Semi-structured interview: what is it and how to do it?

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Semi-structured interview: what is it and how to do it?

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The semi-structured interview is a more spontaneous method, in which the interviewer asks only a few predetermined questions. The rest of the process is like a conversation, not planned in advance.

THE hiring a new employee it requires a lot of attention from every company, regardless of its size or sector. Therefore, the process of recruitment and selection you must have the best tools to ensure that the best professional is selected.

Face-to-face interviews are essential for this. Through them, recruiters are able to make a better analysis of the candidates’ profile. Thus, it is possible to decide which candidate has the appropriate characteristics for the valued position, in addition to having a profile that fits the team.

With the structured interview, it is possible to have freedom to address other issues, as they arise during the interview. In this way, the predefined questions are just a guideline for the conversation, they do not necessarily need to dictate the process.

Do your company’s recruiters use this process? Do you know what are the advantages of it and its differences from structured and free models? Check out this post!

What is semi-structured interview?

The semi-structured interview is one in which the interviewer has a starting point and an initial guideline to follow. However, it allows the conversation to be conducted without completely following the same direction. The recruiter can change the order of the questions or even modify them, as the interview evolves.

In addition to the semi-structured model, there are two other methods used in job interviews, the structured and the unstructured (or free). In the structured interview, the interviewer follows a set of predetermined questions. They are planned in advance and are applied in the same way to all applicants.

Meanwhile, the unstructured, as the name implies, are free and do not follow prepared questions. This interview is not structured and the questions raised arise spontaneously, as they arise in the conversation.

Therefore, we can define that the semi-structured interview is characterized by the mixture of the structured approach, following some previously established questions and the free one, in which it allows spontaneity and improvisation.

How to do a semi-structured interview?

A semi-structured interview, despite not following a fixed script, has predefined questions. It can be adaptable according to the direction of the dialogue. In this way, it is able to offer important data to the recruiter, such as quantitative and qualitative information.

This model uses some generic topics, such as questions that start with “How”, “What”, “Who”, “Why” and “When”. However, they should emerge as the interviewee feels comfortable. The conversation should be as natural as possible.

In the semi-structured interview, it is essential to respect the candidate’s time. Thus, the interviewer needs to maintain a dialogue with the interviewed professional. This allows greater flexibility to deepen or confirm certain information presented.

Its main features

The main characteristics of the semi-structured interview that can help your company are:

  • the possibility of using improvisation and changing the time of the interview, molding it to points of interest;
  • combination of open and closed questions;
  • has predetermined base questions. But, it also follows an informal model, similar to a conversation;
  • enables the use of visual aids, such as cards or photographs. The purpose is to make the interviewee as comfortable as possible.

Question types

In order to conduct a successful semi-structured interview, it is important to raise questions that will be answered in detail by the interviewees. And not just with “yea” or “no”.

Some examples to be followed:

  • how did you find out about this vacancy?
  • what is your relationship with her? And its strengths and weak to assume it?
  • what can you do for the company that another candidate could not?
  • what are your limitations? And what are your ambitions for the future?
  • what do you know about the company?
  • why are you applying for a position at this company?
  • what are your qualifications that fit this job?

There are several possible questions to ask in a semi-structured interview. They should vary according to the needs of your company and in relation to the position to be filled. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare the recruiter to direct the conversation according to the information the company needs.

To learn more, we recommend that you download this free eBook. In it you will discover essential tips to plan an efficient recruitment and selection process. Answer the form and receive:

What are the advantages of the semi-structured interview?

There are many benefits of this model for companies. As it presents characteristics of the structured and free styles, it is able to offer the best of both methods.

The semi-structured interview manages to make an objective comparison of candidates and, at the same time, provide a personalized approach. This method allows a greater exploration of interesting points in the curriculum of each individual evaluated.

Through the semi-structured interview, it is possible to guarantee the flexibility of the recruitment and selection process to correctly evaluate each type of candidate.

It can be adjusted both in relation to the candidate and to the circumstances. At the same time, the recruiter is not entirely unprepared, having an appropriate script in hand to conduct the interview.

The main advantages for companies are:

  • greater direction on the subject of the interview;
  • possibility of testing the interviewee and his ability to adapt to certain situations, such as dealing with unexpected problems;
  • opportunity to get to know the candidates better, realizing their real perception on a certain subject. Since it is possible to deepen the conversation, leaving the predetermined script;
  • greater number of spontaneous responses and flexibility for the interviewee to modify or add questions.

What are the disadvantages of the semi-structured interview?

There is still some confusion among recruiters when it comes to using this interview model, as it looks a lot like conversation, while not having a script in a cast.

Therefore, if not carried out by a competent professional, they may end up not being objective, which would cause the company to waste time analyzing the candidates’ responses.

The main disadvantages of this model are:

  • It requires a skilled and trained interviewer for its execution;
  • It is necessary for the interviewer to show confidence and experience to the candidate, only then will it be possible to achieve the objectives of the interview;
  • It requires time for data collection and analysis. Thus, if the company is in a hurry to carry out the hiring, it will not be possible to evaluate all the questions in the interview;
  • It requires training so that the interviewer does not unconsciously suggest responses to the candidate.

How to set up a semi-structured interview successfully?

An interview of this model is considered successful when the responses collected can be considered valid. For this, the total result of the candidates’ data must represent a sample of the “population” of candidates. That is, from the information, the recruiter must be able to make a assessment differentiated from each professional.

So, the first step for the semi-structured interview to be efficient is to give confidence to the subject. In this way, it is possible to guarantee that the answers given are true and reliable.

To put it into practice, prepare the recruiter of your HR team to act with agility and maturity during the process. Only then will it be possible to conduct the interview in the correct way.

Also prepare the starting point of the interview. Although it is not necessary to follow a fixed script, it is necessary to develop a short guide.

Step by step to conduct the semi-structured interview

Here are some important guidelines for conducting semi-structured interviews in your company:

  • it is necessary to prepare a small guide with the most important questions. These the evaluator must ask all candidates;
  • try to develop some approaches to start conversations. They should explore the interesting points of the candidate’s curriculum and need to be related to the vacancy available in the company;
  • according to the responses given by the candidates, guide the recruiter to ask other follow-up questions. Through these, it is possible to achieve a greater understanding of the qualifications and motivations of the candidate;
  • the recruiter must follow a natural flow in the conversation and seek to explore any new work-related topics that arise spontaneously.

There are different ways to conduct a job interview in the recruitment and selection process at your company. The semi-structured interview is just one of them. However, it can be a differentiator when choosing new, more qualified and suitable employees for the vacancy. Through this model, your company will be able to better analyze the collected data, which will be more in-depth and accurate. So, this approach will help you find the ideal employee.

Do you want to use this approach in your business? Follow HR Consultant UK on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for more tips on the subject!

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