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Types of Job Interview Questions and How to Prepare for Them

Employers and hiring managers use specific job 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 job interview questions, which may catch job seekers unaware and test their character under pressure.

As a specialist accounting recruitment agency, we interview candidates every day, so we’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge about the three key types of job interview questions asked by most interviewers. Read on to find out what they are, how you can prepare for them and ultimately succeed in landing the job you want to further your career development.

general

These are the questions you’ll encounter in every interview you attend; 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 on the interviewer. 

Although these questions may seem basic, it’s good to do your homework so that you get them right. But how can you fully prepare for such job interview questions with confidence? Strengths and weaknesses questions can be especially tricky and 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.

competency-based

Competency-based 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. They generally fall into 2 specific categories; behavioural and technical. These questions often start with “tell me about a time when” or “can you describe when”.

Many candidates struggle to answer these or recall scenarios in the professional workplace to the satisfaction of the interviewer which can have a detrimental impact on the impression you are giving.

An effective way to answer competency-based interview 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.

situational

Situational job interview questions are built around asking “what would you do if/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 asked to compile 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. Place yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and think of answers that can lead to the best possible outcome for the company and its employees. Imagine how your answers may affect your future colleagues and stakeholders, shedding light on your willingness to be a team player and a valued member of the organisation.

THE GOLDEN RULE

When answering each type of interview question, focusing on understanding your past experience is key. Think about what professional goals and milestones you have accomplished and work these examples 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, regardless of how far back in your career it was.

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.