Conducting a job interview can seem fairly simple—invite a candidate in, ask them some questions about their skills, determine if they fit the job requirements, and move forward with an offer once you find the right candidate.

Yet, a quick interview and a gut feeling about whether someone may be the right choice aren’t necessarily enough to make high-stakes decisions. And a bad hire can be a costly mistake—according to one recent survey, it could cost your organization as much as $15,000!

That’s where a structured interview comes into play. A structured interview can help you be sure you are getting the same information from all candidates, assist in reducing bias from your hiring process, and help you better predict job performance so you can hire the ideal candidate.

Here are a few reasons why adding this type of interview may help you to make better hiring decisions.

What is a structured interview?

A structured interview consists of a set of questions specific to the role that are asked of every candidate so those responses can be compared. These questions are asked in the same order for each interviewee.

The interviewer uses the same scripted questions in the same order every time to be sure that the interview is consistent between candidates, addresses the same issues and questions, and is designed to capture the most relevant information. In a structured interview, you rate a candidate’s responses as they answer each question, so you have real-time, in-the-moment data to look back on later.

Although unstructured or semi-structured interviews may feel like a more natural conversational flow, as different questions may be asked in each interview, it can be very difficult to compare the candidates to each other. In a structured interview, hiring managers can be sure they have the same information across all candidates when they go to make a decision.

How can a structured interview prevent bias?

A structured interview can help prevent bias in your hiring process by allowing you to compare each candidate’s responses directly against the same information given by other candidates to determine who may be the best overall fit.  This helps to reduce any unconscious biases, such as liking a person who you have something in common with or remembering the most recent candidate’s responses better than the first candidate’s answers.

Because you’ve rated candidates as they answer each question, you won’t forget how they responded in the moment or confuse the responses with some else’s when you go back to look at your notes.

How can a structured interview predict job performance?

According to research, structured interviews are better at predicting job performance when compared to unstructured interviews. In an unstructured interview, the interviewer can ask anything they want, whether or not it’s valid or based on the realities of the position. Unstructured interviews may not ask probing questions about why a job candidate would make certain decisions, which is important to understanding how they may perform on the job. In a structured interview, behavioral and situational questions should help interviewers to understand how a person may react when faced with circumstances they will encounter on the job.


Want to learn  the secret on how to conduct structured interviews? Download a FREE copy of the InVista Handbook for Great Interviews here.


This is the first in a series on structured interviews. Be sure to come back to InVista in the coming weeks to learn more about how to build interview questions and how to train others in your organization to conduct structured interviews.

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