1.     Interview Preparation



Preparation, Presentation and Attitude are the key ingredients in being successful in an Interview.


Research the company you are interviewing with.  Look at their website, study it.  Learn things about the company for example:

  • How old is the company? How large is the company?
  • What are its products or services?
  • Who are its customers?
  • Who are its major competitors?
  • Have there been recent employee layoffs?
  • Where is the company's headquarters located?
  • Who are the managers? Research who you are meeting with. Can you find out more about them on LinkedIn or Google?

Prepare and Practice your answers to sample interview questions. Provide well structured answers, don’t go off point, and try to stay focused on what was asked.  Confidence and clarity are essential in an interview situation.


Talk to people who work in that particular company – learn as much as you can about their business.

Make sure you read the job description of the position you are interviewing for thoroughly. If there is no job spec available try to get an understanding of what the role would entail.


Prepare questions to ask the interviewers as well, remember the interview is a two way process.




Personal Presentation 

Your first impression should just not be good but excellent.  To be successful in interviews you must be able to sell yourself to the interviewers and remember that your appearance says more about you than you can say about yourself in the all important first 30 seconds of any interview.

1.    Dress Smart - Grooming and first impressions are always important considerations. Plan what you will wear in advance. The general rule is to dress formally, but if it is a very relaxed atmosphere you may prefer smart casual.


2.    Body Language - Research has shown that only 7% of the message we send out is based on the actual words we use. The rest is down to body language and tone of voice.


  • Your handshake is very important. A firm (but not too tight) handshake, coupled with good eye contact and a relaxed smile will give you a confident start.
  • Nerves make you slouch so stand & sit tall and confident.
  • Don’t cross your arms as this is frequently seen as a defensive posture or that you are uninterested in the conversation.
  • You can emphasise your seriousness, interest, and confidence by making eye contact and tilting your head to catch questions, and smiling.

Remember: Nerves are normal and to be expected. If you are well prepared it will help you to relax in the interview situation.

Top Interview Tips


  • Get as much information as possible on the company - read all the latest news about the company, check out the web site and try to speak with someone who has worked there.
  • Prepare answers to a range of job and skill based questions that you can use
  • Put yourself in the interviewer's seat! Try to think of questions that you might pose relating to your particular job.
  • If you are asked to bring certificates, references get them ready well in advance to avoid having to chase around on the morning of the big day.
  • Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and the name of interviewers.
  • Decide how you will get there and when you need to set off to arrive in good time, anticipating.
  • Arm yourself with a few questions for the interviewer showing that you have done your homework about the organisation and its business.
  • Check the format of the interview - it could throw you off if you're presented with a test of some sort that you were not expecting.
  • Dress-wise - Keep it simple and respectable.


  • Don’t ever make derogatory remarks about your current or former employers.
  • Don’t over answer questions – keep your answers focussed.
  • Don’t let your discouragement show if the interview is not going as planned.
  • Don’t get defensive and always remain positive.
  • Don’t be the first to inquire about salary, holidays or bonuses during the initial interview.
  • Don’t appear over-ambitious, and attempt to control over-enthusiasm that can be interpreted the wrong way.
  • Don’t appear over concerned with title.  Such an issue can be sorted out once the employer decides that they want to employ you.


Interview Advice - At the interview


Be Polite – Ensure that you go out of your way to be polite to everyone on the day of the interview. I know of one particular company who seek feedback from their receptionist about how she found her interaction with applicants attending interview.

Non Verbal Communications –Remember a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a friendly smile. As the interview progresses ensure that you demonstrate a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the job. Don’t leave the employer in any doubt about your interest.

Focus – Many interviewees fail at interview because they lack focus during the interview. You have to consider what the client is looking for when answering interview questions. You Pre-Interview preparation will have covered this aspect but ensure that you maintain focus at all times.

Answers Brief & Concise – Nerves at interview often mean that we start talking and find it hard to stop. Keep your answers brief and concise. A short relevant answer makes more of an impact that a long rambling and irrelevant one.

Concrete Examples – This is what differentiates the interviewee at interview. Many interviewees tend to talk in generalities but this does not convince interviewers. If you “talk the talk” you have to “walk the walk”. Don’t wait to be asked for examples as this may not happen. Get into the habit of supporting statements with hard facts.

Listen & Adapt – It is important to pay attention during interview. Observing the interviewer can provide important clues. Don’t be afraid to clarify questions.

A Positive Attitude – It goes without saying that it is important to maintain a positive attitude and believe in yourself throughout. Beware of negativity particularly when relaying information and experiences about previous employers.

A Two Way Process – You must ask questions at interview. This will come up at the end of interview normally with most employers asking you if have any questions for them.  Answering “No” sends out the wrong signal. It can give the impression that you are not really interested in the job or lack confidence and assertiveness. Use your judgment about the number of questions you ask. Remember that an interview as a two-way process, you will see it is important for you to find out as much as possible about the company.



Common Interview Questions:


      What do you know about the company?

      What do you think this job will entail?

      Why do you think you should get this role?

      What do you think you can bring to this role – i.e. what you have to offer?

      What was the best project you worked on and why?

      What was the best team you worked with and why?

      What are your three main strengths?

      What are your main weaknesses?

      Where would like to see yourself in five years time?

      Do work well as part of a team or do you prefer to work alone?

      Have you ever been in a position where you have had people reporting to you? Discuss.

      How do you work under pressure?  How you deal with it? Can you give examples of situations?

      Is travelling and staying away from home an option for you?

      Can you give the reasons for wanting to move jobs/companies?

      What are your professional achievements?

      Do you have any issues with working outside normal working hours?

      Can you communicate well with others? Give an example?

      Do you manage your time effectively?

    Have you encountered any big difficulties in the last year? If so how did you overcome them?

    Have you ever had any issues with delegating or not delegating?

    What would you describe as the toughest decision you have ever had to make in past positions? How did you deal with it?

    Can you give me an example of where you came across a conflict in the work place? If so how did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?



Common interview questions



·         Tell me about yourself?

This is usually the opening question and, as first impressions is key, one of the most important. Keep your answer to less than five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career. You can follow the same structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Don’t go into too much detail – your interviewer will probably take notes and ask for you to expand on any areas where they’d like more information. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your studies you most enjoyed and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.



·         What are your strengths?

Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer language, or intangible skills such as good man-management. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.



·         What are your weaknesses?

The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress. For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no accounts say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.



·         Why should we hire you?

What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description. “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build long-term customer relationships” is a good opening sentence, which can then lead onto a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career. State your biggest achievement and the benefit it made to the business, then finish with “Given the opportunity, I could bring this success to your company.”


·         What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time?

It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals. Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.

·         Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. If you’ve prepared for the interview properly, you should have a good inside knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. Use this information to describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them. Never utter the phrase “I just need a job.”


·         What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to the work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have in a team. For example, “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can always rely on me, and he likes my sense of humour.”


·         Why do you want this job?

Stress the positive aspects, which have attracted you to the particular job in the first place. Think carefully about this question.


·         Why should we employ you?

Base your answer on your previous experience and skills, you can add that there's a good fit between you and your job.


·         How would you describe yourself?

Don't be modest, be positive. State your attributes and achievements always relating back to the job.


·         Do you have many interests outside work?

People pay too little attention to this question. You can have excellent qualifications work experience etc, however hobbies and interests can tell the employer even more about you. Interests define whether you are sociable or solitary, and whether you can take on leadership roles. Remember the GAA and community involvement may allow you to build up a rapport with the interviewers – if you get the opportunity make sure you avail of it.


·         What qualities do you think will be required for this job?

Think outside the box. While the advertisement may help a little, you should also think of the other qualities that may be required. These include leadership ability, supervisory skills, communication skills and problem solving.



·         What do you think you could bring to this role?

Find a quality unique to you. The interviewer is looking for what you have to offer that would make you the best person for the position.



·         What are your greatest strengths?

Talk about specific assets that the employer desires for the position.


·         Tell me a about yourself?

For this question you can talk about personal characteristics and/or skills which transform into career strengths, for example, you enjoy organising social events.


·         What did you think of your previous manager(s)?

This question shows your attitude to several matters. Never speak negatively of anyone


·     To succeed in business today, we all need to be Team Players

§          Can you tell me about a time when you helped a team you were part of achieve its goals?

§          Can you tell me about a time there was conflict in a team you were in, what happened and how was it resolved?

§          Do you prefer to work alone on a task or with others?

§          Does anything frustrate you about working with other people on a daily basis?

§          Are you a member of any teams or groups outside work?



·         Do you have any other questions?

Yes! Have questions prepared. This shows your interest in the position. Don't ask any questions that were already answered during the interview as this demonstrates a lack of attention.


Possible Questions to Ask;

§          When will the hiring decision be made?

§          Would I be working as part of a team or on my own?

§          Do career opportunities exist within the company?

§          What are the characteristics of employees that excel in this position or similar positions?



·         An interviewer will want to know what motivates you –ways of discovering this are asking:

§          Would you describe yourself as self-motivated? If yes, why?

§          Can you give an example of a time when you made a suggestion to improve something at work? What happened? Was it implemented?.

§          What was the level of supervision in your last job?

§          What was your relationship with your supervisor/manager like?

§          How would your last manager/ current manager rate your performance and how would you rate it yourself (self awareness)

§          If I was to ask your last supervisor or a colleague to describe you, what would they say?

Complied by Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group