A structured interview (also known as a standardized interview or a researcher-administered survey) is a quantitative research method commonly employed in survey research. The aim of this approach is to ensure that each interview is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order. This ensures that answers can be reliably aggregated and that comparisons can be made with confidence between sample subgroups or between different survey periods.
Structured interviews are a means of collecting data for a statistical survey. In this case, the data is collected by an interviewer rather than through a self-administered questionnaire. Interviewers read the questions exactly as they appear on the survey questionnaire. The choice of answers to the questions is often fixed (close-ended) in advance, though open-ended questions can also be included within a structured interview.
A structured interview also standardises the order in which questions are asked of survey respondents, so the questions are always answered within the same context. This is important for minimising the impact of context effects, where the answers given to a survey question can depend on the nature of preceding questions. Though context effects can never be avoided, it is often desirable to hold them constant across all respondents.
Structured interviews can also be used as a qualitative research methodology. These types of interviews are best suited for engaging in respondent or focus group studies in which it would be beneficial to compare/contrast participant responses in order to answer a research question. For structured qualitative interviews, it is usually necessary for researchers to develop an interview schedule which lists the wording and sequencing of questions. Interview schedules are sometimes considered a means by which researchers can increase the reliability and credibility of research data.
Structured interviews have been advocated for use in the hiring process as well, though the practice has not been widely adopted. The United States Postal Service uses structured interviews for at least some of its hiring, and has printed a guide to structured interviews that is publicly available online.