Structured Job Interviews

Man and woman seated in a room with a table during a job interview.
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A structured job interview is a standardized way of comparing job candidates. The employer creates interview questions focused on the skills and abilities the company is seeking. Each interviewee is asked the exact same questions, in the exact same order. The employer also creates a standardized scale for evaluating candidates. Every interviewee is ranked on the same scale.

Benefits for Employers

Employers use this interview format when they want to assess candidates impartially. Because questions are pre-determined, and there is a ranking system, there is little chance for unfair or subjective assessment. It helps interviewers avoid any legal issues related to unfair hiring practices.

A structured job interview also allows the employer to focus on the specific skills and abilities required for the position. With questions focused on specific skills, this interview style is often considered a more effective way of testing a candidate’s potential performance on the job. This interview format also allows employers to assess hard-to-measure skills, like interpersonal skills and oral communication.

Benefits for Candidates

Candidates can also feel confident that they are being judged on their skills, rather than any subjective factors. Because the questions are the same for every candidate and asked in the same order, every candidate knows he or she has an equal opportunity to provide the same information.

Types of Questions Asked

Questions vary, of course, depending on the job, and all questions relate to the position's requirements. Typically, however, structured job interview questions are open-ended. Often they are behavioral interview questions, which ask about how a candidate has handled a work-related situation in the past. These interviews can also include situational interview questions where the candidate is asked how he or she would handle a hypothetical work situation.

Examples of Questions

While questions vary based on the skills required for the specific job, here are some common questions for a structured job interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What makes you an ideal candidate for this job?
  • Why are you interested in this job?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Would you be willing to travel for extended periods of time for this job?
  • Tell me about an incident during the past year in which you were particularly proud of your performance and share it with us.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you handle the situation? What was the result?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to deal with conflict among team members. What actions did you take? What was the result?
  • An angry client comes to your desk and complains that she has not received the reimbursement she was told was in the mail. How will you help her?
  • You have an important project with an upcoming deadline, but then you are given a second project to be completed immediately. How would you handle this situation?

How Interviewers Rate Candidates

The way an interviewer rates candidates in a structured interview can vary. However, there is always a common rating scale for all candidates. Typically, the interviewer rates the candidates’ skill level in a few key competencies. These competencies might include key hard or soft skills necessary for the job.

How to Prepare

Make sure you know how your skills and qualifications fit the particular job. Also, look back at the job listing, and underline the job requirements. Then, make a list of your skills and abilities that match those requirements. Make sure you are prepared to explain how you have demonstrated those skills and abilities in the workplace. Also, review some common interview questions, as well as common interview questions for a particular job.

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