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Structured vs Unstructured Interviews: Which One is More Effective for Candidate Selection?

Interviews are a ubiquitous method for gathering information across various fields, including education research and employee recruitment and evaluation. In the context of recruitment, interviews are often divided into several methods or techniques. One of the commonly debated topics is the effectiveness of structured interviews vs unstructured interviews.

Both structured and unstructured interview methods have different characteristics and workings, but their primary goal remains the same – to find the best-suited candidates for the company. To choose between them, companies need to tailor their choice to the needs, goals, and other aspects related to the recruitment process.

Structured and unstructured interviews each have their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will provide comprehensive insights into structured vs. unstructured interviews, offering valuable considerations for your recruitment strategy. Read on to learn more!

Read full also: 5 Interview Formats for Selecting the Best Candidates!

Understanding Structured and Unstructured Interviews

Before delving deeper into these two interview methods, it’s crucial to grasp the definitions of structured and unstructured interviews. So, what are structured and unstructured interviews? Here’s an explanation of both:

Structured Interview

According to Indeed, a structured interview is a conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee using pre-determined or standardized questions. All candidates or job applicants are given similar questions. The interviewer then collects all candidate responses for further evaluation. This method helps ensure that the interviewer receives similar answers from each candidate.

In simple terms, a structured interview is a method where the interviewer follows a predetermined format of questions set before the interview. In this format, all candidates are asked the same set of questions.

Initially, this interview type was widely used in quantitative research, but over time, structured interviews have also been adopted in the corporate world to identify quality talent.

Unstructured Interview

Unlike structured interviews, unstructured interviews are the opposite. An unstructured interview is a method where the interviewer does not follow a predetermined script or question format.

The interviewer typically gives candidates the freedom to respond or speak freely about the topics discussed. Subsequently, the interviewer will ask a series of questions based on the answers or discussions provided by the candidate.

In the field of education, this type of interview is often used in qualitative research. However, unstructured interviews have also been commonly employed in the employee selection process as they allow for a more comprehensive assessment.

Read full also: Human-Centered Approach to Candidate Assessment in HR Interviews

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Structured vs Unstructured Interviews

Both structured and unstructured interviews have distinct characteristics and work in different ways. So, which one is better? There’s no definitive answer as both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Companies can use both interview types as evaluation methods, tailoring them to their needs, goals, and recruitment principles.

To determine which one to use, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each interview type. Here are some pros and cons of structured vs. unstructured interviews:

Structured Interview Advantages:

  1. Objectivity: Structured interviews facilitate more objective candidate assessments because the questions are predetermined. This encourages interviewers to minimize bias during the evaluation, resulting in a more objective process.
  2. Consistency: All candidates receive similar questions consistently, making it easier for interviewers to make comparisons between them. This consistency helps companies make strategic decisions in selecting the most suitable candidates.
  3. Replicability: Structured interviews can be replicated easily for various positions and candidates. This ensures that the same approach is used throughout the recruitment process.

Structured Interview Disadvantages:

  1. Lack of Flexibility: Since the questions are predetermined, structured interviews are less flexible in handling unforeseen situations or candidates with diverse backgrounds. This can be challenging when dealing with unexpected circumstances or candidates with varying backgrounds.
  2. Limited Assessment of Candidates: Structured interviews focus more on competency and work experience, potentially neglecting other aspects such as candidates’ personalities or cultural fit.

Unstructured Interview Advantages:

  1. Flexibility: Unstructured interviews offer greater flexibility in handling candidates with diverse backgrounds or unexpected situations. This allows interviewers to adapt questions and approaches to individual candidates.
  2. In-Depth Information: Unstructured interviews allow candidates to provide more in-depth responses and insights into their personalities, motivations, and values. Interviewers can gain a deeper understanding of candidates beyond what is visible in structured interviews.
  3. Assessing Personality and Creativity: Unstructured interviews facilitate the assessment of crucial aspects that are not easily observed, such as personality, creativity, and a candidate’s ability to think creatively. This is particularly valuable for positions requiring adaptability and creative thinking.

Unstructured Interview Disadvantages:

  1. Bias: Unstructured interviews are challenging to evaluate, making interviewers more vulnerable to bias when assessing candidates. This can lead to highly subjective evaluations.
  2. Limited Comparisons: Interviewers may find it more challenging to compare candidates because questions vary. This also makes it difficult to make objective decisions due to inconsistent evaluations.
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When to Use Structured or Unstructured Interviews?

As previously mentioned, the choice between structured and unstructured interviews should be based on the specific needs, goals, principles, and positions of the company. To make this determination, here’s a guideline:

1. Structured Interviews

Structured interviews are generally suitable when a company needs to assess candidates based on clear competencies and work experience. They are best suited for positions that require specific and stringent qualifications.

2. Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured interviews are suitable when a company aims to assess a candidate’s personality, motivation, and values in-depth. They are valuable for positions that require adaptability and creative thinking.

So, Which One is More Effective: Structured vs Unstructured Interviews?

Both interview methods are effective when used correctly, tailored to the company’s needs, goals, principles, and the positions they are hiring for. There is no definitive answer as to which one is superior because structured and unstructured interviews serve different purposes and offer unique benefits.

To optimize the effectiveness of both structured and unstructured interviews, consider using the Algobash interview platform. Algobash can help streamline and enhance the interview process, making it more efficient, objective, and innovative. Whether you choose structured or unstructured interviews, Algobash can assist you in evaluating potential employees and identifying top-quality talent.

With Algobash, you can automate interview processes, analyze data, and maintain consistency and objectivity, all while ensuring flexibility and depth in your assessments. So, why not take your recruitment process to the next level with Algobash? Schedule a demo or try it for free for seven days now!

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