5 Types of Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 1, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated September 1, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Video: Top 6 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, breaks down the intentions behind employer's questions and shares strategies for crafting strong responses.

During a job interview, you might encounter different types of questions designed to gather certain information about you as a professional. Interview questions determine your qualifications and experience in addition to assessing your personality and work style. Understanding why hiring managers ask certain questions can help you prepare your answers before an interview. 

In this article, we analyze five types of interview questions and provide advice on how to answer them.

5 types of interview questions

Most job interviews include one or more types of questions, including:

1. Interview questions that assess personality

Employers ask these types of interview questions to get to learn more about who the candidate is as a person and an employee. These may include questions that measure whether the candidate is right for the job or if they're a match for company culture. Here are some examples:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • How can your strengths add to the role?

  • How do your coworkers describe you?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • Have you ever changed someone's opinion?

  • Tell me about a time you reversed a negative situation.

  • Why do you want to work for this company?

  • Why are you right for this job?

  • What challenges are you looking for in this position?

  • What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years of your career?

Related: How To Sell Yourself in an Interview

2. Interview questions that demonstrate abilities

Interviewers ask these questions to determine if your abilities match those that the position requires. Questions range from listing skills to providing examples of how you use those skills. Here's a list of sample questions:

  • Describe your responsibilities in your previous job.

  • Tell me about a time you spearheaded a project.

  • What software programs are you proficient in?

  • Name three skills you can use to contribute to this company.

  • Recall your proudest work accomplishment.

  • Explain a time you overcame a challenge in the workplace.

  • What foreign languages are you fluent in?

  • How do you tailor your communication style to the people you're speaking with?

  • What are your strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?

Related: Interview Question: "Why Should We Hire You?" (With Examples)

3. Interview questions that determine qualifications

These questions are looking for the details of why you're right for the position. The questions may assess credentials and how you might have handled job-related situations in the past. Here are some examples:

  • What on-the-job training have you had?

  • What's the highest level of education you've completed?

  • What certifications do you hold?

  • How can your previous experience benefit this company?

  • Explain how you produced results in your last job.

  • Tell me about a time you found a creative solution to a problem.

  • Recall a time you reduced costs at a previous job.

  • What qualifications make you qualified to lead a team?

  • What steps do you take to avoid errors?

  • How do you maintain clear communication in the workplace?

Related: Interview Question: "What Can You Bring to the Company?"

4. Interview questions that predict behavior

Employers may ask these questions to get an idea of how you've approached job challenges. Interviews may request that you provide specific examples that tell a story of how you resolved the conflicts and met your goals. Here are some examples in this category:

  • Tell me about a time you achieved a professional goal.

  • Recall a time you didn't reach a goal. How did you handle it?

  • How do you set priorities at work?

  • What do you do if you're facing a conflict with a coworker?

  • Tell me about a time you strove to meet a strict deadline.

  • What do you do to stay motivated in the workplace?

  • How do you react to changes in the work environment?

  • Do you prefer working alone or with a team?

  • Describe your decision-making process.

  • Explain an instance when you took initiative to solve a work problem.

Related: How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

5. Interview questions that demonstrate industry knowledge

These questions may be industry-focused to better determine how well you know the company. Employers may measure your understanding of how the company works and how you envision your role in its mechanisms. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think is the biggest issue our industry faces today?

  • If you were to supervise a department, what is the first thing you plan to do?

  • If you were the hiring manager, what qualities do you look for in a candidate?

  • If you could start a company like ours, what are the first steps you would take?

  • If you had a generous budget, how do you allocate funds?

  • If you could choose someone from the industry as our mentor, who do you select?

  • Imagine this industry in five years. Describe how it looks.

  • What does your future look like in this industry?

  • What could your last company do to be more successful?

  • What tools do you use to complete tasks or delegate responsibilities?

Related: Interview Question: "What Are Your Future Career Goals?"

Interview questions with sample answers

The content of your answer and your ability to provide engaging and complete responses may appeal to the interviewer. Researching the company and practicing your answers can help you prepare for the interview. Here are a few common questions and sample answers to guide you:

How has your previous experience prepared you for this position?

Employers may ask this question to learn how you've accumulated skills that fit the position. Keep your answers relative to the role and discuss how your training or hard skills can help the company achieve greater success.

Example: "I have 10 years of experience in personal finance management, and I've assisted many repeat clients to decide on investments and grow their portfolios. As a financial analyst, I routinely consult data charts and economic trends to advise clients on making sound financial decisions. I've also supervised other analysts and provided training so they could effectively help clients meet education or retirement goals. As a financial consultant for your firm, my experience can guide the company and build client trust."

Related: Work Experience and Your Career: Importance and Tips

What makes you different from the competing candidates?

Employers may ask qualification questions to determine if you meet the requirements of the job. The interviewer may want to know more about your education and training and how your skills apply to the job you're pursuing. Provide an answer that highlights any unique strengths you have that could help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Example: "I've always been an achiever and strive to learn and grow in my field. After I earned my associate degree in nursing, I sought additional training through certification, and I plan to earn my bachelor's degree within the next four years. I also studied human behavior and social services to be a compassionate advocate for disadvantaged youth."

Related: How To Increase Collaboration in the Workplace

Tell me about a time you collaborated with your coworkers on a task.

Your desired role may require you to work as a member of a team. Show the interviewer that you can participate with a group of employees to reach a common goal and welcome unique perspectives. Specify your example to help the interviewer visualize your contribution.

Example: "As one of three managers in a department, I learned that entry-level employees could benefit from additional training before the company transitioned to the next quarter. The other managers and I collaborated to create a training program that emphasized communication, adaptability and teamwork. My responsibility was to design the key performance indicators so we could determine if the training was effective, while my colleagues worked on distributing the training materials and scheduling one-on-one meetings. As a result of the program, employee engagement increased by 12%."

Related: 6 Common Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers

What do you hope to accomplish in the first 90 days of you working at this company?

The interviewer may pose this question to gauge how prepared you are to adjust to your new role if hired. Demonstrate your industry knowledge and knowledge of the company in your answer.

Example: "I am to gain first-hand experience of the company's processes for submitting and analyzing work. I also want to build relationships with fellow team members and contribute my expertise to projects. Once three months have passed, I hope to have finished a major project and become proficient in agency software."

Related: How To Prepare for 9 Interview Types

Recall a time you managed a busy schedule.

Your response to this question can show the employer that you work well under pressure and can organize your workflow to meet deadlines and remain productive. Emphasize your time management skills and describe the extent of your business.

Example: "In the last week of the quarter, I was meeting with three chief executives to discuss my team's successes. I spent the majority of the week preparing for the meetings, where I designed reports and analyzed data so I could present the information to my audience. I also hosted one-on-one meetings with every member of my team to assess their individual goals and progress. I divided my schedule into intervals to leave time for every task."

Related: 21 Common Information Technology (IT) Interview Questions With Tips

Tips to prepare for an interview

Here are some tips you can try to prepare for your next interview:

  • Conduct your research. Take steps to prepare for the interview by reviewing the job description and researching the company. Prove to the interviewer that you have the industry knowledge and understand the company's mission, and make sure you highlight the skills and experience that match the job requirements.

  • Rehearse your answers. Study interview questions and have a general idea of how you want to answer. Focus on the information you want the interviewer to have.

  • Take your time. After a question, take a moment to think about your response. Listen closely to the question to determine whether it seeks a personal, behavioral or abilities answer.

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