Structured Interview: Everything You Need to Know

By hrlineup | 08.05.2023

When it comes to hiring, there are various methods and techniques used by recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate the candidate’s fit for the job role. One such method is the structured interview. A structured interview is a standardized method of interviewing job applicants with predetermined questions, rating scales, and evaluation criteria. The aim is to ensure that all candidates are evaluated using the same criteria, eliminating potential biases, and increasing the validity of the hiring process.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about structured interviews, including its types, advantages, disadvantages, and best practices.

Structured and Unstructured Interview Meaning

In the process of recruitment, interviews are one of the most important methods to evaluate candidates. Interviews can be categorized into two types: structured and unstructured interviews.

Structured interviews follow a pre-designed set of questions that are asked in the same order and format to all candidates. This helps to standardize the interview process and makes it easier to compare the responses of different candidates. Structured interviews also make it possible to assess specific job-related competencies and skills, ensuring that the questions are relevant to the job. The disadvantage of a structured interview is that it may not allow for exploring areas beyond the set questions.

On the other hand, unstructured interviews are more free-flowing, allowing for a conversation to develop between the interviewer and the candidate. The questions asked are not pre-designed and the interviewer has the freedom to ask follow-up questions to clarify responses or delve into areas of interest. Unstructured interviews can provide more insight into the candidate’s personality and can help in determining if the candidate would fit well within the company culture. However, unstructured interviews can also introduce interviewer bias and may not provide a fair assessment of all candidates.

What are Structured Types of Interview?

There are three types of structured interviews: behavioral, situational, and competency-based.

1. Behavioral Interview

Behavioral interviews focus on past behavior. The interviewer asks questions about a candidate’s previous work experience and how they handled specific situations. For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.” The idea is that past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. By asking these types of questions, the interviewer can get a sense of how a candidate might handle similar situations in the future.

2. Situational Interview

Situational interviews are similar to behavioral interviews but focus on hypothetical scenarios. The interviewer presents a scenario and asks the candidate how they would respond. For example, “What would you do if a customer was unhappy with a product they received?” This type of interview can be useful for assessing a candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to think on their feet.

3. Competency-based Interview

Competency-based interviews focus on specific skills and qualities that are important for the job. The interviewer asks questions designed to assess the candidate’s proficiency in these areas. For example, if the job requires strong communication skills, the interviewer might ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to communicate complex information to a non-technical audience.” This type of interview is useful for identifying candidates who have the necessary skills and qualities to excel in the role.

Overall, structured interviews are a useful tool for evaluating candidates. By asking each candidate the same set of questions, the interviewer can make more objective and consistent assessments. Additionally, by focusing on specific skills and behaviors, structured interviews can help identify the candidates who are the best fit for the job.

Advantages of Structured Interviews

  • Increases Reliability

One of the significant advantages of using a structured interview is that it increases the reliability of the hiring process. The use of standardized questions and rating scales ensures that each candidate is evaluated on the same criteria, eliminating potential biases. This makes it easier to compare and contrast candidates, ensuring that the hiring decision is based on objective criteria.

  • Reduces Discrimination

Structured interviews are also effective in reducing discrimination in the hiring process. Since all candidates are evaluated based on the same criteria, there is less chance for biases to influence the hiring decision. This is particularly important in ensuring that the hiring process is fair and equitable to all candidates.

  • Predicts Job Performance

Structured interviews are also effective in predicting job performance. By using questions that are relevant to the job role and rating scales that measure specific competencies, the interviewer can get a good idea of how well the candidate will perform on the job. This makes it easier to make informed hiring decisions and reduces the chances of hiring a candidate who may not be a good fit for the job.

Disadvantages of Structured Interviews

  • Limited Flexibility

One of the main disadvantages of using a structured interview is its limited flexibility. Since the questions and rating scales are predetermined, the interviewer cannot deviate from them, even if they feel that a particular question is not relevant to the candidate or the job role. This may lead to a less than comprehensive evaluation of the candidate.

  • Less Personal

Structured interviews can also be less personal than unstructured interviews. Since the questions are predetermined, there may be less opportunity for the interviewer to get to know the candidate on a personal level. This may make it difficult to evaluate intangible qualities such as cultural fit and personality.

  • Time-Consuming 

Structured interviews can also be time-consuming, both for the interviewer and the candidate. Since the questions are predetermined, the interview may take longer than an unstructured interview, making it more difficult to schedule and complete.

Best Practices for Conducting Structured Interviews

To get the most out of structured interviews, it is essential to follow best practices that can help you conduct more efficient and effective interviews. Here are some tips to help you conduct successful structured interviews.

1. Define your objectives

Before conducting a structured interview, it is important to define your objectives. Identify the key skills, experiences, and traits that you are looking for in a candidate. Use this information to develop interview questions that will help you evaluate each candidate’s suitability for the job.

2. Develop a standard interview protocol

To ensure consistency and fairness, develop a standard interview protocol that you will use for each candidate. This protocol should include a list of interview questions and a scoring rubric to evaluate each candidate’s responses.

3. Train your interviewers

Train your interviewers to ensure that they understand the interview protocol and how to score candidate responses accurately. It is also important to educate them on the importance of avoiding bias and maintaining objectivity during the interview process.

4. Use behavioral-based questions

Behavioral-based questions are an effective way to evaluate a candidate’s past behavior and how it relates to the skills and experiences required for the job. These questions should be designed to elicit specific examples of a candidate’s behavior in past work situations.

5. Allow sufficient time for each interview

Allowing sufficient time for each interview is essential to ensure that you can cover all the necessary questions and evaluate each candidate thoroughly. Plan for at least 30 to 45 minutes per interview.

6. Avoid leading questions

Leading questions can influence a candidate’s responses and skew the evaluation process. Avoid questions that suggest a particular answer or that make assumptions about a candidate’s experiences.

7. Use a scoring system

Use a scoring system to evaluate each candidate’s responses consistently. This system should be based on the job requirements and should assign points to each response based on its relevance to the job.

8. Take notes during the interview

Taking notes during the interview can help you remember each candidate’s responses and evaluate them more objectively. Be sure to document each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for further evaluation.

9. Provide feedback to candidates

Provide feedback to candidates after the interview, including their strengths, areas for improvement, and whether they are being considered for the job. This feedback can help candidates improve their interview skills and understand how they can better position themselves for future job opportunities.


Structured interviews are an effective tool for hiring managers looking to identify the most suitable candidates for a job opening. To conduct successful structured interviews, it is important to define your objectives, develop a standard interview protocol, train your interviewers, use behavioral-based questions, allow sufficient time for each interview, avoid leading questions, use a scoring system, take notes during the interview, and provide feedback to candidates. By following these best practices, you can conduct more efficient and effective interviews that help you identify the best candidates for the job.