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How can structured interviews limit recruiting bias?

October 19, 2019
iCIMS Staff
7 min read

The structured interview is a proven, reliable interviewing method to limit recruiting biases. From a candidate perspective, it is also the fairest.* However, the structured interview is not the most interesting, engaging, or stimulating task for a recruiter. Think about asking the exact same questions in the exact same order, giving candidates the exact same amount of time to answer. And then multiply by the number of interviews. Not very appealing, right?

So how do you make your interviewing process as fair as possible and limit biases while keeping it engaging and spontaneous? Our article explores what the structured interview is, why is it efficient and brings value, and how you can integrate it smartly into your process.

Ever wondered what candidates think of the pre-recorded interview?Download our survey to find out!

#1. What is a structured interview and how does it work?

In 1997, Campion & al., published a study highlighting the predictive reliability of structured versus unstructured interviewing. The unstructured interview is a conversation, the recruiter does not prepare questions. She will assess the candidates based on her experience and impressions. Therefore, her opinion is likely to be less reliable and objective. Several studies have shown that the validity of an interview increases in proportion to its degree of structuring.

On the other hand, good structuring requires rigorous preparation and training. Campion et al. have put forward 15 points to qualify the content and evaluation of an interview as ‘structured’:

Conducting the interview

  1. Job analysis: the questions must be prepared in advance and fit the job requirements.
  2. Identical questions: questions must be identical and asked in the same order for each interview.
  3. Limited re-runs: bouncing-back on candidates’ answers should be avoided.
  4. Relevant questions: ask situational questions. For example: ‘Imagine presenting a difficult product to a prospect and they ask a difficult technical question. You do not have the answer. What do you do?”
  5. Interview duration: the interview should be consistent and gather essential and relevant information. Give candidates enough time to answer and limit the number of questions you ask.
  6. Other sources of information to avoid: to avert confirmation bias, do not gather extra information from other sources (CVs, tests, etc.).
  7. No questions from candidates: candidates’ questions reduce standardization and fairness between interviewees. It is preferable to let the candidate ask questions one the interview is over.


  1. Scoring answers: responses to interview questions must be scored: the evaluation is then directly linked to the answer.
  2. Behavioral scale: the use of behavioral scales (Behavioral Anchored Rated Scale – BARS) improves scoring reliability based on the critical incident method. This means measuring the difference between the candidate’s responses in a given situation and the behavior observed on the field, which is necessary for success.
  3. Detailed note-taking: note-taking helps overcome recency bias (when one prefers the last person they interview because they remember the meeting better) and avoid the halo effect (when one only considers the information that validates their first impression or an a priori).
  4. Multiple assessors: interviews can be conducted by several recruiters at the same time or separately (in this case do not talk about the candidates before the interview to avoid influence bias).
  5. Identical assessors: the same assessors will pose the same questions and use identical value scales.
  6. Do not discuss during the interview: avoid discussing other topics to not influence the assessment and limit risks of favoritism.
  7. Recruiter training: training for this type of interview is fundamental (job analysis, questioning techniques, critical incident method, evaluation scales, etc.).
  8. Statistical prediction model: a decision-making method (weighting of responses, weighted scores).

 #2. The structured interview in practice

In short, structured interviewing is a proven model based on a standardized, objective method. Researchers use the standardized interview to develop artificial intelligence algorithms. Recruiters however rarely use it and with good reason. The goal of an interview is to assess candidates and test their fit for a position on one hand, and to convince talent to join the company/team/journey on the other hand. In this context, the structured interview does not allow applicants to project themselves and the exercise can be quite boring for the interviewer. So why not leave structured interviews to pre-selection?


#3. Why the on-demand video interview is the solution for structured interviewing

The on-demand video interview, aka pre-recorded video interview, allows candidates to record their interviews on video when and where they prefer. The recruiter writes an interview questionnaire and associates evaluation criteria for each question. Questions usually assess motivation and experience. It is useful to add a few role-playing and behavioral questions, as well as practical ones. Candidates receive an invitation to record their answers within a limited time frame and according to their availability. They discover questions as they go for more spontaneity, the same way they would during a face-to-face interview. The recruiters then get the recording on a dedicated platform and compare and assess the applications with hiring teams according to the defined criteria

The on-demand video interview is similar on several points to the structured interview :

  • Points 1 and 2 (job analysis/identical questions): the same questions are posed in the same order.
  • Points 3, 7, and 13 (limited re-runs/no question from candidates/no discussion during the interview): there is no direct interaction between interviewer and interviewee as the interview is pre-recorded.
  • Points 1 and 4 (job analysis/relevant questions): assessment criteria depend on the position. It is recommended to ask questions related to the job and motivations but also to integrate role-play. Questions and criteria are usually defined with hiring managers.
  • Point 6 (sources of information to avoid): the time one saves thanks to the pre-recorded video allows us to take a step back from the CV and focus on candidates’ soft skills.
  • Points 8 and 10 (scoring answers/note-taking): the recruiter uses the scoring system integrated into the tool to evaluate a candidate. Additionally, the recording helps avoid recency bias.
  • Point 9 (behavioral scale): Example – Question: You have an argument with a tenant who quickly becomes aggressive and starts insulting and threatening you. What do you do?

Possible answers:


You stay calm and explain there is no need to get angry and try to calm him down

[0 ; 1]

You try and take control of the situation by speaking louder than him

[-1 : -2]

You put an end to the conversation and share the information with your manager

[1 ; 2]

  • Points 11 and 12 (several assessors): Video interviews can be shared. More people can give feedback resulting in more objective skills assessment and performance review.
  • Point 14 (training recruiters): at Easyrecrue we walk each user through the integration and usage of the solution. For example, we discuss what evaluation criteria to use, what questions to ask, and skills sharing.

Note that the following points differ from the definition of Campion et al :

  • Point 5 (interview duration): the length of the interview is set by the recruiter according to the video response time allowed per question and the number of questions asked. There are usually about 10 questions with written or video answers (about 15 minutes). The video interview is probably not consistent enough to be assimilated to a full-fledged structured interview but represents a perfect balance between the time dedicated to pre-selection for the recruiter and the experience offered to the candidate.
  • Points 15 (statistical prediction model): this decision-making method to determine shortlisting threshold(s) is very adapted to video interviews but should be defined by the hiring teams.

The pre-recorded video interview removes many cognitive biases and offers candidates a fair, objective, and structured selection process. Assessors can be influenced by criteria that are irrelevant to a position and hire someone for the wrong reasons. The point of the structured interview is to avoid this with a very standardized process. And since the task isn’t the most exciting for hiring teams, how about keeping structured interviewing for the video screening? And the semi-structured interview for the face-to-face interview!

Want to learn more about the on-demand video interview? Request a demo here! Our experts will be happy to answer all of your questions.

What about candidates? Ever wondered what they think of recording a pre-selection interview? Download our survey to find out!

*Sources :
Alfrey, A. C. (1983). This Week’s Citation Classic. Bone, 1983.
Campion, M. A., Palmer, D. K., & Campion, J. E. (1997). A review of structure in the selection interview. Personnel Psychology.
Eboyer, C. L. E. V. Y. (2007). du personnel Notations professionnelles : comment définir concrètement.
(Eboyer, 2007)

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