5 Different types of Interview Questions

Job interviews aren’t easy—not even for the hiring manager or other staff involved in selecting and interviewing candidates. While having a strategy in place can make the hiring process easier, it’s still very difficult to design a good interview. After all, you have maybe an hour or less to meet with a person to determine whether or not they are a good fit for your firm. 

After having interviewed thousands of candidates for potential employers, our staffing experts have found that things are made harder by the fact that candidates are often nervous and on their best behaviour. That means your interview questions need to be carefully calculated to draw out the truth to give you the best possible sense of the person you’re interviewing.


What are the different types of Interview Questions?

These five different types of interview questions will help you become a more successful hiring manager by helping you design a better interview.

1. Behavioural Questions

This is an incredibly broad category that can overlap with many of the other types of interview questions you might pose to candidates. You can ask the candidate almost anything about their behaviour at past workplaces or in school settings. You can also present them with a specific situation and ask them to tell you what they would do. 

Examples include inquiries about tensions with a co-worker and how it was resolved, or asking about the decision-making process for a major project that the candidate worked on. These kinds of questions help paint a portrait of the candidate as an employee: When faced with a difficult situation, how does the candidate react? 

It can also give insight into whether the candidate has a history of problematic behavior, such as quarreling with co-workers or making poor decisions. Questions about strengths and weaknesses may also fall under this category.


2. Communication Questions

While some might consider this a subset of behavioral questions, communication is so vital to any workplace that others put communication questions in their own category. 

Examples include asking about how a candidate would break bad news to a client or a co-worker (an especially important consideration if you are looking to hire into a management or supervisory role), inquiring about how the candidate would resolve intrapersonal conflict, and even asking about certain protocols for interacting with different people.


3. Opinion Questions

An opinion question in an interview often throws the candidate for a loop. The question may seem inconsequential, or perhaps the candidate is trying to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear. 

A typical opinion question such as, “What would you do in X situation?” looks for a candidate’s subjective opinion on how to analyze a situation. Even though the candidate is likely to try to please the interviewer by picking the “right” answer, the truth is there is never a single right answer! Instead, this is a chance to gain insight into the candidate’s decision-making skills.


4. Performance-Based Questions

Interview questions that are performance-based focus less on a candidates’ individual behaviors and more on how they perform in the role. You could ask about a major achievement or a failure.

Some examples include asking about how candidates would handle working on multiple tasks, or on a project with a tight deadline. You could inquire about their goal-setting procedures: How do they set goals, and how do they then work to achieve them? Some questions about motivation may also be performance-based questions. Competency questions often fall under this category.


5. Brainteasers

This is another broad category that encompasses a number of subcategories, such as case studies, situational questions, and problem-solving. Essentially, you are evaluating the candidates’ ability to analyze information.

A brainteaser question doesn’t seek the right answer. Instead, it tests the candidate’s logic and math skills, critical thinking, and creativity.  Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? What is the angle of the hands of the clock at 8:13 am? How would you describe sandwiches to someone who has never seen one? All these questions will have unique answers that will tell you more about the candidate in question. 

You supply them with a scenario and then ask them for an answer. In some cases, there may not be a “correct” answer; often, you’re more interested in seeing how the candidate arrives at the answer.

Looking for additional resources? Download our free Ultimate Interview Guide

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