What Is a Structured Interview? (With Example Questions)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 11 January 2023
Published 6 December 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Structured interviews allow you to describe your soft and hard skills and provide examples of your previous accomplishments. These interviews typically comprise fixed questions to minimise bias and improve efficiency. When you understand what a structured interview is you can prepare for one more effectively. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is a structured interview?', discuss the type of questions that an interviewer might ask you, and show you how to prepare for this type of interview.
What is a structured interview?
A structured interview involves the hiring manager asking candidates a range of pre-planned questions in a standardised order. The interviewer collects these responses and marks them in a grading system, making it easier to compare the candidates' answers. There are several reasons hiring managers use structured interviews, for example they:
Improve comparability: Interviewers can compare your answers to other candidates more efficiently when they ask candidates the same questions.
Maintain consistency: The hiring manager can minimise errors by using a fixed structure for each interview.
Provide equal opportunities: The format gives you a chance to answer the same questions as other candidates, which minimises bias.
Enhance efficiency: Interviewers can ensure the interview doesn't stray off topic. It also ensures that you provide concise information about your skill set, qualifications and previous experience.
Example questions for a structured interview
Structured interviews usually include job-specific, behavioural and situational questions. An employer can use these questions and responses to assess whether you have the necessary skills and experience to excel in the role. For example, you may be asked:
Job-specific questions often encourage responses related to the tasks and responsibilities required for the position. These question types help a hiring managers determine whether your skills align with the role's requirements. For example, in a structured interview you may be asked the following job-specific questions:
How have you used specific computer software to your advantage?
Are you comfortable using a telephone with several lines and handling high call volumes?
What do you think are the advantages of working in telecommunication?
Which recipe do you consider as your specialty and why?
What process do you use to remember large orders?
What attracts you to this position?
How would you deal with taking on a challenging new project?
Behavioural questions usually relate to your previous experience in the workforce. The interviewer may ask questions about the way you interact with clients, co-workers and managers. Here are some examples of behavioural questions you might be asked in a structured interview:
What has been the highlight of your career?
How did you achieve the most important goal in your career?
Can you tell me about a problem you have faced in your department and how you overcame it?
How would you respond to criticism from your manager?
Can you tell me about the way you handle disagreements with co-workers?
What has been your most rewarding experience working as part of a team?
Can you tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a change in your company and how you handled this change?
Situational questions ask you to consider how you would approach a specific situation if you worked at the company. Interviewers can use your response to assess how you apply critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. These questions may focus on your interaction with customers and team members. Some example situational questions include:
How would you resolve a conflict with a client?
What ideas would you bring to our advertising table?
How would you prioritise multiple assignments from different clients?
How would you respond to constructive feedback from a manager?
How would you optimise customer satisfaction in our store?
What steps would you take to make an informed decision?
How would you contribute to a group project?
Example structured interview questions with answers
As you prepare for your interview, you may wonder what type of questions the hiring manager will ask you. Here are five common questions with example answers:
1. How would you resolve conflict with a client?
An interviewer may ask this question to understand how you react in different situations. You need to discuss a time when you resolved a conflict with one of your clients. Reflecting on how you achieved a solution demonstrates how you adapt to a challenging situation.
Example: ‘My interest-based approach is the best way for me to understand the root of a conflict. When I recently faced a challenge with one of my clients, we discussed the issue so I could understand what was important to them. Thoroughly understanding the problem before trying to solve it made negotiations a lot easier and helped us find a solution.’
2. Why do you want to work here?
Hiring managers often ask this job-specific structured question to determine whether you've researched the company. It also shows them why you think you're a good fit for the role. Do your research, prepare well and learn about the workplace. In your answer, talk about what you like about the company and how you think it aligns with your long-term career objectives.
Example: ‘The company's mission to help graduates repay their tuition fees aligns with my beliefs. As a graduate, I'd love to contribute to a company that's committed to making a difference. I can identify with your determination to maintain an inclusive work environment.’
3. Tell me about a time when you succeeded and how you achieved this success.
Employers ask this behaviourally structured question to determine how you progress in your work, to see what skills you have and understand how you achieve goals. It's best to use your answer to show your resilience and share how you turned a specific experience into one with a positive result. Talk about the strategies and tools you used to achieve this outcome.
Example: 'In my first month as an account manager, I wanted to impress a top client on a particular project. I used my determination to prepare a long-term plan with timestamps to keep me on track with deadlines. I also contacted the client directly with specific questions to ensure I would mee their specific needs. My organisation and insight into the client's brief helped me produce work to a high standard. As a result, the client commended my work ethic and requested that I lead future projects.'
How to prepare for a structured interview
Interview preparation can help you feel more confident in front of an interviewer. Here are some steps to keep in mind:
1. Research the company
Researching the company that you want to work for shows that you're enthusiastic about what they have to offer. Learning about the company's background and culture increases your knowledge of the employer's expectations. You can then use this information to craft your answers.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
2. Analyse the job description
Having a clear understanding of the job description can serve as a guide to an employer's expectations. The advertisement usually lists specific skills or qualifications necessary for the role. Try to refer to these details in your responses to show that you're qualified for the position.
3. Find suitable attire
Dressing appropriately for a job interview can help you make a positive first impression on the interviewer. Consider researching the company to get an idea of its culture and dress code. Aim to wear something smart and ensure you style your hair away from your face.
Related: What to Wear to a Job Interview
4. Prepare questions for your interviewer
At the end of your interview, the interviewer is likely to ask if you have questions. Asking questions shows your interest in the role. After researching the hiring company, write down any queries you have about the position or company. Some typical questions include:
Why is this position vacant?
Is there anything you can tell me about this position that wasn't included in the job description?
When can I expect some feedback?
Is there a possibility of growth in this job?
5. Arrive early
Schedule your day to ensure you arrive early. Arriving 30 minutes before your interview gives you ample time to find the room and make any final preparations. Even if your interview is a video or telephone call, spend some time beforehand preparing for the interview.
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