Key to a Successful Interview- Author Sean Kelly ( Employment Support Guidance Officer with County Kildare Local Employment Service)

Job Preparation and Interview skills video
April 3, 2020
April 3, 2020

Key to a Successful Interview


  • Find out as much as possible about the Company and the Job. Use the internet to research the company. If you know someone in the company or doing a similar job, talk to them. Research the sector that the job is in, so you can demonstrate an interest in the position through your knowledge.
  • Break the Job down by the skills required. This information will be in the Job Description / Job Advertisement.
  • Think about the other attributes that any company would be interested in: punctuality, reliability, etc.
  • Now think of examples from your own life, work history, voluntary work, hobbies, achievements etc, of how you have the skills and attributes that the company is seeking, and this should form the basis of your first answer.
  • There is a considerable amount of evidence to suggest that many interviewers make their mind up about a candidate in the first three minutes! So use this and make sure using the points above that you have an excellent answer to the first question you are asked. Whatever the first question, Tell us about yourself, Take us through your CV, what have you got to offer this company, why are you interested in the position, the points above are the key parts to the answer to any of these questions.
  • Keep in mind that there are two issues at any interview, the company needs someone to do a job for them and you are seeking a job. Make sure that throughout interview you keep the focus on the company’s issue and not your own.
  • It is important to be confident in your own ability and skills, because if you are not confident how can the company be confident.
  • Be consistent, most interviewers ask the different questions about the same issues throughout the interview. So for example, if you say during the interview that would like to work for the company because of their reputation for staff development, don’t answer a question about your plans for the future by saying you would like to start your own business someday.
  • It is okay to be nervous. Sometimes when you’re nervous it is a little harder to take in information, so if you don’t hear a question or understand what you are being asked, say something like “As you will appreciate I am a little nervous so I did not properly hear / understand the question”. By saying out loud that you are nervous this should help reduce the nerves!
  • Not all interviewers are trained, so make sure the interview stays on track, keep the focus on how you can solve the company’s problem, ie they need a good worker, and do not get side tracked into talking about things that are irrelevant.
  • Interviews are formal, and some interviewers try to get interviewees to reveal more about themselves by trying to be “your friend” and making small talk or by revealing something about themselves. Don’t be taken in, you might feel like telling the interviewer about the great party or embarrassing moment you had, but this could lose you the job.
  • Whilst remembering you are not talking to a friend, it is important to be warm and open, and come across as a friendly person.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself, in answering a question, you can say things like “As I said earlier, I have excellent computer skills”.
  • One of the keys to successful public speaking is the idea “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them again”. In an interview this means making repeated reference to what you feel are your strong points.
  • Dress neatly, but be conservative, you do not want to offend or risk the interviewer getting the wrong impression. You might feel that Jeans look well but some interviewers might feel that wearing Jeans is a sign that you are not taking the interview seriously.
  • You may feel awkward about some aspect of your CV, maybe you have been out of work for a long time, maybe you left a job on bad terms, etc. Do not be surprised if you are asked about this awkward area, and more importantly prepare an answer. There are two parts to answering questions about potentially awkward areas. First you need to make sure by practicing the answer out loud with a friend that you do not sound like the emotions around this issue are still present. If you still sound like you are upset or anxious, then the interview will pick up on this emotion. Second keep your answer simple and as factual as possible and avoid the temptation to sound like you are blaming anyone else, again this will leave the wrong impression.
  • Last impressions count, so plan one or two questions to ask at the end of the interview. Questions such as “How will my work be assessed” are excellent as they force the interviewer to see you in the job in order to answer the question.       If you feel like you might struggle to think of the questions write them down and bring them with you.       The interview can then see that you are organised and have taken time out to prepare your interview.




Other Issues Relating to Interviews


  • Arrive in the company about ten minutes before your interview. Make sure you get to the company a little earlier, go in somewhere and have a coffee, use the rest room to check you hair, make-up, straighten your tie.
  • If you smoke have the cigarette at least 10 minutes before you go into the company, chew a mint, spray aftershave / perfume etc before you go into the company.
  • The key part of your final few minutes before the interview is to be as relaxed as possible, keep the focus on what you are going to say, this is no time to entertain last minute self doubts, or to question your ability. The company have already decided on the basis of your CV that you have the necessary skills for the job.
  • Bring a copy of your CV. Put it on the table in front of you and if necessary refer to it for dates etc.
  • If you are bringing certificates, references etc, bring the original but also a photo-copy to leave with the interviewers.
  • Remember, that anyone you meet in the company may be asked about their impression of you so from the moment you walk into the company premises be professional friendly and polite.
  • Make sure if your references are not listed on your CV to bring the names and contacts numbers typed out to leave with the interviewer.And Finally
  • There are many issues outside of your control which will play a role in the company making their decision. You may do an excellent interview, but so might another candidate who has more relevant experience.
  • The best time to evaluate your interview performance is before you know the outcome. If you leave the interview and feel that you have covered everything you wanted to as well as possible, you cannot do more. If you feel there are some areas you could improve on, take note and change things the next time you go for interview.
  • Life is a constant learning process, with an honest approach to self evaluation we can all improve any of our skills including our interview technique.

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