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Interview Advice

What is an interview?

An interview is a formal conversation between you and an employer to determine your suitability as an employee. Typically your potential manager and a human resources officer will be present, and the topics covered will include your work history, education, hobbies, skills, work ethic, and how well you fit into a team.

What should I wear to an interview?

First impressions last, so make sure your appearance is impeccable. If you are male, you need to wear a suit, shirt, tie and well polished shoes. You should be clean shaven and your hair should be neat and tidy. If you have long hair it should be tied in a ponytail, although bear in mind some employers may not be willing to hire men with long hair, particularly if the role is customer facing.

If you are female, you should wear formal clothes such as a suit or a skirt and blouse.

Is there anything I can do to prepare for an interview?

Most interviews follow a similar format and ask similar questions so it is possible to be well prepared for nearly any interview.

The following sections explain some of the ways you can prepare for your interview.

Location of the interview

It is important you arrive a few minutes early for your interview. Research the exact location of the employer, and if possible travel to the interview location the night before so you can determine the necessary travel time.

The employer, their products and their services

It is likely you will be asked what you know about the employer, so make sure you have studied their website and researched their products and services before the interview.

Use the Internet to find their recent press releases and search discussion forums (such as boards.ie) to see if you can find any "insider" information on the company which could help you in the interview.

Your CV

Spend some time studying your CV, and memorise some achievements and challenges from each job in your work history. Think back to why you chose each college course, and be prepared for questions about your hobbies.

Interview questions

Below are a list of some common interview questions. Come up with a positive answer to each question, bearing in mind you are selling yourself to the employer so you need to come across as a knowledgeable and skillful person who will fit into a team and be pleasant to work with.

Even if the employer asks a question which is not listed below, you will be able to use some of your prepared answers to respond accordingly.

  • Tell me about yourself, your work history and your education.
  • Why did you leave your last job? / Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What did you like most/least about your last job?
  • In your previous job what kind of pressures did you encounter?
  • Tell us a few positive points about yourself.
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Tell us something you did in your last job which you are particularly proud of.
  • Tell us about a mistake you made in your last job, and what you learned from it.
  • What motivates you in your work?
  • Give me an example from a previous job where you've shown initiative.
  • Do you seek and request additional responsibility? Give me an example from your last job.
  • How do you organize your workload and why?
  • How well do you work with others?
  • How well do you work on your own?
  • What kind of people do you find difficult to work with? Give a real life example. How did you resolve the issue?
  • What are you looking for in an employer?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you perceive to be the plusses and minuses of our company, and of this job offer/position to be?
  • What reasons do you have for wanting this job/position?
  • What are some things you would like to avoid in a job? Why?
  • If you were to obtain this job, in what areas could you contribute immediately? Where would you need additional training?
  • What specific skills acquired or used in previous jobs relate to this position?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What do you really want to do in life?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  • What things frustrate you the most? How do you usually cope with them?
  • In what areas of your professional life are you working to improve?
  • Identify at least two things that cause you stress and indicate how do you deal with them.
  • Tell me about your hobbies.
  • What have I forgotten to ask?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

What is the purpose of a second interview?

If you are called for a second interview it means you are very close to being offered the job. The interview will typically involve a senior manager, and you may be asked many of the same questions from the first interview.

It is generally considered acceptable to discuss salary in the second interview.

The employer told me I would know by Friday if I got the job. Today is Friday and they have not contacted me yet. What should I do?

Wait until Monday to send the employer a very polite, positive e-mail asking if they have come to decision on who they want to hire.

It is important to remain patient as many employers take their time when hiring staff.

And finally...

The best way to manage any nervous energy before an interview is to be well prepared, so do put in the effort to study your CV, practice interview questions, research the employer, and check the journey time to the interview.

Good luck!

We will update this article from time to time, so please check back periodically.