How to Write an Interview Script

Morsa Images/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Though many aspects of the job hiring process have changed over the last decade or so, there is one part of this process that hasn't – the interview. Every job candidate will need to go through an interview (if they make it that far) so that Human Resources can determine whether or not the person is a good fit for the job. To make sure that interviews are standardized across the HR team at a company – and so a candidate can best prepare for an interview – the interview script can be used.

What Is an Interview Script?

An interview script, also commonly referred to as an interview transcript, is a set of written questions and prospective answers that a candidate will likely provide during an interview. This is utilized to have something to practice from and be as prepared as possible. Typically, an interview script refers to the script that the HR department uses as a standard when it comes to interviewing candidates. Each HR person follows the script, so finding the right candidate is more of a streamlined process, as opposed to each HR person using their own script or no script at all.

But, an interview script can also be prepared and used by job seekers. Even though you won't know exactly what you may be asked in an interview, creating an interview script of common interview questions and writing your answers to each one, can help you better prepare. Of course, you won't be able to bring this script with you into the actual interview, but much like memorizing a study guide, you'll be much more confident if you read it over several times before your interview.

Different Types of Interview Scripts

There are many different types of job interview scripts used across a variety of industries. This is why it's important to know what line of work a person is referring to when they talk about an interview script. For instance, a journalist may use one type of interview script when interviewing a famous person and another interview script when preparing a list of debate questions for presidential candidates.

But, if you're in the job market, the type of script you'll want to get familiar with is a job interview dialogue script, which outlines the conversation between an interviewer (usually HR) and the interviewee (the job candidate). You can think of an interview script as something to help you make sure nothing important is left out when doing an interview, no matter which side of the table you're on.

Why Write an Interview Script?

HR departments write interview scripts because they help to ensure that everyone in the department is on the same page when it comes to interviewing candidates. Some companies have important questions they need to ask job candidates in order to vet them properly. If an interviewer forgets to ask one of these questions, she won't be able to correctly evaluate the candidate, which can create a bit of a mess. The company can mistakenly hire someone who isn't actually a good fit.

Job seekers, on the other hand, should consider writing an interview script in order to have some idea of what to expect. It's easy to find common interview questions online. Writing these out one by one with your answers can help you have an advantage over other candidates. It can also take some of the edge off if you are not a natural at interviewing or you feel nervous beforehand.

How to Write an Interview Script

No two interview scripts will be exactly the same, so there are no strict rules when it comes to writing one. The purpose of an interview script is for the HR department to keep everything consistent. What will likely happen is there will be several meetings with input regarding the questions that should be included in a script, until a final draft is completed and given to each HR person.

Yet, job seekers will have a lot more flexibility when it comes to writing their own interview script. They may gather questions from personal experiences in interviews; a job coach; someone at the company, especially if you already work there and are interviewing for an internal role; or from online resources. If you're interested in writing a job interview script, there are some steps you can follow.

Consider the Interview Writing Format

The first step in writing your interview script is to decide what format to use. To keep it as organized as possible, most people follow a standard format that's easy to read:

Interviewer: Question

Interviewee: Answer

Separate the Interview Script Into Sections

The second step in writing your interview script is to separate it into sections. Once you have your sections, it will be easier to fill each section with potential questions. The first section should contain introductory questions. These are questions that give the interviewer an opportunity to learn a little bit about the candidate generally. The second section offers a chance to learn whether or not the candidate possesses the appropriate basic skills, experience and knowledge required for the job.

The second half of the interview is a chance for the interviewer to understand how the candidate stands out from others. Section three will require the interviewer to present the interviewee with scenario questions and assess their shared values. They'll learn the candidate's soft skills, how they would handle certain situations and whether or not they'd be a good fit for the company.

The fourth, and last, section is wrap-up and conclusion questions. The interviewer will clear up anything they need more information about, and the interviewee can use this opportunity to ask questions about the company and the job position.

Come Up With Questions

Now that your interview script is separated into sections, it's time to come up with example questions for each of those questions. One thing to consider before writing these questions is how long the interview is. For example, if your interview is supposed to be take an hour, then one to three questions under each section makes sense. If the interview is expected to be much longer and more intense, then there will be additional questions. For example:

Introductory Questions:

  • "Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?"
  • "Why did you decide to apply for this role?"
  • "What do you know about the company?"

Basic Evaluation Questions/Skills Questions:

  • "Can you tell me about your experience working as a __?"
  • "What programming languages/techniques/assessments/software are you an expert in?"
  • "Which skills do you believe are necessary for this job?"
  • "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

Scenario/Shared Values Questions:

  • _"_What would your coworkers/past employers say about you?"
  • "Can you tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work. How did you manage it?"
  • "What do you know about our company's work culture, and how would you fit into it?"

Wrap-up Questions/Interviewee Questions for the Interviewer:

  • _"_Do you have any questions for me?" (Interviewer)
  • "Can you tell me more about what the day-to-day routine would look like? (Interviewee)

Input Your Answers

Once you've created questions to add to your interview script, the next step is to fill in your answers to each question. For some people, it may be helpful just to write bullet points or keywords. But, for others, it may be helpful to write down entire sentences. Highlight your skills, strengths and desire to work at the company.

Practice Your Interview Script

Practice your interview script as much as you can without relying on it too much. Instead of practicing just your script, practice the interviewing process in general. In addition to what you say, it's just as important to dress appropriately, be on time and be respectful and attentive during your interview.