10 Industries and Their Most Common Interview Questions - dummies

10 Industries and Their Most Common Interview Questions

Sometimes a wide focus is best when preparing for job interviews, getting ready for the kinds of questions that are likely to come up in any line of work. But sometimes you need to combine the wide focus with the narrow focus.

Here are ten industries and career fields, and the types of specific questions that are likely to come up when you interview for a job in each particular line of work.

Keep in mind that you can read questions even when they’re out of your territory. With a little imagination, you can adapt a number of topics to your scenario.


People who work in accounting jobs help make sure companies are run efficiently, public records kept accurately, and taxes paid properly and on time. Specific job duties vary widely among the four major fields of accounting: Public accounting, management accounting, government accounting and internal auditing.

Here are some common questions you may have to answer when interviewing for an accounting job:

  • With which accounting applications are you most familiar?

  • In what aspects of hands-on accounting did you participate?

  • Can you give me examples of the accounting and management reports you have prepared?

  • Can you describe any accounting process that you have developed or revised?

  • What role did you play in the audit process?

  • Can you discuss your experience in tax planning and preparation?

  • How do you stay updated on all the accounting rules and techniques?


Receptionists, administrative assistants and secretaries perform a variety of clerical duties necessary to make an organisation run efficiently. Office and administrative support personnel are increasingly assuming responsibilities once reserved for managerial and professional staff. Extensive knowledge of computer software applications is a big plus.

Here are some questions you may face if going for a receptionist job:

  • How would you go about making a visitor feel welcome to the company?

  • How would you handle answering a phone caller’s question with five other lines ringing?

  • Can you give an example of how you dealt with a difficult situation or caller?

  • How would you respond to the following: Upset caller? Upset supplier? Upset employee?

  • How would you handle multiple demands from your managers?

And here are some common interview questions for administrative assistant roles:

  • What steps do you take to keep high-level information you are privy to confidential from other staff members in your team?

  • Do you have experience making national and international travel arrangements?

  • Were you involved in the budgeting and financial planning of the projects that you handled?

  • Could your work presentation be improved by incorporating new technological knowledge and developments?

  • What is your knowledge with meeting planning and calendar maintenance?

  • Can you explain your knowledge of the digital filing system?

  • In what circumstances have you used social media? Google Plus? Twitter?


If you can read this article, thank a teacher. Teachers not only must be able to teach and motivate students, but also often take on roles as advisors and mentors. Here are some questions you may have to handle when going for a teaching role:

  • How do you motivate students? What would you do if you realised that your approach wasn’t working?

  • What have you found to be the toughest aspect of classroom management?

  • How do you evaluate a student’s performance?

  • How do you individualise learning in a classroom of students with different learning styles and needs?

  • How do you handle students with consistent behaviour problems?

  • Can you describe a time that you deviated from your lesson plan for a ‘teachable moment’?

  • How do you give your students recognition? Do you think a student can have too much recognition?

  • How would you handle making a difficult phone call to a parent?

  • How would you work with parents who disagree with your teaching style or assessment of their child?


Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop solutions to technical problems. Their work links scientific discoveries with commercial applications. Most engineers specialise in a career field (such as electrical engineering), industry (such as motor vehicles) or technology (such as turbines). Engineering technicians assist engineers.

Here are some common interview questions for engineers and engineering technicians:

  • Can you describe the most significant written technical report or presentation you had to complete?

  • Can you tell me about your greatest success in using the principles of logic to solve an engineering problem in your last job?

  • What checks and balances do you use to avoid mistakes?

  • Some of the best-engineered ideas are born of an individual’s ability to challenge conventional thinking. Can you tell me about a time when you were successful in doing this?

  • What factors would you consider in building an engineering department from scratch?

  • In the field of engineering, priorities often change quickly. Can you give me an example of a time when that happened? How did you handle it?

  • Are you keeping pace technically and technologically? How?

Financial Services

The financial services industry features professionals in investing, securities trading and other activities that are ‘in the money’. Financial analysts generally focus on trends affecting a specific industry, region or type of product.

Here’s what you may have to answer as a financial analyst:

  • What do you read regularly on the industry?

  • What shares do you follow and why? (Be prepared to discuss each stock’s performance.)

  • What are some differences among financial consulting firms that are important to you?

  • Are you a financial generalist or specialist? Where do you see yourself specialising?

  • How do you determine if a stock is undervalued?

  • How would you price the stock for an IPO?

  • What is working capital? Quick ratio? Free cash flow?

  • What particular markets or instruments are you interested in? Why?

  • What processes did you use to evaluate financial risk?


Most of the people in this service industry work in hotels and restaurants. Hospitality covers a wide range of employers who sell food service and/or lodging. Travel and tourism jobs fit into this category. Although the hospitality industry employs many seasoned managers and executives, the industry is a magnet for young workers seeking entry-level employment.

Here are some sample questions if you’re going for a role in hospitality:

  • If you needed to organise a party or meeting for customers, how would you go about it?

  • How do you resolve conflict with customers or staff members?

  • What does customer service mean to you?

  • If a guest were upset, what would you do to regain the guest’s goodwill?

  • How would you help build repeat business?

  • What steps have you taken in your previous hotel/restaurant management job for cost-cutting?

  • How many languages do you speak?

Information Technology

IT professionals are moving away from the traditional pure geeky technology emphasis to become hybrid IT/business professionals. The following questions reflect a collection of industry-wide IT job interview questions:

  • What is your experience with enterprise disaster recovery?

  • Can you describe the maintenance and administration practices that you utilised to ensure effective performance of the corporate VOIP/WAN/IT?

  • How do you keep yourself updated with technology?

  • Can you tell us about your experience in developing or maintaining an internet site?

  • Tell us about a difficult or complex programming assignment you’ve had. What steps did you take and how successful were you?

  • What techniques and tools can you use to ensure that a new application is as user friendly as possible?

  • What are the factors to consider in establishing a web presence?

  • What has been your experience in developing apps?

  • What various tools and measures can be implemented to secure data?

  • What are some of the hot topics that technology professionals are talking about?

  • Do you use any type of web analytics?

  • How do you rate your HTML hand-coding skills?

  • Why is a sitemap important and how would you make search engines find it quickly?


Management is getting work done through people. Recognising that people matter, managers work to improve an organisation’s structure, efficiency, profits or mission accomplishment. Changes in the business world are forcing managers to make changes in everything from regulatory and credit operations to pricing strategies and marketing changes.

Here are some questions you’re likely to face if going for a management role:

  • How do you reinforce behaviour you want repeated?

  • How do you develop untapped potential in your staff?

  • How do you build and maintain morale with your staff in a non-monetary way?

  • How do you demonstrate that you value people for who they are, as well as for what they accomplish?

  • What are the primary management styles? Describe each. Which is your predominant style? How have you applied those characteristics? What successes and shortcomings have you experienced with your management style?


Thousands of nurses practice nationwide, making nursing the largest workforce within the healthcare industry. Dozens of types and levels of nurses exist, ranging from advance practice to bedside care.

Here are some questions common when interviewing for a nursing role:

  • What is it about this job that excites you, and how do you relay that excitement to patients in your care?

  • At what stage in your life did you decide to become a nurse? Were there any defining moments that helped you decide to become a nurse?

  • If you encountered a patient who was uncharacteristically upset and/or difficult, what would you do?

  • How do you react to a sense of being overwhelmed with unfinished work ten minutes past your shift deadline when you find a new patient in need?

  • How often do you think a charge nurse or director of nursing needs to be on the unit?

  • After an extremely demanding day with a patient who required much attention, a family member aggressively approaches you and accuses you of negligence and calls you nasty names. How do you handle this?

  • If needed, would you like to work another position, or would you rather not be cross-trained?

  • How do you make seamless transitions on shift changes?


Sales is the activity of convincing prospective buyers to purchase a product or service in return for money or other required compensation. Sales workers are found in virtually all business endeavours. These questions are common for sales workers in general:

  • What is good customer service?

  • How do you go about familiarising yourself with the products you sell?

  • Sell me a product. How would you do it?

  • Can you explain the importance of body language in a sales job?

  • What was your sales target in your previous job? Were you able to achieve it?

  • What kind of customer complaints have you ever received? How did you handle them?

  • Are you comfortable placing cold calls to leads and existing clients?

  • In what ways do you maintain contacts and business relationships with clients and vendors?

  • How would you handle achieving a very high quota the first 90 days for starting employment?

  • This job covers a large territory. How much travel time are you willing to commit to being a road warrior?

  • In the past, how did you expand your customer base?

  • What have you done as a sales manager to organise a new sales force?