Being called for interview can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, nerves start to kick in and you may even start to doubt whether you can actually do the job. Remember, if you are called for interview, that is a big achievement in itself as it means the recruiter was impressed with your CV (your selling point!) and wants to get to know a bit more about you in terms of the skills and knowledge you have to do the job.
We’ve covered all you need to know about preparing for interview and ensuring you give a great account of yourself below. Click sections to have tips drop down.
When you are called for an interview, it is important to be aware of any reasonable accommodations you may need to perform your best at interview and to ensure equality of access and opportunity. Some companies who are disability aware may ask you in the invitation email if you require any interview accommodations or ‘adjustments’ whereas some may not state it anywhere at all in the email.
Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, employers have a legal obligation (within reason) to provide you with reasonable accommodations in accessing employment, in this case, accessing the interview. So even if the email does not ask you the question regarding accommodations, you can still request it.
You may need different supports for different kinds of interviews, so it is good practice to ask what kind of interview it will be before making your request. For example, will the interview be in front of a panel (perhaps the number of people on a panel may be necessary to ascertain), doing a presentation, written tests, group tests etc…, this way you can decide the appropriate kind of support is required.
Some examples of reasonable accommodations from AHEAD’s experience would be;
- An interview location with level or is wheelchair accessible if you have physical access issues.
- Extra time for completing written or numerical test if you have a specific learning difficulty.
- A sign language interpreter if you are a sign language user (a grant is available for this, find out more by clicking here).
- A guide to meet you at reception and bring you to the interview room if you require assistance or have sight issues.
The secret to doing well at interview is to be prepared!
- Become informed about all aspects of the company by checking out their website, brochures or publications, annual reports etc… This will help give you a better indication of what the company does and you are able to relate your answers to the company’s ethos/work.
- Look through the job description of the position you applied for and using the list of skills and experience that are needed, think about some real life examples and situations you have to back up the skills and experiences listed.
- Think about what you can contribute to the company or organisations; this will be your sales pitch.
Remember, the better prepared you are, the more confident you will feel!
Skills or competency based interviews are to assess what you can do and this type of interview style is becoming increasingly mainstream. They generally ask you questions on 4 - 6 different key skills or competencies such as, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, leadership etc…
When you are presented with a question like this, use the S.T.A.R approach as it is a structured approach to answering questions and ensures that you get your point across.
- Situation - set the situation or scene and give a little background before describing the task.
- Task -talk about what you had to do or what was the issue that had to be resolved.
- Action - what actions you took to overcome the task or issue.
- Result - talk about the results or the outcome of your actions and give a reflection on whether it was positive or negative, what you learnt from it and what you could do differently next time.
Remember, when preparing your answers and you include a situation that refers to a person or an organisation of whom you may have had a bad experience with; try not to mention their names or make them identifiable.
There are many different types of interview tests, depending on what the job is you are applying for. A lot of technical positions like engineering or IT have ‘technical tests’ which consists of demonstrating your ability to carry out very specific tasks such as coding or wiring. They can be verbal or practical tests, so try to remember what you have studied in college! It can also be useful to bring a portfolio of your work along with you to show your previous projects.
Most graduate recruitment programmes carry out a series of tests called an assessment, this is because they get hundreds, even thousands of applications and it makes it easier for them to whittle down the numbers. An assessment could have between 2 - 6 stages, which may include an application form, competency based interview, aptitude tests, psychometric tests or personality test group exercises, in-tray exercises or even giving a presentation.
If you are undergoing a test at an assessment centre, be sure to clarify what types of tests will be carried out and think of the accommodations you would need for each of the tests. Read our Interview Accommodations section for more information.
This may be the first time you are meeting your potential employers so you want to make a good impression on them and show them that you are professional at all time; don’t dismiss the power of appearances and first impressions! You should always consider the appropriate attire for the job on offer but don’t wear something that you know you will have a hard time being comfortable in. Remember, have your phone turned off or on silent mode, have clean hair, clean hands and clean nails!
- Plan to arrive 15 minutes early and bring a print out of the email confirmation with you along with any instructions or directions, this way you will feel prepared and won’t get lost.
- Before you arrive at your interview location, get into ‘professional mode’ before you walk in the building.
- You may have already received specific instructions on your interview invitation such as to ask for a certain person or to ring when you are at the reception area if not, always sign in with reception and let them know that you are here for an interview with the company.
- Upon meeting your interviewers, smile, introduce yourself and shake their hand. Remember to maintain eye contact with each person you are speaking with. Remember to maintain eye contact with all of the panel throughout the interview.
TIP: Assume that the every person who you are talking to or being greeted by is your interviewer; make sure to be polite, smile and introduce yourself.
- Have you requested your interview accommodations and thought about what ones you will need for the type of interview that is being carried out?
- Have you read the company or organisation’s website, publications and brochures?
- Do you have a better indication of what the company does and how you can contribute to the company?
- Have you looked through the job description in detail and highlighted the main skills and experience/requirements of the job?
- Do you understand the S.T.A.R. approach to answering interview questions?
- Can you demonstrate your ability to do the job using the S.T.A.R. approaching alongside the necessary job skills and requirements?
- Have you thought about what questions to ask the interviewers at the end of the interview?
- If you are doing a technical test, have you studied or prepared a portfolio?
- If you are going for an assessment, have you practiced sample assessment tests online e.g. personality tests, psychometric tests and in-tray exercises?
- Do you know exactly how to get to the interview location (ensuring you arrive 15 minutes early) and have brought additional details with you such as the email confirmation?
- Have you undergone a grooming session and decided on an appropriate outfit?
For more information on preparing yourself for interview, gradIreland have a section on their website which contains information and advice about different interview types along with links to sample questions and tests.