The Three Types Of Interview Questions

Whether you’ve been through hundreds of job interviews or are getting ready for your first, there are countless questions out there that you might end up getting asked in your next interview. Preparing for all of these questions is impossible, but sorting them into different categories can make preparing for them a little less intimidating.

Every single question asked in an interview can be neatly wrapped up into one of three categories. By categorizing the common interview questions this way, you can prepare effectively for each of the three types.

Type 1: Core Interview Questions

The first type of interview question is what I would consider your “Core interview questions”.

These are questions that you’re the most likely to get, and the questions that have some of the largest impacts on the outcome of your interview.

You’ve got the most obvious question in the world, “tell me about yourself” which I guess isn’t a question but doesn’t really deserve its own category.

You’ve got the heavy-hitting question “why should we hire you?” Now some people say that the entire interview is really just one big elaborate answer to this question. I’m not actually sure if anybody says that, but I’m saying it

Your entire interview is an elaborate answer to the question “why should we hire you”.

This question is not to be confused with “why do YOU want to work here”. If you’re answering these the same then you’re doing it wrong. To the interviewer, this whole thing is about what you can do for them, and they don’t actually care why you want the job! Okay, they might care a little bit, but mostly they care about what you offer.

Next, you’ve to the classics, What is your greatest strength, and what is your greatest weakness? Usually, these two come back to back in a pair.

And finally, there’s the second bookend of every interview, “Do you have any questions for me?” Between these six questions, you’ve got what I consider to be your “core interview questions”. 

These questions don’t often take on different forms and are nearly always asked. Meaning you should absolutely have planned answers for each and every one of these core interview questions planned out ahead of time.

They’re going to be slightly different depending on the job you’re applying to. Still, overall they’re probably going to have the same foundation, so there’s absolutely no reason for you to walk into any interview without having a good answer for each of these rehearsed.

Type 2: Behavioral Interview Questions

The second type of interview question that you will get in your next interview is a behavioral interview question.

These are some of the most difficult interview questions. Not necessarily because a bad answer will torpedo your interview, but because in order to have a great interview, you HAVE to master these.

In short, behavioral questions are those questions that start with “tell me about a time you did XY and Z”. You know what I’m talking about; questions like:

  • Tell me about a time you’ve failed
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a coworker
  • Tell me about a time you displayed leadership
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a manager
  • Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer

These types of questions. All of these questions ask for a specific experience that you’ve had in the past and give the interviewers a glimpse into what you would be like if they were to hire you.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. These questions can highlight your technical skills and your interpersonal skills, and most importantly, get the interviewer to envision you in the role that you’re applying to. 

If the interviewer can visualize you on their team in this role, then you’re WAY more likely to be given a job offer. That’s the power of behavioral interview questions.

Now, on to the third and final type of interview question.

Type 3: Miscellaneous Interview Questions

The Third and final type of interview question is everything else. Sorry, I got a little lazy with the categories, but this really is just… everything else. These are the questions that you might get, you might not.

Questions like:

  • How did you hear about this job?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What is your ideal work-life balance?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?

Questions that, in all honesty, have dozens of variations. There are certainly more common ones like where do you see yourself in five years, but even that, besides being a ludicrously stupid interview question, can have several variations that are going to lead to drastically different answers on your part

If you interview enough, you’re likely to come across variations of each of these questions, and you’ll probably have a generic answer ready for each of them, but I really don’t put as much weight on these questions as I do with Core interview questions and behavioral interview questions. 

Core interview questions cover the big picture, important, “who are you”, “why are you here”, and “why should I care” type questions. Behavioral interview questions give you the opportunity to show the interviewer how amazing you are and let them know what you would be like if they were to hire you.

All the other questions honestly tend to be “weed out questions”. The biggest benefit the interviewers get from these is that you might answer them so badly that they can disqualify you. So while they ARE important in that regard, where I would recommend spending the majority of your time preparing for those core and behavioral interview questions. When in doubt, give a safe answer and move on to the next question where you can win the most interview points possible.

Key Takeaways

Every single interview question that they ask can be neatly wrapped up into one of three categories. These three categories are:

  • Core Interview Questions
  • Behavioral Interview Questions
  • Miscellaneous Interview Questions

Questions from each of these categories offer their own benefits.

Core interview questions cover high-level important interview questions such as “who are you”, “why are you here”, and “why should I care”. 

Behavioral interview questions give you the opportunity to show the interviewer how amazing you are and let them know what you would be like if they were to hire you.

Miscellaneous interview questions give you the opportunity to share your personality. These are usually weed-out questions, so when in doubt, give a safe answer.

By understanding each of the three types of interview questions, you’ll more easily be able to identify how you should answer your questions, and be able to properly prepare for your next interview.


James is an Air Force veteran and software developer. He's passionate about personal development and sharing that knowledge with those who want to learn. He loves to mentor students to land their dream job, and excel once they’ve got it.

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