According to Glassdoor, there can be up to 250 resumes on average for a corporate job offer. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will be shortlisted for an interview, and only one will get the job. But don’t worry, good preparation can boost your chance to ace your interviews. Discover how your examples or experience can become sensible answers to the most common questions in an interview!
How do you answer interview questions? Image: shutterstock
How To Ace The Most Common Questions In An Interview
We usually think that the interview questions will vary according to the field of expertise you are applying. It’s partially true because anybody will have to pass the most common questions in the first interview. Hence, it’s vital to know your way around these popular questions.
Why Interviewers Ask These Common Questions
Sometimes these common questions are so obvious that you doubt the reasons behind them. For instance, an interview starting with “Why do you want this job?” usually is a traditional and most frequently asked question. However, such classic questions would require definitive answers. These “too basic” questions are what make the cut; hence, your answers need to be concise and well-prepared.
Moreover, these common openers are usually to warm up for both the interviewers and the applicants. Therefore, you should keep your answers to the minimum with enough information. The interviewers just want you to show who you are and how you approach the questions. Hence, these common easy questions are only the appetizers to the main courses of trickier questions.
Experienced interviewers tend to ask very tricky questions. Image: quickstart
Top Questions Asked By Interviewers
As we mentioned earlier, there are some questions that interviewers from any industry can ask you. These questions make sense in any case because they are all about you. Their sole purpose is to let the interviewers know more about you and how you position yourself to get the job. Let’s see below the top questions asked by interviewers across industries:
“Tell me about yourself” – Obviously, we can’t ask the interviewer to read our resume we have sent. Instead, we need to take this seemingly straightforward question very seriously. We should prepare well in advance for a clear-cut answer.
“Describe a challenge or conflict at work and how you overcame it”. – This question is never about the conflict but more about your resolution. Indeed, it shines a light on how you cope with pressure and resolve disputes in the workplace.
“What’s your greatest personal achievement?” – This question demands a clever but detailed answer. You should give quantifying details, but at the same time, you should never exaggerate.
“What’s your biggest strength and weaknesses?” – Honestly, this is arguably the most hated interview question to many of us. We don’t seem to be satisfied with our answers. Is it better to be truthful or diplomatic with such an intricate question?
“Why do you want to change your current career path?” This question could become a trap that costs you your chance if you can’t answer it well. We can’t say that the previous career path just was not the right fit for us. We need something more reasonable than that.
More Complex Questions
“Where do you see yourself in 3 years?” – Uh oh, this one is so overused that some of us can’t help but smirk a little when confronting it. Still, are we sure that we have the best answer to this question yet?
“Why are you interested in our industry?” – No blunt answers of salary or benefits will be suitable for this question at this stage. You need a solution that justifies your reasons and shows that you have done your homework quite well.
“How do you define success?” – What a question! This one would only be easier than asking us to define happiness. Although there is no wrong answer to this question, we will give you some tips below to ace this one.
“What motivates you?” – This question would be the least challenging among these top questions asked by interviewers. You should be able to make the most of it and increase your score!
“Do you have any questions for me?” – Yes, almost all first-round interviews end with this one. It is so typical that we can consider it the last step of the interview procedure. But how to ask the correct questions?
Because all of these questions are very familiar, interviewers have inevitably heard good answers and not-so-good ones. Moreover, the experienced interviewers could have their preconceptions about applicants based on their responses. Hence, your answers to these questions set a foundation for the rest of your interview.
Despite the interview setup, the common questions are the same. Image: accountingweb
And How To Answer Them
To have a better chance at winning the job, we need proper preparation for everything we can. To give clear and correct answers smoothly, here’re some tips for mastering these top interview questions!
Ace The Basics
When the interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, they don’t mean to know you on a personal level. They are asking about your personality and experience relating to the job. A concrete answer will include three to five strong adjectives that describe your values. And remember, everything has to connect to the job you want, even your interests, if any.
The request to describe a challenge or conflict at work and how you overcame it is to clarify your attitude under pressure. Use an appropriate example focusing on how you resolved it. Of course, you can describe how the obstacle made you emotional or frustrated, but how you ultimately overcame it. Again, you need to focus on how you were candid and willing to compromise.
When talking about your most outstanding personal achievement, you can include one or two examples. You should choose something unique to set you apart and include quantifying details. For instance, talk about that time you raised $10,000 for a local animal shelter. Don’t exaggerate, but do give enough details!
What’s your biggest strength? Be honest about what motivates you or helps you work most efficiently. What’s your biggest weakness? You should choose something quite relatable – for example, a tendency to take more responsibility than you should. But don’t end the answer without telling the interviewer how you are working to improve that weakness.
“Why do you want to change your current career path?” This tricky question requires two parts in your answer. Firstly, you would tell how the previous job met your expectations. Secondly, you will genuinely discuss how you felt out of motivation in the prior position. It can be a lack of career advancement or challenging projects.
Give Clever Remarks
Typically, we have minimal idea of where we will be professionally in 3 years. So, when the interviewers ask you this question, you should talk about your passion for your work. You can discuss how you consider this industry as your lifelong career, or you can share personal goals. Sometimes your professional career is ultimately to support a family or start a business.
“Why are you interested in our industry?” A good answer should give very objective and rational reasons why you want to work in the industry. You must research this industry thoroughly beforehand. You also need your logic to set foot into this industry generally and particularly this company.
When the interviewer asks you how you define success, they expect clever answers to set you apart from other applicants. The answer to this question can include your values, your motivation, and the impact you want to make. For example, you can define success as improving performance to enhance the quality of your work.
“What motivates you?” We don’t need to answer this question with a work-related passion. You can share your values or dedication. You would give up the weekend morning to fulfill or study every night to improve yourself. Make sure that your answers are authentic and honest.
“Do you have any questions for me?” You should ask at least three questions, but don’t ask irrelevant ones. Make sure you ask specific questions about the company. The advisory questions you can ask are:
“What’s the biggest challenge you think I’ll face coming into this position?”
“Why did the last person leave the role?”
“How is your experience working in this organization so far?”
All in all, you should only ask relevant and genuine questions and be sure to take their answers seriously.
Interview Questions Specialized For Different Careers
Let’s say that you have successfully passed the first round of common questions. The rest of the interview would depend majorly on your field of work. There will be completely different questions for accountants or finance workers, or IT people. What are the potential interview questions for these roles, and how to answer them?
Potential Interview Questions For An Accountant
Even more than CEOs, accountants play a vital role in the smooth operations of businesses. They know the company inside out and would foresee issues even before they happen. Therefore, business management usually has very detailed and complex interview questions for an accountant. Below are the top 10 questions accountants should prepare for interviews:
Most Common Questions For An Accountant
1 – What is the difference between AR (accounts receivable) and AP (accounts payable)?
This question is prevalent for entry-level job positions. Make sure you know all the fundamentals by heart!
2 – Which a given ledger’s elements must be equal if a company uses double-entry accounting?
This question too requires not much experience or accounting training. Do answer it well to show you are ready for the job.
3 – Tell us three kinds of particular journals.
Though this is a fundamental question, you should present the three types with samples along with an explanation. They are testing your ability to identify mistakes or omissions with this question.
4 – When estimating bad debts, what methods are you familiar with?
Such a question like this would show how you approach a routine process in your previous jobs. You can also initiate a dialogue regarding how this company handles bad debts.
5 – Have you ever practiced any enterprise resource planning systems?
Usually, experienced accountants would be familiar with Hyperion, Oracle Enterprise Manager, Microsoft Dynamics GP, etc. If you require training on these tools, then this is your chance to be straightforward. Talk about how much practice you’ve had and what systems you would need further training.
Accountants are vital for smooth business operations. Image: mitranslations
More Questions About Your Expertise
6 – Have you ever done an analysis project with a team? If yes, what challenges did you have?
This question is trying to get at your critical thinking skills. Moreover, the interviewers would like to seek your leadership potential.
7 – In your opinion, what are the top skills of a good accountant?
Generally, a great accountant must have numerical abilities, practical communication skills, and a fair amount of business knowledge. They would be more competitive if they possess technical expertise and a great sense of customer service.
8 – What do you know about big data? Do you think it’s important for accountants to have big-data expertise?
Don’t be surprised by this question. The interviewers didn’t post a recruitment ad for big data experts, but they know they would need one someday. Having expertise in big data will help build up the team’s skills.
9 – How do you distinguish auditing from accounting?
Maybe this question will only be common with fresh graduates. The interviewers want to recruit entry-level accountants attentive in class and understanding the fundamental roles and processes. Sometimes, too much expertise is not the best option.
10 – Do you have any experience with accounting software?
The standard software for accountants includes Excel, QuickBooks, Hyperion, ERP, IBM Cognos, Shutterstock, etc. However, you should show how tech-savvy you are and quick to adapt to various programs. Adaptability is indeed the key to survival for both businesses and employees in this fast-paced era of digital transformation.
What Will Interviewers Of The Finance Sector Ask You?
Though some questions in the finance sector would be similar to questions for accountants, there are several unique questions. Below are the top common interview questions in the finance sector:
- Tell us the difference between the clean and dirty prices of bonds.
- In what cases might we use deferred tax liability?
- Name one greatest financial challenge facing our industry today and why?
- What are the different methods to value a company? Which way is most appropriate?
- How is a cash flow statement usually organized? What can you learn from it?
- What is the most outstanding achievement in your financial career so far?
- What makes you choose to work in finance?
- Have you ever had to manage high-stress situations with account holders?
- Over the next ten years, what are three economic changes that you anticipate in our industry?
- What one type of statement would you choose to assess the financial health of a company?
The finance sector requires experience and adaptability Image: info boom
How Will The Questions Differ For The Industry Of Creativity?
The industry of creativity is thriving and expanding quite rapidly. People working in the creative industry can be Marketing people, multimedia artists, or advertising agencies. If you happen to choose the creative industry as your career, you will have lots of fun and challenges awaiting you. Below are the most common interview questions you should expect in the industry of creativity:
- Have you got any experience in dealing directly with clients or customers?
- What would you do in cases where people don’t like your products?
- Tell us an interesting thing you’ve learned recently.
- Please take a look at our brand/site/marketing materials and tell us what you think.
- How will your creativity contribute to the growth of our company?
- In which situations do you feel most creative?
- Tell us about two brands that you admire and why.
- Do you have your portfolio with you?
Keep in mind that these questions are not to hold you down or give you a hard time. The interviewers indeed just want to know more about you and your expertise. They could provide abrupt questions due to their lack of knowledge about your capabilities. Hence, have your portfolio ready and explain to the interviewers the details about which they will inquire.
The creative industries require unique skill sets. Image: scalefactor
Top Questions For It-field Positions
Because information technology is one of the most technical industries out there, the interviewers usually have a solid technical background. In most cases, the interviewers are the team leaders or supervisors that would work with you once you start the position. Hence, they ask you questions to know about your expertise, learning styles, and career outlook. Expect the below questions in an IT-field interview:
- What online resources do you usually adopt to finish your job?
- What methods do you use to keep your technology skills updated?
- Can you explain PHP (or any relevant technology) in simple terms?
- What are the essential qualities of a software developer?
- What is your least favorite technology product, and why?
- What impact do you think further technology advances will have on your career?
- Do you have any tech projects you’ve worked on in your spare time?
- How do you deliver under tight deadlines?
Of course, the technical questions in an IT-related interview are numerous. We only want to give you an idea of what to expect and prepare to present yourself well. Your application forms should cover your experience well, and the interviewers usually would ask to confirm your experience. They also would inquire about the technologies on which you will work in the projects. Hence, you should read the job description carefully.
IT-related interviews can be highly technical – The Most Common Questions In An Interview. Image: ZipRecruiter
Why Is It Essential To Include Samples/ Examples In Your Answers?
As we discussed many questions in different fields, there is one popular tip in answering those questions. That tip for good answers is to include samples or examples to make your answers more detailed. It is not obligatory to give examples in all of your answers, but decide when you should provide samples wisely.
The relevant examples would justify how well you understand the question and the solutions. These examples can also speak volumes about your core values and competencies. Hence, give an appropriate number of samples to the correct questions, and you will encounter no issue with the interview. However, make sure you don’t take too much time to think of different examples or samples because that would cost you time for the following questions.
Especially when the interviewers ask you to give some examples to clarify your resolutions, it is best to mention several examples. This will show your experience in the field and how you can explain multiple issues with clarity and preciseness. Once the interviewer gets the answers they were looking for, they would give you a nod, and that’s the sign of a good response.
Interviews help upgrade your career pathway – The Most Common Questions In An Interview. Image: Shutterstock
The Final Thought
Job interviews are an excellent method for recruiters to know the candidates well and vice versa. Interviews create the initial contact between the potential employers and employees. Hence, preparing thoroughly for every interview will help you have a better chance of success.
Sometimes coming to the interview with great confidence is not enough for you to put yourself out on the market. Instead, you had better spend time practicing with the most common questions in an interview for your next job application. As people say, job interviews are like first dates. Good impressions count, but awkwardness can also occur. Outcomes are always unpredictable; hence, we can only prepare well and hope for the best.
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