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Structured Interview vs. Unstructured Interview: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 10, 2023
A structured interview follows a consistent format with predetermined questions, while an unstructured interview is more open-ended and adaptable.

Key Differences

In the realm of hiring and research, the structured interview and unstructured interview methods are both valuable, albeit for different reasons. A structured interview adheres to a fixed set of questions, ensuring each candidate or subject is assessed in the same manner. Conversely, an unstructured interview offers more flexibility, allowing for impromptu questions based on the conversation flow.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
During a structured interview, the interviewer has a specific agenda and checklist, with little deviation from the set script. This format ensures consistency and reduces biases, making comparisons easier. On the other hand, an unstructured interview can evolve naturally, resembling a casual conversation, and potentially uncovering deeper insights or personal nuances.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
While structured interviews are systematic and can be scored quantitatively, they might miss out on spontaneous information or not delve into specific areas in depth. In contrast, unstructured interviews, although richer in detail and adaptability, may introduce interviewer biases and make objective comparisons challenging.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
The choice between a structured interview and an unstructured interview often depends on the goal. If the aim is to maintain uniformity and collect comparable data, structured is preferred. If the objective is to explore in-depth and foster a relaxed environment where the interviewee might share more, unstructured becomes the go-to method.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023
Both the structured interview and unstructured interview techniques have their strengths and weaknesses. While structured can seem impersonal and rigid, it's valuable for its objectivity. While unstructured can appear inconsistent, it's cherished for its depth and adaptability.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Format

Predetermined and consistent
Flexible and adaptable
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Questions

Fixed set
Open-ended and can change
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Objectivity vs. Depth

High objectivity, might lack depth
Rich in detail, potential for bias
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Comparison Between Interviewees

Easier due to uniformity
Challenging due to varied responses
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Interaction Style

Formal and systematic
Casual and conversational
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
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Structured Interview and Unstructured Interview Definitions

Structured Interview

An interview with little to no deviation from its script.
The structured interview left no room for off-topic discussions.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Unstructured Interview

A conversational approach to interviewing without a fixed format.
The therapist's unstructured interview helped the patient open up more.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Structured Interview

A systematic approach to interviewing with predetermined queries.
Researchers prefer the structured interview for its replicability across subjects.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Unstructured Interview

A flexible interview method adapting to the interviewee's responses.
The journalist conducted an unstructured interview to delve deeper into the subject's experiences.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Structured Interview

A standardized interview method with set questions.
The HR department uses a structured interview format to ensure fairness among candidates.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Unstructured Interview

An interview technique focusing on depth and adaptability.
For the documentary, the director chose an unstructured interview style to capture authentic emotions.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Structured Interview

An interview method aiming for objective data collection.
To eliminate biases, the team opted for a structured interview.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Unstructured Interview

An interview without set questions, evolving based on the conversation.
The unstructured interview with the artist felt more like a chat over coffee.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Structured Interview

An interview technique that maintains consistency.
During the structured interview, all interviewees were asked the same questions.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Unstructured Interview

An interview that allows for spontaneous and open-ended questions.
The unstructured interview revealed insights not found in standard questionnaires.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

FAQs

Why choose a structured interview?

For uniformity, comparability of responses, and reducing biases.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

What is a structured interview?

A structured interview is a standardized method with predetermined questions ensuring consistency.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

How does an unstructured interview differ?

An unstructured interview is flexible and evolves based on the conversation without set questions.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Can unstructured interviews introduce bias?

Yes, they can, as the lack of a set format might lead to interviewer biases.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Can structured interviews feel impersonal?

Yes, they might, due to their rigid and consistent format.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Are structured interviews quantitative?

They can be, especially when responses are scored or ranked.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Which interview type is more objective?

Structured interviews are more objective due to their consistent format.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Do unstructured interviews allow for off-topic discussions?

Yes, they provide room for spontaneous and open-ended conversations.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Which interview style is quicker?

Structured interviews, generally, as they follow a set script.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

How can biases be reduced in unstructured interviews?

Interviewer training and awareness are key.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

When is an unstructured interview preferred?

When seeking depth, adaptability, and a more relaxed conversation.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Are unstructured interviews qualitative?

Typically, yes, as they focus on depth and rich details.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Which is better for research?

Both can be valuable: structured for consistency and unstructured for depth.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Can structured interviews be used in therapy?

Yes, though therapists might lean more towards unstructured or semi-structured methods.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Are structured interviews better for large-scale hiring?

Often, yes, due to their consistency and efficiency.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Can unstructured interviews be used in journalism?

Absolutely, they can lead to in-depth and insightful stories.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Can I mix both interview types?

Yes, a semi-structured interview combines elements of both.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

What's a downside of structured interviews?

They might miss out on spontaneous insights.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Can unstructured interviews be replicated?

They're harder to replicate due to their adaptive nature.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

Is one method superior to the other?

No, the choice depends on the goal of the interview.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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