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Are Structured Interviews Dead?

Published: Friday 21st April 2017

Structured interview being conducted by a male

Structured Interviews have been the mainstay of the interview process for a long time. But what other types of interviews can a candidate expect – and prepare for? And are reports of the demise of the standard interview accurate?

The Structured Interview

The classic structured interview is one in which the same set of questions is asked of you – and of other candidates. The ‘same questions, same order’ format allows for an interviewer to assess each candidate by the same set of impartial criteria.

The standard job interview is also good for a candidate since while they can’t know the exact question they’ll be asked, they can prepare answers to standard interview questions – about themselves, their skills and their experience. Classic questions include ‘what are your strengths & weaknesses’, ‘tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it’ and ‘what are your goals for the future’.

While they’re far from dead, structured interviews have definitely changed. For example, many now will also ask for the candidate to make a presentation.

Panel Interview & one-on-one Interviews

In Panel interviews, you’re asked a question by a group of people. For a candidate the trick is to treat each panel member as equal; make no assumptions about who wields the power; talk to the person who asked the question.

Telephone Interviews

Because they are such time-savers, these are often the first point in the interview process – and are used to gain an overall idea about candidate suitability. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of informality; picturing yourself in an interview room may help. A must is to have your CV handy, and stay focused on the call.

Video Interviews

The key to success in these is the setup prior to the video call. Find a suitable location, look for a simple backdrop and try for somewhere somewhere quiet where you can really focus on the questions, and dress appropriately. Again, like the phone interview, treat it as a formal interview.

Competency Interviews

These are more ‘scripted’ structured interviews in which the focus is on your competency for the position. If you know it’ll be a competency interview, research the competencies, skills and experience expected of you, the likely questions, and match your experience with the questions/answers.

Assessment Centre Interviews

We cover this type of interview in depth here

The Second Interview

If you get to this point, well done, you’ve obviously impressed enough to get to the next stage. Take even more heart from the fact that it’s likely you’re one of just 2 or 3 other candidates at this point. Of course, this is when it gets tougher. Questions will be more probing, answers expected to be more in-depth, and you may well be asked to do a detailed presentation.

Whatever the interview type, the best approach is to be very clear about your strengths. Think about how these will benefit a company, because in this competitive market, employers are looking for someone who will bring tangible benefits to the position.

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