Structured Interview

July 18, 2023
Hiring & Recruiting
Discover the importance of structured interviews in the hiring process, its benefits, types, and top tips for conducting a structured interview.

What is a Structured Interview?

A structured interview is a systematic and standardized hiring method that allows interviewers to bring uniformity to the process.  Unlike unstructured interviews that focus more on informal conversations and personal opinions, structured interviews use a set of predetermined questions to ensure fairness, consistency, and objectivity. It offers an excellent way to ensure the process is as smooth and unbiased as possible.

The process of conducting a structured interview starts with carefully designing a thorough interview plan. This plan should include the questions to be asked, as well as the expected answers or characteristics desired in each response. During the structured interview, the hiring manager or interviewer follows the same interview plan for each candidate. Every candidate is asked the same question in the same order. Such a uniform approach to interviewing potential candidates ensures a fairer and more impartial assessment, removing any personal preferences or prejudices that could arise from ad-hoc questioning.

Importance of Structured Interview

In the present-day hiring scenario, where we have a large number of equally skilled candidates suitable for the job, structured interviews have a lot of importance. From increasing predictive validity to bringing cost and time efficiency, structured interviews play a crucial role in helping the HR manager find the most suitable candidate.

1. Higher Predictive Validity

Structured interviews are considered to be better at predicting a candidate's future performance than unstructured ones. Their standardized approach eliminates any personal prejudices and instead looks at a person's skills and qualifications for the job.

2. Time and Cost Efficiency

Structured interviews may require some time and effort to prepare the interview plan, but in the long run, they can save time and money by making the hiring process more efficient. With consistent evaluation criteria and predetermined questions, hiring managers and interviews can easily identify the most suitable candidates.

3. They Promote Equal Treatment of Every Candidate

Conducting structured interviews ensure equitable and fair treatment for all applicants. In a structured interview, every candidate is provided with the same set of questions so that there's no chance of bias or partiality. This is a great way to guarantee that everyone has the same chance to demonstrate their skills and capabilities.

4. Reduced Legal Risks

By adopting structured interviews in their hiring process, organizations can protect themselves from potential legal issues related to discriminatory hiring practices. By choosing candidates based on set criteria rather than individual opinions, employers can show that their selection process is impartial and unbiased.

Benefits of Structured Interview

A Structured interview can offer a range of benefits to both the employers and the candidates. Let's have a look at the most significant benefits of this type of interview process:

1. It Brings Consistency Across All the Interviews

A structured interview ensures everyone gets the same questions, no matter who's conducting the interview or when it's taking place. This levels the playing field and facilitates a fair comparison between a large number of different candidates.

2. It Promotes Data-Driven Hiring Approach

Structured interviews promote a data-driven hiring approach, enabling organizations to make more informed hiring decisions. By gathering and analyzing data from candidates' responses, hiring managers can conduct a more objective comparison and contrast of the information, leading to better decision-making about the quality of hire.

3. More Objective Decision-Making

Structured interviews remove subjectivity and personal preferences from the process, resulting in more impartial decision-making. This means organizations can choose candidates based solely on their aptitude, experience, and how appropriate they are for the position, improving the caliber of the hires.

Structured Interview Key Concepts and Terminology

Before talking more about the structured interview, it is important to understand the key concepts and terminology used in it. It will help you build a solid foundation in structured interviews and set you up for success.

  • Question Bank: A question bank is a set of pre-planned job-related questions designed to get the answers you need to evaluate a candidate's abilities and qualifications. It helps create consistent interviews for everyone, so you can be sure you're getting reliable results.
  • Behavioral-Based Questions: Behavioral interview questions focus on a candidate's background to uncover their previous experiences and behaviors as a predictor of how they'll perform in the future. They ask for specific examples of how they handled certain situations, enabling them to demonstrate their skills, problem-solving abilities, and behaviors. With these questions, you can get a better understanding of a candidate's capabilities.
  • Rating Scale: A rating scale is a tool designed to measure and score candidates' responses in a structured interview. You can use either numeric (like 1-5) or descriptive (like 'excellent,' 'good,' 'fair,' and 'poor') scales to evaluate them. This provides a consistent and objective framework for comparing the interviewees.
  • Follow-Up Questions: Follow-up questions are designed to give more information or gain clarity on a candidate's answers. These extra questions give recruiters the opportunity to find out more about the candidate's past decisions, thought processes, and problem-solving talents. By asking follow-up questions, you can ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
  • Interview Panel: An interview panel is made up of a group of interviewers, which could include HR experts, hiring managers, experts in the relevant field, or people from different departments. All of them come together to assess and evaluate potential candidates. This interview panel allows for different points of view, minimizes individual biases, and provides an overall more comprehensive assessment.

Types of Questions Asked in a Structured Interview

There are three main types of questions used in structured interviews. These include behavioral questions, situational questions, and competency-based or job-specific questions. Let's have a look at each of them:

  • Behavioral Questions: Behavioral assessment questions are designed to analyze a candidate's professional background and how their mind works. They might ask about what they've achieved, their most significant weaknesses, the difficulties they've faced, and how they interact with others in the workplace. All of this helps employers get a better idea of who they're thinking of hiring.
  • Situational Questions: Situational questions allow candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills. These critical-thinking questions present hypothetical scenarios that could happen in the role they're applying for, and candidates are asked to describe how they would handle the given situation. For example, a situational question could be: "What would you do if you were given a tight deadline and realized you needed additional resources to complete the task?"
  • Competency-Based or Job-Specific Questions: These questions assess a candidate's competencies to determine if they have the skills and aptitudes necessary for the role. Compentency-based questions explore the candidate's specific skills, experience, background, and technical know-how related to the job.

Structured Interview Limitations and Considerations

Although there are many benefits of using structured interviews, it's also important to be aware of their limitations and considerations. Knowing about the following limitations can help you implement structured interviews properly and make informed decisions when it comes to hiring.

1. Limited Flexibility

  • Structured interviews often require sticking to a set of predetermined questions, which doesn't provide much flexibility for further probing or unexpected topics.
  • This lack of freedom can prevent interviewers from discovering valuable information about a candidate's skills and whether they'd be suitable for the role.
  • It's essential to find a balance between adhering to structure and allowing the flexibility to ask further questions when needed.

2. Limited Assessment of Soft Skills

  • Structured interviews often prioritize hard skills and job-specific competencies, potentially ignoring a candidate's soft skills and interpersonal qualities.
  • Soft skills, like communication, teamwork, and emotional intelligence, are essential for achieving success in a lot of positions.
  • Interviewers should think about adding questions that examine these skills or using other assessment techniques, like group activities or situational judgment tests, to assess interpersonal skills.

3. Too Much Emphasis on Past Performances

  • Structured interviews typically focus on a candidate's past experiences and behaviors to predict their future performance. But this isn't always accurate since someone's experiences and skills can change over time.
  • To get a better sense of a person's potential and ability to learn and adapt, you could ask questions that go beyond past experiences.

How to Prepare for a Structured Interview?

As an employer, it's essential to take the time to properly prepare for a structured interview to make sure it's a fair and effective way to assess candidates. Here are some critical steps to help you prepare for a structured interview:

1. Define Clear Job Requirements: Begin by clearly defining the job requirements, like essential qualifications, experience, and personal traits required to succeed in the position. Having a clear job description is vital for formulating pertinent and meaningful structured interview questions.

2. Create an Interview Protocol or Plan: Draft an interview protocol outlining the questions you'll ask during the structured interview. Ensure the questions align with the job requirements and competencies you've identified.

3. Train Your Interviewers: Make sure to provide training to interviewers to get them up to speed with the structured interview process and protocol. Train them to ask questions in the same way, follow the scoring criteria, and take notes properly. Doing this will make sure everyone is ready to go, giving us a standardized and reliable evaluation process.

Best Practices for Conducting Structured Interviews

1. Establishing Clear Evaluation Criteria

  • Create a scoring system to evaluate each candidate's responses objectively.
  • Set specific criteria, like how detailed their answers are, how it relates to the job, and their potential fit for the organization.
  • Doing this removes bias and subjectivity from the equation, so decision-making is based on the applicants' performance alone.

2. Creating a Welcoming and Comfortable Environment for the Candidates

  • Create a warm and inviting atmosphere to help candidates feel relaxed during the interview.
  • Give a brief introduction to make them feel comfortable, and give candidates a chance to ask any initial questions.

3. Listening Actively and Taking Notes

  • Pay close attention to what the candidates say and jot down some notes.
  • Showing that you're listening intently not only shows respect but also helps you accurately assess the candidate's qualifications.
  • Keeping detailed notes will help you compare and evaluate the different candidates fairly.

4. Allowing Candidates to Ask Questions

  • Offer your interviewees a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview.
  • Show that you care about their concerns and answer all their questions promptly and clearly.
  • It will help the candidates get a good idea of the position and the company.


Structured interviews offer a professional, fair, and objective approach to the recruitment process. This reliable technique helps employers make more accurate assessments of applicants, minimize potential legal issues, and make informed decisions that set them up for long-term future success. Remember, a great interview session is a win-win situation for both the employer and the applicants, resulting in a successful hiring experience!

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