Inferential and Literal Interview Questions

Understanding the intentions of interview questions is important in answering questions with confidence to employers. Your comprehension of questions asked at a job interview has an impact on your interview performance.

At an interview their different styles of questions you may be asked literal and inferential questions. The quality of your answers to interview questions will be subjective to what an interviewer is looking for and these depend on the type of questions being asked.

Literal Interview Questions

Literal questions asked can be asked to know e.g. “What is your notice period?” in which your answer will be based on factual information. This does not mean your answers should be vague but rather understanding you are being asked a question that requires a specific direct answer.

Some answers to literal questions can give an opportunity for candidates to show their confidence in their ability and awareness of what value they will add to an organisation, e.g. “How would you rate your communication skills?” this answer then requires a rating of your communication skills and justification as to why.

These questions could come at any stage of an interview they tend to require much more direct answers to the questions being asked.

Depending on how an interview is going some literal questions towards the end of an interview can be a good indicator that the interview has gone well, as the factual information provided by the candidate can be the determining factor of selection.

Inferential Interview Questions

These questions delve more into situational, competency, and behaviour interview questions. These questions can require much more structure and depth.

Interviewers want your answers to show understanding through your structure and approach to answering these questions. Knowing which questions require detail for the best answer possible to stand out from other candidates.

Inferential interview questions require much more thought as they ask why, what and how e.g.

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How do you work in a team?

The better you understand what the employer is really asking you the better you’ll perform in the job interview and the closer you’ll get to show that you are the best candidate for the job.