Ever walked into an interview where the questions seemed so random and you weren’t sure how your weekend hobbies or your favorite childhood memory were indicators for how qualified you were for the job? It happens. When interviewers are given free range to go into an interview with their own set of questions, there’s a chance that the interviewers may end up assessing the candidate’s character instead of their experiences and skills. Structuring interviews with a standardized set of questions allows for a more fair and impartial way of assessing candidates, which also helps remove unconscious biases. We’ll go through the benefits of moving to a structured interview, what kind of questions you should ask, and some example questions that you could use.

Benefits of Structured Interviews

Structuring your interview process by standardizing the questions used will help you not only streamline the process, but also take the burden off interviewers to research or come up with questions. While those more experienced with interviewing may not find coming up with questions very challenging, this task could be difficult for recruiters or employees who are not well-versed with interviewing. It also helps remove any legal risks that could be related to unfair hiring practices (we’re looking at you unconscious biases) or inappropriate conduct such as inappropriate questions.

The benefit for candidates is that they feel like they’re being judged for their skills and experiences rather than who they are as a person.

What Kind of Questions Should You Ask?

Back to our interview scenario. Have you ever sat through an interview that felt like you were answering a questionnaire instead of having a discussion? You know, where the interviewer only asks yes/no questions? Yes, that happens too.

Start by creating a pool of open-ended questions and set up a question bank. The question bank doesn’t have to be anything fancy—it could even just be a shared document that lives on your company’s internal storage or network. One best practice is to come up with both behavioral questions (example: “Tell me about a time when …”) and situational questions (“What would do you if …”). Having a combination of these two questions will allow you to access both someone’s real-life work experiences and also figure out their thinking process for various situations.

Examples of Interview Questions

Below are a few examples of interview questions you can start using for your question bank.

Behavioral interview questions

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation and what did you learn?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
  • Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

Situational interview questions

  • What would you do if you made a mistake that no one else noticed? Would you address the error and risk slowing things down or ignore it to keep the project or task moving forward?
  • What would you do if an important task was not up to standard, but the deadline to complete it had passed?
  • You're working on a key project that you can't complete because you're waiting on work from a colleague. What do you do?
  • What would you do if you were assigned to work with a difficult client?

Unconscious bias can easily slip into the interview process when interviewers are responsible for coming up with their own set of questions. On the other hand, this can be mitigated when employers move to a structured interview process where questions are standardized and focus on skills and experience.