The 5 Biggest Benefits of a Structured Interview 

What are the main benefits of a structured interview? Since we’ve already covered the main elements of a structured interview, let’s dive into the specific qualities that make structured interviews beneficial to both organizations and job seekers.

At a high level, structured interviews improve the validity, reliability, and legality of your hiring process.  In addition, structured interviews can help with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, as well as provide useful data to fine-tune your selection criteria.

1. Structured Interviews Have Higher Validity

When we use the term “validity” in an employee selection context, we are referring to the tendency for a given selection method (whether it’s an interview, aptitude test, personality profile, etc.) to predict future job performance. Selection procedures are more valid when they have a stronger relationship with a specific job-related outcome or metrics. Some common performance metrics include sales figures, customer service scores, supervisor ratings, turnover – anything that helps you define success on the job.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that one of the most tangible benefits of a structured interview comes from its relationship with job performance. Structured interviews have long been thought of as a leading indicator of job performance, but new research has made this point even more clear. Using structured interviews in the hiring process has consistently been linked to finding more successful employees across multiple dimensions of job performance.

This is accomplished through a strict focus on job-related questions. Structured interviews are designed to measure a candidate’s ability to perform the functions required for a specific job. Asking targeted questions and diligently evaluating responses leads to an interview that accurately forecasts on-the-job performance.

2. Structured Interviews Have Greater Reliability

The reliability of a selection procedure refers to the consistency of a chosen measurement technique. For structured interviews, reliability is achieved using anchored rating scales (e.g., numbered 1-5) to evaluate candidates’ responses to each interview question and providing a detailed rubric so every evaluator understands how to rate candidates appropriately.

This tight and consistent interview structure leads to a more dependable assessment of the candidates. By giving evaluators specific written descriptions that correspond with each point on the rating scale, interviewers are encouraged to pay close attention to the responses and to justify their rating of each answer.

Ideally, anchored rating scales are developed by subject matter experts who have experience with the specific behaviors that underlie successful job performance. Once the scales are agreed upon, interviewers should then receive basic training on how to rate candidates fairly and consistently. It takes some time and effort to make sure your structured interviews are reliable, but the results are more than worthwhile!

Ultimately, a reliable interview process allows you to fairly evaluate each of your applicants and identify which of your candidates are most likely to succeed in the role.

3. Structured Interviews Are More Legally Defensible

Along with the many benefits of hiring high-performing employees, the use of structured interviews also helps organizations keep up with legal standards related to the selection process. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides some general guidance on selection procedures to ensure organizations are following federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws focus on limiting what is called “disparate impact,” where a given selection procedure disproportionately screens out applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The good news is that structured interviewing (when implemented correctly) passes these guidelines with flying colors! The job-relatedness of structured interviewing has been repeatedly established. Plus, when compared with the other top predictors of future job performance, structured interviewing was shown to have the smallest difference between subgroups.

Adhering to legal guidelines is a critical point for organizations, as the scrutiny of selection methods has increased in recent years – and will likely continue to do so. The ability to show that your selection methods are both job-related and non-discriminatory will go a long way toward complying with legal requirements and avoiding a rare, but costly legal challenge.

4. Structured Interviews Support DE&I

Bias reduction has long been a staple of any good hiring strategy, but with the increased focus on creating diverse teams, many organizations want to improve their review process. Another one of the benefits of a structured interview is that it is well-suited to support organizational efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).

For structured interviews, any non-job-related questions are eliminated from the equation, leaving the focus squarely on the requirements of the job itself. Superficial variables – like hobbies, birthplace, interests, and favorite sports teams – are intentionally de-emphasized to minimize bias as much as possible. Additionally, structured interviews remove the opportunity for evaluators to subjectively judge a candidate based on irrelevant information, such as, “What’s the best kind of pizza?”

Careful question design also allows for candidates who may traditionally be overlooked to demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed for the job. For example, situational questions (think hypothetical scenarios) can measure job knowledge in candidates with less experience. Further, past-behavior questions can be designed to be more inclusive of candidates with varying life experiences while still addressing job-related competencies.

Here’s an example: “Tell us about an experience at work, school, or in your personal life when you had to manage a conflict between multiples parties. What did you do, and what was the result?” Questions like this allow candidates from any background to demonstrate the abilities needed to succeed in the role, whether they’ve done the job before or not.

In all, the thoughtful implementation of structured interviewing can foster a less biased selection process for candidates regardless of their socioeconomic background, family structure, political affiliation, educational pedigree, or even years of experience. In this way, structured interviewing can result in a more equitable candidate experience and more diverse workplace.

5. Structured Interviewing Provides Valuable Data

Every time you conduct a structured interview using an anchored rating scale, you collect data that can be leveraged in the future. By comparing interview scores to later performance metrics, you can gain a better understanding of the job-related validity of an interview question. With a large enough sample size, this validation process highlights which questions are the most valuable, and which ones might need to be adjusted.

Not only is this data beneficial for identifying talent, it also provides justification if a selection procedure is ever called into question. Should the situation arise, you can justify how you arrived at your decision.

Let’s look at an example. If a decision is called into question, you could respond with, “The candidate was not hired into our management training program after completing the selection process. Among other job-related predictors, we have found that our interview questions measuring leadership potential are significantly correlated to future promotion into management.”

That certainly sounds better than, “The candidate was not hired into our management training program. They prefer pepperoni.”

Over time, you’ll be able to use the data gathered from structured interviews to make more informed hiring decisions, and ultimately improve your hiring success rate.

The Verdict

Structured interviews have the benefit of increasing the validity, legal defensibility, and fairness of your hiring process – all while helping you identify which of your candidates are most likely to succeed.  These are just some of the benefits of a structured interview, as they also streamline the candidate evaluation process and provide valuable data you can use to continuously improve your hiring process.

Predicting future job performance is notoriously difficult. So when a tool like structured interviewing comes along that is accurate, reliable, and fair for candidates from all backgrounds, it would be wise to put it into practice!