The Structured Interview In The Hiring Process

You took careful steps in crafting the best possible federal resume that highlights your qualifications for the job. You submit it to the agency. You prayed. And finally that long-awaited call came – you are one of those scheduled for a job interview! After getting over the excitement and calming down, you realize that the interview tips you’ve read are very general for comfort. What do you really expect in a federal job interview? background checks

In a federal setting, interviews are typically used either as part of a selection process that screens and ranks candidates according to their scores or as a means to verify a candidate’s qualifications for a particular post after they have been rated using other means and before the “selecting official” makes the hiring decision. According to the Office of Personnel Management, there are basically two forms of interviews used by most hiring managers-the structured and the unstructured interviews. Characteristics of structured interviews include asking all candidates the same questions in the same order, evaluating candidates using a common rating scale and prior agreement by interviewers on acceptable answers. In contrast, unstructured interviews allow interviewers to ask candidates different questions, no rating scale is required and there is no prior agreement on acceptable answers. Because research has proven time and again that the unstructured format does little for projecting a candidate’s performance on the job, its use has been widely discouraged in the hiring process. In contrast, a structured format is now encouraged for use in most agencies because of its high levels of reliability, validity and defensibility on a future employee’s job performance.

Thus, any candidate for a federal post would do well to understand and familiarize himself or herself with the nature of structured job interviews. While developing a structured interview format is not the concern of the candidate, what is in the format is, since it also helps them anticipate the questions to be asked. First of all, candidates for federal jobs must thoroughly familiarize themselves with the job they are applying for- its tasks and responsibilities and the competencies required for a successful job performance as questions will surely be developed along these lines. Also, anticipate four to six competencies- more for high level jobs-which need to be assessed for the post you are applying for.

Interviews can either be a behavioral description interview (focusing on a candidate’s past behavior), a situational interview (hypothetical behavior) or a combination of both. Again, regardless of the format that the interviewer will use, candidates can expect questions to be open-ended, concise, free of jargon and related to the job competencies and responsibilities required.

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