10 Semi Structured Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

semi structured interview questions examples

Do you want to be prepared for qualitative interviews, or do you have one coming up? Well, then this article will lead you to a set of semi structured interview questions that expand on your relevant experience and interpersonal skills that cannot be shown in a typical resume. It could also benefit recruiters in preparing questionnaires suited for particular types of candidates. 

But before you get any further, let’s decipher why semi structured interview questions matter. In qualitative interviews, recruiters hope to gain insights into the interviewee’s personal experiences, beliefs, and opinions.

The interviewer will often begin with questions that evaluate intentions rather than just work experience. Also to be clear, semi structured interviews are great in certain aspects but fall short on others. So read on till the end to know how you ace a semi structured interview like a pro. 

What are Semi Structured Interview Questions?

Semi structured interviews haven’t been interpreted the way they should be because many assume all interviews are the same with formal questions and straightforward answers.

If you’re on the job market or recently invited to an interview, you should know there are several ways to assess aptitude, and semi structured interview is one of them. It’s a balance of opposites – structured and unstructured interviews. 

Recruiters begin by studying the requirement to define the type of candidate they feel are suited. From there, questions are tailored around interviewees to carry the conversation further than work experience.

For example, more questions could follow general ones to understand the candidate’s potential thoroughly. It also allows respondents to talk about things that recruiters may not have previously considered.

For candidates, semi structured interview questions offer great opportunities to expand their skills with vivid themes and anecdotes to sell their value proposition. In addition, asking open-ended questions gives recruiters better insights of their career highlights.  

10 Best Semi Structured Interview Questions and Answers

semi structured interview questions

Unlike general interview questions that elicit predictable answers, semi structured interviews guide people into comfortable situations where they can express themselves without constriction.

This allows for a comprehensive debate or discussion depending on the engagement. So here are some of the best semi structured interview questions and answers that help recruiters and candidates to explore untouched themes: 

1. How did you find out about this program?

Why do recruiters ask this:

The goal is to understand how aligned candidates are with the role in question. Recruiters seek answers that show conviction so they can tell whether the interviewee is genuinely interested in the role or they’re throwing darts to find what sticks.

If candidates have extensively prepared, it should be easier to tell why the role matters and how specifically they searched for it.

How to answer it: 

  • Talking about your latest assignment isn’t what recruiters want to hear. This question helps decode whether candidates are sure about what they need and whether they have searched for it in the right place. 
  • Make sure to elaborate on the circumstances you were in that led to the interview.

Sample answer: 

“I was already aware of your company via previous work as my last assignment was with a brand that competed with yours in the North American market. The role I’ve applied for is a niche function where I already excel and look forward to acquiring new values.”

2. Why are you applying for this role? What about the role appeals to you?

Why do recruiters ask this: 

Since you’ve already applied for the role and spoke passionately about it in the leading question, the interviewer will be inquisitive whether you’ve had experience in a similar program. They want to be sure you haven’t stretched facts on the resume to land the job.  

How to answer it: 

  • When you claim to have experience with a specific type of role, you are subtly hinting that hiring you wouldn’t be the same as hiring somebody new and training them on the “how-to.” Instead, it means you possess the understanding to tell where thresholds of success and failure are than someone entirely new.

Sample answer:

“I have 7 years of experience in overseeing a continuum of activities across the management of stakeholder accounts. With the complexity in managing multiple accounts, I shouldered accountability for both success and failure scenarios.”

3. How has your career shaped your life?

Why do recruiters ask this:

They are curious whether you’ve had a life-changing experience in your chosen career. Recruiters know you’ve shared your experience that meets the requirement. But they are intrigued whether your work experience has had any impact on yourself.   

How to answer it: 

  • When you have worked long enough in a process to see yourself grow, you should be able to tell what successes and failures have taught you. 
  • Answer this question with confidence and in a way to showcase where your strengths and weaknesses are.  

Sample answer:

“I have been working for about two years in this domain, and the nature of work has changed my preferences and priorities. One thing that hasn’t changed is my inner self. Now, I feel confident about working independently and handling stress better than I ever did before.”

4. How do you harness new knowledge to improve your daily life?

Why do recruiters ask this:

While corporate experience can feel like a rat race driven by remuneration, employers know a ton of candidates who choose to ignore the value of adding up knowledge to further their skill.

So while asking this question, in the back of their mind, interviewers are checking if you have the attitude and aptitude to continually upskills yourself and pursue learning as a daily objective.

How to answer it: 

  • Firstly, understand this. If food is fuel to the body, knowledge is to the mind. It keeps us healthy and sought after in a competitive market. 
  • Using knowledge to solve difficult problems can impress recruiters, especially if you’ve taken intuitive and intelligent steps in your journey. 
  • Highlight every recent breakthrough moment you have had through booster knowledge.
  • The lessons you have learned from the past can prompt you to ask bigger questions and make a quantum leap in solving bigger puzzles.     

Sample answer:

“When I came upon a certification program, I asked myself whether this program could propel my growth trajectory. I look for specific values capable of shaping fundamental beliefs, rather than spending time on something that only creates a cumulative effect by echoing what is already told.”

5. Tell me the time you faced hurdles in explaining tough concepts to others?

Why do recruiters ask this:

Recruiters measure reasons that make it difficult to explain an important concept to understand whether you stumbled due to communication issues, heightened self-consciousness, or hastiness in uploading concepts into someone else’s head.

In addition, they assess whether you know why explaining was tough and what other methods you chose to broaden the knowledge.

How to answer it: 

  • We sometimes experience this when the message is lost in translation because the listener couldn’t keep up with the speaker’s way of exacting information. So if you presume to understand the topic, it could also be your brain fooling you. 
  • If you feel uneasy explaining, reread the topic and prepare to field questions on “why” or “how.” This way, you could memorize the idea in any sequence and not just how you read it.

Sample answer:

In the last job, the organization offered a web design and hosting solution. We had a small business proprietor who didn’t understand how network connections worked and needed hand holding. While the brochure failed to expand his product knowledge, I had to break down steps to explain how communication worked between the computer and network using hand-drawn diagrams with labeled parts. This made the process clearer, prompting the client to invest in a broadband connection.” 

6. How would others benefit from the project you have worked on?

Why do recruiters ask this:

They are unsure whether candidates value the role like others who are part of it. So when this question crops, it is the curiosity about how much the candidate knows to create transferable values. 

How to answer it: 

  • To answer this question with a laundry list of vague strengths is not the ideal approach. Instead, focus on fundamentals and emergent themes to expand on areas where real values are hidden.
  • If possible, use data to back your consulting recommendations to show that you can go unscripted in bringing measurable benefits to others.   

Sample answer: 

“As you believe in creating values that others benefit from, I could assess how far we can reasonably negotiate to make benefits salient. After carefully considering offers pushed by other competitors, I could contrast by incentivizing better deals.”

7. What other programs do you think should be built on the current one?

Why do recruiters ask this:

Growth is only evident when you stack new knowledge over the last. The purpose of asking this question is to know if candidates have made assumptions on how to make a proposition seem more attractive. It might sound like a trick question to peek into your basket of ideas, but it isn’t always the case. 

How to answer it: 

  • This is an open-ended question that recruiters ask to test hunger for innovation. So you needn’t reveal everything substantial but enlightening them with a preview of your sagacity suggests you are a future-thinker. 
  • First, identify what’s working and what isn’t to prime resources and build a basic roadmap. For example, automating rote functions could earn more brownie points because manual work is slow and boring.

Sample answer: 

In the last workplace, I was a logistics manager. I was hired as a replacement for someone who parted weeks ago, leaving her workload in shambles. Within a few days, I realized most of the work involved everyday practices with automation left unused.

After raising the matter and getting a nod from the business head, several processes were automated using SAP and steadily saved hour after hour each day. This was a proud contribution that helped the company benefit from my effort.”

8. Tell me about your failure in the project and how you avoided it?

Why do recruiters ask this:

From this question, the organization is trying to extract the interviewee’s knowledge, style of leadership, ethics, dependability, and ability to learn quickly. Also, they want candidates that feel confident in telling them they have erred and have learned what not to do from mistakes.   

How to answer it:

  • It takes courage to face failures and even more to learn from them. Share how you broke the news about failure and its aftermath. 
  • Remember, the interviewer seeks to know your behavioral and situational response to assess how your ethical dilemma was handled to limit further consequences.

Sample answer:

“In one of the companies I worked for, I interviewed entry-level people. Unfortunately, I shortlisted an individual with red flags that only showed up after the company took him in. It soon became a worry as the worker’s ethics became questionable, causing friction within the team until his dismissal after eight weeks of employment. This incident prompted me to double back my vetting strategy. It became a lesson that led me to become a better manager.”

9. How do you gather project requirements?

Why do recruiters ask this:

Whenever projects go sideways, the common refrain is that “the requirements were improper”. It leads to passing blame which can be challenging for any unit to think and act cohesively. So they want a gatekeeper to show accountability and good judgment in gathering requirements.      

How to answer it:

  • In general, requirement gathering is a practice popular in software development. However, every project has requirements, and teams build solutions to address specific challenges. In the interview, elucidate the purpose of building a solution and how you will achieve it by drawing a plan.

Sample answer:

“After a client meeting, I go through notes and clean them up to share relevant information bits with the project team. It brings every stakeholder on the same page and fosters confidence in business requirements till the project is handed over. With a robust requirement-gathering strategy, I help avoid unmet deliverables even as the assured date is nearing. In essence, anything that isn’t on notes hasn’t happened.”

10. Which other companies do you admire?

Why do recruiters ask this:

When you apply for jobs, it’s more likely you have shortlisted companies based on what you value the most. Most interviewers are just interested in your reasoning. The type of company you’ve shown interest in tells them where you stand in the corporate race and where your goals are. 

How to answer it:

  • You needn’t always round the usual suspects to look good in front of recruiters. You could admire companies for many reasons, but the question is whether your reason to feel “Berkshire Hathaway” is better than “Blackrock” or vice versa is justified. 
  • Remember, your intent is all that matters when this question is directed at you.  

Sample answer:

“I spent a great deal of time organizing companies that lead in the domain I specialize in. I know the list includes organizations of various sizes and shapes with different strategies and cultures. At the end of each visit, I ask myself whether I could feel proud to be part of an organization. So I begin with what I saw and learned as a visitor and use it to advance in as a job seeker.”

Final Words

Semi-structured interviews give employers the flexibility to explore more about the candidate and evaluate what they can bring to the job role.

With this type of interview, a candidate might not know the exact structure of the interview. Hence, it is important to be prepared and be well-equipped to handle the interview structure. No matter what format that is, at the end of the day, an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself, so make a great impression!

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