For many people, the idea of taking a structured interview is extremely intimidating. They can’t help comparing themselves against other candidates, and feeling as if their answers to the same questions are inadequate. If you are feeling like this, STOP! We’re here to help! You don’t have to compare yourself to other candidates, all you need to do is show the interviews why and how you are the best person for the job. In this blog, we’ll give you some tips to help you pass any structured interview questions.
What are Structured Interview questions?
Structured interviews are widely used during many different selection processes. Very often, they’ll form an integral part of the assessment centre for a job. The difference between a structured interview and a generic interview is that during a structured interview, you will be answering the exact same questions as all of the other candidates for the job. Structured interview questions are designed to evaluate the way in which you think about everyday situations and problems. The assessor will select the best candidate based on how well their thought process meets with that of the company.
One of the reasons that many people fear structured interview questions, is that it is very difficult to prepare for. These will vary each year, and will usually be taken under more stricter conditions than a general interview. At a general interview, you might be afforded a chance to sit down, chat with the interviewers about your journey and make a little small talk before the interview begins. At a structured interview, you will be assessed as soon as you walk into the room. There won’t be time to make conversation with the interviewers, who will have a strict time limit to work under. Once you’re done, the next candidate will be straight in, under the same time conditions. Really, the best way to prepare for structured interviews, is to learn the type of questions that you will be asked.
What will I be tested on?
The assessment/scoring criteria used for a structured interview are generally exactly the same as for the generic interview. You’ll be assessed on skills such as:
- Relating to others
- Working as part of a team
- Knowledge and understanding of group/individual work
- Planning and organising
- Motivation and commitment
- Openness to new ideas
When you are invited to attend a structured interview or assessment centre, you should be provided with details on all of the above, and given some ideas on how they relate to the company. It’s imperative that you take the time to read through these carefully and understand them before you go into the interview. The key to passing a structured interview is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible beforehand. The more prepared you are, the better your chances.
In the next section, we’ve provided you with a list of questions which you might be asked in a structured interview. Below each question, we’ve added a short, top tip for how you would go about answering it.
What questions will I be asked?
1. How do you behave in a group?
This question is designed to assess how well you work as a member of a team. Provided you aren’t working solo, in most positions you will be expected to work and engage with other staff members, and will often be expected to work as part of a team. Make sure you tell the assessor that you are someone who gets along with everyone, and respect diversity.
2. What do you understand by the term ‘group dynamics’?
Group dynamics refers to the complex behavioural interactions which occur between a team or group. You don’t need to have a detailed understanding of psychology, just how to work successfully within a team.
3. What makes you anxious? How do you cope with anxiety?
This is an interesting question. While there is nothing wrong with being anxious or nervous, the employer needs to know what makes you tick. Imagine if they hired you and then placed you in a position where you were uncomfortable. This wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone. They also need to know that you are someone who can deal with difficulties in the workplace and things that make you anxious. Without being insensitive, employers are looking for a candidate who can deal with stress.
4. What makes you angry? How do you cope with anger?
Similarly to the last question, employers need to understand what makes you frustrated and what could reduce from your work output. Your anger levels could also be central to your ability to work as part of a functioning team. Patience is a great quality to have.
5. Do you take the time to listen to others?
Listening is a core part of communication, which is an essential requirement for any employee. You need to be able to listen to your peers, employer and take feedback on board from others. All of this adds to your self development, and makes you a more well rounded employee.
6. You are in a supermarket and another shopper accuses you of shoplifting. You are totally innocent. The shopper calls over the store detective and tells him that they have seen you shoplifting. What would you do and how would you react ?
This may seem like a very unusual question, but the aim of the interview is to test your thinking and mindset. The answer to this should be fairly simple. You just need to tell the interviewer that you would respond in a calm, logical and reasonable manner, without aggression or panicking.
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