Interview Skills

Your CV may get you an interview, but it is your interview that will get you the job. When it comes to your interview it is important to be prepared.

Remember:

You will be asked questions about your CV, so know the contents of it. Be prepared and able to answer questions on every item and be honest, highlighting the positive.

Answering questions about your CV can be an opportunity for you to steer questions and their answers in your favour. Also, be clear about why you want the job.

  • Research the company/organisation you will be interviewed for.
  • Find out as much as possible about the job you have applied for.
  • Prepare your own answers based on the particulars of the job.
  • Practice your answers. Try to arrange a mock interview if you can
  • You should look neat and tidy, wearing something that allows you to feel comfortable and confident
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early
  • Make eye contact and give firm handshake

Prepare some questions to ask in advance i.e.

  • What possibilities are there for staff training and development?
  • When can you expect to hear the outcome of the interview?

Be positive, be confident and smile

Follow up after the Interview

After a certain amount of time has passed, it is a good idea to follow up on your interview by contacting the employer. You can use this opportunity to express your continued interest in the job.

Jobsearch Resources

Newspapers and recruitment agencies are a valuable source of information and jobs.

Useful Websites

FÁS

Career Directions

Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed

Finally, if you are considering enhancing skills through volunteering, Volunteering Ireland has a wide range of information.

Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself? Remember you can also answer a question with a
question e.g. what would you like to know about me?
Give a brief life history mentioning mainly points relevant to working e.g. leisure, interests, positions of responsibility held, involvement in Clubs/Organisations (this shows you mix well with others and you like to be busy).

What did you do in your last job?
Emphasise your skills, responsibilities, any progression/promotion or achievements.
Make your answer relevant to the job for which you are being interviewed.

Why did/do you want to leave your last job?
Give only reasons that reflect you in a positive light e.g. temporary contract, company closure, work experience, seasonal work, and career advancement.
If you left for personal/health reasons, mention this briefly and assure the interviewer that the situation has been resolved and will not reoccur.

Have you done this kind of work before or what areas of speciality can you offer our clientele?
Where possible answer YES and reinforce/back it up with examples.
If you haven’t done this kind of work before, give examples of similar type work/experience
OR
Give examples of your ability to learn quickly and personal characteristics which make you suitable for the position.

What aspect of this job do you consider most important?
This will test whether you have researched the job and what it entails. What are you principally being hired to do? You could mention other aspects which you consider to be important e.g. working well with other employees.

What kind of equipment can you operate? Have you knowledge of IT/software packages/specialist packages?
Relate your answer to the job for which you are being interviewed. State if you have any certificates or received special training in using specialised software. Stress that you are quick to learn new skills.

Why would you like to work here? Why did you choose to apply to us?
Give all positive reasons
You are interested/experienced in their industry. The company has a good reputation as an employer, is progressive, expanding; make sure that the reasons are relevant to the company i.e. that it is really
expanding.
Demonstrate that you have researched the company.

What kind of salary do you need? – Current Salary
Very often you will be told the salary on offer. If not, always try to avoid specifying figures. You could try throwing the question back to the interviewer; what salary is being offered.
Otherwise be vague; “I would expect standard rates/the going rate (to be sure that you know what the standard rates are for the position)

Why should we give you the job instead of someone else?
This is your opportunity to sell yourself (with confidence)
State your qualifications and experience
State your positive personal characteristics e.g. hardworking, punctual, efficient and reliable
Leave the interviewer in no doubt that you are more than capable of doing the job and “fitting in” with the company.

How much were you absent from work in your last job?
If your absences were rare then simply say so in a confident manner.
If you were absent a good deal, briefly state why, and then assure the interviewer that the problem has been resolved and will not reoccur.

What are your greatest strengths?
This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Be confident without sounding conceited. List your positive attributes that are relevant to the job in question e.g. skills, experience, efficiency, motivation and ability to get on with people.

What are your weaknesses?
Only give a positive weakness e.g. “I like to have things very well organised in my work, which does not suit some people”.
OR
“Obviously we all have weaknesses but I don’t have any weakness that will affect my performance in this job”.

What was your last employer’s opinion of you?
Always give a positive answer. My ex employer and I have a good relationship still; sometimes we meet up for coffee and a chat.
Try to give specific examples of things you did which were well received and any promotions.
Mention results of formal reviews (if any)
Never criticise a previous employer (if you did it once you will probably do it again).

How do you work under pressure/to deadlines?
Give examples of how you remain calm, are organised and efficient and always get the job done.

How do you react to criticism?
As long as the criticism is constructive you can use it as a learning experience; how will you know if you have done something incorrect if no one tells you? Constructive criticism is a good feedback.

What motivates you most?
Try to think of something relevant to the job in question, or meeting challenges/deadlines; the satisfaction of a job well done (never say “the chance of a pay rise”)

Where do you see yourself twelve months/five years from now?
The employer wants to know that you are motivated and willing to work hard. They would also like to think that you would stay with their company.

What are your biggest achievements?
Obviously your answer is personal to you; you should, however, try to make it relevant to the job for which you are being interviewed.

Tell me about a time when you failed at something/tell me about a time something went wrong at work and what you did to resolve it.
Try to present a failure that happened for reasons beyond your control e.g. machine breakdown/postal strike meant you didn’t make a deadline/target. Avoid blaming some others as this indicates a failure to take responsibility for your actions. Indicate that you have learned from the experience so it is unlikely to happen again e.g. you check the machine at the start of each shift.

When are you available for work?
If possible answer “As soon as possible/immediately etc.
If you are currently in a position requiring a period of notice; obviously, I would like to give notice to my present employer but I will be available immediately after that. This gives the impression that you are a loyal and responsible employee.

Do you have any questions?
This is often only asked as a matter of courtesy as a good interviewer will have given you all the information you need. In such cases simply answer “no thank you, you have covered everything I need to know”.
Possible questions to ask may be “when will I know if I have been offered the position”? or “will there be an opportunity for further training?”
Never ask about e.g. benefits, social facilities or holidays; you can deal with these once you have been offered the job.