Unstructured or structured interviews can set the tone for what the level of formality is in a position.

I want to begin by disclaiming that I am discussing two instances of interviews that led to being offered a job that I accepted. It is important to note this because I understand my bias toward an example of an unstructured interview working in my favor as well as a structured one. However, I understand that from the employer’s perspective, there could have been a bigger difference in the effectiveness had they chosen a different selection method.

Prior to my sophomore year of college, I was browsing the university’s website for job listings as part of an assignment for a class. I came upon a position on the memorial union fun team. The application was simple enough, submit my resume and answer some basic demographic questions to verify my student status. A few weeks later I received an email to schedule a time for an interview with two current fun team members and the current faculty advisor. When I walked into the interview in my business casual outfit to see them in jeans and a hoodies, I knew I had overdressed and could breath a sign of relief because it was a lot more informal than I had realized. The questions were a mix of from a list and from content off my resume. There didn’t seem to be a lot of pressure to get the answers right and I could feel them warming up to me as the interview went on because I know how to engage an audience and be personable while talking about myself. After I got the job, one of my coworkers who had interviewed me told me that the main reason I got the job was because of my experience as a camp counselor in high school. She had a great experience as a councilor when she was in high school and said the skills she learned there reflected a lot in her success in her current position. Therefore, she assumed I had the same skills. In the article How to Take the Bias Out of Interviews, it says that “interviews should not be the evaluation method of choice.” (Bohnet 2016) In this scenario, because of the informal nature of the interview, it made me feel like the position was also pretty informal. I took my work seriously, but I can see why they chose this selection method and feel like it appropriately fit the strategy they were trying to accomplish.

On the other hand, I was a part of a structured interview for the pool monitor position last summer and feel like that really set the tone for what the management’s expectations were of us. I sat in front of a semi-circle of middle-aged board members who asked me questions from a list. Prior to the interview I had read through the pool rules and had to pull information from them as I answered questions. I could see the board writing notes as I answered. I am not sure if they scored it systematically like they talked about in the How to Take the Bias out of Interviews article (Bohnet 2016), but I do feel like it set the tone for me to see how seriously they expected me to take this position once I got it.

Bohnet, Iris (2016) Harvard Business Review, How to Take the Bias Out of Interviews

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