It is not only the candidate who should organize and prep for the interview -- you need to be well-prepared too. According to the Bureau of Human Resources, structured interviews are twice as effective in predicting how well an employee will do for you. A structured interview, unlike a free-flowing unstructured interview, requires that you do your homework on the candidate and the position, and create a plan for the interview process.
Decide on Roles
Select an interviewer or interview panel. The person or people selected should be familiar with the job they are hiring for and trained in building rapport, asking questions and evaluating answers. The Vermont Department of Human Resources recommends using a panel interview when possible as they are more reliable and fair. The department suggests that a chairperson be selected to lead the search or committee, members should be diverse, and the panel should contain members of equal or higher position than the job being filled. Three to five members is ideal. Reserve interview times with the interviewer or panel members, then call candidates and offer available interview slots. According to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources, most interviews last 45 to 50 minutes.
Know the Job Description
You need to know what you are looking for before you walk into the interview. This means becoming very familiar with the job description. Read the job description and note the specific skills, qualities and experience the ideal candidate will need to succeed in the position. If you are not the direct supervisor of the position, schedule to meet with the position's supervisor to learn more about the responsibilities and needs of the position. This will guide you in preparing the right interview questions.
Study the Candidate
Learn as much as you can about the candidate in advance. This eliminates wasting time asking about information that is already listed on the resume or elsewhere. The resume might also provide some clues or inspire certain questions you should ask. For example, if you see an unexplained gap in employment or a desirable skill that is listed on the resume but not explained, you can ask for more information in the interview. This background information will provide context in the interview and help you identify inconsistencies and strengths. Also consider researching the candidate on social networking sites. According to a national online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Careerbuilder.com in 2014, forty-three percent of employers surveyed use social networking sites to get the real scoop on candidates, before they hire. (see ref 5)
Pick Effective Questions
Structured interviews require writing interview questions in advance. Prepare questions that are related to the position, ask about past behavior or hypothetical situations and allow the interviewee to answer in detail. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, asking the candidates the same questions in the same order makes it easier to compare candidates and rank them. To avoid discrimination, ensure all questions are job-related and there is a business need to answer the question. Require that the interviewer or all panel members take notes to assist with the evaluation process later.
- Vermont Department of Human Resources: A Guide to Interviewing and Reference Checking
- U.S. Department of State Bureau of Human Resources: Conducting Effective Structured Interviews
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Assessment & Selection -- Structured Interviews
- Careerbuilder.com: Number of Employers Passing on Applicants Due to Social Media Posts Continues to Rise, According to New CareerBuilder Survey
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.