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Can You Still Get to Know a Candidate During Structured Interviewing?

Human resources professionals understand the value of structured interviewing, from minimizing confirmation bias to increasing objectivity and efficiency during recruitment. But, can you get to know the job candidate during such a structured process? 

Here, we’ll tackle how to implement structured interviewing, allowing teams to get to know candidates without undermining the equity of a standardized process. But, first, let’s understand what structured interviewing is. 

What Is Structured Interviewing?

During a structured interview, pre-approved questions are asked in a specific order of all candidates. After each interview is completed, your recruiting team can use a standardized scoring system to rank each candidate. 

By standardizing the process, recruiters can objectively gather candidate information, ultimately deciding which candidate is the best fit for the job. However, structured interviewing takes preparation, practice, and focus – from the interviewing process to the evaluation process, like other forms of candidate interaction. 

Through this preparation, however, you can determine how to personalize your process, without going off the rails and landing in unstructured interviewing territory.

What Are the Benefits of Structured Interviewing?

Overall, structured interviews improve hiring equity by reducing implicit and confirmation biases. By asking standardized questions, interviewers are less likely to identify with (and prefer) candidates more like themselves. Additionally, structured interviews are less likely to create an adverse impact, meaning that the interview doesn’t disadvantage members of underrepresented groups. 

Structured interviewing additionally create higher reliability, legal defensibility, and validity when compared to unstructured interviews, where the recruiter can ask anything that comes to mind. You can also objectively determine whether a candidate is fit for a particular role – helping you to better compare apples to apples, so to speak. 

Not only does it ensure accuracy and consistency, but it also saves you and your team some much-needed time, allowing you to hire and onboard qualified candidates sooner, demonstrating a significant advantage in a competitive job market.

Further, structured interviews improve the candidate’s experience by setting expectations upfront, while understanding that the interview process was carefully crafted for fairness and objectivity. Want to take the candidate process to the next level? Post your interview process on your website, helping you demonstrate not just objectivity but transparency.

This all sounds well and good, but you may be thinking, “This sounds fairly robotic. How can you get to know a candidate during structured interviewing?”

How to Personalize Your Structured Interviews

Although structured interviews follow a script of pre-approved questions, that doesn’t mean that they must be cold, impersonal discussions. Consider this when drafting your interview questions. For example, which questions will identify the personality of the job candidate? 

One way to get to the heart of the matter is to construct questions around soft skills. According to SHRM, 97 percent of employers now state that soft skills — such as communication, empathy, tenacity, and accountability —  are as important or more important than hard skills. 

The reason for this high emphasis?  Often, when someone doesn’t work out in their position, it comes down to soft skills. For example, within the first 18 months of a new job, 46 percent of new employees fail, with 89 percent of those failing because of the lack of essential soft skills

Another way to personalize your structured interviews without letting bias creep in is to ask standardized questions around the “bottom” of a job candidate’s resume. For example, focus specific questions around a job candidate’s interests and hobbies – what do they do in their free time, away from work? Through these answers, you may identify passion, energy, or purpose, giving you a glimpse into the candidate’s personality.

Structured interviewing doesn’t have to be robotic. Instead, it should help you elicit valuable, objective information from the job candidate, helping you to find the right person for the job. Consider giving yourself a competitive edge by adopting a standardized interview process as you review your hiring processes. Find out how Cangrade’s Structured Interview Guides can help.