Interview types

A blue icon of two people sitting at a table for an interviewThe interview is considered to be the most important element of an recruitment and selection process. A common problem encountered with the interview process, whatever format it takes, is the tendency for members of the selection committee or interview panel to consider it as a single high-stakes evaluation of candidates. That is, turning the interview process into the decision-making process. It is vital that the Chair of the committee takes steps to counter this perception and ensure that committee members consider and evaluate information drawn from all steps of the process before making a final decision.

Structured vs Unstructured

Human resources literature for some time has conveyed that a structured interview returns a more reliable and valid assessment of a candidate than an unstructured interview1. A change to structured interviews was deemed as more acceptable to candidates for medical trainee positions2. A structured interview format is likely to play a key factor in recruitment and selection, which is why most policies will direct the selection committee towards a conducting a structured interview.

While it is easy to recognise an unstructured interview, the definition of what constitutes a structured interview is not as clear. Simply asking the same questions of each candidate is generally not considered by researchers to represent a structured interview. Structured interviews should also include an agreed mechanism for evaluating or rating candidates’ responses. Guidance should be provided to interviewers on how to rate each question according to an agreed grading rubric.

Traditionally, the interview process consists of forming a panel of interviewers, normally comprised of the selection committee, with the panel asking questions of candidates and rating their responses. However, Training Providers and committees can consider using alternative structured interview formats, such as the Multiple Mini Interview.

1 Levashina J, Hartwell CJ, Morgeson FP, Campion MA. The structured employment interview: narrative and quantitative review of the research literature. Pers Psychol. 2014;67(1):241-93.
Westwood M, Nunn L, Redpath C, Mills P, Crake T. Applicants regard structured interviews as a fair method of selection: an audit of candidates. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2008;101(5):252-258.
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