Structured Interviews


Structured Interviews: What and Why


Exactly as the the name suggests, we are talking about a style of interview that is defined by built-in structure.

Also called “Structured Behavioral Interview,” “Pattern Interview,” “Quantitative Interview,” this 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.






Mistakes in hiring are largely due to the subjective nature of most hiring processes and the lack of measurable objective criteria on which to base the selection.  The TargetSuccess Predictive Behavior-based Structured Interview provides an objective, measurable process for selecting the best talent for a specific job. 

In studies done by industrial psychologists it [the structured interview] has been shown to be the only kind of interviewing that has any success at all in predicting worker performance in the workplace.”

From: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell 


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

The current issue of Time Magazine has a cover story devoted to describing the growth of profiling tools used by Fortune 500 corporations and the transformative results being achieved “ How High Is Your XQ: Questions To Answer In The Age Of Optimized Hiring”.


The United States Office of Personnel Management and theUnited States Postal Service have extensive documentation and systems in place using 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


Straight from the Federal Government's Office of Personnel Management 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.


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).




The Structured Interview has a number of key advantages. 

One is Controlling Subjectivity



We all know the hiring process involves both objective and subjective selection processes. Examples of the objective process are determining whether proper credentials are in place, is there a criminal history, etc. The prime example of subjective process is the traditional interview.


Subjectivity certainly has its place. Does this person fit in the culture of your organization? Does this person present themselves well? Can you work with this person? All very valid questions that should be answered. But only as part of a larger process that is as completely fair and unbiased as possible.


The Structured Interview offers that fair and unbiased platform and gives you a powerful tool to supplement your objective selection process.  

From (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.   




Another advantage is a proven process for

Identifying Excellence


Questions in the TargetSuccess Structured Interviews are carefully designed to evaluate behavioral characteristics that are associated with excellence and success.

Behavioral attributes focused on closely align with accepted standards such as the ISLLC “dispositions”. 


Structured vs. Non-structured

  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  • Consistent by design vs. Inconsistent by design
  • Scripted vs. Free-form
  • Time efficient vs. Time intensive
  • Structured interview questions are scripted, research based, job related and open ended.
  • Responses to questions are measured against predetermined standards.
  • Takes candidate screening to the next level of productivity by clearly measuring Behavioral/Actualization of key attributes.
  • Makes selection decisions based on objective listening rather than feeling and intuition.
  • The effective use of a structured interview requires specific expertise.>
  • The results of a structured interview predict on-the-job behavior at or above 90 percent accuracy. 
  • These interviews are far more reliable than the traditional interviews used in most organizations.  



Of course there are more advantages and reasons to implement structured interviews in your hiring process, like

  • controlling bias
  • increasing consistency
  • maximizing fairness
  • and more



But most important is that long term use of tools like this that purposefully and methodically select people that are most likely to be passionate, caring, intelligent, resourceful, communicative, industrious, loyal, in short EXCELLENT, will positively transform the culture of your organization, dramatically reduce turnover, and make it more and more certain for every student to have a positive learning experience each and every day.


Call us for personalized introduction to what we do and how we do it.  

  It is important to understand that in order to properly execute a structured interview, in particular how to evaluate responses, requires training. So, in addition to providing the interview script itself and interpretation “look-fors,” TargetSuccess also provides comprehensive training in the use of our Structured Interview as well as a complete set of on-line tools to support your implementation.   

TargetSuccess tools are available for a fraction of the cost of the “Big Names.”

TargetSuccess tools are of the highest quality and proven effectiveness.


Available Interviews: 

  • Teacher
  • Principal / School Leader
  • Classified Support
  • Administrator/Management


Contact us for pricing and availability.


  • TargetSuccess has Structured interviews for most job categories.
  • Structured interviews may only be used by trained, certified people.
  • Arrangements can be made for training people in your organization on most TargetSuccess Structured Interviews. Our training is done conveniently online.
  • TargetSuccess also provides an interview service where we conduct an interview over the phone with your final applicant picks and provide a detailed profile.


Focus on: How To Hire The Best Teachers

The Structured Interview:

What is it and Why use it?


Learn more


Focus on: Selection vs Screening

Big Pool or Small Pool:

Balancing the Importance of Screening and Selecting


Learn more


Focus on: Structured Interview

The Structured Interview:

What is it and Why use it?


Learn more



Laurie Kimbrel, Ed.D. Superintendent, Tamalpais Union High School District
2012-12-27, 03:14
“Pete Pillsbury and Target Success have been integral parts of the administrator hiring process in my district. I value Pete’s integrity, … read more
Human capacity is infinite. No challenge is beyond comprehension and response.
Norman Cousins


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Hiring the Right People



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