Structured Interview Questions & Examples

Devon Denomme, Yolanda Williams
  • Author
    Devon Denomme

    Devon has tutored for almost two years. They have a Bachelor's in Air Traffic Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and minored in Aviation Safety and Homeland Security. They also are AT-CTI certified.

  • Instructor
    Yolanda Williams

    Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Learn about structured interviews, how to conduct a structured interview, and find examples of structured interviews. Explore the differences between a structured interview and an unstructured interview. Updated: 01/18/2022

What is A Structured Interview?

The interview process is an excellent way for employers to obtain valuable and relevant information about their prospective candidates, as well as to gauge interest in the number of people who want to fill a specific position. Two types of interviews are commonly found throughout many fields and industries. They are used initially to collect information for candidate comparison and to identify the best fit for a role. The most formal way to collect information on prospective candidates is through structured interviews.

What is a structured interview? The structured interview definition relates to a quantitative research method designed to measure the role-specific competencies that an individual will need to complete a job. During a structured interview, candidates are asked a series of carefully prepared and strategically-worded questions in a specific or standardized order. Questions found in a structured interview are always prepared in advance. The responses are graded against a scoring system based on specifications set by the employer, most often resulting in the highest scorer being awarded the position. Structured interviews may be conducted over the phone, face-to-face, over the Internet, or by using computer programs. A few notable characteristics of a structured interview include:

  • All candidates are asked the exact same questions in the same order, meaning there is an equal opportunity for all candidates to provide a response on a level playing field.
  • All structured interviews are easy to replicate because they are standardized; a diversion from the interview script is not a factor.
  • The interview process is more consistent, less prone to error, and less exposed to the potential for bias.
  • Responses may be either open-ended or closed-ended, depending on the question or interviewer.

Structured interviews may be conducted in either an open-ended or closed-ended forum. Open-ended questions may be answered in a number of ways and allow the candidate to offer more detailed or elaborate information to the interviewer. They are not limited to a set of predetermined responses, unlike with closed-ended interview questions where specific pieces of information are requested and candidates may only respond through a small list of answers. An example of an open-ended question is Can you list a few past work experiences?, while a closed-ended question may be Are you currently employed? (yes/no).


During a structured interview, prospective candidates are asked a list of previously planned and carefully-worded questions. All candidates are asked the same questions in the same order, ensuring consistency and fair opportunity for responses.

structured vs unstructured interview


The Difference Between a Structured vs. Unstructured Interview

The other form of interview commonly used in business is an unstructured interview. The main difference between structured and unstructured interviews is the manner by which questions are asked. During an unstructured interview, a specific set of predetermined questions does not exist and a standard interview format is generally not followed. Also unlike the structured interview format, an unstructured interview allows for the interviewer to alter certain questions and ask follow-up questions for more information based on the candidate's responses if desired. Typically, unstructured interviews are used on a more relational basis, while structured interviews are used more dominantly for research. Unstructured interviews can further be described as more qualitative, directive, flexible, descriptive, and spontaneous in nature.

Definition and Example of a Structured Interview

Lyle is a psychologist that has just opened his own practice. After seeing a few clients, he realizes he's spending lots of time collecting basic client background information such as age, education level, symptoms, legal history, and religious information. Lyle asks a few of his therapist friends how he could collect this information in an efficient manner. One suggestion that Lyle receives is to use a structured interview.

A structured interview is when all questions are prepared in advance. This is in contrast to an unstructured interview, in which there is no specific set of predetermined questions, and the interviewer is able to change the questions at any time and ask follow-up questions to the interviewee's responses. There are many ways in which you can conduct structured interviews. For example, you can conduct them over the phone, face-to-face, over the Internet, using computer programs, such as Skype, or using videophone.

Structured interview questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. Closed-ended questions ask respondents for specific pieces of information, and often require the respondent to choose from a list of given alternatives. A closed-ended question might be, 'Are you currently taking any drugs (prescribed or un-prescribed)?' Here, the respondent can either answer by saying yes or no. There is no room for elaboration.

Open-ended questions are those that can be answered in many ways and allow the respondent to give elaborate, thoughtful answers. An open-ended question that Lyle might want to ask in his structured interview is, 'Can you list any symptoms you have experienced within the past two weeks?' The respondent could list any symptoms that they choose and are not limited to a few responses.

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Structured Interview Questions

During an interview, the employer may ask prospective candidates a few different types of questions, each of which is designed to assess technical skills, past experiences, personality types, or other relevant areas of detail. The most common forms of structured interview questions a hiring manager may ask include:

  • Job-specific questions: Prospects are asked to respond to queries about the duties and responsibilities related to an open position. Through the usually open-ended responses, a hiring manager can ascertain whether a candidate possesses the necessary skills or experience to fill the role.
  • Verification questions: Queries used to determine the validity or proof of past experiences. These are often asked early in the interview process and are closed-ended.
  • Behavioral questions: These reference past professional or work experiences to help determine specific strengths and weaknesses within a prior role. Responses to behavioral questions are often mixed between open-ended and closed-ended.
  • Situational questions: Queries used to test the problem-solving and analytical skills of candidates. Responses to situational questions are often open-ended, allowing the candidate to elaborate on a thought process or method of performing a task.

Interviewers may choose to mix any number of job-specific, verification, behavioral, or situational questions into the interview. Different roles within a company or field may require different information, such as the extensive demonstration of technical skills or research into how a prospective employee would interact with others. A few examples of each type of structured interview questions, which may be applied to most structured interview forums, are:

  • Why are you interested in working at this company? (Job-specific)
  • What is your preferred or most-used method for completing this task? (Job-specific)
  • Have you ever managed a team of employees? (Verification)
  • How long did you work at your previous employer or within the field? (Verification)
  • Do you recall making a mistake at work, and how did you attempt to resolve it? (Behavioral)
  • Has your team or department ever undergone a change, and how did you adapt? (Behavioral)
  • How would you manage a team of employees on a tight deadline? (Situational)
  • How do you respond to criticism from an unhappy customer? (Situational)

Structured Interview Example

Structured interviews are used in various fields to obtain research data or information about prospective employees, as well as to help hiring managers determine the best candidate for a role within their organization. The following structured interview example will illustrate how the interview process works and what types of questions may be asked during a structured interview:

Marty is the hiring manager for a small IT company and he is looking for qualified candidates to fill a maintenance support role within the organization. Before conducting the structured interview forum with a group of interviewees, Marty decides that the location of the meeting will be held in person and begins to develop an interview schedule, or a list of specific questions to be asked during the interview. Marty uses questions in both an open-ended and closed-ended response format to gain knowledge about the candidates' past experiences, personalities, and technical skills. The questions appear in the following order:

  • How did you learn about this opportunity?
  • How long have you worked in or been interested in the IT field?
  • What are your personal thoughts (opinionated) on the advantages and disadvantages of the IT industry?
  • What has been your most rewarding experience as being part of the IT industry?
  • What valuable and unique experiences or ideas can you bring to this organization?
  • What is your process for completing (a specific task)?

Once Marty has interviewed all of the candidates in the same standardized format (without deviation from his questions), he analyzes and compares the prospective candidates' responses to determine the best fit for the position. He informs Gerald, a 22-year veteran of the IT field, that the technical skills and past experiences discussed during his structured interview have placed him ahead of the other candidates and Gerald is offered the job.


Structured interviews are a routine process. Interviewers may begin the interaction with a welcoming handshake before asking the planned questions. Interviewers should give the candidates adequate time to provide a full response before scoring their answers and moving onto the next question.

structured interview definition


Structured Interview Process

Before you conduct a structured interview, you want to make sure that you clarify the focus and objective of the interview. In other words, what is the focus of the interview and what are your goals? You need to figure out what method you're going to use to conduct the interview (i.e. face-to-face or over the phone). You need to develop an interview schedule, which is a list of questions you're going to ask during your interview.

During the interview, it's important to make sure that you're sticking to the interview schedule. Structured interviews are standardized and follow a fixed format, and questions are given in a specific order. This means that each person being interviewed is asked the same set of questions in the exact same order in the exact same way. By doing this, you are increasing the reliability, or consistency, of your interviews. The interviewer strictly sticks to the questions listed on the interview schedule and does not follow up on an interviewee's answer.

More Examples of a Structured Interview

John is a researcher interested in marital satisfaction among students pursuing a doctorate degree. He has spent several years reading literature related to this topic and decided to focus on length and quality of marriage. John designs a structured interview in which he will ask all the participants the following questions in order:

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Video Transcript

Definition and Example of a Structured Interview

Lyle is a psychologist that has just opened his own practice. After seeing a few clients, he realizes he's spending lots of time collecting basic client background information such as age, education level, symptoms, legal history, and religious information. Lyle asks a few of his therapist friends how he could collect this information in an efficient manner. One suggestion that Lyle receives is to use a structured interview.

A structured interview is when all questions are prepared in advance. This is in contrast to an unstructured interview, in which there is no specific set of predetermined questions, and the interviewer is able to change the questions at any time and ask follow-up questions to the interviewee's responses. There are many ways in which you can conduct structured interviews. For example, you can conduct them over the phone, face-to-face, over the Internet, using computer programs, such as Skype, or using videophone.

Structured interview questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. Closed-ended questions ask respondents for specific pieces of information, and often require the respondent to choose from a list of given alternatives. A closed-ended question might be, 'Are you currently taking any drugs (prescribed or un-prescribed)?' Here, the respondent can either answer by saying yes or no. There is no room for elaboration.

Open-ended questions are those that can be answered in many ways and allow the respondent to give elaborate, thoughtful answers. An open-ended question that Lyle might want to ask in his structured interview is, 'Can you list any symptoms you have experienced within the past two weeks?' The respondent could list any symptoms that they choose and are not limited to a few responses.

Structured Interview Process

Before you conduct a structured interview, you want to make sure that you clarify the focus and objective of the interview. In other words, what is the focus of the interview and what are your goals? You need to figure out what method you're going to use to conduct the interview (i.e. face-to-face or over the phone). You need to develop an interview schedule, which is a list of questions you're going to ask during your interview.

During the interview, it's important to make sure that you're sticking to the interview schedule. Structured interviews are standardized and follow a fixed format, and questions are given in a specific order. This means that each person being interviewed is asked the same set of questions in the exact same order in the exact same way. By doing this, you are increasing the reliability, or consistency, of your interviews. The interviewer strictly sticks to the questions listed on the interview schedule and does not follow up on an interviewee's answer.

More Examples of a Structured Interview

John is a researcher interested in marital satisfaction among students pursuing a doctorate degree. He has spent several years reading literature related to this topic and decided to focus on length and quality of marriage. John designs a structured interview in which he will ask all the participants the following questions in order:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the characteristics of a structured interview?

During a structured interview, all prospective candidates are asked the exact same questions in the exact same order in either an open-ended or closed-ended forum. Open-ended responses allow the candidate to elaborate and share their experiences, while closed-ended responses are direct and provide basic information. All structured interviews are easy to replicate because they are standardized, leading to a more consistent replication of each interview and less chance for errors to be made.

What are examples of structured interview questions?

A few types of questions are asked in a structured interview so that the employer may attain a better understanding of the candidates' past experiences, technical skills, and personalities. These include:

  • Job-specific (skills and experiences) questions, such as Why are you interested in working at this company?
  • Verification (proof of experience) questions such as Have you ever managed a team of employees?
  • Behavioral (strengths and weaknesses) questions such as Has your team or department ever undergone a change, and how did you adapt?
  • Situational (problem-solving and analysis) questions such as How do you respond to criticism from an unhappy customer?

What is meant by the term structured interview?

A structured interview is a quantitative research method used to collect data and relevant information about a prospective employee. During a structured interview, candidates are asked a standardized set of questions, meaning the same questions are asked in the same manner each time. This allows each candidate an equal and fair opportunity to provide an honest response.

How do you prepare for a structured interview?

In order to prepare for a structured interview, interviewers should first determine the purpose of the interview and clarify the focus and objective of the interview. They should also determine the specific method that will be used to conduct the interview (in-person, over the phone, etc.) and create an interview schedule, or a specific list of questions to be asked during the interview. As a final step, hiring managers or interviewers should be properly trained to ensure that they understand the questions being asked as well as the scoring system for each question that must be used to judge the candidates' competencies.

Why is a structured interview better?

Structured interviews are beneficial to businesses in many situations for a number of reasons. Primarily, they allow a large amount of information to be easily collected in a short amount of time, and the standardized formatting allows each interview to be conducted effortlessly. Structured interviews also result in fewer mistakes being made when questions are asked or responses are scored because a standardized format is followed. A final advantage of structured interviewing is that the likelihood of biased responses is reduced, leading to more honest and open answering by candidates.

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