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:

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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.

Structured Interview

  • All candidates are asked the same questions in the same order.
  • All candidates are evaluated using a common rating scale.
  • Interviewers are in agreement on acceptable answers.

Unstructured Interview

  • Candidates may be asked different questions.
  • A standardized rating scale is not required.
  • Interviewers do not need to agree on acceptable answers.

At first glance, the unstructured interview appears attractive due to its loose framework, discretionary content, and conversational flow. Yet, these same features make this type of interview very subjective, which reduces its accuracy and invites legal challenges.

Research consistently indicates unstructured interviews have little value in predicting job performance.

Unstructured interviews typically demonstrate:

  • Low levels of reliability (rating consistency among interviewers).
  • Low to moderate levels of validity (the extent to which the assessment method measures what it is intended to measure, e.g., job performance).

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From www.opm.gov (Federal Office of Personnel Management):

A structured interview is an assessment method designed to measure job-related competencies of candidates by systematically inquiring about their behavior in past experiences and/or their proposed behavior in hypothetical situations.

Generally speaking, structured interviews ensure candidates have equal opportunities to provide information and are assessed accurately and consistently.

Structured interviews are popular because they are more personal than other assessment methods. Other benefits of structured interviews are:

  • They can evaluate competencies that are difficult to measure using other assessment methods (e.g., Interpersonal Skills)
  • All candidates are asked the same predetermined questions in the same order
  • All responses are evaluated using the same rating scale and standards for acceptable answers

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