8 Types of Interview Questions

Interviewing new job candidates may seem like a bore but it really can be a fun an enjoyable experience. Here you are, with a complete stranger in front of you, and you can ask (almost) anything you like.

Some organisations have a standard set of interview questions they ask. Others leave it up to the manager or HR representative conducting the interview. If you fall into the latter category, you’ll have to come up with your own interview questions.

I’ve found that there are 8 main categories of questions you can ask a potential new employee. They fall into groups as follows:

  • Factual – ask the candidate to tell you a bit about himself on a personal level;
  • Exploratory – ask about his or her education and previous job history;
  • Challenging – ask about the candidate’s perceived strengths and weaknesses;
  • Leading – give your views on a situation and then ask the candidate what he thinks;
  • Hypothetical – give an example of a potential situation and ask how the candidate would handle it;
  • Open or closed – you can ask questions that require “yes and no” answers or more “open ended” questions; though the latter are often more informative;
  • Alternative seeking – these types of questions test the candidate’s problem solving or critical thinking skills; or
  • Provocative – ask the candidate something thoughtful, insightful, or off the wall and see how he reacts.

Remember, the point of the interview process is not to prove how tough or difficult you can be. Doing so will simply make the candidate want to look elsewhere. Make sure the interview process is fun and enjoyable – for both you and your potential new employee!

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 7 May, 2009

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