Interview and Sample Interview Questions
Preparing for a Job Interview
Following are some things you should keep in mind when preparing for a job
Assuming you have a well-written and honest resume, review it often,
especially before an interview. Many questions asked will be generated
by the information in your resume. Question yourself about every item on
it, and be ready to respond, preferably using anecdotes and concrete
examples. Be sure to bring a copy of your resume with you to the
interview just in case the interviewer did not receive it or has misplaced
Do your homework about each company with whom you interview. Go on
the Internet or go to the library and check available reference sources to
enable you to ask intelligent questions. By researching a company, you
demonstrate that you have a real interest in the position, which can
ultimately impress an employer.
Know precisely how to get to the site of the interview, even if it means
making a trial run a few days in advance.
Know how long it takes you to get to the interview, and leave enough
time to arrive early. Being late for an interview will almost always doom
your chances. Candidates who arrive just in time are also generally
flustered, which can hurt the interview. Get there early and use the
cushion of time to gather your thoughts.
Be certain you know the interviewer's name and find out how to
pronounce it if it looks difficult.
Choose the appropriate wardrobe and have it ready ahead of time.
Arriving with a button missing or scuffed shoes does not make a good
initial impression. There is no substitute for neatness. Dress
conservatively, even if the culture of the company with which you're
interviewing is informal. Remember you are looking for a job, not going to
a party. If appropriate, you can always dress down once you've landed
Leave any negative feelings at home; bring only your positive, upbeat
self to the interview. Pledge to be friendly with everyone with whom you
come in contact, including the receptionist, the interviewer's secretary,
and everyone else introduced to you. Managers often ask others who
come in contact with a candidate for their evaluation.
Be committed to speaking positively and kindly about other people,
including fellow students, professors, and previous employers. If the
interview has come through your college placement office, there is a
good possibility you will know some other students with whom you are in
competition. If their names come up, avoid the natural temptation to point
out something negative. Rather than enhancing your own potential for
getting the job, you diminish yourself in the interviewer's eyes.
Potential employers want "proof" of the things you say, so be ready to
present examples of the skills and abilities attained in school and in
previous jobs. Take the opportunity to tell the interviewer about your
goals and strong points.
Be alert to your surroundings and listen carefully to what the interviewer
says. Often, you'll learn what the interviewer likes and doesn't like in a
candidate, as well as gaining insight into what the job demands. A good
listener is able to build upon that knowledge and come back with the sort
of responses an interviewer wants to hear.
Remember that any answer you give to a question is likely to be followed
by additional questions. If you're asked if you like to read, simply saying
"yes" isn't sufficient when the interviewer follows up with, "What books
have you read lately, and which have impressed you most?"
Avoid accepting offers of food or beverages during the interview. Spilling
coffee on yourself does nothing to enhance your image. If the interview
should involve lunch or dinner, order smart. You may love spaghetti, but
it can be pretty messy to eat. Also, decline the offer of alcoholic
Keep in mind that while you're a graduate with an accounting degree,
and are looking for a job in accounting, you are engaged in direct selling
when being interviewed. A good salesperson, after making an effective
presentation, always asks for the order. That rule also applies to seeking
jobs. If the interview went well, and you believe you are qualified for the
job and can handle the responsibilities, say so. Modest self-confidence is
rewarded initially by employer confidence in you - and later on if you are
successful in your job.
Every interview should be followed with a short, courteous note thanking
the interviewer. The note could indicate something positive in your favor
that you forgot to bring up during the interview itself, as well as express
your continued interest in the position.
What Interviewers Are Looking For
The interviewer must, based on his or her inquiry and your response, determine if
you, among all candidates, are one of the best people for the job. To do this, the
interviewer makes a judgment about the total candidate as a probable employee
with the firm/company. This judgment is based on a number of factors called
Predictors of Success:
Personal Impressions - A good interviewer generally relies heavily on
the first impression you project. This is because an employee's ability to
make a good first impression is a definite asset to the individual and the
firm/company he or she represents. During the interview you will be
evaluated on such traits as: Poise; Ability to communicate; Maturity;
Integrity; Stability; Self-reliance.
Job Interests and Career Goals - A most important point is finding out
exactly what you want and why you want it. To this end, the interviewer
will ask questions that require you to make and justify career decisions.
The interviewer will investigate factors relating to your: Adaptability;
Initiative; Enthusiasm; Aptitudes and abilities; Willingness to work and
learn; Ability to get along well with other people.
Job Qualifications - Your basic qualifications for the job are of course of
paramount importance. No matter how great a person you are or how
well you have defined and demonstrated what you want to do, the final
decision regarding an offer of employment will be based on your
qualifications, including: Level and appropriateness of academic training
and achievement; Leadership potential (primarily managerial/supervisory
potential); Special training; Work experience; Job related hobbies and
interests; Faculty recommendations.
Remember, the interview is a two-way street. Be prepared to make something
happen. Interviewers look for well-rounded individuals whose work interests
seem to match acquired knowledge, skills and talents. It is your responsibility to
ensure the interviewer gets the information needed to make an employment
decision in your favor. If you fail here, you probably will not get another chance.
Parts of the Interview
To some extent, the format of an interview is the creation of the interviewer. No
two interviews are the same. Individual personalities are bound to influence the
conduct of an interview.
The basic structure of a job interview is quite standard. A typical interview has
Introduction - Establishes rapport; this is where the interviewer notes his/her
first impressions and makes initial judgments on your appearance, manner,
energy and enthusiasm.
Background - This is where the interviewer determines you basic qualifications
for the job. He/she will ask you a series of questions. (See section below for
Sample Interview Questions) While you are listening or responding to the
questions, the interviewer will note how you handle yourself, evaluate your
qualifications and suitability for employment and revise (or confirm) the initial
judgment made during the introduction. The interviewer is also evaluating your
ability to communicate in a clear and logical manner. He/she is also seeking
clues to measure and evaluate your self-confidence, ability to relate to others,
level of motivation, interest span, and personal values.
Also under review are your statements about career ambitions. Are they
balanced with your past academic performance, work experience, extracurricular
activities and other interests? A good self-assessment can make you more
articulate and help direct your thinking in responding to such questions.
Don't short change yourself when talking about work experiences. All your
background is important, whether or not it relates to the job you seek. This
includes part-time, full-time, volunteer, internship and co-op experience.
Evaluate your work experiences in terms of attributes and skills you expect to
bring to your new career. Relate them in a positive manner. Remember,
employers want employees who are self-starters, self-motivators, and eager to
The Discussion - The discussion is a critical part of any interview. It is here that
the interviewer tries to match your qualifications and career interests with the
employment opportunities available.
Having read the company/firm literature and conducted other research on the
firm/company and the types of jobs you qualify for and are interested in, you
should now be able to enter a constructive dialogue about how you can fit into,
and be profitable to, the company/firm. Sell your product - Yourself!
Here you have the opportunity to ask questions covering new information and
clarifying previous points such as: How long is the training program? Can an
individual go through it in a shorter time? At his/her own pace? When does it
How much travel is involved? What are the duties and responsibilities of this job?
What is a typical day like? How often are performance evaluations conducted?
It's best to avoid asking questions that can be answered by reading the
Finally, if comments on salary are included in the interviews, it will generally be in
the discussion phase. Let the interviewer mention salary first. You should have
some idea of current salary levels from discussions with placement office
representatives and faculty before the interview, so the importance of salary
should be minimized at this stage.
The discussion is also your chance to point out important qualifications that the
interviewer may have left out or passed over lightly. Don't be afraid to point them
out. You may not get another chance.
The Close - This is the wrap-up. If the interviewer is really excited about you, you
could get a last minute "selling job" on the company/firm. Also, ask any final
questions you might have.
You should then get instructions from the interviewer about what will happen next
such as being told when you will receive a decision; being requested to fill out a
job application, being invited for an office visit; suggesting another meeting;
expressing no further interest; and/or providing other information dictated by
The Office Interview
If you are successful in your initial campus interview, the next step is usually an
invitation to visit the company/firm's office.
What to Expect - Be prepared to talk with staff members at all levels. They will
ask questions about you and your career goals. Expect some fairly detailed
questioning. They will also expect you to ask questions. Concentrate your
questions on the nature of the work, the typical duties and responsibilities you will
be required to perform. Know the company's/firm's organizational structure.
Be Prepared - Get a good night's sleep. Have some ideas about what you are
going to ask. Be attentive and show interest.
The Wrap-Up or Last Interview of the Day - You may be offered a job. Don't
consider the outcome to be negative if an offer is not extended immediately.
Some companies/firms make a practice of extending offers through the mail.
Within a short period of time, you should be notified of the outcome of you
Expenses - Keep an accurate record of your expenses. Keep hotel and airplane
receipts. If you are splitting expenses among several companies/firms, be certain
you inform them. Trying to make a few extra dollars is improper and could harm
your opportunities and may be illegal.
If You Receive an Offer - Try to give the company/firm some idea about when
you will make a decision. Don't box yourself in. Make sure you give yourself
enough time to interview at all the companies/firms you planned to. Make sure
you understand the offer completely (overtime, benefits and other relevant
matters). If you have questions about the offer, call the interviewer or designated
person. Don't quibble over small difference in starting salaries.
If You Receive a Rejection - Keep your chin up. There are many other
opportunities out there. If you constantly receive rejections, examine the reasons.
They may show common interviewing faults. Make improvements where
possible. If you do poorly in an interview and do not receive an offer, it could be
because of one or more of these common interview faults: Insufficient career
direction; Failure to project your qualifications; Absence of apparent initiative;
Need for greater self-confidence; Shabby or inappropriate personal appearance;
Insufficient knowledge of the company/firm; Inability to express yourself clearly;
Failure to ask questions.
If, at the conclusion of your interview, you have a strong interest in the
company/firm, write to the interviewer confirming this. It is always good
professional manners after any interview to write a note of appreciation to the
people you interviewed with that day. Not many people do this, so it can be an
effective tool to make you stand out. Make the note a short, sincere statement of
your appreciation for the time spent with you. Reaffirm your interest in the
position and company/firm. Try to mail the letter that evening or day after your
Accepting the Offer - Write or call the company/firm to inform them of your
acceptance. Establish a starting date. Inform any other company/firm that has
offered you a position of your decision. Inform your school's placement office of
the name of the company/firm and type of position you have accepted.
(SOURCE: New Accountant, April 1995; Price Waterhouse LLP and Person/Wolinsky recruiting materials;
reprinted excerpts with permission)
Sample Interview Questions
Tell me about yourself (e.g., your accounting experience, your schooling,
your extracurricular activities).
Why did you choose the study of accounting?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Why are you interested in a job in public accounting? Why industry? Why
Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.
Do you have any computer skills?
What did you like and dislike about your accounting classes?
When will you be sitting for CPA exam?
Do you belong to any clubs, organizations, or societies?
Why should I hire you?
How have you dealt with conflicts/problems in school?
Why do you think you would like to work for our company?
What type of position most interests you?
If you were entirely free to choose, what job in our company would you
most like to do?
What kind of supervisor do you prefer?
Do you prefer any geographic area?
How do you spend your summer vacations?
What do you do during your leisure time?
What types of books do you read?
What percentage of your college expenses did you pay on your own?
What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives? What
and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing
yourself to achieve them?
What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
How do you think a friend or professor, who knows you well, would
describe you? How would you describe yourself?
What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be
In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
What two or three accomplishments have given you the most
Why did you select the college you attended?
What led you to choose your major/field of study?
What college subjects did you like best? Why? The least? Why?
Do you think your grades are a good indication of your abilities?
What have you learned from participating in extra-curricular activities?
In what part-time or summer jobs have you been most interested? Why?
Why did you decide to seek a position with this organization?
What do you know about our company?
What two or three things are most important to you in a job?
What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope
Will you relocate? Are you willing to travel?
What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
What have you learned from your mistakes?
Other Potential Interview Questions
Describe the way you work under tight deadlines.
Describe how you work under tough managers.
What is your definition of working too hard?
Persuade me to move to your city.
How do you manage stress?
What kinds of opportunities have you created for yourself in your current
In a team environment, are you a motivator, a player, a leader, or an enthusiast?
If you were a new employee, what would you do to gain respect from your peers
in 30, 60, or 90 days?
Describe a time you got carried away by your feelings or emotions and did
something you later regretted.
Tell me about a person or event that inspired you to be a better person
Tell me about a skill you need to improve and how you plan to carry out the
One time I reached my peak performance was.
What was the best compliment you ever received and why did it mean so much to
Other than you major field, what was your favorite class and why was it your
What skills do want to acquire/improve upon and how will you accomplish it?
Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.
What triggers your strengths?
What is your learning style?
What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?
What was the worst day you’ve had at work in the past three months?
How would you respond if you were put in a situation you felt presented a
conflict of interest or was unethical?
Tell me about your favorite/least favorite manager
Why did you leave your last job?
And some questions for you to ask of the interviewers
What areas are more important to you regarding the qualifications of the position?
What are your priorities at the beginning of the day, the middle of the day and the
end of the day?
What other needs do you have as my employer, that are important to you?
What kind of personality to do you feel meets this job opportunity the best?
What do you feel in my qualifications may not meet the requirements of the
When will you be making a decision?
What is a typical career path for entry-level personnel?
What type of continuing education do you require? Is this provided in-house?
Do you support employees in getting further certifications and graduate degrees?
Give me an example of your problem-solving ability
How competent is your decision making ability?
And finally, some websites to aid in your career planning:
www.WetFeet.com - career research firm that educates job seekers about life
inside hundreds of companies.
www.vault.com -($) profiles some companies, not as extensive as WetFeet
www.self-directed-search.com and www.keirsey.com - helps you decide your
personality traits and what fields are best for you.
www.jobstar.org - California salary surveys
www.hardatwork.com , http://careers.wsj.com ($) or www.rileyguide.com -
provide links to articles, examples, and advice on common work problems and
how to work with difficult personalities
https://www.cpa2biz.com/, www.youachieve.com/default.cfm - continuing
($) – means there may be charges for the content of the site.