Whether you’re the interviewer or the interviewee, a structured interview is your best friend. It keeps things fair, focused, and helps candidates know what to expect.

I want to dive a little deeper into why it’s essential and also expand on the types of individuals it’s particularly beneficial for.

The Value of Structured Interviews

Imagine walking into an interview, unsure of what to expect. The questions seem random, and the conversation meanders without a clear direction. It’s a recipe for discomfort and anxiety, especially for candidates who process information differently, like those who are neurodiverse.

Structured interviews, on the other hand, provide a clear framework for the interview process. They have a set of standardised, competency or technical based questions that assess the skills and experiences directly relevant to the job. This structured approach offers several advantages:

    • Fair Evaluation: Structured interviews allow every candidate to be assessed using the same criteria. This consistency ensures that no one is at a disadvantage due to the randomness of questions, and decisions are based on qualifications and skills – No random or irrelevant questions = (ideally) no inconsistencies or interviewer biases.
    • Job Relevance: Every question has a purpose. You’re assessing skills and experiences directly related to the job. No more unrelated questions that might throw candidates off.
    • Reduces Anxiety: Candidates, especially those who are neurodiverse, may have varying communication styles and might find unpredictable interviews daunting. Structured interviews reduce anxiety by providing a clear structure and expectations.
    • Highlighting Skills: Using competency-based questions, you can dig deeper into a candidate’s specific skills and experiences related to the job. This makes it easier to determine if they’re the right fit for the role.

Let’s Consider This Scenario:

You’re hiring a Data Analyst for your company. In a traditional, unstructured interview, you might ask a random question like, “If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?” – Yes, I’ve actually seen people online promoting this as a “great interview question” but this question really doesn’t assess the candidate’s skills or job-related competencies.

Now, picture a structured interview. You’ve prepared a list of questions that focus on the candidate’s technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and their experience within Data Analytics. This approach ensures that you get a comprehensive understanding of their qualifications and suitability for the role.

The Inclusive Aspect: Sending “What to Expect” Type Materials in Advance

Now, here’s a thoughtful touch that could benefit all candidates, but specifically neurodiverse candidates: sending a guide of what to expect from the interview in advance. This guide should include details about the structured interview format and the types of questions that will be asked.

An screenshot of an email preview that reads "A guide to our interviews"

For candidates with conditions like autism or ADHD, this advance information can be a game-changer. It allows them to prepare more effectively, manage their expectations, and reduce potential stress and anxiety associated with the unknown. Including this step will align perfectly with your company’s commitment to inclusion and demonstrates a genuine effort to create and environment where everyone can shine.

While We’re on The Subject – Let’s Take a Closer Look at Neurodiversity

A neurodiverse individual may have conditions like autism, ADHD, and/or dyslexia, for example, and these neurodiverse individuals have unique ways of thinking. Structured interviews are particularly inclusive for them. Here’s why:

    • Predictability: For many neurodiverse individuals, predictability is key. Structured interviews provide a clear format that reduces anxiety and uncertainty.
    • Focus on Skills: By sticking to job-relevant questions, you’re giving neurodiverse candidates a fair shot based on their abilities, rather than unintentionally triggering their conditions with irrelevant questions.

For example: Imagine you’re inviting Matthew for an interview. You send Matthew a pre-interview guide that outlines the interview structure, mentions that it’s competency-based, and provides sample questions. Thanks to this guide, Matthew, who is on the autism spectrum, feels at ease and prepared. During the interview, Matthew knows what to expect, is less anxious, and can confidently showcase their skills. A structured interview and a pre-interview guide made the experience better for Matthew and ensured a fair assessment.

Structured Interviews Are The Way To Go

They’re a win-win for both employers and candidates, creating an equitable and inclusive experience for all candidates. They ensure fair evaluations, reduce anxiety, and provide a clear focus on job-related skills. When you combine this with sending an interview guide in advance, you create an environment that’s not just inclusive but also empathetic to the unique needs of neurodiverse candidates.

By taking these steps, you’re making your organisation an even more welcoming place for all. Keep up the fantastic work and sign up to DiverseTalent’s Hiring Platform to ensure your company is making the most out of their DEI recruitment strategies.

Written by Katie Ashenhurst – Digital Design Engineer