Use Google’s Structured Interviews to Improve Hiring

Whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee, too often, it feels like the interviewing process comes down to “would I want to have a beer with this person?” But research shows that structured interviews—using the same interview questions and techniques to evaluate job candidates—drastically reduces our biases when hiring.

Compared to unstructured interviews, structured interviews are also:

Google—having realized its infamous brainstorming questions had zero correlation with job performance—has put together a comprehensive guide to how to interview someone using a structured interview, summarized below.

How to Conduct a Structured Interview

  1. Determine your hiring attributes. Before you even sit down with a candidate, make sure that you and your team agree on the characteristics you’re looking for. One way to establish your hiring criteria is to use “Even Over” statements, which identify a preference between two positive outcomes. For instance, “Deep listening abilities even over rapid problem solving skills.”
  2. Draft your interviewing questions. Develop questions that will allow the candidate to demonstrate their thought process, and include a mix of behavioral and hypothetical prompts:
    1. Behavioral questions will elicit historical response patterns: “Tell me about how you overcame an obstacle at work”.
    2. Hypothetical questions test the candidate’s adaptability in new situations: “How would you decide between two vendors?”
  3. Prompt, then follow up. Once you’ve established your opening questions, develop potential follow-ups that encourage the candidate to explain their answer in greater detail. Remember, your goal is to understand how they analyze and approach problems.
  4. Develop a grading rubric. Create a chart that lists the different attributes that you’re looking for, with examples of Poor, Mixed, Good, and Excellent responses.
  5. Take notes. During the interview, take extensive notes so that you can later compare answers to your grading rubric. At Google, they even use an independent hiring committee to review the interviewer’s assessment of the candidate.

Takeaway: As an interviewer, asking every candidate the same exact interview questions can feel repetitive, but the benefits of structured interviews are clear. Improving your interviewing techniques will not only help you identify the best candidates, but also ensure they will perform at their best once they do join your team.


Published January 4, 2016

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