Career Planning Finding a Job Interview Strategies What Is a Semi-Structured Interview? Definition & Examples of a Semi-Structured Interview By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts. learn about our editorial policies Updated on May 28, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article What Is a Semi-Structured Interview? How a Semi-Structured Interview Works Semi-Structured Interview Benefits How to Handle a Semi-Structured Interview Photo: Ingolf Hatz / Cultura / Getty Images When you're job searching, you may encounter many different types of interviews as you go through the hiring process at different companies. One common interviewing technique is a semi-structured interview. During a semi-structured interview, your interviewer will not strictly follow a formalized list of questions. Instead, they will ask more open-ended questions. Note This type of interview allows for more discussion than a straightforward question-and-answer format. Learn more about how semi-structured interviews work and how to prepare for one. What Is a Semi-Structured Interview? In this type of interview, the interviewer may prepare a list of questions but won't necessarily ask them all, or touch on them in any particular order. Instead, interviewers will use these questions to guide the conversation. In some cases, the interviewer will prepare only a list of general topics to be addressed. Note Other interview types you might encounter are structured interviews, in which each candidate is asked the same questions in the same order, and unstructured interviews, in which all questions are spontaneous. How a Semi-Structured Interview Works Before the interview, the interviewer usually analyzes the job requirements and builds a profile of the ideal candidate. Next, they develop questions and conversation starters to draw information from the interviewee about their qualifications. Depending on how the candidate answers, the interviewer may ask follow-up questions to gain a more in-depth understanding. For example, an employer hiring a senior public relations representative might identify the following characteristics as vital to success in that role within their organization: Proven track record of media placementsAn extensive set of media contacts at key outletsSuccess in landing new clientsHigh-level skills with writing press releasesProficiency in developing content for online mediaEvidence of orchestrating successful eventsStrategic planning skills and strong supervisory skills As a candidate, you would need to be prepared to expand on these themes, with anecdotes from your experiences that highlight these qualifications. A common practice in semi-structured interviews is to lead with open-ended questions, which are questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Based on the answers, the interviewer will ask follow-up questions to draw out more specific evidence about the candidate's assets. An interviewer might lead with a general question like "What were the keys to your success as a PR representative for Jones and Company?" and then ask more specific questions based on the response of the candidate to assess strengths in key hiring criteria. So, if you responded to the question above and mentioned landing new clients as a key to your success, the interviewer might ask, "Can you describe the approach you used to land the major client you just mentioned?" to give you the opportunity to share some of the skills you used to engage clients. By tailoring their questions to each interviewee, the interviewer facilitates a more fluid conversation. Benefits of a Semi-Structured Interview The semi-structured interview format encourages two-way communication. Both the interviewer and the candidate can ask questions, which allows for a comprehensive discussion of pertinent topics. Because of the conversational tone, the candidate may feel more comfortable expanding on techniques and experiences that will highlight the traits that make them a good fit for the position. How to Handle a Semi-Structured Interview Semi-structured interviewing is most effective when practiced by a well-trained and experienced interviewer. Interviewers with less experience may have difficulty extracting all the necessary information to assess whether a candidate meets the full job qualifications without a set list of questions. Novices using a semi-structured interview style should prepare a well-planned interview guide to ensure that all the job requirements are addressed. As a candidate, you may not know what the structure of your interview will be. If you're thoroughly prepared, you will be well equipped to handle any interview structure. Your interview is your chance to sell yourself for the job, so make sure you make a good impression by taking the following steps: Review the required and recommended skills in the job posting and think of examples of when you have used these skills successfully. Research the company. Knowing what they do, how they do it, and any innovation that sets them apart from their competitors is excellent material to bring into the conversation during the interview. Review common interview questions that you might be asked and think about any follow-up questions that your answers might trigger. Have questions for the interviewer that relate to the company and the position, as well as open the door to discussing how you would be an asset there. Practice with a friend or mentor. They can ask questions you might not expect, giving you the chance to think on your feet and get comfortable engaging the interviewer. Dress appropriately for the position. Be sure that your interview attire is a fit for the job and the employer. Follow up after the interview with a thank-you email to reiterate your interest in the position and to clarify or add to any information that came up during your conversation. Key Takeaways A semi-structured interview is a meeting where the interviewer asks open-ended questions, instead of following a strict and formalized list of questions.The interviewer uses the job requirements to develop questions and conversation starters.The semi-structured interview format encourages two-way communication. Both the interviewer and the candidate can ask questions and further the conversation. To prepare, review the job posting, research the company, practice your answers, and dress professionally. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. TalentLyft. "Difference Between Structured, Unstructured, and Semi-Structured Job Interviews."