What are differences between a structured interview and an unstructured interview?

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    When recruiting employees, firms typically use two types of interviews: structured and unstructured interviews. Each one, like job candidates, has its own set of strengths and shortcomings. However, do the benefits of a structured interview outweigh those of an unstructured interview?

    You want to identify the model that produces the best outcomes as a hiring manager or business owner, right? You want one that can assist you in swiftly finding the proper prospects so that you can get the right individual on the job to help your company flourish. While organized interviews are commonly used in quantitative research, unstructured interviews are commonly utilized in qualitative data collection since they focus on describing the study subjects.

    As a result, the interviewer must comprehend the numerous distinctions between a structured interview and an unstructured one.

    What is a Structured Interview?

    The most systematic sort of interview is the structured interview. Unlike in unstructured interviews, the interviewer uses predefined questions in a predetermined order.

    Structured interviews are frequently one-sided. They can be either multiple-choice or dichotomous, which implies that participants must select one of two options for each question. Although open-ended structured interviews exist, they are uncommon.

    You may simply compare responses between participants in a uniform context by asking a set of questions in a predetermined order. This can assist you in identifying trends and highlighting areas for additional research, and it can be a beneficial explanatory or exploratory research tool.

    Have you heard of structured interviews for hiring? They’re a great way to assess candidates fairly and objectively. Here is a helpful resource on how to conduct them effectively. Check it out: Structured Interviews for Consistent and Fair Hiring Decisions.

    What is an Unstructured Interview?

    An unstructured interview is the most adaptable sort of interview since it allows for spontaneity. Unlike in a structured interview, the questions and the order in which they are presented are not predetermined. Instead, the interview moves forward based on the participant’s past responses.

    Unstructured interviews are free-form. This lack of organization can assist you in gathering detailed information on your issue while also allowing you to notice trends during the analysis stage.

    Did you think about using unstructured interviews to evaluate job candidates? They can give insight into a person’s personality and compatibility with your company. Take a look at a useful guide on teaching interviewers about unconscious bias and encouraging diversity and inclusion.

    Difference between Structured and Unstructured Interviews

    As mentioned above, the fundamental difference between a structured interview and an unstructured interview is that one has all of the questions prepared ahead of time, but the other does not follow any certain framework or type of questions. Here are the ten differences between unstructured and structured interviews.

    Comparison Factor

    Structured Interviews

    Unstructured Interviews


    These interviews are directive in character, which means that a sequential approach with correct parameters is followed. The method of leading questions with favored replies remains prominent. These are primarily facilitated discussions. This type of interview is non-directive, which means that the interviewer is not required to follow any predetermined pattern or leads. He or she must, however, take a non-judgmental stance and seek no preferred response. Active listening is still an important tool for starting descriptive dialogues. This is more of an exploratory interview.


    The interviewer must follow a defined interview sequence with questions established in a specific order during a structured interview. Typically, one does not deviate from the established pattern. The interviewer is permitted to ask whatever questions during an unstructured interview. He or she may prepare a few questions ahead of time but is not required to follow any interview sequence. It relies on the chance to turn the interview into a dialogue.

    Data Collection

    A systematic interview yields quantitative information. While this data is measurable, it lacks specifics about the candidate’s behavior in a certain setting or occurrence. Furthermore, candidates cannot be discovered outside of the format. In qualitative research, an unstructured interview is utilized to obtain data. Because the candidate is permitted to use descriptive language, the interviewer can obtain detailed information and gain a deeper picture of a person’s situational comprehension.

    Types of questions

    Close-ended questions are used in this type of interview, allowing the interviewer to limit the available responses to pre-conceived possibilities. When compared to unstructured interviews, the validity of the data recorded is significantly lower. This interview contains open-ended questions that allow the candidate to explore many points of view. Furthermore, it enables the interviewer to acquire a better understanding by modifying the research questions. These interviews have greater legitimacy because the interviewer obtains detailed information about the issue being discussed.

    Example of questions

    In a structured interview, all candidates are asked the same questions, such as:

    • Tell us about yourself.
    • What are your strong points and weak points?
    • What do you know about our business?
    • Why should we employ you?

    Such questions encourage a regulated and uniform response, simplifying comparison and minimizing the impact of personal bias.

    The questions in an unstructured interview varies from candidate to candidate and follow a conversational pattern, such as

    • Do you enjoy utilizing our product/service?
    • What changes do you think we can make?
    • What are your thoughts on industry trends regarding our product/service?
    • Why do you prefer or use our product?

    Such questions are susceptible to interpretation and spark greater debate.

    Time Duration

    Structured interviews can be completed in less time if a pre-planned set of questions is in place. When appealing to a bigger pool of candidates, it is most effective. Unstructured interviews become time-consuming when there is no predetermined questionnaire in place. The longer the interview, the deeper the conversation.


    Structured interviews are a type of descriptive research that involves the systematic collection of data. In addition to being cost-effective, these interviews can yield results quickly. Unstructured interviews are descriptive research methods that are typically used to examine a small data sample. These interviews are tailored and necessitate the use of experienced interviewers, which is both costly and time-demanding.

    Tools surveys

    Surveys and questionnaires are used to collect useful information during structured interviews. Such tools make data administration and comparison easier. A structured interview can also take place physically or online, using predetermined formats and methodologies. An unstructured interview is conducted using equipment such as audio recorders, camcorders, and cell phones. Furthermore, to obtain accurate information, these interviews require a personal connection between the interviewer and the interviewee.


    The information gathered during a structured interview is compared. The collective data samples are all subjected to identical conditions of investigation, making them perfect for quantitative observation and analysis. Because an unstructured interview is more likely to differ for each participant, data samples cannot be compared. To make the final decision, the interviewer is instructed to inquire about the candidate’s details, spontaneity, and situational awareness.
    Usage Positivists, who emphasize quantitative nature, employ data acquired through structured interviews to provide statistics. A positivist approach can be rigid but creates sound decisions based on logic and scientific understanding. Data from unstructured interviews are used by interpretivism, who prefer qualitative data and draw conclusions only after thoroughly analyzing all social actions. An interpretive argues that human behavior is complex and cannot be measured by social activities or quantitative measures.

    Structured vs Unstructured Interviews: Choosing the Right Approach for Hiring

    The difference between structured and unstructured interviews lies in the questions asked. Structured interviews, which are more formal and consistent, are expected in mass hiring, such as university internships.

    Unstructured interviews, on the other hand, are best suited for assessing candidates who are being hired for specific roles. They allow for more creative exploration, are more adaptable, and encourage a freer flow of discussion.

    However, BarRaiser fills this gap by closely examining a person’s skills with structured interviews in a variety of domains.


    In conclusion, when it comes to hiring, the choice between a structured and an unstructured interview in hiring depends on the goals of the hiring process. Structured interviews can help standardize the interview process, while on the other hand, unstructured interviews allow for more flexibility in assessing applicants’ skills and qualities. It’s important to realize that both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, therefore, companies should choose the one that best suits their hiring goals and job requirements.

    By incorporating both structured and unstructured interviews into the selection process, companies can develop a well-rounded hiring strategy that leads to successful recruitment and an excellent workforce. Moreover, whether you’re an employer or a job seeker, knowing structured and unstructured interviews can help you master your next interview.

    Frequently Asked Question

    Q-1: What are three differences between a structured interview and an unstructured interview?

    Ans: Structured interview vs unstructured interview differ in several key aspects:

    Standardization: Structured interviews have predetermined questions and scoring criteria, ensuring consistency across candidates. Unstructured interviews lack a standardized format, allowing for more flexibility in questioning.

    Question types: Structured interviews use specific, predetermined questions with fixed response formats. Unstructured interviews are open-ended and allow for a more conversational approach.

    Reliability and validity: Structured interviews are considered more reliable and have higher predictive validity due to their standardized nature. Unstructured interviews are more subjective and can be influenced by biases, leading to lower reliability and predictability.

    Q-2: Which is the better structured and unstructured interview?

    Ans: In short, it’s not a matter of which is better between structured and unstructured interviews. Rather, it depends on the hiring goals and job requirements. Structured interviews work well for standardizing the interview process, while unstructured interviews offer more flexibility in evaluating applicants’ skills and qualities.

    Q-3: What are the 4 styles of interviews?

    Ans: The four styles of interviews are structured interviews, unstructured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and behavioral interviews. Structured interviews use predetermined questions, while unstructured interviews are more open-ended. Semi-structured interviews combine both structured and unstructured elements, while behavioral interviews focus on past behavior to predict future performance.

    Q-4: What is the unstructured interview method?

    Ans: The unstructured interview method is a type of interview where the interviewer asks open-ended questions without a set format or predetermined questions. The interviewer may ask follow-up questions to clarify or expand on the candidate’s answers. This method allows for more flexibility in assessing candidates but can also be less reliable and less objective than structured interviews.

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