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Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Structured Interviews

The rights and wrongs of using structured interviews to fill a job vacancy have recently been discussed in a number of articles and forums on professional websites including the CIPD's. It's interesting to see the contrasting viewpoints. 

There are those who are clearly in favour of using a structured approach, believing that it makes the process fairer and those against it, believing structured interviews are inhibiting and not the best way to find out about a candidate. 

The different views seem to be  split about 50/50.  Those working in the public sector are mostly in favour of structured interviews where questions are planned before hand and the same questions are put to all the candidates. On the other hand, those in the private sector mostly favour unstructured interviews,  reasoning that this unformal approach allows the flexibility to find out more relevant information about the candidate. 

Having worked in the public sector for most of my working life, I favour the structured approach.  It shouldn't be inhibiting, because it's perfectly acceptable to ask  extension questions - which of course will be different depending on the responses of different candidates. Clearly some organisations have managed  well using an unstructured approach and want to continue to use it.  However, for anyone who has had little opportunity to develop the necessary interviewing skills for this less formal approach they could easily find themselves in trouble. More often than not candidates will have the opportunity to talk to each other and if they are later choose to challenge a decision, suspecting that the process has not been fair - the panel members could find themselves accused of discrimination. Is it worth the risk?  In my view no - but then I have never found the structured approach inhibiting and on the couple of occasions when my decisions have been challenged an independent assessor was able to confirm that the process was entirely fair.  

Which approach do you favour?