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Scripted Job Interviews: The Pros and Cons

Updated on February 21, 2016

Many organizations use canned questions to facilitate an interview. However, conducting an interview whether scripted or not scripted, is truly a fine art that should not be taken lightly whether by the interviewer or interviewee.

Organizations swear by the interview process and ultimately use it to determine if you are a good fit for not only the job role but the organization as well.

Pros of a Scripted Interview for the Interviewer

For the interviewer, the pros of having a scripted interview include consistency, focus and an opportunity for streamlined evaluation. Its a great way to ensure that you are "asking the right questions" and that you are not deviating from the culture of the organization for which you work and support.


Consistency and Focus

A scripted interview allows the interviewer to directly align themselves to the overall purpose and context of the interview. If the candidate being interviewed goes down a rabbit hole with gobs of information themselves or when the interview arrives at a place of silence, scripted questions enables the interviewer to not necessarily have to search for questions but to easily move to the next question.

From a legality standpoint, having scripted questions may also reduce the risk of one being accused of asking unfair questions.

Streamlined Evaluation

Interviewers should remember to take advantage of the positives associated with having a standard set of questions such as what constitutes a good answer and what constitutes a bad answer. Using a consistent base of questions also provides the opportunity for the interviewer to translate responses for evaluation and comparison to other applicants and/or candidates.

Conversational with Practice

With practice, one can turn canned questions into a professional conversation of sorts, leading in with understanding phrases such as “As you may know…” or “Sometimes, one might experience….”. A conversational interview enables the hiring manager or panelists to help the candidate to relax and permit a bit of their real professional self to emerge at one point or another during the interview process.

Cons of a Scripted Interview for the Interviewer

Just as there are a positive aspects associated with having a scripted interview process, there are a few cons and they include poorly written questions, scope limitations and my favorite, awkward moments/pauses.

Poorly Written Questions

Having to follow a scripted set of questions can sometimes expose one to the risk of poorly written questions which ultimately lead to awkward pauses or erroneous re-phrasings of questions left to interpretation during the interview. In order to combat the risk of a poorly written and/or asked question, interviewers should request receipt of their interview questions 3 to 5 business days prior to the scheduled interview so that they can review and adequately prepare for their interviews.

Upon receipt of those questions, study them to ensure they can be asked in a way that is genuine and aligns with your style of speaking. You may have to re-write the question a few times but even in doing so, make sure that your re-statement of the question still gets to the root of the overall intention of the question at hand and what it was intending to assess for in the first place.

Limitations of Scripted Interviews

Scripted interview questions can make an interviewer feel limited in their efforts to gleam the overall qualifications of the candidate. However, it is important to note that one has to have the skillset to feed into canned questions with their own follow-up questions.

Follow-up questions are sometimes a required to further understand answers provided by candidates and/or to provide one to expand on an answer that was previously given. Know that it is okay to follow-up with an appropriate question or even a secondary question that pushes the candidate to answer the original question at hand.


Awkward Moments

Speaking of awkward moments, scripted interviews can create awkward moments for participants. Have you ever participate din an interview where someone either didn't understand the question, clearly, purposefully elected to not answer the question by way of a barrage of circular response that walked all over the question.

Interviewers must be prepared for the awkward moment that will arise when you least expect it and respond accordingly to keep things moving effectively.

These are just a few examples of te pros and cons associated with the scripted interview. Keep them in mind the next time you are asked to participate and adjust accordingly.


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