structured interview for community health workers

Creating a Structured Interview Template for CHWs

If you’re expanding your community health team and need to hire a new community health worker, promotor(a) or similar role, a structured interview can be your new best friend.

A structured interview can help you choose the best candidate for the position by creating a fair and organized framework for interviewing.

With this guide, you can create a personalized template to ensure that your job interviews flow smoothly and efficiently while revealing the best person to help your organization provide healthcare or community support.

Read on for some useful tips for conducting a structured interview for CHW candidates. These tips include sample structured interview questions and information on accessing CHWTraining’s employment resources to aid you in the hiring process.

What Is a Structured Interview?

First, let’s take a closer look at what a structured interview is.

It’s a kind of job interview in which the person doing the interviewing (probably you), asks a set list of questions to each candidate. You’ll ask only those questions, and you’ll ask them consistently. Then you’ll use a numeric scale or a ranking chart to compare each CHW.

The idea behind this method is to fairly gauge every candidate’s responses to your questions against all the other candidates.

Structured interviews are great for:

  • Taking the guesswork out of evaluation criteria
  • Eliminating bias or discrimination
  • Speeding up fair assessment of applicants

Create an Effective Interview Layout.

A well-designed interview process helps you to quickly identify qualities and skills in each CHW candidate. An effective layout should include pre-selected questions that are applicable to the position and give people the opportunity to demonstrate how they can contribute to your organization. Ensure all questions are relevant, open-ended, and cover topics including qualifications, job experience, communication abilities and personality traits.

You should create your own template of interview questions. This will ensure that the questions you ask are perfectly aligned with your agency, the role you’re hiring for and the community they’ll be serving.

That said, you can probably start your template with simple questions like these:

  • Candidate name
  • Interviewer name
  • Application date
  • Screen date (when you review the application)
  • Interview date

If you need some more ideas, check out CHWTraining’s How To Hire a Community Health Worker – Interview Guide.

Identify Essential Skills Required for the Position.

Before creating your structured interview template, it is important to identify the essential skills and qualities that you require in a CHW. Consider the duties and responsibilities of the position and what knowledge and abilities would most benefit your organization. Evaluate which key quality or skill should be considered when assessing candidates during the interview. This will help create an effective screening process and ensure each candidate is given equal consideration for the position.

Skills are usually broken down into hard skills and soft skills, and you might need specific ones for your position (e.g., ability to speak Spanish).

Hard skills for CHWs refer to technical skills such as tech-savviness, research skills, professional training such as peer education, health literacy, working with electronic medical records, or using medical equipment properly.

Soft skills for CHWs are harder to pin down. You can learn about your candidate’s soft skills with open-ended questions where they have the opportunity to share about past experiences. You can also observe them and pay close attention to how they communicate — not just their words, but body language, tone, and more.

Example soft skills for CHWs:

  1. The ability to set distinct boundaries.
  2. The capability to manage emotions and stress effectively.
  3. An awareness and connection to diverse cultures.
  4. Proficiency in both teamwork and independent work.
  5. A willingness and aptitude for acquiring new knowledge and skills.
  6. Strong organizational abilities.
  7. Communication skills.

Prepare Clear and Relevant Questions.

When creating questions for your structured interview template, select a variety of questions tailored to the specific needs of the job.

Prepare open-ended questions that require longer and more in-depth responses from candidates, as well as situational and hypothetical questions that give insight into how the candidate would respond to live scenarios in the workplace.

Here are some example open-ended questions that you can adapt and get your next CHWs thinking:

  • Describe to me your experience working in this field.
  • What are your thoughts about community health needs in this area?
  • Tell me about a time when you [supported a client, solved a problem, handled a conflict].
  • What motivates you to work with people in this community?

Also, consider personality traits when crafting questions for emotional intelligence and other aspects related to team dynamics.

Time Allotment Tips for Each Interview Round.

It can be challenging to set an appropriate amount of time for each section of your structured interview. Setting clear time constraints will help you stay organized, ensure a thorough but efficient process, and provide uniformity across all interviews. In general, plan to devote 10-20 minutes of the total allotted time to personal introductions, 15-30 minutes to discussing skills related to the job position, and 30-45 minutes for situational questions. Allow additional more for management questions if needed.

You can set up your interview template similarly to a meeting agenda with time slots. Download our free template here.[mc2] 

Use Follow Up Questions and Strategies.

During the interview, it’s likely you won’t have time to get every detail that you need about the candidate’s experiences and skills. Consider incorporating follow up questions as a strategy for gathering new information during the interview. Using follow up questions can give applicants a chance to explain their past experiences in greater depth or provide more clarity on statements made by the applicant during the course of the conversation. Make sure to keep these questions open ended so that candidates will feel comfortable continuing to talk about their experiences.

Some possible follow-up questions can be:

  • Can you tell me more about your experience with [specific skill or experience]?
  • How do you handle [specific scenario or challenge]?
  • Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated [specific skill or trait]?

It can take some time to put together a structured interview guide. But once you do, you’ll appreciate how the structure can make the process easier. When you’re reviewing the applications for your CHW team, you’ll find that the chances that you choose the best candidate for the position is much better.