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Interviewing Techniques


As a manager, you want to select the best candidates for your organization. You can make informed hiring decisions when you cultivate a keen understanding of structured and unstructured interviews.

Structured Interviews

In structured interviews, the manager asks job applicants a series of questions prepared in advance, usually queries of a personal, situational, and observational nature. Structured interviews award candidates a score based on a scale. You use questions pre-approved by the human resources department or create a set of questions. In such cases, you would consult with other departments to ensure the questions address all the required skills of the position, such as communication, decision-making, team building, and time management.

Structured interviews make the evaluation of core competencies more objective because all candidates must answer the same questions. Structured interviews alleviate any anxiety about what questions to ask next. Structure interviews make the most of your organization’s time and expense. Structured interviews work well for phone interviews and initial face-to-face interviews. Structured interviews screen out candidates that do not have the necessary qualifications.

Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured interviews sometimes start with a script or a cursory glance at a cover letter and resume but quickly shift to dialogue. You ask open-ended questions that require candidates to supply more information than can be obtained from standardized “yes” or “no” questions. You may ask general questions, such as “What are your career goals?” or more probing questions like “Can you describe your leadership style?” Ask closely related follow-up questions, such as “Can you tell me about a situation when you relied on your leadership skills?”

Unstructured interviews elicit responses to questions that are typically not included on an application but are still relevant to the position. Unstructured interviews help you clarify information that candidates overlook in resumes. You function more as a facilitator and allow candidates to elaborate on strengths and weakness. Unstructured interviews work well in face-to-face or group interview settings. Unstructured interviews allow you to find out more about a candidate’s disposition and how the candidate behaves under pressure.



“Structured Interviews: A Practical Guide.” United States Office of Personnel Management. N.p., 1 Sept. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2010.

“Structured vs. Unstructured Interviews.” South Carolina Office of Human Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2010.

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