What is a structured interview

What is a structured interview

A structured interview is an interview method that consists in asking questions in a systematic order to collect consistent data on any given topic. 

Structured interviews are data-driven and are often quantitative in nature. They are not only used for job interviews, they are also used in other fields to collect specific data for surveys, for example in the fields of marketing, social science or other research fields.

There are 3 types of interviews generally being practiced:

  • Structured interviews:
    Questions are pre-selected and assigned systematically to support a data-driven approach. 
  • Semi-structured interviews:
    Only a few questions are pre-selected in advance, and more freedom is given to improvisation. 
  • Unstructured interviews:
    No questions are prepared in advance.

What is a  structured interview ?

A structured interview is an interview method that consists in asking questions in a systematic order to collect consistent data on any given topic. 

Structured interviews consist in asking questions in a set order. It aims to compare the candidates' answers between themselves in a uniform context. Asking the same set of questions help to detect past patterns and spot out specific areas of blind spots among participants. 

Structured interviews set a standardized framework for both recruiters and line managers which aims at reducing bias and gut feeling. Contrary to semi-structured and unstructured interviews, questions are asked in a set order to support a better candidate selection. 

In addition, structured interviews are used to collect uniform data from the candidates, which easily supports comparison and selection.

When to use a structured based interview for hiring?

Structured interviews are best used when:

  • You have reached a clear understanding of the job requirements, which include the definition of the required soft skills and technical skills requirements for the job. 
  • You intend to compare candidates among each other based on objective requirements and collect data to decide which candidate is the best fit for the role. 
  • You have limited time and resources to compare candidates: you can rely on the outputs from your interview meetings with candidates without extensive support. 

Structured interviews are straightforward to conduct and analyze. Asking the same interview questions in the same order mitigates unconscious bias and aims to reduce opinion mistakes in the candidate’s selection process. 

Asking structured interview questions is no easy task. It is recommended to validate question sampling through pilots, before systematizing the structured interview approach to a broader group of candidates.

Difference between interview types

Below is a table highlighting the main characteristics of the 3 main interview types:

Structured interviewSemi-structured interviewUnstructured interview
Preselected questions
Fixed order of questions
Fixed number of questions
Option to ask additional questions

What are competency-based interviews

A competency-based interview is a type of structured interview. A competency-based interview may also be referred to as a behavioral interview or a criterion-based interview.

Just like structured-based interviews, competency-based interviews focus the questioning on knowledge, skills, attitude, behaviors, and aptitudes. 

Here are examples of the most recurring competencies selected to assess candidates:

Cognitive skills

  • Analytical thinking
  • Communicating information
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Design Thinking
  • Problem Solving

Interpersonal Skills

  • Collaboration & Teamwork
  • Consulting & Advising
  • Developing others
  • Negotiation
  • Relationship Building
  • Refunds
  • Financial Analysis

Self-Leadership Skills

  • Agility
  • Change Management
  • Customer Orientation
  • Decision Making
  • Planning & Organization
  • Resilience

Benefits of Structured Interviews

Successful job seekers possess a well-rounded combination of both hard and soft skills. On the other hand, hard skills are often required to be able to perform the tasks required for the role they are applying for, soft skills show the employer that the applicant can effectively and positively thrive in complex environments.

Reduce bias and gut feeling

Asking the same questions in the same systematic order helps to decrease the risk of getting influenced by personal opinions and reduce unconscious bias. Unconscious bias (or implicit bias) is an underlying attitude that creates fondness or dislike towards a person or a group of people e.g. gender, sexual orientation, personal appearance, academic background, ageism, beauty, etc.

Using structured interviews in recruiting helps the recruiter and line manager have a fair view of a candidate’s behavior during the interview process.

Better credibility and reliability 

Due to their well-structured nature, structured interviews are more credible and reliable than other types of interviews. Since all candidates are given the same questions, it makes it easier to compare answers and make an informed hiring decision.

Making data-driven decisions to support the hiring process

Data helps you find out which question is yielding the best results. Consequently, recruiters can gather the most relevant data points by analyzing the answers provided. 

The data gathered helps to compare candidates with each other and decide which questions have the most impact. Data collected can be used to iterate the structured based interview process to make it the most efficient for the unique needs of your company.

Cost-efficient and easy to implement 

It does not cost anything to implement a structured based interview. It is also easy to roll out the approach across the different rounds of the interview process. In addition, it can create the golden standard for the overall selection process. Companies may use structured interview questions as a pre-selection process to pre-screen candidates before any first meeting with the hiring team; or during the interview.

Examples of Structured Interview questions

Huneety provides behavior assessments to support companies to recruit the right soft skills requirements and gain valuable insights into their candidate’s behaviors. Huneety recommends structured interview questions for each behavior assessed.

Here are examples of structured interview questions for the competency: customer orientation

Question on behavior "Demonstrating positive attitude towards resolution"

  • Tell me about a time when a customer was reporting a technical issue that you did not know the answer to. What was your approach, and how did it end up?
  • In your past work, have you ever received negative feedback from a customer? What did you do with that feedback?
  • Tell me about your experience with an irritating customer. How did you handle it? How do you keep cool in a stressful situation?

Question for the behavior "Solving customer issues within the timeline"

  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a customer request within a very short timeline? How did you solve the issue? What made it successful?
  • How do you manage unrealistic timelines given by customers?
  • How do you organize yourself to deliver on time?

Question for the behavior "Understanding customer needs"

  • Can you tell me about a customer who you found difficult to understand and how you approached that interaction?
  • What do you do when you do not know the answer to a question?
  • How can you utilize customer's feedback to ensure business excellence?
  • How do you make sure you have understood customer requirements and needs?

About Huneety 

Huneety is Southeast Asia Talent sourcing platform connecting talents to opportunities. We help organizations navigate talent shortages by creating new talent pools of qualified applicants. With Huneety you can quickly find, assess, and select the right talents according to your unique skills, behaviors, and cultural fit requirements.