A Comprehensive Guide to a Structured Interview

Recruiters in the medical sales industry use a number of different types of interviews in order to narrow down candidates. One of these is the structured interview. Designed to help interviewers not only with the interview but also with choosing candidates, this is one of the interview methods that you may face when searching for your dream job in the medical sales industry.

Wondering what exactly a structured interview entails? Let’s find out.

What is a Structured Interview?

Originally designed to help researchers gather qualitative information, a structured interview is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than lead with a few questions and then randomly discuss topics with interviewees, the interviewers follow a specific list of questions, without deviating from them.

After the interview, the candidate’s answers to the responses are ranked according to a numerical system, helping the interviewer decide whether to move them forward to the next step of the hiring process or not advance them at all.

Difference Between Structured and Unstructured Interviews

In order to differentiate structured interviews from unstructured interviews, you have to look closely at what makes each form of interview unique. Here are a few facts about each that make these differences obvious:

Structured Interview Characteristics:

  • Interviewers follow a specific list of questions.
  • Questions are guided and direct.
  • The interview produces measurable data.
  • Questions are mostly closed-ended in nature.

Unstructured Interview Characteristics:

  • The interviewer guides a conversation with the candidate.
  • Questions are meant to evoke discovery and thought.
  • The interview does not produce measurable data, other than insight on the candidate.
  • Questions are open-ended and intended to lead to a discussion.

Structured Interview Process

During a structured interview, the interviewer has a set number of questions to go through, and they won’t skip over any of them. Those questions are asked in order, and the responses are noted. The candidate sits down with the interviewer and answers those questions as honestly as possible. There isn’t any space for additional questions or conversation between the two until the interview has ended.

Types of Structured Interviews

Although the entire point of a structured interview is to be just that, structured, there are still different types of them that take place. The three most common forms of structured interviews include:

  • Surveys/Questionnaires – Since structured interviews require a set number of questions that garner closed responses, it makes sense for some of them to be presented in a survey or questionnaire format. The interviewer will provide the questions and a form, and then allow the candidate space to respond.
  • Tele-Interviews – Although interviews conducted over the phone have mostly been displaced by Zoom, in some cases, the interviewer will request a simple phone call interview.
  • Face-to-Face – In some cases, these interviews take place in person, usually in a conference room or the interviewer’s office. However, thanks to technology like Zoom, some of these structured interviews take place over the internet, with both sides able to view one another through the screen.

Structured Interview Questions

While the questions asked in a structured interview may vary, all of them are more closed in nature, requiring responses that fit a certain format. Some examples of these questions include:

  • How would you pitch a new pharmaceutical to a physician?
  • What’s the largest sales challenge that you’ve faced thus far?
  • If you caught one of your colleagues lying to a customer about our product, what would you do?
  • What do you like the most, as well as dislike the most, about working in sales?

Benefits of Structured Interview

One of the main benefits of a structured interview is the scoring system that’s used to analyze a candidate’s responses. Thanks to this method, there’s less room for the interviewer’s opinions or biases, so candidates are screened solely based on their scores, not necessarily their personalities or whether or not they got along well with the interviewer.

Other benefits include the fact that these interviews are easy to prepare for, both on the parts of the interviewer and the candidate. Plus, consistency in the interview process, as well as the fact that all of the responses can be easily compared to one another, make this a valid interview method for medical sales representative positions.

The Takeaway

Structured interviews are just one of the many hiring steps that a medical sales rep candidate may face when looking for a job. These interviews are designed to formalize the interview process, as well as provide a straightforward way to rank the candidates. Plus, they are easier on the interviewer, since all that they need to do is guide the interviewee through a set list of questions, rather than find common ground with the candidate with which to converse.

In the end, structured interviews are just as they seem: structured, predictable, and a tried and true interview method that’s stood the test of time.