Methods of Interviewing

The job interview is one of the most critical steps, if not the most critical, toward gainful employment. It is during the interview that the employer cements their impression of the candidates based on appearance and interactions. For this reason, it is crucial that people are as prepared as possible going into their interviews. One of the ways that a job-seeker can prepare is to understand that there are various interview styles that they may confront. Some of the most common styles include the structured interview, the non-structured interview, and the semi-structured interview. Understanding the difference between these can help the job-seeker to adapt and give the best interview possible. Knowing the differences between styles can also help the applicant determine which is the most likely interview type that they will face based on the industry that that they are interviewing in. Understanding interview styles is equally important for employers, as choosing the right one can help them glean enough information to choose an employee wisely.

Structured job interviews are often seen as the more professional and safe interview type. It allows the interviewer to ask targeted questions that pertain to the job at hand. Structured interviewing has become a popular method of assessing the employability of job applicants. It is considered by both applicants and employers to be one of the more effective and fair interview styles due to its focus on the job and the skills needed to perform the job. Questions and the scale that is used to rate the interview are pre-determined prior to the actual interview. Additionally, questions are the same for each candidate and are typically presented to each of the candidates in the same order. This creates not only a more structured interview but also a more objective one as well. Additionally, both the pre-determined and job/skill-related questions reduce the chance of discrimination accusations. Jobs that rely heavily on skill use this interview style, as do employers who wish to avoid any discrimination lawsuits. The U.S. Postal Service is an example of the type of employer that uses structured interviews during their hiring process.

Unstructured interviews differ greatly from structured interviews, primarily due to the fact that they lack just that - structure. They are informal and conversational in nature. With this type of interview style, the interviewer typically does not prepare a list of questions in advance, nor is there a predetermined method of rating the interview. Often, an interviewer may ask the interviewee to "tell me about yourself" and might have different open-ended questions for each applicant interviewed. This type of interview allows the candidate to take the lead and does not rely on a comparison of skills or job qualifications. It may be useful to use this type of interview when candidates are equally qualified or for jobs where personality is crucial, such as entertainment jobs or even some sales or customer service positions.

The semi-structured interview is a type of hybrid that combines both the structured and unstructured interview styles. It allows for more flexibility than the structured interview but is not as casual as the unstructured type. For this style, the interviewer asks a series of formal questions in addition to questions that are tailored specifically for the candidate. Typically, there is an interview "guide" that is followed and that contains both open- and closed-ended questions. The interviewee is a participant in that they do more than simply respond to the questions asked, but they do not lead or carry the conversation. A semi-structured interview allows both the applicant and the interviewer to exchange questions back and forth. The interview may be conducted by a single interviewer, or a panel interview may take place. This flexible form of hiring is acceptable and useful in any field of employment where both skill and personality are important.

Getting a job is increasingly competitive. When looking for employment, people must make the best impression possible. One of the ways to do that is to make an impression during the interview process. Understanding the different types of interviews can help a person successfully prepare for and outshine the competition.