Pro Hiring Tip: Use Structured Interviews

Interviews are part of the evaluation process and provide you with an opportunity to further assess the candidates qualifications and fit, but interviewing brings its own set of challenges and bias. Therefore, to get he most out your interviews, and properly assess fit, use a structured interview.

So what is a structured interview?

“Structured Interviews are the result of careful planning and disciplined implementation. In fact, we have found that for a two-hour interview to yield meaningful information, it could take at least that much time to get ready for it. The most important part of preparation is creating a list of questions that will identify whether the candidate has the competencies required for the position. It means asking the candidate about his experiences and behavior, and yet most interviewers usually just let the candidate tell his story.” (Beyond Conversation: The Hard Work of a Structured Interview, Claudio Fernandez Aroz)

Most of us are guilty of “just letting the candidate tell their story” at one time or another. When’s the last time you uttered these words, “Nice to meet you Jim, tell me about yourself?” If we’re honest, we’ve either spoken those words OR, were on the receiving end of a similar statement at one time or another.

Most of us are guilty of “just letting the candidate tell their story” at one time or another. When’s the last time you uttered these words, “Nice to meet you Jim, tell me about yourself?” If we’re honest, we’ve either spoken those words OR, were on the receiving end of a similar statement at one time or another.  

If, for example, you took the time to create Key Accountabilities for the role, you have the basis for exceptional questions. (Pro Hiring Tip: Create Key Accountabilities). 

Here’s an example:

KA Revenue Generation. Sell $2.5M in software and services by 12.31.2022

  • Give me your best comparable example where you met/achieved a similar sales goal.
  • If the goal was missed, what were the pertinent reasons? 
  • If the goal was achieved, what strategies did you employ? 
  • Where did you rank among your peers?

KA Learning & Development. Be proficient and be able to conduct a selling demonstration of our software within 90 days of hire.

  • In your former role, how long did it take you to become productive?
  • What did you do, on your own, to accelerate your learning?
  • What are you doing today, and ongoing, to sharpen your product or selling skills?

You can also create questions for each Attribute, you desire, above and beyond the Key Accountabilities. The bottom line is that conducting a structured interview takes time, planning and discipline to construct. Remember, each candidate has been prepped for your interview by someone; a colleague, co-worker or recruiter. You no longer have the luxury of skimming the candidates resume, 5 minutes before the interview, and expect the outcomes you desire

Grade Your Candidates

After several different interviews, it can be difficult to remember how each candidate performed and how well they answered your questions. Skills and abilities begin to overlap and it can be difficult to discern one from the other. Construct a simple scale

(1 – 10) and grade your candidates response to each question or key Accountability during the interview. This will help you eliminate bias and will give you a record of how you felt about the candidate at that specific time

If you have multiple interviewers (recommended) give them the scale and have them do the same during their interaction with the candidate. CAUTION: Don’t speak about the candidate with other interviewers until after the interview has been completed and you have their grading document. Afterward, this can create some wonderful dialogue between members of the hiring team.

By grading your candidates responses against your Key Accountabilities or Attributes, you’ll achieve a level of specificity that will work in your favor in hiring your next superstar.

Final Thoughts

If you want to save time and ensure you have the best candidate for the role, I encourage you to use structured interviews. Spend the appropriate time to get this right. After all, your livelihood and/or career is at stake.

Cheers!

Jim

Jim O’Hara is a veteran executive and former agency firm owner. He is now President of Kellen James – Performance Advisors, an Advisory, Diagnostics and Talent Consultancy that helps organizations hire more accurately, lead more effectively and get results more efficiently. To learn more, connect with Jim on LinkedIn or email him at jim@kellenjames.com.

 

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