The Ugly Truth About Your Unstructured Interview Process

The interview process is your opportunity to find the right candidates for your open role, and to sell those candidates on working at your company. However, an unstructured interview process in which candidates may each experience different steps, questions, or assessments, can do quite the opposite. The ugly truth is that an unstructured interview process can have long-term, negative consequences for your organization.

An unstructured interview process can cause you to make a bad hire

When you go into your interview process without a plan, you may not thoroughly evaluate your candidates for important skills or values, and could make a bad hire. The cost of a bad hire can be two and one-half times the person’s annual salary, if you identify the problem quickly. Otherwise, a bad hire can cause you to lose valuable customers and employees over time, damaging your consumer and employer brands along the way.

The best recruitment processes begin with an understanding of the ideal candidate profile, so that every person on the hiring team knows what to look for in a candidate. From there, it’s important to carefully craft a structured interview process that will evaluate candidates against the required and desired criteria. When each candidate goes through the same process, you can rest assured that you’re not missing any important steps in your evaluation process.

An unstructured interview process can lead to unfair hiring practices

When candidates are given different interview processes, they are then evaluated on different criteria—which can lead to unfair hiring practices. Too often, interviewers make hiring decisions based on “gut feel,” which may be heavily influenced by unconscious bias. For example, one study found that both men and women thought a male applicant was more qualified for a role than a female, even when they had identical resumes. When studies have shown a correlation between the diversity of companies and their business success, hiring on gut feel can be a grave mistake.

Every candidate should have the same interview process, be asked the same questions, and be given the same assessments. This evens the playing field, and gives you an apples-to-apples comparison of each candidate. That way, you can identify the candidates with the best combination of skill-fit and culture-fit for your roles, so you make offers to the most qualified candidates.

An unstructured interview process can lead to a poor candidate experience

When you haven’t put much thought into your interview process, it often creates a negative experience for your candidates. For example, adding steps to your hiring process at the last minute can frustrate candidates who are expecting a decision. Eighty three percent of candidates said a negative interview experience could change their minds about a company they liked, so this could affect your ability to close top-choice talent. Candidates share experiences with friends and through review sites, so a poor experience could haunt your organization long-term.

By planning out a structured interview process in advance, you can let your candidates know what to expect, and when. You can also assign interview questions to ensure that the right ones are asked at the right time, so that multiple interviewers aren’t asking the same questions. These things can help your interview process run more smoothly, so your candidates will remain engaged throughout and will be more likely to accept your offer.

Final thoughts

An unstructured interview process can be detrimental to your organization, causing you to make bad hires, use unfair hiring practices, and provide a poor candidate experience. However, a little foresight in planning your interview process can go a long way. When you carefully craft a structured interview process, and give each candidate the same experience, you can identify better, more diverse candidates that will be more likely to accept your offer. As you build a stronger team, your employer brand will improve—helping you attract, engage, and close even more great talent.

To learn more best practices around building a strong interview process, download our eBook: Top Interview Tips: The Employer’s Essential Handbook