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Basic Interview Technique: “ The Structured Approach”

The ONLY goal of any interview is to GET AN OFFER! If you have an Offer, you have a choice. NO OFFER…NO CHOICE!
There are 5 Main Parts of an Interview
1 The Intro!uction
" #athering Infor$ation
% &elling yourself
' (nswering Tough )uestions
5 *ra++ing ,+
One of the $ost fre-uently as.e! o+ening interview -uestions is /&o 0o1. Tell $e a1out yourself.2
!RONG AN"!ER /I was 1orn in 1345, went to high school51lah, 1lah, 1lah.2
# I am currently a senior accountant, with experience in financial statement preparation and analysis
$ I obtained my CPA within 2 years after graduation and recently reduced reporting time by 2 days through automation of
manually intensive tasks for my department
% In my next position, I am looking to achieve supervisory experience in a role more heavily weighted towards analysis
& Before I go into more detail, perhaps you could share with me a little more about the position and company so I can
concentrate on relevant details about my background
This +ositioning state$ent has & 'ER( I)*ORTANT ele$ents
61 a 1rief state$ent !escri1ing you as a +rofessional
6" tells the$ an acco$+lish$ent that you are +rou! of
6% what you are for in a 7o1 6an! it 1etter $atch the 7o1 you are interviewing for!!
6' a fli+ 1ac. to the e$+loyer to get hi$ an! gather infor$ation
(s the e$+loyer is a1out the +osition an! co$+any, your 7o1 is to LI&T8N (TT8NTI98LY! They are giving you critical
clues an! .eys to use when res+on!ing to -uestions or a1out your 1ac.groun!. &o$eti$es, +eo+le !o not !o a goo! 7o1 a1out the +osition, an!:or co$+any. To hel+ the$, you shoul! 1e +re+are! with so$e 1asic -uestions. (ny -uestions that
you as. nee! to 1e o+en;en!e! an! !esigne! to gather a!!itional infor$ation. You !o not want to +in your interviewer into a corner.
&o$e trie! an! true -uestions are 1elow.
• !escribe the responsibilities, monthly, daily, etc"
• #here does the position fit into the overall structure of the department and the organi$ation as a whole"
• #hat are the %ualities you believe a successful candidate should have in this position"
• #hat is your highest priority &now' &in the next three to six months'"
• #hat are the characteristics of your top people"
• #here do you see your company going in the next five(ten years"
• If I was to ask your &subordinate ( supervisor' what he(she likes most about you, what would they say"
• #hat are your personal satisfactions and disappointments since you have been with the firm &what would you change"'"
• #hat are the firms overall strengths"
• Can you tell me about the history of growth of the company"
• #ho are your ma)or competitors" *ow do they stack up against you in terms of product, market share, methods, and
• Can you describe the ob)ective(goals(responsibilities for this position"
• #hat would you expect me to accomplish in a year"
• *ow will you measure my success"
• #hat do you see as the potential benefits for someone in this position"
• #hat is your typical process for getting people up to speed"
• Can you describe the corporate culture or environment at the company"
• *ow would you describe the rest of the team" #hat are their personalities like"
• #here did you come from" *ow did you get started at the company"
• #hat have you en)oyed most about the company"
• +o far, what have you seen as your or the company,s greatest challenge"
• *ow long has the average person been working with the company" *ave you had a lot of change in personnel in this
department" #hat,s the turnover like" -he tenure"
(fter getting co$forta1le in the interview, getting so$e of the 1asic -uestions an! answers out of the way, it is a goo! ti$e to as. this
<8Y -uestion5
“!hat +, -,u e./ect 0r,1 a success0u2 in+ivi+ua2 in the 0irst 3 1,nths t, ,ne -ear45
This -uestion is !esigne! to show the$ you are serious a1out !oing a goo! 7o1, an! have an interest in what they nee! a successful
+erson to achieve. It also will give you the chance to s+ea. a1out so$ething in your 1ac.groun! that $atches their nee!s.
(t this +oint, feel free to o+en u+ to general tal., such as in!ustry, co$+etition, challenges, an! this $ight 1e a goo! ti$e to use so$e
of the -uestions fro$ a1ove.
Now, you have !one great u+ to this +oint, you figure. /They love $e, it=s in the 1ag2 *>ON#!
There are so$e tough -uestions that can .noc. you out of the running in a flash. Tough -uestions are !esigne! to see h,w -,u thin7
,n -,ur 0eet! You however will use the$ to
1 +how them how well you think on your feet " .ive them more reasons to hire you/
&a$+le tough -uestions an! answers
1 !h- are -,u 2,,7in8 t, 2eave? (lways res+on! with +ositives52I en7oy where I wor., etc. Then give a +rofessional
reason to leave such as /I a$ to achieve $ore su+ervisory e@+erience, I feel that $y o++ortunities for growth are
li$ite!, I a$ to gain $ore in !e+th ta@ e@+erience5etc. This M,&T 08 M(A8 TO 08 INLIN8 *ITB TB8
PO&ITION YO, (>8 INT8>9I8*IN# CO>. This can an! $ust also 1e use! to give the$ $ore reasons to hire you!
" "tren8ths an+ wea7nesses "TRENGTH" >es+on! with s.ills an! things you learne! in the 7o1 !iscussion. I.e. strengths
are /I have 1een !oing /fin st$t +re+, analysis, +ro+ $g$t etc2 , an! I can sli+ right in an! $a.e a contri1ution, 5$y
learning curve will 1e short, etc. &tay away fro$ the +ersonal or in!ivi!ual traitsD i.e. Tea$ +layer, fast learner, etc. These
are 0L(B! My !og is all of those, 1ut I still woul! not hire her! Bit the$ where they live an! $a.e the$ un!erstan! that
your strengths are going to s+ecifically $a.e their lives 8(&I8>! Possi1ly use an e@a$+le of an acco$+lish$ent.
!EA9NE"". ,se a technical s.ill TB(T AO8& NOT M(TT8> TO TB8 EO0!!! 8@a$+le. If you are interviewing for a
general le!ger : financial &tate$ent +re+ s+ot, try so$ething li.e /I have not ha! e@+osure to the cor+orate au!it function. If
it !oesn=t $atter to the 7o1, it is P8>C8FT!! Personal or character wea.nesses are 0(A! They can usually 1e construe! in
so$e negative way. (lways +reface your wea.ness 1y re;iterating your strengths.
% )ONE( :::::: I0 a +ros+ective e$+loyer as.s you what you are currently $, !o not lu$+ everything into one G. If
you have a 1ase, a 1onus, etc. 1rea. it out into the +ieces. (L*(Y& T8LL TB8 T>,TB!! >e$e$1er, it is very easy to
inflate your salary a little, this is co$+letely natural!! AO NOT AO TBI&!! Many co$+anies as +art of their hiring +rocess
will verify salary infor$ation, an! if you are caught, you are AOOM8A! If an e$+loyer as.s you what you are for,
the i!eal answer is to +ush it 1ac. to us with /I will loo. at any reasona1le offer, an! I a$ co$forta1le allowing &+herion to
han!le that for $e.2 If they say /*ell that=s a fine answer, 1ut really, what .in! of salary are you for?2 >es+on!
with a range5no G=s!! 8@a$+leH /I a$ for so$ething in the $i! to u++er IJ=s2, or whatever the range of the
+osition is.. *hatever you !o, AO NOT -uote a nu$1er in any way, 1ecause that is what you will get!! The +ur+ose is to
$ove on with the interview an! not get caught u+ in salary negotiations.
' !H( "HO;D !E HIRE (O44 This is a +erfect one to hit a ho$e run with. ,se a co$1ination of the strengths
answer, an acco$+lish$ent an! what you are to !o. #oo! stoc. +hrases are KI 1ring a soli! 1ac.groun! in fin st$t
+re+, analysis, consoli!ations, whatever5 with $e to the ta1le2 /My +rior e@+erience will allow $e to hit the groun!
running2 etc.
(fter all is sai! an! !one, there are % things you $ust !o!!
1 tell the$ you want the 7o1
" tell the$ you can !o a goo! 7o1
% .noc. !own any hiring o17ections with one of the $ost i$+ortant -uestions in the interview!!
(chieve this is 1y si$+ly saying so$ething along these lines
/0o1 6or who$ever Cro$ what we have !iscusse! I a$ !efinitely intereste! in +ursuing the o++ortunity further 61 an! feel that I can
hit the groun! running an! $a.e a +ositive contri1ution. 6". Before I leave, do you have any other %uestions or concerns regarding
my background or abilities that I can answer for you"&Ie why wouldn,t you hire me'
YO, M,&T (&< the last -uestion!!!! It is !esigne! to e@+ose any reasons they woul! not hire you, an! allow you to .noc. the$
!own!! TBI& ),8&TION F(N &(98 YO,> EO0!
A recent surve- ,0 #<% c,1/anies wh, where questi,ne+ as t, wh- the- +i+ n,t hire a qua2i0ie+ a//2icant= resu2te+ in the
0,22,win8 answers:
Poor +ersonal a++earance Lac. of interest an! enthusias$
Overe$+hasis on $oney Cailure to e@+ress a++reciation for interviewer=s ti$e
Fon!e$nation of +ast e$+loyers Cailure to loo. at interviewer while conversing
Li$+, fishy han!sha.e Late to interview
(s.s no -uestions a1out the 7o1 in!efinite res+onse to -uestions
Ina1ility to e@+ress oneself clearly Lac. of +lanning for careerD no +ur+ose or goals
Lac. of confi!enceD ill at ease Lac. of $anners, courtesy
Lac. of $aturity Lac. of vitality
Merely sho++ing aroun! Fynical
Merely sho++ing aroun! Low $oral stan!ar!s
LaLy Intolerant
Ina1ility to ta.e criticis$ Bigh;+ressure ty+e
Over1earing, over;aggressive, conceite! /.now;it;all2 co$+le@
There are only % 1asic ty+es of interviews
1 Technical
" Personality
% &tress
The Technical interview as.s you a1out *B(T YO, B(98 AON8!!! You ha! 1etter 1e a1le to answer! Practice in clean
concise sentences a1out your !uties!
The +ersonality is 7ust that51e yourself. Fan=t hel+ you here, e@ce+t !on=t get TOO P8>&ON(L!
The &tressH Tough -uestions, ra+i! fire, +anel interviews. The way to 1eat these is P>(FTIF8!! Aon=t get flustere!, an! rela@. They
are trying to throw you off your stri!e! >ela@ an! +lay the ga$e. >e$e$1er, they have 1een +re+are! 1y at -uestions on a
sheet of +a+er that so$e B> flun.y han!e! to the$, Turn it to your a!vantage 1y recogniLing it an! the$ so$e of your
TO,#B -uestions!
F,22,win8 is a 2ist ,0 t-/ica2 stress questi,ns
• Tell $e a1out yourself? ; see a1ove answer
• *hat are your short;range o17ectives? Long;range?
• *hat !o you loo. for in a 7o1?
• *hy !i! you select $y organiLation to interview?
• *hat can you !o for us that so$eone else cannot !o?
• Fan you wor. well un!er +ressure, !ea!lines, etc?
• *hat is your +hiloso+hy of $anage$ent?
• Bow are you 1est $anage!?
• Bow has your early career 1ac.groun! influence! your +rogression an! current $anage$ent style?
• Bow has your $anage$ent style change! in the last ten years?
• *hat .in! of salary are you worth an! why?
• *hat are the $ost i$+ortant rewar!s you e@+ect in your career?
• *hat are your 1iggest acco$+lish$ents in your +resent or last 7o1? Your career?
• *hy !i!n=t you !o 1etter in college?
• *hat $ have you $a!e in your career? Bow !i! you fi@ the$?
• *hat -ualifications !o you have that $a.e you thin. you will 1e successful in this 1usiness?
• In what ways !o you thin. you can $a.e a contri1ution to our fir$?
• Bow long woul! it ta.e you to $a.e a contri1ution to our fir$?
• If you coul! start again, what woul! you !o !ifferently?
• Bow !o you rate yourself as a +rofessional? (s an e@ecutive?
• *hat new goals or o17ectives have you esta1lishe! recently? *hy?
• *hat -ualifications have you li.e! or !isli.e! in your 1oss?
• *hat was the $ost !ifficult ethical !ecision you have ha! to $a.e? *hat was the result?
• Bow !o you show your anger or frustration?
• *hy haven=t you o1taine! a 7o1 so far?
• *hat features of your +revious 7o1s have you !isli.e!?
• *oul! you !escri1e a few situations in which your wor. was criticiLe!?
• Bow woul! you evaluate your +resent fir$?
• Ao you generally s+ea. to +eo+le 1efore they s+ea. to you?
• Bow woul! you !escri1e the essence of success?
• *hat is the worst situation you have face! in your +rofessional life? Bow !i! you !eal with it? *hat ha++ene!?
• *hat was the last 1oo. you rea!? Movie you saw? &+orting event you atten!e!.
• Bow !o you s+en! your free ti$e? *hat woul! you !o if you ha! $ore of it?
• *hat interests you $ost a1out the +osition we have? The least?
• Aon=t you feel you $ight 1e 1etter off with a !ifferent siLe fir$ than ours?
• *hy aren=t you earning $ore 1y now?
• (re you a lea!er? ( goo! $anager? (nalytical? #ive an e@a$+le we can verify.
• Bow !o you 1uil! a tea$ un!er you?
• Bow woul! you !escri1e your +ersonality?
• Bave you hel+e! increase sales? Profits? >e!uce! costs?
• *here !o you relate 1est M u+ one level, !own one level or with your +eers?
• *hat !o your su1or!inates thin. of you?
• Bow !o you evaluate your su1or!inates?
• Bave you hire! +eo+le 1efore? *hat !o you loo. for?
• Bave you fire! +eo+le? *hen an! *hy?
• *hat !o you li.e in a 1oss?
• *hat woul! you !o in a situation where +riorities were conflicting?
(s we in!icate! earlier, there are no /+at2 answers to these -uestions. >eview the -uestions an! your res+onses. *hile so$e of the
-uestions see$ !ifficult, the .eys to answering effectively are to 1e !irect, 1e truthful, 1e +ositive an! 1e succinct.
"a1/2e answers:
!hat>s wr,n8 with -,ur /resent 0ir14
I really !on=t feel there is anything wrong with the fir$. I have en7oye! here an! thin. they have so$e goo! +eo+le in
$anage$ent. It=s a goo! co$+any 1ut I=$ rea!y to han!le a!!itional res+onsi1ilities now an! the o++ortunities !on=t e@ist in $y
+resent +osition.
H,w 2,n8 w,u2+ it ta7e -,u t, 1a7e a c,ntri?uti,n t, ,ur 0ir14
I woul! want to 1e sure that I un!erstan! the o+erating environ$ent an! the +ersonnel, 1ut I feel that I have the s.ills an! e@+erience
to $a.e a contri1ution in a very short ti$e. *hat !o you feel will 1e the $ain focus of the +osition for the first si@ $onths?
B,+- ;an8ua8e: This is very i$+ortant a!vice 1ecause you can $a.e or 1rea. your chances within the first % $inutes of the
interview. >e$e$1er the following ti+sH
A;!A(" stan! u+ an! greet each +erson with a fir$ han!sha.e
PostureH sit tall an! re$ain very attentive to everything the interviewer is saying.
<ee+ your han!s fol!e! in your la+. There is nothing worse than so$eone fi!geting, +laying with a +en, etc5
8Y8 FONT(FT!!!!
Practice, Practice, Practice!!! This cannot 1e stresse! enough! (n e@cellent way is too co$e u+ with interview -uestions an! *>IT8
TB8M AO*N. Then *>IT8 YO,> (N&*8> AO*N! >ea! it 1ac. to yourself, an! others if you can. &ee how it soun!s, even
try it out on us. If it !oes not soun! clean, shar+ an! great to you, then IT P>O0(0LY I&N=T!!!! This is the chance for you to refine
yourself!! TIP 6use your +c!!
Ao a !ry run if +ossi1le. If you are not sure where you are going, either leave 98>Y early or fin! the +lace the !ay 1efore!
If you ta.e a 1riefcase or +ortfolio, !o not BOLA it! This is a nervous +ro+ that you are not allowe! to use! The sa$e i!ea hol!s for
Pre+are a list of -uestions! It is +erfectly acce+ta1le to !o this. They shoul! focus on the 7o1, the co$+any etc. Ao not as. -uestions
a1out 1enefits, vacation !ays, etc. TB8&8 (>8 A8(TB!
FOLO#N8& (NA P8>C,M8&5$ay1e so$ething light, 1ut generally !o without. The hiring $anager $ay 1e sensitive or allergic,
an! 1elieve it or not, so$e of us !o not .now what the wor! /enough2 $eans!
Tell $e a1out your 6s.ills
*hy are you to leave?
9NO! (OR"E;F!
*here !o you want to 1e in 5 years? 6*here !o you see yourself?
*hat !o you li.e a1out your 7o1?
0e +re+are! with 5;1J s.ills or acco$+lish$ents to hit the$ with!
&tu!y your co$+any! Internet an! Li1rary the ene$y!
Interview *re/arati,n
Interviews can 1e tough M even for seasone! veterans. The interview is however, your 1est o++ortunity to gain insight into the
+osition an! co$+any, an! to !eter$ine how your e@+erience an! talent can contri1ute to the co$+any=s growth an! +rofita1ility.
*e have inclu!e! a list of things that you can !o to $a.e your interview as successful as it can 1e. No tric.s or gi$$ic.s here M 7ust
goo!, soli! infor$ation to hel+ you +re+are an! win that 7o1.
Ao your ho$ewor. M ,n the c,1/an-. Cin! out a1out the co$+any, it=s history, its current situation an! its future as you can.
&ourcesH 8@ecutive &earch Fonsultant, the li1rary for +erio!icals an! tra!e 7ournals, articles, annual re+orts an! 1J< re+ortsD frien!s
an! 1usiness associates the +osition confi!ential. 0e +re+are! to as. goo! -uestions a1out the co$+any an! its !irections.
Ao your ho$ewor. M ,n the /,siti,n@ Bave a thorough un!erstan!ing of the +osition an! res+onsi1ilities, an! what=s e@+ecte!. 0e
+re+are! to as. goo! -uestionsH *ho=s 1een successful an! why? *ho=s faile! an! why? *ho !oes it re+ort to, who !oes it
su+ervise? *hat nee!s to 1e !one in the first 4 $onths, in the first year? Your recruiter will 1e a1le to +rovi!e insight in these areas
+rior to the interview.
Ao your ho$ewor. M ,n -,ur se20@ >eview your career history thoroughly. >eview !ates, +ositions, !uties an! res+onsi1ilities, an!
acco$+lish$ents. <now your strengths an! wea.ness. 0e +re+are! to cite s+ecific e@a$+les of acco$+lish$ents an! how your
s+ecific e@+erience can hel+ the co$+any solve so$e its +ro1le$s. Foncentrate on your $ost recent +ositions, 1ut !o not neglect
your early career.
Interviewin8 t, “"ECRE (OR "CCE""5
1. (rrive fifteen $inutes early to the interview.
". Cill out all a++lications neatly an! co$+letely.
%. #reet the interviewer 1y his:her surna$e with a s$ile an! a fir$ han!sha.e.
'. Ao not answer -uestions with a si$+le /yes2 or /no2 &ell yourself 1y using e@a$+les.
5. &tress your achieve$ents, recor!s an! acco$+lish$ents.
4. (nswer all -uestions to the +oint, !on=t ra$1le on.
N. Ao not $a.e !erogatory re$ar.s a1out +revious or +resent e$+loyers
I. Ao not concern yourself with salary, co$$ission, 1onuses, 1enefits or vacation on the initial interview.
3. Tell your +ossi1le e$+loyer what you are going to !o for the$, NOT what they can !o for you.
1J. (lways re+resent yourself honestly.
!ress for +uccess
In case you were won!ering what to wearH
( conservative suit in !ar. 1lue or !ar. gray with a long;sleeve! white shirt. The tie shoul! 1e conservative 1ut in;style. Aar. soc.
6over;the;calf with !ar., freshly shine! shoes. Eewelry shoul! 1e li$ite! to a wristwatch an! we!!ing ring.
Cingernails shoul! 1e clean an! well $anicure!. Cacial hair shoul! 1e clean; an! li$ite! to a $ustache. 0ear!s are not conservative
an!, therefore ina++ro+riate.
To!ay have a few $ore o+tions when it co$es to career !ressing, 1ut si$ilar +rinci+les a++ly. Fonservative is still the rule of thu$1
for interviews. ( 1usiness suit in a su1!ue! color is 1est for first interviews. Natural fi1ers wor. 1est. Aress in to!ay=s styles, 1ut
.ee+ the he$line close to the .nee length an! .ee+ 1louses $o!est. ( conservative or e@ecutive !ress is fine for a!!itional interviews.
Bose shoul! 1e worn at all ti$es, regar!less of weather con!itions. &hoe heel height shoul! 1e $o!erate an! co$forta1le M shoes
shoul! 1e freshly +olishe!. If heel ti+s are worn get the$ re+lace! M so you !on=t clic. as you wal.. Eewelry shoul! 1e $ini$al an! in
goo! taste. Nails shoul! 1e well $anicure! an! +olishe! in clear, light or Crench $anicure.

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