Structured Interviews

Characteristics of the Structured Interview

  • The interviewer asks each respondent the same series of questions. 
  • The questions are created prior to the interview, and often have a limited set of response categories. 
  • There is generally little room for variation in responses and there are few open-ended questions included in the interview guide. 
  • Questioning is standardized and the ordering and phrasing of the questions are kept consistent from interview to interview. 
  • The interviewer plays a neutral role and acts casual and friendly, but does not insert his or her opinion in the interview.
  • Self-administered questionnaires are a type of structured interview.

When might you use a structured interview?

Development of a structured interview guide or questionnaire requires a clear topical focus and well-developed understanding of the topic at hand. 

A well-developed understanding of a topic allows researchers to create a highly structured interview guide or questionnaire that provides respondents with relevant, meaningful and appropriate response categories to choose from for each question. 

Structured interviews are, therefore, best used when the literature in a topical area is highly developed or following the use of observational and other less structured interviewing approaches that provide the researcher with adequate understanding of a topic to construct meaningful and relevant close-ended questions.

Recording Interviews

There are a range of ways to collect and record structured interview data.  Data collections methods include, but are not limited to: 

  • paper-based and self-report (mail, face-to-face)
  • telephone interviews where the interviewer fills in participants' responses
  • web-based and self-report


  • Structured interviews can be conducted efficiently by interviewers trained only to follow the instructions on the interview guide or questionnaire.
  • Structured interviews do not require the development of rapport between interviewer and interviewee, and they can produce consistent data that can be compared across a number of respondents. 

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