Interviews come in all shapes and sizes, but serve the same purpose: letting interviewers evaluate your skills, knowledge, experience, education, and personality to determine if you’re right for the position. Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, or what step you are in the process, you will most likely go through various kinds of interviews. Taking time to understand the various modes and types of interviews will ensure you are prepared and informed to make the interview process a winning one.
When you’re interviewing for an accounting position, the interview questions will typically vary depending on the role. This means that potentially, some questions you could be asked, may be industry-specific. However, others are common in any interview, regardless of industry. Below we will highlight the various types of interviews you may encounter, give you tips how to prepare effectively, provide strategies on how to answer common questions, and list some example questions you can review to help you adequately prepare.
Modes: The way or manner in which an interview occurs or is experienced.
- Telephone: This is usually the first step in the interview process. Employers will normally use a phone interview to “screen” candidates before inviting them in for an in person interview. If you are asked to complete a phone interview, make sure you are free from all distractions. It is important that you pay full attention to the questions during the interview. It’s not uncommon that a phone interview may feel a little awkward not seeing someone face-to-face, and can welcome all sorts of awkward social moments—delayed or overlapping responses being one of them. So don’t be afraid of moments of silence—it’s OK to let the conversation breathe a little.
- Virtual: Virtual interviews, typically done through platforms like Skype or Zoom, are becoming a regular part of the interview process for many companies. Find a quiet, clean place to have it, make sure your mic’s turned on, and camera ready. Test the Internet connectivity, as well as the microphone and camera to ensure you’ll be able to proceed without a hitch.
- Face to Face (in person): This is the interview that most are familiar with. The company brings you into their organization to see how you will fit into the company and will ask questions to test your listed skills and experience. Your goal is to build a rapport with the interviewer and market yourself to them and how you can contribute to their organization.
- Group: These interviews assemble two or more applicants together as you all get interviewed at the same time. These interviews test your style, professionalism, leadership skills and the ability to function in a group under pressure. You will be judged on your answers, and how you interact and handle yourself in a group of peers and stressful situations.
Types: Categories of interviews that have common characteristics and strategies, but can also differ in approach.
- Traditional: Straightforward questions are asked to get information from an applicant on their background, personality and interests. Traditional interview questions enable the interviewer and job candidate to establish a rapport and to get to know each other quickly and effectively.
- Behavioral: Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior on the job. Questions are situation-based and often start with “Tell me about a time when…”
- Case Interviews: A case interview is the analysis of a business question. It is an interactive process; your interviewer will present a business problem and ask you for your opinion. Your task is to ask the interviewer logical questions that will allow you to formulate a detailed recommendation. The majority of case interview questions do not have a right or wrong answer. The interviewer is looking for a thought process that is both analytical and creative.
When a potential employer asks you to walk them through your resume, or asks, “Tell me about yourself . . .” it’s your chance to really show them who you are and what you have achieved. Although in theory it sounds like a nice and easy opener, in many ways this is one of the most challenging questions any candidate can face. There is some pressure to make a great first impression, but with some thought and preparation it’s also your chance to really wow them.
- Resume walks should be clear and concise – you don’t need to mention everything that is on your resume, just focus on the highlights.
- Should be presented in a chronological order that connects the dots of your past experiences and ties into your future goals.
- Emphasize specific skills and “lessons” you’ve learned along the way, that have helped you become who you are today – and a perfect fit for the role.
- Take a positive approach to gaps or weakness – be honest, but focus on your strengths and what you bring to the table, instead of focusing on what you may not have.
- Don’t be afraid to brag a little – now is your time to shine!
- Tie it up in a bow – have a strong close and explain why you are here today, looking to get hired into this role.
The STAR interview technique offers a straightforward format you can use to answer behavioral interview questions, allowing you to give a clear and appropriate example that is both compelling and concise. It provides a simple framework that helps candidates tell a meaningful story about a previous work experience. STAR is an acronym that stands for:
Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
- Lay out the Situation – Set the scene. Don’t include too many unnecessary details, on the very crucial elements. Your goal here is to paint a clear picture of the situation you were in and emphasize its complexities, so that the result you touch on later seems that much more profound.
- Highlight the Task – This is the part of your answer when you make the interviewer understand exactly where you fit in. This is where you should give specifics of what your responsibilities were in that particular scenario, as well as any objective that was set for you, before you dive into what you actually did.
- Share How You Took Action – Now is the time to explain what you did. What steps did you take to reach that goal or solve that problem? Take this opportunity to really showcase your contribution, and be specific, making sure you give enough information about exactly what you did. Resist the urge to give a vague or glossed-over answer like, “So, I worked hard on it…”
- Dish Out the Results – Your time to shine has arrived! This is where you explain how you made a positive difference. The final portion of your response should share the results of the action you took. Of course, the result better be positive—otherwise this isn’t a story you should be telling.
Big Interview is an online system that combines training AND practice to help improve interview technique and build confidence. It includes:
- Challenging, virtual mock interviews for all experience levels and dozens of industries
- A database of thousands of interview questions with tips on how to answer them
- The ability to rate and share your interview answers for feedback
- A comprehensive video training curriculum covering all aspects of landing a job
- A step-by-step interview Answer Builder for crafting answers to behavioral questions
This is a free resource for all UNC MAC students, brought to you through our partnership with University Career Services.
Click here to access the system. You must follow the instructions on this page, and log in with your ONYEN.