Aman has an interview with a marketing agency. He’s expecting the interviewer to ask him common interview questions based on his skills, resume and experience.
However, once he’s in the room, he realizes his interview is more like a conversation. His interviewer asks, “what was your proudest moment as a sales associate?” Aman picks an example where he received an award for exceeding his targets because of his hard work. Not only was he able to convert sales leads but also win an important client account. As a follow-up, the interviewer asks, “what was your strategy to approach clients and how did you convince them to sign with you?”
These questions were meant to keep the conversation going. This type of interview is called a semi-structured interview.
Discover the definition of semi-structured interview and examples of semi-structured interview questions to prepare and practice your answers accordingly.
What Is A Semi-Structured Interview?
In a semi-structured interview, the interviewer doesn’t stick to a predetermined list of questions like in a formal interview. Instead, they build on the candidate’s responses by asking targeted questions for a deeper understanding of their suitability for the role.
This type of interview allows an interviewer to understand your motivations, inspiration and drive. They’re able to gauge how you tackle conflicts, challenges and problems. Each question is aligned with the job description. This means you have to answer in a way that highlights why you’re the right candidate.
If it’s a marketing role, you can talk about how you helped grow social media numbers or build customer engagement. You can highlight your copywriting skills, attention to detail and delivering high-quality work.
Here are some characteristics of a semi-structured interview:
The interviewer will ask you questions based on your qualifications and experience
They can follow up with additional questions based on your responses
You must tailor your answers to what the organization, and the job, needs because the questions are set to determine your suitability
Focus on your skills and highlight unique experiences that may not be common across the board; landing important clients, leading teams and high proficiency in relevant skills.
It’s similar to a conversation where your responses determine what questions the interviewer may ask next
A semi-structured interview is a great way to break the ice and speak up in an interview. Having the spotlight on you can be daunting. But if the subject matter appeals to you and your experiences, you’ll find it easier to tackle even the most complex questions.
How To Prepare For A Semi-Structured Interview
For a job interview, there are two things you must keep in mind: preparation and practice. The biggest challenge when it comes to acing a job interview is overcoming your nerves. One way to do this is by preparing your responses beforehand and practicing delivering your answers.
When it comes to a semi-structured interview, you may not know what questions you’ll get right off the bat. But what you can do is be thorough with your resume, experience, skills, strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s how you can prepare for a semi-structured interview:
Read Up On The Organization
One of the most important steps in interview prep is reading about the organization where you want to work. Find out its goals, mission statement and social media/news presence. You’ll learn about new projects they’re working on, what they believe in and what kind of work culture they have. It’s important to determine how you’ll fit in right from the start. It’ll help you assess whether you’re suitable for the role.
List Your Achievements
Something you can do to make sure you don’t fumble during an interview is listing your achievements. You have to be well-versed with your resume, know exactly where you worked, your responsibilities and your performance. List your achievements to keep them fresh in your memory. You may have to cite examples when asked to support your answers.
Prepare For Commonly-Asked Interview Questions
The interview will ask you other common questions like “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want to work for us?”. Preparing answers to these questions will help you stay calm under pressure. Remember to speak about things that are relevant to the job requirements. You can recount personal experiences but they should help make a better case for you as a candidate.
Practice With Family Or A Friend
Practice your answers with your family or friends because they’ll be able to give you better feedback. We may be too hard or too easy on ourselves, but a second person, especially someone we trust, will tell us what we need to know. You can tweak your responses accordingly to make sure you have them down pat.
Record Your Answers And Make Changes
Another tip is to record your answers using a voice recorder or your camera. It’s a great way to assess your tone, pitch and volume. You can even monitor the content of your answers and see if they need more work. Making changes where necessary will help you perfect your responses.
Preparing for your interview is helpful because once you’re in the room, it can be quite daunting. If you don’t know what to say at all, you may draw a blank. But with preparation, you can easily try to recall what you wrote or practiced for the big day.
How To Answer Semi-Structured Interview Questions
You’ve done your preparation and practiced your answers over and over again—you’re feeling confident about your prospects.
Let’s explore how you can best answer semi-structured interview questions to make sure your practice doesn’t go to waste!
Align Your Responses With The Job Requirements
Without a formal structure, the interview may seem like a regular conversation. But don’t forget to tailor your answers to the job description. For example, the interviewer may ask you to talk about leading your team. You can highlight a project you worked on with your team, by taking a STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Results) approach. Mention the situations, highlight your tasks, talk about what actions you took and elaborate on your results.
Think Before You Speak
It’s completely normal to take a few minutes to think about what you’re going to say. No one expects you to know the answers immediately. If you want to give impactful responses, you have to make sure they’re well-thought-out.
Ask Questions If You Miss Something
In case you mishear the interviewer or aren’t clear on what they’ve asked, you can request them to repeat the question. Some things may get lost in conversation and if you want to focus on the question at hand, you can always ask them. This will help you give the right answers to the right questions. You don’t want to talk about how good your communication skills are when the interviewer asked you about why you decided to study abroad.
Keep The Conversation Formal, But Friendly
At the end of the day, any interview, be it formal, informal, semi-structured or structured, is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd. It’s part of your career journey and a professional stepping stone. You have to keep the conversation formal without going into too much detail about your life. Try not to talk about how many family members you have or your pet. You can discuss personal experiences if they pertain to the job description, but keep it to a minimum.
Be Mindful Of Nonverbal Cues
Take note of your, and the interviewer’s, body language, facial expressions and gestures. Nonverbal cues play a significant role during an interview. In one that’s partially structured, it’s easy to become too friendly, slouch in your seat or cross your legs. Remember, it’s still an interview for a job. Correct your posture, make eye contact and keep your gestures crisp to make a good impression.
At the same time, you can add value to your interview by asking questions to the interviewer. You can discuss the position and how it impacts the organization’s workflow. Talk about what your role will be, learning opportunities and how you can grow in your role. This will be an opportunity to communicate your expectations and allow them to see why you’re suitable for the role.
Harappa’s Ace The Interview Course
Learn how to answer commonly-asked interview questions with Harappa’s Ace The Interview course. The curriculum is designed to teach you how to answer using the STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) method and the PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message) framework. You’ll learn to tackle your nerves and handle unexpected questions by coming up with answers on the spot! This is helpful in a semi-structured interview because you never know what the interviewer might throw at you in the next moment. Be ready and be prepared to ace your interview and land the job of your dreams, not just with luck but also with preparation!
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