Top interview questions for different types of interviews
Not all interviews are created equally. Employers can request applicants to undergo screening interviews, structured interviews, unstructured interviews, panel interviews, group interviews, testing interviews, and more. Here are the top interview questions to be on the lookout for during different types of interviews.
What it is: A screening interview is a preliminary interview, which usually lasts 10 minutes or less. It is held via phone or video call to determine if there might be a good employee/employer fit.
Commonly asked interview questions:
- Why are you interested in this position?
- How does your experience make you the right fit for this company and role?
- In what work environment do you thrive?
What it is: A structured interview simplifies the comparison amongst many candidates. In a structured interview, the interviewer asks the same questions in the same order to each candidate. This allows hiring managers and recruiters to compare and assess the best answers to interview questions. This is the most “typical” interview style.
Common job interview question topics:
- Greatest strengths?
- Biggest weaknesses?
What it is: An unstructured interview is more of a conversation than a traditional “interview.” Typically, small companies or startups use unstructured interviews when they are prioritizing a candidate’s personality over their technical skills. The questions will vary wildly as the purpose of this type of interview is to be flexible, free-wheeling, and fast-thinking.
What it is: An interview conducted with usually 3-6 interviewers from various parts of a team or company. These interviews are common when teamwork and collaboration are crucial or when the role has duties across different departments.
Common job interview questions:
- What role do you typically play in a group?
- How would past co-workers or managers describe you?
- Tell me about a time when you were working with people who were very different from you and had a disagreement. What happened and how did you resolve it?
What it is: A group interview is the opposite of a panel interview. Instead of one candidate and several company interviewers, in a group interview, there is one interviewer and several prospective applicants. Hiring managers use group interviews in situations like food service, hospitality, or manual labor, where skills are taught on the job and there are many openings for the same position.
Commonly asked interview questions:
- What can you tell me about our company?
- Why are you interested in this company?
- What makes you a good fit for this role?
What it is: Employers use a testing interview when they want to see a candidate’s skills put into action. Testing interviews are in person and often require the applicant to undergo a written, verbal, or live-action skills test. The questions asked during this type of interview will vary by the industry, company, and position to which you are applying.
Great interview questions from thought-leaders
Whether you’re applying for a role at a Fortune 500 company or the mom-and-pop shop down the street, it pays to be prepared for anything. Here are a few interview question favorites from some of the top business leaders in the world plus tips on how to answer them.
“What do you want to do differently in your next role?”
Asked by: Max Mullen, Instacart co-founder
Tips for answering: Use the question as an opportunity to discuss what you’re excited about in a new role, not dwell on a past job. This can also be the perfect opportunity to showcase how much you know about the company or position by being specific about the things that excite you about the particular role or company.
“What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore?”
Asked by: Bryan Mason, Chief Business Officer at VSCO
Tips for answering: Rule #1 of answering this question is that your answer should not be the main duty of the position you are applying for. Apart from that, this is a great opportunity to reflect on what parts of your resume or obs you would like to move past.
“Tell me about your ideal next role. What characteristics does it have for a responsibility, team, and company culture perspective? What characteristics does it not have?”
Asked by: Alyssa Henry, EVP Infrastructure & InfoSec at Square
Tips for answering: This question is used to identify any employee-role mismatches as early as possible in the interviewing process. Honesty about the type of role you are looking for and the company culture will likely help you to avoid any deal-breaking misalignments.
“What didn’t you get a chance to include on your resume?”
Asked by: Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
Tips for answering: Take this question as an opportunity to show off any skills or experience that wasn’t recent or relevant to make it to the current version of your resume. Unsure of what to answer? Use this as a chance to share a non-work-related passion with the interviewer.
“On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?”
Asked by: Tony Hsieh, Founder of Zappos
Tips for answering: Zappos, an online shoe retailer, is known for having outstanding customer service and quirky company culture. In an interview with Business Insider, Hsieh said that the number specifically wasn’t what he was after, but rather, if “you’re a one, you probably are a little bit too straight-laced for the Zappos culture. If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us.” Keeping somewhere in the middle is likely the best (and most self-aware) option.
Interview questions and answers delivery tips
Even the most well-rehearsed and polished answers can fall apart with a nervous delivery. There are many common interview questions you can prepare for, but when it comes to nailing interview questions and answers, nothing beats real-life practice. Role-playing with friends or family members is a great way to learn to use basic response templates to create great answers to interview questions.
- Dress the part
Whether you’re having a phone interview, video interview, or you are meeting someone face-to-face, dressing the part is key to having a successful interview. When you put yourself into the right physical state, it’s easier to get into the right mental state. This doesn’t mean you have to go full glam for a phone call, but it should mean putting on attire that gets you in the working mood — whatever that means for your profession.
- Be confident (or fake it)
If there was ever a time to project confidence, it’s during an interview. While you may feel nervous butterflies inside, take effort to ensure you are sitting or standing tall, making eye contact, and speaking at an even pace. Try to avoid fidgeting, face-touching, or other nervous body language that may give you away and instead focus on staying calm and relaxed.
When it comes to acing an interview for a competitive opportunity, preparation is key. Doing the homework to research commonly asked interview questions and finding the best answers to interview questions will help applicants stand out in a crowded field.