Exploring the Depths: Structured Interviews vs Unstructured Interviews

When it comes to recruitment, the method you choose to interview candidates can significantly impact the outcome. Two prevalent approaches in this realm are structured interviews and unstructured interviews, each with its own unique characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks. As a hiring manager or business owner, it's essential to weigh the benefits of structured interviews against those of unstructured interviews to identify the approach that aligns best with your objectives.

Understanding Structured Interviews: A Systematic Approach

Structured interviews epitomize a systematic and methodical approach to the interview process. In stark contrast to unstructured interviews, structured interviews employ predefined questions presented in a predetermined order. These questions can be either multiple-choice or dichotomous, offering participants a set of fixed response options.

One distinctive feature of structured interviews is their one-sided nature. The interviewer maintains control over the direction of the interview, steering it with precision through a sequence of questions. This format facilitates easy comparison of responses between candidates in a uniform context, aiding in the identification of trends and areas for further exploration.

Structured interviews are often characterized by close-ended questions, limiting responses to predefined possibilities. While some open-ended structured interviews exist, they are less common. This method is commonly associated with quantitative research, providing measurable data, albeit lacking specific insights into a candidate's behavior in unique situations.

Unstructured Interviews: Embracing Spontaneity

Contrary to the regimented nature of structured interviews, unstructured interviews embrace spontaneity and flexibility. In an unstructured interview, questions and their order are not predetermined. Instead, the flow of the interview evolves based on the participant's responses, allowing for a more dynamic and exploratory conversation.

Unstructured interviews are characterized by open-ended questions, fostering a conversational pattern that varies from candidate to candidate. This format enables candidates to explore multiple points of view, making the interview susceptible to interpretation and sparking more profound discussions.

While structured interviews are a staple in quantitative research, unstructured interviews find their niche in qualitative data collection. The richness of descriptive language used by candidates in unstructured interviews allows for a more comprehensive understanding of situational comprehension.

Key Differences between Structured and Unstructured Interviews


Structured Interviews: Directive and sequential, following a predetermined order.

Unstructured Interviews: Non-directive, allowing spontaneity and exploration.


Structured Interviews: Follow a defined sequence with questions in a specific order.

Unstructured Interviews: Flow based on the participant's past responses, allowing for flexibility.

Data Collection:

Structured Interviews: Yield quantitative data but lack specifics about behavior in unique situations.

Unstructured Interviews: Utilized for qualitative research, providing detailed information and situational understanding.

Types of Questions:

Structured Interviews: Primarily close-ended questions for standardized responses.

Unstructured Interviews: Open-ended questions fostering in-depth discussions.

Time Duration:

Structured Interviews: Efficient and time-effective, especially for larger candidate pools.

Unstructured Interviews: Time-consuming, with the length of the interview correlating with the depth of conversation.


Structured Interviews: Descriptive research, cost-effective, and yields results quickly.

Unstructured Interviews: Qualitative research, often examining smaller data samples and requiring experienced interviewers.

Tools and Surveys:

Structured Interviews: Employ surveys and questionnaires for data collection.

Unstructured Interviews: Use audio recorders, camcorders, and cell phones for a more personal connection.


Structured Interviews: Information is compared for all participants, facilitating quantitative analysis.

Unstructured Interviews: Information differs for each participant, making it more susceptible to interpretation.

Usage in Research:

Structured Interviews: Utilized by positivists for quantitative data to provide statistics.

Unstructured Interviews: Employed by interpretivists for qualitative data analysis, recognizing the complexity of human behavior.

Structured vs Unstructured Interviews: Choosing the Right Approach for Hiring

The choice between structured and unstructured interviews in hiring depends on the goals of the hiring process. Structured interviews, being more formal and consistent, are suitable for mass hiring scenarios. They provide a standardized approach that facilitates easy comparison and minimizes personal bias.

On the other hand, unstructured interviews are best suited for assessing candidates being hired for specific roles. They allow for a more creative exploration of candidates' skills, fostering a flexible and open-ended flow of discussion.

In the realm of fair and unbiased hiring processes, the prospect of outsourcing interviews with Flocareer emerges as a transformative solution. Flocareer, committed to delivering unbiased and insightful solutions, aligns seamlessly with organizations striving for excellence in their employee selection process.

By leveraging Flocareer's expertise, companies can elevate their interview processes, ensuring fairness, objectivity, and effectiveness in their hiring decisions. With Flocareer, the journey to building a talented and diverse workforce becomes a strategic advantage, propelling organizations toward their goals with confidence and integrity.

Conclusion: Striking a Balance in Recruitment

In conclusion, the structured vs unstructured interview debate boils down to the goals of the hiring process. Structured interviews offer standardization, facilitating quantitative analysis, while unstructured interviews allow for flexibility and in-depth exploration, lending themselves to qualitative data collection.

Both approaches have their merits, and companies should choose the one that aligns best with their hiring goals and job requirements. By incorporating a balanced mix of structured and unstructured interviews into the selection process, organizations can develop a comprehensive hiring strategy that leads to successful recruitment and an excellent workforce. Whether you're an employer or a job seeker, understanding the nuances of structured and unstructured interviews can empower you in mastering your next interview.

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