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Understanding the Directive Job Interview

The directive interview is one in which the job interviewer maintains complete control and walks you through the discussion to uncover what the interviewer wants to know. The patterned interview is similar except the interviewer works from a written list of questions asked of all candidates and writes down your answers.

A patterned interview is also called a structured interview. Although the structured interview has been around a long time, the format is finding new followers.

The argument in favor of structured interviews is that they promote fairness, uncover superior candidates, and eliminate the cloning effect (in which an interviewer essentially hires candidates who they thinks will “fit in” merely because of shared values).

In structured interviews, the interviewer may throw out a critical incident and ask you to respond. A critical incident is a specific problem or challenge that was successfully handled by employees of the company. Some critical incidents can be anticipated by researching industry trends and inferred by reading company press releases online.

Whether you are in a directive interview, or a patterned (structured) interview, expect interviewers to ask both closed- and open-ended questions.

A closed-end question can be answered yes or no:

Did you find my office easily?

An open-ended question usually asks how or why:

How do you like this industry?

This interviewer has an agenda and is intent on seeing that it’s followed. Being too assertive in changing the topic is a mistake. The only safe way you can introduce one of your skills is to ask a question, such as:

Would you like to hear about my experience in quality assessment?
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