Michael Sterling

4 Types of Interview Questions You Need to Crush


Interviews are not meant to be fun but, when done right, the experience can be positive and rewarding. Great interviews don’t just happen – you can’t wing it. It takes strategy. You need to crush the interview to win the job. That means mastering the four types of interview questions.


Four Classic Categories:


  1. Resume Questions – These relate to aspects of your resume such experience, skills and education. Answers need to be accurate and objective. Avoid being vague, opinionated and egocentric.
  2. Performance Questions – These are self-appraisal questions and require you to comment on your abilities. Examples: “What do you think is your greatest asset?” or “Can you tell me about your most difficult project?” Tailor your answers to the needs of the interviewer and the job for which you’re applying.
  3. Situation Questions – These are questions which often explore hypothetical scenarios such as “How would you go about determining the reliability of financial data you receive?”
  4. Stress Questions – These questions test your mettle and are designed to evaluate your emotional reflexes, creativity or attitudes while under pressure. Questions like “How would you handle being fired?” are meant to jolt you. Don’t let them. Stay calm. Stay focused. Process the question and give a carefully considered answer.


Be On Point


Nailing answers to a hiring partner’s questions is only half the battle. Both what you say and how you say it need to be on point.


Be Comfortable. You want to be relaxed and in control. Just don’t be too comfortable. Engage selective sharing. Talking about how you’re the life of office parties is too much information. Relax but don’t slouch, put you elbows on the desk or kick back in your chair. Use common sense and some of those good manners Mom taught you.


Engage your sense of humor.  A sense of humor will come in handy during the entire interviewing process, just so long as you don’t go over the edge. Mentioning something unexpected that happened on your way to the interview can instantly put everyone at ease.


Be Prepared. Your goal should be to co-lead the interview. To do that, it’s important that you have your own strategy for asking well-thought interview questions – ones which will give you a true understanding of the position and the firm’s culture. I’ve outlined that strategy in my article, How to Co-Lead an Interview: The 3 Types of Questions You Must Ask!


Anticipate and practice. The best strategy is to research the firm thoroughly before the interview. Anticipate the interviewer’s questions, priorities and potential concerns. Review your qualifications, your goals, and your reasons for considering the position. Prepare and practice solid, value-building answers.


Be honest. Don’t know the answer to a question? Just say so! Or ask for a moment to think about your response. Honesty is a universally valued trait and can make or break the interview.


For more job search strategy and Career Wellness tips visit sterlingfreeman.com. Hunting for a position in public accounting? Check out our premier list of career opportunities.



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