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Understanding the 3 Key Types of Interview Questions

Employers use interview processes so they can find out whether potential employees are a good fit for the role. To do this effectively, they ask several different types of questions, which can make it hard for job seekers to know what to expect.

Read on to find out what they are, and how you can prepare for them and succeed in landing the job you want.

Below is our compiled list of 3 types of questions you're likely to be asked in an interview and how to answer them. To make the most of this list use it alongside the video insights from our co-founders Geoff Balmer and David Landau.

Employers use interview processes so they can find out whether potential employees are a good fit for the role. To do this effectively, they ask several different types of questions, which can make it hard for job seekers to know what to expect. As a specialist accounting recruitment agency, we interview multiple people every day, so we’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge about the three key types of interview questions asked by most interviewers. Read on to find out what they are, and how you can prepare for them and succeed in landing the job you want.

BEHAVIOURAL

Behavioural questions are based on the idea that past behaviour predicts future behaviour, so employers ask these to find out how you’ve previously reacted in certain situations. These questions often start with “tell me about a time when” and many candidates struggle to answer these.

An effective way to answer behavioural questions is to use the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method starts with the situation you were in, then the task you had in that situation, the action you took to complete the task and the result of that action.

GENERAL

These are the questions you’ll encounter in every interview you go into; covering basic questions like “what are your strengths?”, “what are your weaknesses?” and “where do you expect to be in five years?” - so being familiar with these is crucial if you're looking to leave a good impression.

Although these questions may seem basic, it’s good to prepare for them so that you get them right. Strengths and weaknesses questions can be especially tricky, it's tough to find a balance when it comes to selling yourself or discussing your weaknesses. For information on how to approach this, take a look at our guide to answering strengths and weaknesses questions.

SITUATIONAL

Situational questions are built around asking “what would you do when…”, for instance “What would you do if the primary accounting software is down for 2 days?” or “What would you do if you were handed a report that was due the next day but you already had a full schedule?”

These questions are a lot harder to prepare for as they’re designed to put you on the spot. So keep an open mind before you go into the interview, stay on your toes and be prepared to answer one of these questions.

THE GOLDEN RULE

When answering all kinds of interview questions, focusing on understanding your past experience is key. Think about what you’ve previously done and achieved and work these into your answers. You may well be asked about an experience you had a number of years ago, so ensure this information is front of mind.

Interviewers will ask you a range of questions and you’ll need to answer all of them.

For other useful job search hints and tips please click here, or take a look at the following resources for more advice:

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