A structured interview process works to build a great finance team; what a pity then that unstructured, informal, and conversational interviews are becoming more popular in hiring. In the quest to deliver a good candidate experience and build affinity with candidates, hiring managers are replacing structure with spontaneity.
The only problem? While an unstructured interview might make candidates and interviewers in the financial space feel more comfortable initially, it’s not the best way to hire talent.
With unstructured interviews, you risk interviewer bias harming your employer brand, a slower recruitment process, and a higher chance of choosing the wrong candidates.
According to one study, structured interviews effectively predict performance around 26% of the time (almost double the rate of unstructured interviews).
Today, we will discuss the benefits of structured interviews, why you should use them for your finance team, and how you can create your interview structure.
What is a Structured Interview?
A structured interview is a method of data collection used in the hiring process, which relies on asking specific questions in a set order to evaluate candidates.
Rather than conversing with candidates to determine how they might “fit” with your company culture and goals, you ask questions designed to reveal your candidates’ competencies in specific areas.
With structured interviews, all candidates are asked questions in the same order and evaluated using the same criteria or scale. This ensures everyone gets the same fair, consistent experience when interacting with your company.
The Benefits of Structured Interviews
Ultimately, the more unstructured an interview is, the more likely it is to create problems for your financial company. Structured interviews revolve around asking questions specific to your job requirements. If you’re asking questions randomly, you could start evaluating traits that have nothing to do with the potential performance of your new hires.
Biases could emerge, interviewers might make decisions based on “affinity” rather than perceived skill, and you could even risk compliance issues.
On the other hand, a successful structured interview delivers various benefits, such as:
- Better candidate experiences: Structured interviews ensure candidates get a fair assessment during interviews. They’re evaluated using the same consistent criteria, which boosts your chances of building a fair, equitable workplace. This creates a good first impression for your candidates and improves your employer brand.
- Diversity and inclusion: With a structured interview, your hiring managers are less likely to be influenced by bias. This increases your likelihood of creating a diverse and inclusive environment for team members. You’ll make decisions based on a person’s skills and competencies rather than on age, gender, or background.
- Easier candidate comparison: When you create a structured interview, you establish a clear set of criteria you can use to “score” each candidate. This means you can make decisions based on actual information and data rather than gut instinct. A structured interview makes your chance of hiring the right candidate much higher.
- Faster hiring: With increased competition in the skills-short financial environment, recruiters can’t afford to take their time when making hiring decisions. Since structured interviews give your hiring managers pre-defined questions to ask and simple rating scales, you’re more likely to make an informed decision quickly.
- Improved compliance: Bias isn’t just a problem for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Financial companies can also face legal issues if they start hiring professionals for the wrong reasons. If you’re asking questions spontaneously, you might request information you’re not technically allowed to ask for.
A Strategy for a Structured Interview Process
Creating a structured interview process means taking a systematic and consistent approach to interviewing. Though it might seem complicated, structuring your interview strategy correctly can save you a lot of time and effort in the long term.
Here are some tips to get you started on the right track.
1. Analyse each role and focus on key competencies
The first step in creating a structured interview strategy is analysing each financial role you want to fill. Examining your job descriptions should give you an insight into the key competencies and qualities essential for your new candidates.
This will allow you to create specific questions that evaluate each competency carefully. For instance, one question for a financial analyst might be, “Tell me about a time when your attention to detail helped you achieve a goal for your employer.”
2. Craft insightful questions
Interview questions in a structured discussion should help you learn more about each candidate and their competencies. Crafting behavioural interview questions, where candidates are asked to explain how they’ve handled challenges and situations in the past, can be very helpful.
The right questions can give you an insight into your candidate’s problem-solving skills, abilities, teamwork, and even their ability to communicate.
3. Establish clear evaluation criteria
Just as choosing the right questions for a structured interview is important, you also need to ensure you’re evaluating your candidates correctly. Various ways exist to “score” candidates when filling your finance team.
You might assign points to candidates every time they mention a specific term or ability in their responses to questions. You could use a sliding scale to rate their responses from one to five, based on how impressed you are by their answers.
4. Collaborate when evaluating candidates
Getting multiple stakeholders involved in the interview process can be tricky in a fast-paced financial landscape. However, having various staff members’ input can help reduce biases and provide a more holistic insight into which employees are best for your team.
If multiple people can’t be present in the interview process, recording interviews and asking team members to assign scores to answers themselves can help to create a more comprehensive assessment process.
5. Constantly improve and adapt
To ensure the structured interview process is successful for your company and delivers a positive experience to candidates, it’s important to optimise and adapt consistently. Regularly review and refine your strategy based on feedback from both your interviewers and candidates.
It’s also worth regularly training interviewers to help them ask questions effectively, actively listen to responses, and make the right decisions when evaluating candidates.
Bringing Structure to Your Interview Process
As tempting as it might be to ignore structure in the interview process, particularly in a hectic hiring environment, structured interviews are an extremely valuable tool.
You can improve your chances of hiring the right candidates by focusing on consistency, alignment with job competencies and requirements, and standardised evaluations. Moreover, you’re more likely to deliver your potential employees a fair and positive experience.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, ranging from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly.
To learn more, contact one of our team today or call us on 01282 930930.