Structured interviews for the selection of personnel


Optimize personnel selection with structured interviews.

The primary objective of personnel selection is to identify a suitable candidate for a vacant position. Through structured interviews, the advantages of a personal interview are used and a methodically reliable assessment is guaranteed. How does a structured interview work? Why should this form of interview be used in the selection process? These and other questions are dealt with in this article on the subject of “structured interviews”.


Structure helps

A structured interview is characterized by a uniform guideline regarding questions and evaluations. The questions are derived from a requirements analysis or a competence profile based on the position. This increases the significance of the assessment of each applicant and should also ensure that the results of the selection procedure are standardised, i.e. independent of the interviewer.

While open question formulations are typical in unstructured interviews, an interview with situational questions offers structural added value. Applicants provide insight into their previous, relevant experiences based on their answers.

Essentially, this means paying attention to the content of the interview and, above all, not letting the “deceptive gut feeling” arise in the selection of personnel:

  • The questions are based on a competence profile for the vacant position.
  • Each applicant is asked the same questions.
  • Assistance or other “interference” is avoided.
  • Situational questions are asked, which refer to past experiences: “Tell me about a situation in which you have implemented your idea in the team…”, “What have you done to save costs during your time as XY…?”.
  • The more detailed the interview guideline, the more structured an interview will be.
  • The applicant asks his questions after the interview.

In terms of evaluation, this means that each candidate’s answer is assessed using an evaluation scale (for example, school grades or a scale of points from 1 to 10). It is important to define these scales and evaluation systems in advance in order to have an objective basis for evaluation. Also a as broad as possible evaluation area should be defined, in order to be able to arrange the precision and the rework with the interviewing colleagues as detailed as possible. Thus several evaluation points should be possible, not only the poles “very good” and “insufficient”.

Furthermore, the same interviewers should be used for all interviews and the interviews should always be carried out by a team of several people.


Rate of false judgments drops

Structured interviews contribute significantly to the reduction of false judgments. These always arise when information is included that is not relevant for personnel selection.

Furthermore, self-portrayal tactics (smiling, flattering, representing the same values as the interviewer, etc. …) of applicants are disregarded in the evaluation. Structured interviews curb these self-portrayal effects, since the applicants are judged according to given criteria, instead of being led astray by their smiles, greatness or flattery.

For situational questions, the applicant is asked what he would do in a hypothetical situation or what he has done in the past in a particular situation. Often the situations in these questions are somewhat tricky and allow for several possible actions. The aim of situational questions is to get an impression of how an applicant has behaved in real situations in professional life. In this way, the questioning of “textbook knowledge” or socially desirable behaviour is avoided. Also here a very exact picture can be opened up over the social and technical abilities of the applicants.


Conclusion: Why a structured interview?

A structured procedure in the interview process guarantees a job-related examination of the qualities of all applicants and counteracts distortions. The standardized evaluation through a previously defined guideline creates an objective result for personnel selection – no matter who the interviewer is. The standardized introduction of situational questions also enables the interview to be as meaningful and fair as possible.

The results of structured interviews enable better comparability with a high number of applicants and different interviewers. As a company, you will be required to think carefully about what is important for the selection of the right person for the job when developing the interview guide.