Structured Interview Questions: The Ultimate Interview Guide

Structured Interview Questions: The Ultimate Interview Guide

5 Minute Read

What Are Structured Interviews?

A structured interview uses a uniform script of questions. The interviewer follows the same script for each candidate. The questions are chosen specifically for the skills required for the position. They also include questions that reveal desired behavioral attributes.

Standardized Scoring

A structured interview system also uses a uniform format for rating applicants. The scoring system is tied to the interview questions. Structured interview questions and scoring provide a standardized way to evaluate applicants. If you want to improve your hiring outcomes, consider creating a structured interview process.

How Does A Structured Interview Process Improve Hiring?

  • It is more objective—all applicants are asked the same questions in the same order
  • It minimizes confirmation bias (when the interviewer seeks to confirm a subjective first impression or initial bias)
  • It is more effective for evaluating soft skills
  • It helps the interviewer cover all the important topics
  • It helps the employer comply with laws governing hiring practices
  • It is more efficient

How Do You Create a Structured Interview?

  • Write a highly-detailed job description
    • Include skills/certifications/experience (hard skills)
    • Identify the behavioral qualities (soft skills) you are looking for
    • Use the STAR method to create behavioral questions
  • Create a script that puts the questions in order
  • Create a scale to rate the answers to each question
  • Keep interview variables as uniform as possible—time of day, location, interviewer
  • Train hiring managers on the system
    • Make sure interviewers are familiar with the script before they interview a candidate
  • Interview applicants
  • Rate each applicant on each question/answer
  • Schedule feedback meetings with the hiring team
    • Evaluate applicants using ratings

What Are Behavioral Questions?

Behavioral questions are more effective for predicting how an applicant will perform in the job role. Behavioral questions focus on how the candidate performed in previous positions. Behavioral questions also identify soft skills.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are behavioral attributes that help an employee be effective at their job. They are especially helpful for positions that require working with a team. They are also important for management roles.

What Soft Skills Do Employers Look For?

The following soft skills help employees be successful in their jobs:

  • Positive attitude
  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaborating with a team
  • Coachability
  • Ability to learn from criticism
  • Ability to resolve conflict
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Dependability
  • Self-confidence
  • Honesty and integrity

What is The STAR Method For Behavioral Questions?

The STAR method is a common system for creating behavioral questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. The STAR method works best when you are specific as possible.

To write an interview question using the STAR method:

  • Identify a challenging situation common to the position
  • Identify the task you wish to achieve (your goal)
  • Identify what action should be taken to accomplish the task
  • Identify the ideal result

Examples of Behavioral Questions And The Soft Skills They Reveal

  1. Why do you feel you are the best person for this position? (Strengths, self confidence, ambition)
  2. Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you do about it? (Weaknesses, maintaining composure under pressure, ability to receive criticism, self-awareness)
  3. Describe a problem at your previous job and how you solved it. (Problem solving ability)
  4. Describe a situation in a previous position where you had to resolve a conflict between members of your team? What did you do? How did it turn out? (Conflict resolution, creative thinking, ability to work as a team, leadership, positive attitude)
  5. What’s  your favorite thing about [insert applicable job position]? (Values, goals)
  6. How would you prioritize competing projects that have the same deadline? (Organization, creative problem solving)
  7. Describe a time you disagreed with your manager and what you did about it. (Coachability)
  8. Describe a time you had to persuade team members to do something they didn’t want to do. (Leadership, management)
  9. Describe a time you had to learn something fast for your job. (Adaptability, creative problem solving, critical thinking)
  10. Did you ever fail to meet a deadline? Why? What did you do about it? (Work ethic, organization, time management)
  11. Have you ever had an ethical dilemma at work? What did you do? (Integrity, honesty)

Tailor these questions to the position. For example, for a customer service position, ask the applicant to describe a time they solved a problem for a customer. For a teaching position, use scenarios involving students. 

Behavioral questions can reveal whether a candidate is a better fit for another position. Keep the applicant in your candidate pool for future openings within your company.

How Do I Create a Structured Interview Process?

A structured interview process requires organization and documentation. An applicant tracking system (ATS) with interview tools streamlines the process. You create job postings, job descriptions, questionnaires, interview scripts, and ratings scorecards.

Cloud-based systems help your hiring team collaborate. They provide centralized access and electronic records. Everyone can see the feedback and scoring for each applicant. Search tools help you track multiple applicants and job positions.

ATS’ maintain a candidate pool. You can reach out to previously rejected (but qualified) applicants for future openings. This gives you a head start for each job opening.

An ATS simplifies interview scheduling. You can email applicants from the software. You create email templates for the standard ‘Thank you for your application’ emails. Write personalized emails when you can. Let the system send auto-emails when you don’t have time.

Applicant Tracking Systems With Interview Tools Make it Easy

ATS’ are affordable for small businesses and tight hiring budgets. Most have a nominal sign-up fee. You can start small and inexpensive and scale up as your company grows. If you are wary of long-term contracts, look for a month-to-month subscription. For a small investment, you can try it out. Discover how it streamlines structured interviewing.

Systems with onboarding tools allow you to change an applicant’s status to ‘Hired’ and migrate them to the onboarding process. You won’t have to enter all of their information again.

SwipeClock ApplicantStack for Structured Interviews

ApplicantStack Recruit helps small businesses implement the same type of structured interviews used by large employers. ApplicantStack solutions help you thrive in today’s competitive labor market. You can try ApplicantStack Recruit for free and start improving your hiring outcomes.


Our article, Structured Interview Questions: The Ultimate Interview Guide was featured on the CloserIQ weekly roundup as one of their top articles to read on the hiring process during the week of May 15:

CloserIQ weekly roundup