The Structured Interview: A Way to Maximize Your Time Spent Interviewing

You look down at your watch to check the time… 15 minutes into a 30-minute interview and you have only asked your candidate 3 of the 10 questions you quickly thought up immediately preceding the interview.

Your questions are fairly generic and relate mainly to the candidate’s past experiences and cultural fit. “Tell me about a time when you struggled to meet a goal you set for yourself…” “Tell me about your greatest accomplishment…”

You have managed to go on tangents about the weather, sports, and where the candidate ate dinner last night. You realize there has been little discussion about the actual job this person is applying for and you aren’t sure if the candidate will have an understanding of their role in the department. You end the interview a few minutes early to get the candidate to their next set of interviewers.

Enter: the structured interview.

A structured interview consists of developing standardized questions with a corresponding rubric to evaluate the candidate’s answers. The questions should be asked in the same order each time, and the rating scale for your candidate’s answers could be a Likert scale with corresponding definitions to designate a score, per the candidate’s response. Investing time and effort in developing this process will result in a fair, impartial, unbiased evaluation of your candidate pool.

Interview questions and rubrics should be focused on specific knowledge, skills, and abilities of the position as well as details from the job description. This blog from Betterteam gives examples of how to design questions that get at the key components of evaluating a candidate’s fit for the position.

Designing and implementing a structured interview process may have obstacles. Potential challenges to this process include: time management within the interview to ensure all candidates are asked all of the same questions, potential resistance to adopt this style of interviewing from staff involved, and creation of the standardized question list and rubric. Despite such challenges, creating a structured interview can provide your team and HR department with an objective, consistent way to evaluate candidates for a given job opportunity.

This article in Forbes describes the benefits and potential challenges of structured interviewing tactics. Structured interviews will produce comparable data across the candidate pool that will allow for your team to make a quick decision regarding candidate selection.  Research suggests that bias during the interview process can be minimized, and retention can be improved by implementing a structured interview strategy. The challenges can be overcome to ultimately improve interview processes at your workplace. Collaborating with your HR department, internal staff, and even partnering with a local college of pharmacy’s research/assessment office for question and rubric development could contribute to standardizing one of the most important activities within the hiring process. Finding the right person for the right position becomes much easier when the interview process is well thought out and unbiased.

Jackie is a full-time pharmacist and career coach at TheHappyPharmD, where she helps pharmacists live life by design. She loves her family, changing the world and the profession of pharmacy.

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