Despite years of research questioning the validity of the interview and the reliability of the interviewer, most organisations still include some type of interview in their selection process (Judge, Higgins & Cable, 2000). Given this preference for interviewing, structured interviewing techniques offer a means of improving validity of the interview to allow the interviewer to obtain more relevant, detailed and unbiased information on the candidate.
There are two main ways of structuring interviews: the situational interview focuses on future-oriented questions and asks candidates about their anticipated behaviour in hypothetical situations; the behavioural interview focuses on past-oriented questions and asks about past behaviour in actual situations.
Another type of structured interview is the performance interview. Combining elements of interview and work sample test, this method has the format of a structured interview and is a performance test conducted on the job site. This goes beyond what a candidate might have done in the past or might do in the future and, rather, focuses on hands-on demonstrations.
How can you, as a candidate, prepare for and perform at their best in these types of interview?
- Do your research You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework on the organisation. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.
- Practice your answers Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job.
- Attend a professional interview skills preparation course An interview skills course conducted by a trained professional will help you learn how to show your knowledge, skills and attributes and how best to communicate these to your interviewers. Such training can give you valuable feedback on your performance and help you avoid any mistakes in the real thing!
- Look the part Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.
- Stay calm Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and the may be nervous too!
- Ask questions You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare questions which will give you more information about the job and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.