Intraverbally what questions interviewers ask

The ultimate guide to structured interviews

Have you already sent interview invitations to all applicants with the appropriate professional skills and previous experience? Then the recruiting process is now entering the hot phase: the job interviews. It's about finding out which candidate best suits the company and the advertised position. Structured interviews can help you with this.

Often the question arises: How do I make sure that I am really making the right hiring decision? Unfortunately, interview questions are often asked that have little to do with the advertised position. In the end, it is decided on the basis of gut instinct which candidate will receive the acceptance. If you want to do better then we have the perfect guide for you.

Do not leave anything to chance in your selection process. We explain what structured interviews are, what advantages they have, which questions are best to ask and give you the most important tips for interview preparation and conducting.

The structured interview defines

A structured interview is a job interview that proceeds according to a previously established scheme. All applicants will be asked the same questions in roughly the same order. The questionnaire is precisely tailored to the job profile, because the individual questions aim to test out certain competencies that are important for the job.

For example, you might want to ask a potential manager about their experience in leadership and conflict management. For a new employee in customer service, there are again questions about complaints and problem solving.

In general, a structured interview is suitable for every type of position and every candidate. You can use it both when selecting top managers and when filling internship positions. You can even conduct video interviews like this.

In contrast, there is the free interview, in which you can freely decide which questions to ask. This is more like a normal conversation. Unfortunately, the free interview often leads to subjective assessments and decisions that are made more gut feeling.

The advantages of structured interviews

One of the challenges in job interviews is to be able to assess and compare the candidates as objectively as possible. That is exactly the great advantage of structured interviews. They offer comparability and fairness, as the same selection criteria apply to all applicants.

We all know that factors such as origin, gender, appearance or skin color should not play a role in the selection of personnel. After all, it depends on the applicants' skills. However, interviewers can be consciously or unconsciously biased and can be influenced by these factors. And that's exactly what you can counteract with structured interviews.

Another advantage is that the interviewer follows a guide so that important questions cannot be forgotten. In addition, in this type of interview, a final evaluation is only made after all candidates have been interviewed, so that hasty judgments are prevented.

A disadvantage of the structured interview

The only disadvantage we can mention is that due to the established structure, a natural conversation cannot normally develop. This makes it more difficult to determine whether an interpersonal sympathy or antipathy is developing between the candidate and the interviewer.

The best interview questions

You can choose between several types of questions for your planned structured job interviews. The different types of questions are each suitable for specific positions or career levels of applicants.

1. The behavioral issues

These aim to question and fathom the previous behavior of applicants. The premise is that past behavior can predict future behavior. Ideally, you want to hear about real, actually occurred situations in which the candidates acted accordingly.

These questions are particularly useful if you value soft skills (such as teamwork, conflict resolution, or critical thinking). Here are a few examples:

  • Think back to a situation where you failed. How did you deal with it?
  • If you've been working on multiple projects at the same time, how did you prioritize your work?
  • Have you ever had the opposite opinion of your superior? How did you act?
  • Have you ever been in the situation that your colleagues did not agree with your approach? How did you react to that?

2. The situational questions

With situational questions you can find out how the candidates would behave in concrete (albeit fictitious) situations. Since these questions are future-oriented, they are particularly suitable for trainees, students and young professionals who do not have any prior experience worth mentioning.

The advantage is that you can present challenges and conflict situations that the candidates in this position can actually face. Here are a few examples:

  • Imagine a customer complaining to you on the phone about a late delivery of the goods. How do you deal with that?
  • Your team is divided on a new initiative. How do you make a decision?
  • You find out that one of your employees has annoyed a major customer who is now threatening to terminate the order. How do you resolve the situation?

3. The biographical questions

These questions address the applicants' professional past in particular and identify situations that are relevant to the current position. You can mark these situations in the candidate's résumé before the start of the interview. Here some examples:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to solve a really difficult task. Accompany me through your process, steps and actions you took to solve the task.
  • Have you ever had to manage someone or have you been responsible for the results of someone else's work? How did you deal with the situation?

These questions are particularly popular with experienced executives to get to the bottom of past behaviors. Since every résumé is of course different, the questions will vary and it will be more difficult to compare the candidates.

Are you looking for more inspiration? Here are the best interview questions for job interviews.

The structure of a structured interview

An interview generally lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. Interviewing a potential new executive can take several hours. The higher the career level, the more time should be planned to get to know the candidates really well.

A structured interview can be divided into these five broad phases:

1. Small talk

After the greeting and the provision of drinks, you can ask a few informal questions to warm you up. With a "Did you find us well?" the initial nervousness of the candidates can usually be overcome. You should also introduce yourself and give an outlook on the course of the conversation and its duration.

2. Getting to know you phase

This is the start of the main part of the conversation. You could ask the candidates to share their résumé in their own words to get a first impression. Also the question "Why did you apply for this position?" is common here to test the motivation of applicants.

3. Diagnosis

Now you ask the structured interview questions that were set out in advance. To ensure comparability, all applicants should answer the same questions in the same order.

4. Questions

Here you give the candidates the chance to ask questions about the company and the advertised position themselves. Candidates who have prepared well should already have a few questions ready. This shows that they have dealt with the job advertisement and the company and are interested.

5. Graduation

At the end of the interview, you should inform the candidates about the next steps in the application process. For example, when the candidates can expect feedback at the latest and whether there will be another round of talks.

The most important tips for preparing and conducting an interview

After you have learned what a structured interview is, which interview questions you can ask, and how it is structured, we have now put together the most important tips for preparing and conducting interviews.

1. Agree on the questionnaire

Every interview question you ask should have a purpose and a purpose. You can start by deciding which competencies are important for the advertised position. For example, teamwork or communication with different levels in the company. Then think about which question you can best test each competence with. Are questions about past behavior more appropriate or are situational questions better? In the end, you should have a solid questionnaire that covers the entire job.

2. Define the evaluation scheme

In order to reduce subjectivity in the assessment and to ensure comparability, you should define what a good or a bad answer to an interview question looks like. Think about what your ideal answer to a question would be. If the candidates come up with the same answer, they have met the requirements. But you may also hear an even better or a worse answer.

3. Record the responses

So that all conversations can be evaluated objectively, you should be able to quickly log all answers. With a ready-made evaluation form for interviews, you can quickly classify the answers and give them a grade. It is also a good idea to make a few more notes on the answer in order to record what stands out in particular (positive or negative).

By the way, you can easily create reusable templates for candidate evaluation at Recruitee.

4. The evaluation

Ideally, you should only begin the evaluation after all interviews have been completed in order to avoid premature subjective decisions. The grading should play a role first. If a candidate is not clearly at the top, the notes can help to uncover further nuances in order to select the best candidates.

Now it's your turn

Implementing structured interviews can have many advantages. You can be sure that it is not personal preferences or gut instinct that decide, but objective, fixed criteria. A methodical approach can also leave a positive impression on the candidate and underline the professionalism of the company.

In the end, you want to ultimately choose the candidate who best suits the company and the position. With our guide you can get one step closer to your goal. If that's not enough for you, you can also use our tips for unusual interview questions to reveal the true face of your candidates.


Julia is always on the trail of the latest trends in HR and recruitment in order to conjure up interesting content. As a former HR manager, she also draws on her own experience and specialist knowledge.