An interview is an information-gathering session made up of verbal and nonverbal exchanges between you and the interviewee. Because it’s hard to make a complete character and skill assessment of a stranger in just one hour, our brains often rely on non-verbal, gut-level cues and feelings to determine whether we want to work with a person or not. Because of our natural tendency to connect with people who are like ourselves, interviews risk becoming more a reflection of who you are than who the interviewee is. If we connect with someone, we tend to ask easier interview questions to "confirm" what we already think we know. When we think someone is very different from ourselves, we may ask harder interview questions to subconsciously prove they wouldn’t do well in the job.
The good news is that we can effectively counter these subtle, unconscious reactions by conducting a structured interview. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of a structured interview in sidestepping bias by studying interviews with pregnant women and individuals with physical disability. Structured interviews and pre-assigned templates help us get less distracted by extraneous cues and instead surface the most important information needed to synthesize a candidate's suitability for a specific role.
Here are the three key strategies of structured interviews:
- Revisit the most important job-related hiring criteria immediately before or as you work through the interview.
- Ask the same questions of everyone you interview, in the same order.
- Rate everyone quantitatively on the same criteria using a standardized evaluation form.