Handling the Unstructured Interview

An unstructured interview is unconventional. The interviewer throws the formbook out the window, along with their list of questions. Instead of using a pre-planned and rigid set of questions the interview flows more like a normal conversation, where the next question is based on your response. Each interview is different.

The goal of the interviewer is still to find the answer to the core questions. But in an unstructured interview there is less guidance for the interviewer on how to decide just who the right person is. The outcome tends to rely a lot more on the judgement of the interviewer(s) themselves. This will be influenced by your skill as an interviewee, not just the answers to your questions.

It is unusual for an interview to be completely unstructured; normally you can expect a balance somewhere between the two. There might be a base set of a few key questions. The rest will be down to you and the interviewer.

Smaller organisations without the large HR functions of the larger companies tend to lean away from the structured approach . Probably because of the cost in time and money of role profiling, as well as creating and running a structured interview.

Your key challenges

Anticipate what they will cover and be ready to adapt

You need to make sure you know what to expect, and yet expect the unexpected. How? Be prepared. Do your homework and make sure you know what they are looking for from you. Get the job interview information you need.

Make sure you get across your key “features and benefits”

Remember the interview is about knowing what they want, and knowing how to give it to them. With more flexible questions you still have to make sure you understand what it is they are looking for from you. If you aren’t sure, ask! Use the star technique to give answers that tell them exactly how you add value.

The x factor

If given the choice, people hire people they like. They want to hire someone who is capable of doing the job, and good to have around – build a rapport with the interviewer. Show your interest in the role, the company and the industry. Show that you share their values, and they will value you.

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