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NPC is an abbreviation that means non-player character. It is a character controlled by the game or by artificial intelligence. The role of NPCs in ESO is different: to give new quests, reward players, to trade with you, to make the world full and so on. Each NPC in Elder Scrolls Online has its voice and all quests are fully voiced. So you do not need to read the text, you can just listen to quest giver.
There are a lot of NPC characters in TES Online. You can find the list of all NPCs here.
Is it possible to hire companion?
No, it is impossible to get/hire permanent follower (helper) like it was in Skyrim. Some quests in TESO will give you companions but such NPC will not follow you permanently. In such situations you will have to follow NPC most of the time.
There are many different types of Non Player Characters. Humanoids, monsters, beasts and so on. Not every creature is friendly. Most of them will attack you and try to kill. Some of them are not aggressive and will not attack you until you damage them. The world of Elder Scrolls Online is full of NPCs and you will meet many different creatures during your adventures.