The Different Types of Interview Questions

The following are the types of questions an interviewer may choose from while planning the interview. Being aware of these types of questions may also help the interviewee in preparing for responses to possible questions. A single question may be classified as one or a combination of these types of questions. For instance, an open-ended question may also be a question seeking for the opinions or insights of the interviewee.

  • Open Questions. Open questions are broad, general questions that require detailed answers. These allow interviewees to give more information or explanation about a subject (e.g., about themselves, the topics that interest them, and so on).
  • Closed Questions. Closed questions are usually answered in one or two words. In instances where the interviewer needs a direct, brief response, closed questions are appropriate to use as these elicit a narrow or specific answer. Yes-no questions are examples of closed questions.
  • Factual Questions. Factual questions call for facts or objective answers.
  • Opinion Questions. Opinion questions are used when the interviewer wants to know what the interviewee thinks about a topic (e.g., conducting a research that would determine the preference of a majority). The responses are generally broad and subjective.
  • Direct Questions. Direct questions are used when the interviewer thinks there is no need to rephrase a question to be polite.
  • Indirect Questions. Indirect questions make use of implicatures. These are often used when an interviewee cannot answer a direct question or when the topic is too sensitive. There is a tendency, however, for indirect questions to confuse the interviewee.
  • Primary Questions. Primary questions are the initial questions that usually cover the most important topics for discussion.
  • Secondary Questions. Secondary questions are follow-up questions that aim to clarify vague responses to the initial question. A secondary question is related to the initial question and the response of the interviewee.
  • Probe Questions. A probe question is a type of secondary question which aims to delve deeper into the topic and gather more information from the interviewee. If an interviewer wants the interviewee to elaborate on an answer, he or she may ask probe questions.
  • Mirror Questions. Mirror questions involve paraphrasing or repeating the interviewee’s response. These questions are often used to encourage the interviewee into elaborating on his or her answer.
  • Hypothetical Questions. Hypothetical questions are asked to identify how an interviewee would respond to a hypothetical, complex scenario that may or may not happen in the future. These scenario is often described using a “What if’ question, the specific nature of which prompts the interviewee to reveal personal qualities he or she might not have thought of communicating.
  • Neutral Questions. Neutral questions are questions posed by the interviewer which do not in any way attempt to influence the answer of the interviewee.
  • Leading Questions. Leading questions, unlike neutral questions, attempt to manipulate or persuade the interviewee into giving responses that are favorable to the interviewer. Often, this is done by suggesting preferable answers or by using tag questions.
  • Loaded Questions. Loaded questions are questions that reveal the personal sentiments and opinions of the interviewer about a topic. Asking loaded questions may fail to acquire the accurate information needed as the interviewee may feel compelled to respond by mirroring the interviewer’s views.
  • Summary Questions. A summary question summarizes what has been discussed throughout the interview and confirms that both parties understood these points.