Resumes, Letters & Interviews

Questions during an interview

Questions during an interview

During an interview, you may expect both situational and behavioral questions.

Situational

These types of questions often begin with "Tell me about a time when...". Responses to situational questions are meant to reflect how you handle a particular circumstance using your experiences as an example.

Behavioral

Behavioral questions tend to begin with "What would you do if...". Such questions are often hypothetical and look for how you think through scenarios and why.


To guide your answers for both situational and behavioral questions, consider using the STAR approach.

This strategy allows you to have a concise response that addresses the key points to prevent rambling and potentially losing your audience.

Situation Briefly describe the situation to set the scene for your story (2-3 sentences)

Task – Describe the task you were assigned or what you were trying to accomplish

Action – Describe the action that was taken (pay particular attention to what you did). Here is where you want to answer their specific question.

Result – Make sure you end with the positive result as the conclusion to your story

Questions employers like to ask

Review our list of legal and illegal interview questions.

  • Tell me about yourself.
    • This is a job interview, not a psychological or personal interview. The interviewer is interested in the information about you that relates to your qualifications for employment, such as education, work experiences and relevant projects.
  • ​Why did you choose to interview with our organization? or for this position?
    • Not having an answer is a good way to get crossed off the candidate list, and is a common pet peeve of interviewers. Research the employer before your interview; attempt to find out about the organization's products, locations, clients, philosophy, goals, previous growth record and growth plans, how they value employees and customers, etc.
  • ​Tell us about your relevant experience, skills, or strengths. Provide examples.
  • What are your proudest accomplishments?
  • Why should we hire you rather than another candidates?​ What makes you unique/What can you offer us?
    • Stress what you have to offer the employer, not how nice it would be to work there or what you want from the employer.
  • What area do you hope to grow in or improve in?
  • How do you work on a team? What role do you play in a team?
  • Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own? What do you look for in a supervisor?
  • What did you enjoy most about your last employment? Least?
  • Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
  • How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work? How would colleagues describe you?
  • What motivates you most in a job?
  • Where do you want to be in five years?
    • The interviewer is looking for evidence of career goals and ambitions rather than minutely specific descriptions. The interviewer wants to see your thought process and the criteria that are important to you.
  • What other types of positions are you considering?

Behavioral questions accounting firms like to ask

  1. Criticism Q: Please provide an example of constructive criticism that you've received and what you changed going forward as a result.
  2. Communicating Q: Communicating is an important part of our business, so tell us about a time that you had to communicate with a person who was difficult to communicate with.
  3. Conflicting Personality Q: Working in teams is a critical part of our job—you have to learn to interact well with a variety of personalities—so give me an example of when you were in a group project and had to interact with group member that had a conflicting personality.
  4. Time Management Q: In your personal life and during your work experience and education, what time management skills have you developed that have allowed you to find an even balance?
  5. Research Q: The ability to research is critical to our job, so give me an example when you had to research something, including the process you went through and the ultimate outcome.
  6. Bad Grade Q: Tell me about a time that you received a bad grade on a school assignment and how you dealt with the situation. 
  7. Hostile Environment Q: Please describe situations where you had a difficult conversation or hostile environment—how did you deal with the situation and what did you learn from it?
  8. Regret Q: Describe a significant regret and what you learned from it.
  9. What You Do for Fun Q: What do you enjoy doing? Not enjoy doing?
  10. Last Job Dislikes Q: What about your last job didn't you like?
  11. Commitment Q: What does overall commitment look like to you?
  12. Convictions Q: What convictions do you live by?
  13. You in Three Words Q: How would you describe yourself in three words?
  14. Difficult News Q: Tell me about a time that you had to communicate difficult news.
  15. Disappointed in You Q: Tell me about a time you've been disappointed in your performance? What did you do in response?
  16. College Major Q: Tell me about your process of considering different majors/career paths.
  17. Communication Style Q: Describe a time at work or school when you had to modify your communication style or approach based on your audience.
  18. What You're All About Q: Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume that you believe defines you and what you are all about.
  19. Disagreement Q: Have you ever had a disagreement with a co-worker and how did you resolve it?
  20. Stood Up to Boss Q: Tell us about a time in which you stood up to/corrected a superior.
  21. Coaching Q: Discuss ways you have coached or mentored others, or helped others to accomplish their goals.
  22. Natural Role Q: What is your natural role in a group setting? When have you had to step out of that natural role?

Questions gathered from an article on Vault.com. View original article here.

 

Questions to ask employers

You should always prepare questions ahead of time to ask at the end of your interview. It's common for employers to give you about five minutes to ask a few questions. These should be questions you can't simply find the answers to online. Asking good questions shows that you're interested in the position, you're thinking about how you'd fit into the role, and demonstrates you've done your research. Here are some examples you could use.

  1. What kinds of assignments might I expect the first six months on the job?
  2. How do you expect your company to grow throughout the next year?
  3. In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors?
  4. Does your organization encourage further education?
  5. What do you like best about your job/company?
  6. Is this a new position or am I replacing someone? What qualities are you looking for in the candidate who fills this position?
  7. What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
  8. Where does this position fit into the organizational structure?
  9. What is the next course of action? When should I expect to hear from you?