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Psychological interview


The psychological interview consists of a human relationship between two or more people , in which one of its members must try to decipher the other person based on questions or other ways to collect information and act on the basis of that knowledge. The basic rule is to obtain complete data on the consultant’s behavior, applying clinical listening .

In the psychological interview, the researcher will ask various types of questions in order to collect different types of data. Closed questions and open questions are asked. In the closed questions , the interviewee receives a questionnaire where they must answer in a concrete way; With  open-ended questions , the interviewee is allowed to express their own thoughts.

Interview schedules have a standardized format which means that the same questions are asked of each interviewee in the same order.

Classification of psychological interview questions

Psychological interviews are a fundamental instrument of the clinical approach and therefore a scientific research technique . There are two main classifications, namely:


  • Questions already provided (order and way of posing).
  • It cannot be altered by the interviewer.
  • It is a questionnaire.
  • Promotes better systematic comparison of data.
  • They are easy to quantify.


  • Freedom on the part of the interviewer.
  • Flexibility that allows the interviewee to configure the field according to their psychic structure.
  • It enables a broader and deeper investigation of the personality.
  • They generate qualitative data.

Structure of the psychological interview

All psychological interviews have a similar structure:

  • Presentation of the interviewer, therapist. Eg: name, clinical experience, etc.
  • Presentation of the service unit or office. Eg: we are in such a hospital …, we work on such psychological aspects, etc.
  • Presentation of the principle of confidentiality – the psychotherapist has the duty to classify as confidential any document or information that, in his opinion, directly or indirectly influences the patient or interviewee.
  • Reason for consultation. It can be presented as a complaint – I feel manipulated by … .-, objective -a separation-, or diagnosis -depression-.
  • Identification of behaviors and thoughts related to the patient’s moods .
  • The expectations of the patient – what he hopes to achieve throughout the interview or therapy – are asked.
  • The session is closed.

Types of psychological interview

There are many types of psychological interviews; Among the most used we can find: structured or semi-structured, behavioral, group or individual interviews.

Structured psychological interview

A structured interview occurs when all the questions are prepared in advance, unlike the semi-structured interview, where there is no specific set of predetermined questions, and they can be flexible and arise spontaneously.

There are many ways that structured interviews can be conducted. For example, they can be done over the phone, face to face, or even over the Internet.

Characteristics of the structured interview: 

  • The questions are asked in a standardized order.
  • Closed questions are used.
  • The questions are quick to carry out.
  • Skills, aptitudes, behaviors, performances are evaluated.
  • They are not flexible interviews, the questions cannot be improvised.
  • Structured interview responses generally lack detail.

Semi-structured psychological interview

A semi-structured interview is commonly used in qualitative research, as it provides the structure of the interview protocol, but also provides flexibility for the research participants to work out the points of each question that make sense to them, which drives the conversation. even more deeply.

In a semi-structured interview, the interviewer can change the questions at any time and ask follow-up questions to the interviewee’s answers.

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Characteristics of the semi-structured interview:

  • Open questions are asked.
  • The questions do not have an established order or schedule.
  • You can access the improvisation of questions and at the same time omit some that are not considered necessary.
  • They are flexible interviews.
  • The interviewer can adapt and change the questions based on the responses of the respondents.
  • There are no right or wrong questions. The interviewee responds in a personal way.
  • According to the answers, the interviewer will take note of certain aspects of the individual, for example: emotional stability, security, self-confidence , sociability, among others.

Group and individual interviews

Psychological interviews can be group or individual, depending on whether one or more interviewers and / or interviewees are. It also depends on the type of interview that is applied. Although it is usually a group phenomenon.

Individual interview

This is the most frequent type of interview, used to collect information in different areas. In this interview there are two people, where one of them will be the interviewee and the other party will be the interviewer.

The most common way in which individual interviews are conducted is by the “face to face” method. This method is usually used in job interviews, or in behavioral interviews. In a psychological interview, the psychoanalyst can opt for the “face to face” option or the couch option, where the therapist and the patient do not make eye contact within the duration of the interview; This last method is not commonly used in the first interviews or reception interviews .

Group interview

In group interviews the role of the interviewer is to make sure that the group interacts with each other and does not stray from the topic. Group interviews provide qualitative data. The interviewees interact with each other and exchange opinions.

Group interviews can sometimes be invalid, as participants may give false answers to impress other members of the group.

Both the group and individual interviews may not always be written (based on questionnaires), they can also be oral (direct question-answer in the conversation) where the interviewer will take note of the data that the interviewee contributes to the interview.

Behavior interview

The behavioral interview is a widely used method, especially in job interviews. This approach is based on the belief that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Therefore, the behavioral interview questions are designed to probe the interviewee’s previous experiences, in order to determine how they might behave in similar situations in the future.

In this type of interview, they do not ask hypothetical questions about how you would handle a situation if you are faced with it in the future. Instead, the interviewee is asked how they have handled specific situations in the past.

Behavioral interview questions generally begin with one of the following phrases: tell me about a time when…, describe a circumstance when you faced a problem related to… To answer these types of questions the patient or interviewee will need to count stories from his past. These stories will be evaluated for evidence of your intellectual competence, leadership, personal skills, flexibility, motivation, and communication skills.

See  also:

  1. Psychometric test
  2. Free drawing technique
  3. Rossana case. Part I
  4. Rossana houses. Part ii
  5. Rossana case. Part iii
  6. Rossana case. Part iv


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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