Part 3 - ​Common Interview Questions and Answers

by Fionnuala Hegarty

Estimated Reading Time: minutes


If you could, how would you plan your University career differently?

I wouldn’t change anything. All that I have done was a great learning experience that I will carry forward throughout the rest of my life.


How has your education prepared you for your career?

To answer this question successfully, you will need to focus on the behavioural examples in your educational background that aligns to the required competencies for the career path you’re on — more specifically, the role you’re interviewing for.

For instance:

My education has focused on not only learning the fundamentals, but also the practical application of what we learned in class. We were often encouraged to go out and seek internships on- and off-campus, which is how I ended up in a leading a team as part of a research role, where we gathered and analysed best practice data from this industry. The results of this…


How will the academic program and coursework you’ve taken benefit your career?

As you will note on my resume, I’ve taken not only the required core classes for the finance field, I’ve also gone above and beyond by double majoring in accounting. I double majored as I knew that the financial consulting field requires much knowledge of portfolio analysis and understanding of the tax laws. I believe that my success in both areas of study have specifically prepared me for this area. But it’s not just taking the classes in these two areas that allow me to offer Westpac clients more. I also minored in French to understand the needs of the growing French community in Maroubra, which, as you are well aware, is a growing source of revenue for this particular branch. If you’d like, I can elaborate on other aspects of my education further.


What University courses or subjects did you like best? Why?

My favourite courses have been the ones pertaining to my major, which is marketing. These classes have laid the groundwork for my career in marketing. They also have taught me soft skills that I can bring to my employer, from communication skills to interacting with others.


Are you the type of student for whom conducting independent research has been a positive experience?

Yes, I love it. I thoroughly enjoyed my senior research project in University whilst many others in my class were miserable. I was never tired about learning about the topic and found it exhilarating to be researching something that has not been studied in-depth before.


Describe the type of professor that has created the most beneficial learning experience for you.

My favourite professors were the ones who gave me hands-on learning experiences that I can apply to my career. Any person can make you memorise the quadratic equation, but someone who can show you how to use it and why were the ones that I liked. I prefer professors who realise that sometimes there is more than one answer and that everyone things differently.


Do you think that your grades are an indication of your academic achievement?

I have focused much of my energy on work and obtaining real-world experience. I commend my classmates who have earned high GPAs, but I also feel it’s important to be well-rounded as an individual. In addition to work experience, I participated in sports and extracurricular activities in school. These activities taught me leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. 

Sometimes my heavy load has not allowed me to keep up with some of my studies, but I have learned an enormous amount that I can apply in my future industry. As you will discover when you talk to my supervisors, my ability to work effectively is much more reflective of my future potential than my GPA.


What plans do you have for continued study? An advanced degree?

I plan to continue my education for the rest of my life. In any technology-related field, keeping up to date through continuing education is of the utmost importance. Continuing education can include on-the-job training, courses sponsored by the employer, and courses taken in new technologies as they emerge.

I plan to be not only a career employee, but a career student so that I can be the best information systems analyst I can be. I will ensure, however, that any education I pursue not only doesn’t interfere with my job or the company’s policies, but will enhance my value as an employee.


Please describe the ideal role for you after graduation.

My ideal job is one that incorporates both my education and practical work skills to be the best I can be. Namely, combining my education in finance with my working knowledge of customer service operations, entrepreneurial abilities, computer skills and administrative skills. I was to utilise my analytical expertise to help people meet their financial goals. This is why I’m convinced that I would be a very valuable member of the [company] team.


For management roles...

What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?

Focus on two words: Leadership and vision.

Here is a sample of how to build your answer around these two key thoughts:

The key quality in a successful manager should be leadership — the ability to be the visionary for the people who are working under them and to motivate them accordingly. It’s the person who can set the course and direction for those who work under them. You should be working toward inspiring them, just as much as they inspire you to be the best leader you can be. Let me tell you about this incredible person I have the opportunity to work with and whom I aspire to follow in their footsteps…

Then give an example of how someone has touched your life and how their leadership has helped you in your personal and professional development.


About the company

Tell me what you know about the company.

You’re a large and well-respected company worldwide. You’re both a clinical and teaching hospital. Over the last 60 to 70 years, you’ve produced award-winning research. In reviewing your website, I’ve familiarised myself with many of your corporate goals and objectives.


Why did you decide to seek a position in this company?

I am convinced that there would be no better place to work than Accenture. You are one of the top consulting firms in Australia. You provide your employees with the tools they need to stay competitive in the market and sharpen their skills whilst working in an open, team-based environment. I am also aware that you provide a mentor for all new employees and I would embrace any opportunity to work with a mentor and eventually become one myself.


About the job location

Do you have a geographical preference?

Although I would prefer to stay in the greater Melbourne area, I would not rule out other possibilities.


Why do you think that you might like to live in the community in which our company is located?

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend several days in your community and fell in love with it. I love the fact that you have a thriving riverfront. I’m impressed with the many cultural opportunities here – opera, theatre, art and independent films. I’ve also already become a fan of some of the sports teams based here. I have conducted a significant amount of research on this city, so I am quite comfortable with this location.


Would it be a problem for you to relocate?

I’m open to new opportunities within the company; if those opportunities involve relocation, I would certainly consider it.


To what extent would you be willing to travel for the job?

I am more than willing to travel. I understand the importance of going above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy customer requests is sometimes required and that Merrill Lynch’s customer focus belief means that travel is expected in some circumstances. 

I am willing to make this commitment to do whatever it takes to develop that long-term relationship with a small business or client.It is only through this relationship that loyalty can be maintained and financial gains and growth can occur for both the client and Merrill Lynch. It is my understanding from other financial consultants that I have interviewed at Merrill Lynch that this occurs maybe one or two times per month.


Good luck!

Now that you have an idea on how you may want to answer some of the most common interview questions, be sure to check out our blog post all about what you need to do to prepare for a job interview.

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