unstructured when:
1. They include questions based on job analysis.
2. Each candidate is asked the same questions.
3. They provide checks and balances by involving more than one person.
4. Candidates are rated via detailed scales to create subjective data.
Interviewers should be trained to perform structured interviews. This training should include how to identify and avoid their biases and how to determine through questioning and listening whether a candidate has the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the target job well.
Interviewers should use a scoring guide made up of job-relevant criteria. For example: For example, each interviewer rates each candidate using a 1-5 scale for items such as: first impression, eye contact, quick thinking and interpersonal communication skills. These scales should include detailed descriptions of what low and high scores look like to make scoring easy and consistent.
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