Avoiding Subjectivity in Interviewing

by Pete Pillsbury Sr.

Regardless of the position you are conducting interviews for, the goal is to hire the person who will be most effective in the job. It is possible to consistently meet this goal. However, in order to accomplish this, you need to control subjectivity in the interview process. Subjective judgment has proven to be a “killer” in the interview process because it distorts the interviewer’s ability to listen objectively. Thus, hiring decisions are made on the basis of “feeling” rather than objective judgment, and all too often, the best person is not hired.

A traditional interview situation begins with a greeting and usually a handshake between the applicant and interviewer(s). This greeting, research tells us, derails the interviewer’s objective thinking by allowing the powerful emotional side of the brain to take over, and, unconsciously, subjective filters are created in the brain of the interviewer. Throughout the interview, the interviewer will process what the applicant has to say through these filters. If the subjective filters are positive,  “I like this person…,” the interviewer will hear what the applicant has to say in a positive light or a negative light if the filters are negative. When hiring decisions are based primarily on subjective thought, they turn out to be more speculative (“I think she will be great, let’s hire her”) rather than based on objective, predictive information (“Listen to how consistently she shared behaviors that are consistent with high performers.”)

The most effective method of controlling interview subjectivity and insuring reliable hiring decisions is through the use of a structured interview. The structured interview helps an interviewer in quieting the subjective filters and listen through the objective side of the brain. (https://www.targetsuccess.biz/index.php/educators/wwd/structured-interviews)

Properly constructed structured interviews, such as the TargetSuccess Structured Interviews, are based on a set of measurable behavioral patterns consistent with high performance in a specific job. The interview questions are designed and tested to quantify objective, predictive behavioral data on each applicant. Through this data the structured interview, if conducted correctly, will produce highly accurate data on each applicant’s capacity to be a high performer. The discipline involved in using the structured interview shortens the time involved in interviewing, and it can be administered in person or via communication technology. In the case of the TargetSuccess Structured Interviews, they can be coded by the trained interviewer online. The computer does all the coding tabulation and provides a detailed profile on each applicant. This profile can be used for development once an applicant has been selected.

The common refrains I hear from consistent users of the structured interview include:“The structured interview takes the guess work out of hiring.” “Amazing and consistently accurate.” “A tool I wish I’d had years ago.”

Getting Started In A Leadership Position

“You can’t always get what you want….”

The purpose of this article is to provide the busy, often overwhelmed new leader (or even existing leaders), with common sense ideas about how to take charge and move forward and meet key objectives with the team or organization they “got,” not what they wished they had. Along with each of the brief ten steps I recommend, I have included suggestions for further study. The steps I suggest in this article are not complex or difficult. You don’t need to hire consultants; just dive in and be a leader who brings the best out of your team or organization.

One of the first things new leaders do is assess the talents of the players they have to work with, hoping they are A or at least B level players. It doesn’t take long to discover the hard facts: they are not all A or B players, many are C or even D level. The tendency, then, is to wonder, “How can I get better players.” Yet, it is not realistic to think you can replace the C and D players; at least not right away. You can’t clean house and start from scratch, and you don’t have much opportunity to bring in new people at, hopefully, an A or B level. “What you got is what you got.” The alternative is to see yourself as a leader of humans with infinite potential. Your success is in the hands of these people, the ones you got, regardless of what level player they are, and they likely have untapped potential. The situation you are in brings to mind the Mick Jager/Keith Richard classic, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.” Initially, your job is to to build success and achieve key results with what you have, and you likely will find you get what you need. This can be achieved achieved, if you try, through implementing the ten steps outlined in this article.

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Government use of the Structured Interview

Federal and State Governments Use Structured Interview

The United States Office of Personnel Management and the United States Postal Service have extensive documentation and systems in place using behavior profiling tools and structured interviews. Many states have modeled their own hiring selection processes after the Federal model, for example Arizona:

…the unstructured interpersonal interview can be one of the most unreliable and invalid methods of selection available”

Arizona Government Human Resources Division

And straight from the Federal Government’s manual:


Excerpted from The United States Office of Personnel Management:

Structured Interviews, A Practical Guide

Structured vs. Unstructured Interviews

Employment interviews can be either structured or unstructured. Generally speaking, structured interviews ensure candidates have equal opportunities to provide information and are assessed accurately and consistently.

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Traditional teacher qualifications have little influence on classroom achievement

Teacher experience and education level are characteristics are commonly assumed to correlate with greater teacher effectiveness.

However, when researchers analyzed student achievement data along with teacher qualifications, they found that a five-year increase in teaching experience affected student achievement very little — less than 1 percentage point. Similarly, the level of education held by a teacher proved to have no effect on student achievement in the classroom. These findings have implications for the way in which teacher quality and effectiveness should be assessed and valued by a school district. Continue reading

Problems with Traditional Hiring Approaches

The “traditional” approach to hiring can take any number of forms but generally includes ideas like:

  • Hiring people you know
  • Hiring referrals
  • Extensive interviewing

Unfortunately, in most cases, these are very subjective processes and tend to focus on selecting for reasons that are not tuned to finding the BEST teacher candidates regardless of where they come from.

What most leaders don’t know, yet should know, is what happens in the traditional hiring process. Continue reading

The Structured Interview: What and Why

Also called “Structured Behavioral Interview,” “Pattern Interview,” “Quantitative Interview,” the Structured Interview is a process of interviewing that uses a set of carefully designed scripted questions and highly specific guidelines for interpreting candidate responses.

The “structure” of the interview itself is in both the exact content and order of the questions and in the interpretation and analysis of responses.

The Structured Interview analyzes behavioral characteristics to predict which candidates are most likely to be successful.

Behavioral attributes focused on closely align with accepted standards such as the ISLLC “dispositions” that define behavioral characteristics associated with excellence in teaching.


We know you are committed to excellence! Let us help.

Click HERE for:

  • FREE 60-day access to our online Teacher Selection Sketch (questionnaire-based predictive behavior profiling tool)
  • FREE 60-day access to the Posting Manager tracking and reporting system
  • Personalized introduction and tour of the Structured Interview online training and management system


Corporate America and the US Federal Government understand the importance of screening and profiling tools such as our Structured Interview and Screening Sketch.

Structured Interview Transforms Organizations!

Reasons to to implement structured interviews in your hiring process:

  • Control bias and subjectivity
  • Increase consistency
  • Maximize fairness
  • Minimize hiring mistakes
  • Predict excellence
  • Build culture of excellence
  • and more

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Finding a Job Using LinkedIn

Excerpt from book Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn For Business – by Ted Prodromou

Ultimate Guide LinkedIn

So, let’s say you’re looking for a job. I bet you joined LinkedIn because everyone says it’s the best place to find a job. Almost every time I’d mention LinkedIn to someone, the person inevitably responds: “I signed up for LinkedIn but I’d never use it because I’m not looking for a job” or “I signed up for LinkedIn a year ago to get a job and I still don’t have one.” It seems like most people think LinkedIn is explicitly a job opportunity web site like Monster.com, of course I tell everyone that LinkedIn is a great job opportunity website but it is so much more.

Yes, LinkedIn is a great place to find a job if you know what you’re doing and you are willing to make the necessary effort. So many people think they just have to sign up for LinkedIn account and companies will magically find them and offer them a job. Well, I have some bad news for folks: Just signing up for LinkedIn will not get them jobs. Like everything else in life good things don’t come to you unless you work for it. You need to put in the effort to find a job, whether it’s on LinkedIn, another job site or in person.

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3 Things That Will Get Your Resume Thrown in the Trash

ResumeMeghan Casserly Forbes Staff

You know all about getting your resume noticed. (Clean layout! Accomplishments, not duties!) But do you know what’s on the flipside? What you might be doing that could cause recruiters to overlook your resume—or worse, toss it in the trash?

Gasp! The trash? I know what you’re thinking, but the truth is, recruiters have dozens, even hundreds, of resumes to comb through every day. So, in an effort to cull them down to a reasonable amount, they’ll simply toss any that don’t meet what they’re looking for. Continue reading