The Ultimate Structured Interview Questions + Hiring Guides

Download our complimentary structured interview guides!

Looking to implement structured interviews? Makes total sense to us. Unstructured interviews tend to introduce error and bias into the hiring process. If you’re looking to hire impartially or you’re experiencing a stage of rapid growth, it’s very possible you’re looking to implement some form of structured hiring.

One of the most common problems all recruiters and talent acquisition professionals face is getting consistent and useful feedback from hiring managers. The problem gets worse when you are looking to hire for many roles in a short period of time.

Structured interviews involve the use of standardized interview questions and incorporate a scoring system so feedback is easy to get and candidates are easy to assess.

What is a structured interview?

Simply put, structured interviews are a series of standardized interview questions designed to assess candidates on a range of qualities important to the organization. They are provided to hiring managers ahead of time and are administered to all candidates in the same order.

Structured interviews usually consist of job-specific questions as well as behavioral interview questions and situational interview questions. Behavioral and situational interview questions are designed to assess candidates on a range of qualities, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Behavioral characteristics
  • Coachability
  • Critical Thinking
  • Integrity

Why Use Structured Interviews?

Without structured interviews, it is difficult to systematically screen and evaluate candidates based on predetermined traits and skills important for a role. Running unstructured interviews introduces a variety of risks and biases including:

  • Interviewer bias (gender, race, age, similarity to the interviewer)
  • Confirmation bias (tendency of interviewer to look for qualities in candidate that confirm an initial bias)
  • Inaccurate evaluation of candidates (candidates are not asked the same questions)
  • Violation of EEO or OFCCP compliance (illegal interview questions, biased interviewing)
  • Inaccurate assessment candidates’ behavioral qualities and harder-to-measure traits

How to Implement Structured Interviews

There are a few key pieces of creating structured interview processes and implementing structured interview questions. Each role requires a small amount of preparation, but once the process is outlined, it can be scaled and used as a template for future hiring. The end result is a more efficient hiring process that increases hiring manager satisfaction, gets better candidates, loosens hiring bottlenecks and speeds movement through the pipeline. The main steps to take are:

  1. Determine hard and soft skills important to each role
  2. Create questions for evaluating hard and soft skills
  3. Weave in role-specific interview questions
  4. Create a rating scale or scorecard
  5. Train hiring managers
  6. Distribute questions and rating scale to hiring managers prior to interviews
  7. Schedule feedback meetings with hiring managers in advance
  8. Conduct interviews
  9. Evaluate candidates using ratings and scorecards

At Newton, we’ve hired an industrial psychologist to create a list of questions designed to measure candidates against 5 key traits crucial to all roles in our complimentary structured interview guide.

We’ve also created role-specific structured interview guides based on scientifically backed research to help you assess candidates on dimensions and qualities essential to specific jobs.

How to Score Structured Interviews

In order to create a standardized system with which to evaluate candidate responses, you have to create a scoring system. This is where interview scorecards come in. The scale you use is up to you, but we use a five point scale here at Newton.

  1. Lowest Rating – Very Low Quality Response
  2. Medium Low Rating – Low Quality Response
  3. Neutral Rating – Neutral Response
  4. Medium High Rating – High Quality Response
  5. Highest Rating – Very High Quality Response

In addition to providing questions and scorecards, a structured interview rating key should be provided to help hiring managers understand what is considered a quality response vs a low quality response. A rating key makes it easy for hiring managers to evaluate candidates against behavioral and situational questions without an intuitive knowledge of what is desired for the role. Below, we’ve provided an example of a rating key for “Attention to Detail.”

High Rated Response

  • Takes time to plan and prepare before starting something new or different
  • Has established ways of tracking what needs to be done

Low Rated Response

  • Likes detail work but gives weak examples of experience
  • Seldom uses checklists or other methods for following through on tasks

Structured Interview Questions

We’ve listed a few examples of behavioral interview questions and situational questions you can use in an interview. For the full list of questions, download the complimentary structured interview guide!

Attention to Detail

  • How do you keep track of things that you are responsible for at work? For example, schedules, tasks, ongoing goals, etc. Be specific.
  • Would you rather formulate a plan or carry it out? Give an example of a plan you have implemented.

Behavioral Characteristics

  • What is your definition of success? Follow-up: How are you measuring up? How will you go about achieving it?
  • What role do you usually take in a group meeting or discussion? What are the advantages of that? Disadvantages?

Coachability

  • Describe which job and which manager got the most out of your potential. What made that situation so productive?
  • If you could go back to when you were first thinking about your career, what advice would you give yourself?

Critical Thinking

  • Tell me about a time when you had competing deadlines at work. What did you do? How did you come to that conclusion?
  • Give me an example of a decision you had to make quickly or under pressure. How did you approach it and how did it work out

Integrity

  • Tell me about a mistake you made in a past job that you regretted. What happened and what did you learn from it?
  • In your last job, if you didn’t think you could meet an expected deadline, what did you do? Can you give me an example?

Download the Structured Interview Kit

Ready to get a head start?
Download our complimentary structured interview guides!

Knowledge Base Login