During her job interview, Pratibha noticed that most of the questions were open-ended. The interviewer asked her about her work experience. Based on her response, they steered the conversation in that direction.
She wasn’t expecting this flexible, unstructured interview style. Pratibha assumed it was going to be a typical interview with common questions like “tell me about yourself”, “why do you want to work for us?” and ‘what are your strengths?”. She enjoyed the freedom to answer questions about her work. She was able to keep the conversation going and, in the process, built a rapport with her interviewer.
This type of interview is known as an unstructured interview, where there are no prearranged interview questions. The interviewer uses the interviewee’s responses as the jumping-off point to frame their next question.
What Is An Unstructured Interview? And How Should You Prepare For It?
Before your interview, you’ll likely prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. But in an unstructured interview, you don’t know what kind of questions you’ll be asked.
The definition of unstructured interview is a flexible and informal style of interviewing where there’s no particular Q&A format. The interviewer prepares a few main questions and the rest are based on your responses. It’s more like a conversation about your experience, passion and motivation to apply for the role. Think of it like an opportunity to build a strong case for yourself. You have the floor to speak your mind, so long as it’s relevant to the purpose of the interview.
Although unstructured interview questions are, well, unknown and unexpected, you can still prepare for them. Here’s how you should prepare for an unstructured interview:
Read your resume thoroughly and think about everything you’ve done to make sure you have the answers ready
Write down your accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses
Research the organization so you can align your work experience with the job role while you’re answering unstructured interview questions
Ask your friends or family to take a mock interview to get an idea of how it’ll be when you have your actual interview
Don’t overthink it and be true to yourself, answer honestly and confidently
Let’s take an example of unstructured interview questions:
You’re interviewing for the role of Growth Hacker at a new-age digital media agency. You have tech and marketing experience, which helps your case. The interviewer may ask you something like, “what’s the first thing you want to do in your new role?”. This gives you a chance to talk about strategies, marketing metrics and innovation. This may lead to follow-up questions like, “what makes a sound social media strategy according to you?”. You can discuss your ideas, ask questions about the organization and make a good impression on the interviewer.
Unstructured interviews give you a push in the right direction. It’s a way to get your foot in the door. If used wisely, you can improve your chances of landing the job of your dreams.
Unstructured Interview Advantages And Disadvantages
As there’s no such thing as a perfect interview style, even unstructured interviews have their pros and cons. It may not work for everyone or for every job role. It depends on your industry, profile and organization.
Here are the advantages of an unstructured interview:
You get a chance to really talk about why you applied, what you bring to the table and how you’re the best candidate for the role
It makes room for insightful conversations, helping you make a good impression on the interviewer
The interviewer expresses a genuine interest in understanding your strengths, weaknesses and suitability for the role
It’s a more informal and relaxed interview style that may calm your nerves, helping you answer more confidently
Unstructured interviews have certain disadvantages, such as:
Feeling at a loss because you don’t know what the interviewer’s going to ask you next
You may be too cautious while answering given the flexible structure of the interview
You may end up talking about something unrelated to the interview and getting off-track
This style of interview may not work for you if you’re still a young professional with less than a year’s work experience
Unstructured interviews may be used to your advantage if you take the time to understand them. Thinking about what you’re going to say will help you stay on the right path during the interview. It’ll help to request the interviewer to repeat a question if you don’t understand it at first.
Harappa’s Ace The Interview Course
Learn more about how to prepare answers on the spot with Harappa’s Ace The Interview course. Using frameworks like the STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) Method and the PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message) framework, you’ll learn how to tackle the most challenging interview questions. Equip yourself with the right tools and skills required to crack any job interview. Our expert faculty will share helpful tips on how to moderate your tone, pitch and voice and frame impactful responses.
Explore topics such as General HR Interview Questions, Semi-Structured Interview, Difference Between Structured And Unstructured Interview, How to Answer "Tell Me About a Time When You Failed" & How to Prepare for a Mock Interview from Harappa Diaries and crack your next interview.
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