If you’re looking for a job or hiring new employees, you might have encountered the term “structured interview” in your research. But what does it mean, and how can you prepare for it?
What is a Structured Interview?
A structured interview is a type of interview in which the interviewer asks a predetermined set of questions to the interviewee. This type of interview is often used in research and job interviews to ensure that all candidates are asked the same questions and evaluated using the same criteria. In contrast, an unstructured interview is more free-flowing and allows for more flexibility in the questions asked and the topics covered.
Structured interviews are often used to assess the technical skills, behavioral competencies, and situational awareness of candidates for a particular role. They can also help employers evaluate how well candidates fit into their organizational culture and values.
What are the types of interview structures?
There are three types of interview structure: fully structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. Here are the main differences between them:
- Fully structured interview
A structured interview is a conversation in which an interviewer asks an interviewee a set of predefined questions in a specific order. The interviewer collects the responses of the candidate and grades them against a scoring system. The main goal of a structured interview is to ensure that each interview is consistent, fair, and objective.
- Semi-structured interviews
The interviewer has a list of core questions to ask every candidate but also has some flexibility to ask follow-up questions or probe deeper into certain topics. The questions are usually open-ended, meaning they allow the candidate to elaborate on their answers. For example, “Tell me about a time when you used Excel to solve a problem” or “How do you cope with stress at work?”
- Unstructured interviews
The interviewer does not have a predetermined set of questions to ask, but rather engages in a free-flowing conversation with the candidate. The questions are spontaneous and based on the interviewer’s intuition and interest. For example, “What are you passionate about?” or “What are your career goals?”
How to conduct a structured interview?
Conducting a structured interview requires some preparation and planning. Here are some steps you can follow to conduct a successful structured interview:
- Define the job requirements
Before you design your questions, you need to identify what skills, knowledge, and personality traits are essential for the job. You can use a job analysis or a competency framework to help you with this step.
- Design your questions
Based on the job requirements, you need to create questions that measure the relevant criteria. You can use one or more of the types of interview questions – situational, behavioral, or job-related. You can also use open-ended or closed-ended questions, depending on your goals. Make sure your questions are concise, clear, and unbiased.
- Create a scoring system
To ensure consistency and objectivity, you need to create a scoring system that assigns points or ratings to each possible answer. You can use a numerical scale (e.g., 1-5) or a descriptive scale (e.g., poor-excellent) to grade the answers. You can also use behavioral anchors or examples of good and bad answers to guide your evaluation.
- Conduct the interview
When you conduct the interview, you need to follow the same order of questions for every candidate. You also need to record their answers and score them according to your scoring system. You can use notes, audio recordings, or video recordings to capture the responses.
- Compare the results
After you conduct all the interviews, you need to compare the results across candidates. You can use simple statistics (e.g., mean, median) or more advanced methods (e.g., regression analysis) to analyze the data. You can also use other criteria (e.g., references, tests) to complement your decision.
How to prepare for a structured interview?
If you are a candidate who wants to prepare for a structured interview, here are some tips you can follow:
- Research the company and the role
Learn as much as you can about the organization’s mission, vision, values, culture, products, services, customers, competitors, etc. Also, review the job description and identify the key requirements and competencies that are expected from you.
- Review your resume and portfolio
Make sure your resume is updated and highlights your relevant skills and achievements for the role. If applicable, prepare a portfolio of your work samples or projects that demonstrate your abilities and potential.
- Practice your answers
Anticipate some of the possible questions that you might be asked during the interview and prepare your answers in advance. You can use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your answers in a clear and concise way. You can also practice with a friend or a coach who can give you feedback and suggestions.
- Dress professionally and arrive on time
This goes for all interviews. Choose an outfit that is appropriate for the company’s dress code and culture. Make sure you are well-groomed and comfortable in your clothes (even if it’s an online interview), and arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time.
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Go forth and succeed!
Now that you know everything you need to know about structured interviews, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice! Whether you’re a hiring manager looking to find the perfect candidate or a job seeker hoping to land your dream job, structured interviews can be a valuable tool in your arsenal.
Just remember to prepare, stay focused, and above all, have fun! Who knows, you might just end up discovering a new favourite question to ask or a unique answer that surprises you. So go forth and succeed in your next structured interview!