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  • Ben Kettle

💚 The One Thing - Part 1 💚

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Learning to love structured interviews

Hey everyone, quick logistical note before we get started.

When I started writing this post, I quickly realized that it was going to be a long one. So I’ve split it into three parts: Part 1 is all about the “Why?” and “What?” of structured interviews, next week, in Part 2, I’ll break down the “How?”, and finally in Part 3 we’ll talk about why there’s resistance to using structured interviews and what we can do about it.


The One Thing - Part 1

When someone asks me, “What is the one thing I can do to improve my hiring process?” My answer is always, “Start doing structured interviews and start doing them right now.”

Why we should all love structured interviews

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of reasons why I’m a fan of the method:

Structured Interviews are twice as good at predicting candidate success 📈

Unstructured interviews have a 14% predictive improvement on job candidate outcomes. At 26%, structured interviews are nearly two times better.

Predictive improvement - Structured vs Unstructured Interviews

Structured Interviews reduce bias and increase diversity

If you care at all about increasing the diversity of your workforce, you use structured interviews. Why?

Melissa Harrell, Ph.D. and former member of Google’s People Analytics team, put it this way:

...the approach [using structured interviews] is better for diversity because having planned questions and scoring rubrics mitigates our reliance on unconscious biases.¹

Great things happen when you start using real data to make hiring decisions 👩‍🔬 📈

Do you know what traits you need for a great hire? Do you know who is best in your organization at identifying talented people for a particular role? My guess is that you don’t, and even if you do, you wouldn’t be able to prove it with numbers. And you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Structured interviews play a foundational role in creating a data-driven hiring culture. Once you start using data, you can determine who, what, and how your company hires the best people for each role at any given point in time. Candidly, it’s empowering.

It’s also likely that few (if any) of your competitors are using structured interviews. Knowing what you need, how to evaluate people for it, and who best identifies high-performing candidates are a few of the compounding competitive advantages using data gives you.

Over time you’ll be able to source more specifically, evaluate candidates accurately faster, reduce the risk of making bad hires, and provide a better overall candidate experience than your competitors.

Structured and Unstructured Interviews - What’s the difference?

Unstructured interviews are best used when the interviewer probes the interviewee and tries to stay as open as possible to their responses. Simply put, unstructured interviews are essentially free-form conversations with few, or no, prearranged questions. They allow the interviewer to be spontaneous and “go with the flow” of the conversation.

On the other hand, structured interviews follow a set of prearranged questions in the same order and they’re primarily used to assess the interviewee or a situation. For example, when you go through Customs the agents always ask you the same set of questions in the same order. They do this because they’re trying to assess whether or not you’re up to no good, not because they’re particularly interested in your vacation.

When we evaluate candidates for a job we’re assessing their traits, skills, and thought processes, right? So it makes sense that we would apply structured interviews.


  • Structured interviews ask the same questions, in the same order, to all interviewees. Ideally, they also include a scoring rubric.

  • There are many advantages to using structured interviews, including: reducing bias, increasing diversity, and helping you and your organization get better at finding, evaluating, and onboarding talent.

Next week we’ll talk more about the “How” of setting up a structured interview hiring process. (It’s not as hard as you think)

Until then please don’t hesitate to send feedback, comment below, or share this post.

See you next week!


1 Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, 94.


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