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Trinity College Dublin

Prepare for Interview

Read the job description again carefully. You need to prove you possess the necessary attributes and skills.

Practice interviews with a friend, a careers consultant or use the video practice interviews, a facility offered by the Careers Service. The more preparation you do beforehand, the less nervous you'll feel on the day.



Interviews are business meetings and each of the participants has his or her agenda.

Interviewer's Agenda

  • To get a clear picture of your experience and strengths (and any weaknesses).
  • To define accurately your usefulness against the company's needs.
  • To evaluate you against others with similar backgrounds.

Your Agenda

  • To present your abilities and work experience in the most relevant manner to get the company excited about the possibility of employing you.
  • To assess the company vis-à-vis your own needs.

The first interview will normally be one-to-one, or a small panel interview which could last for up to 35 minutes.


5 step approach for success

1. Focus on the job

  • Read the original advertisement / job description and find out what the position entails. What do you know about the company? Use Glassdoor to research the company and their possible interview questions.
  • How many does it employ?
  • Read the company brochure, company website and/ or annual report carefully and use the CAS contacts database to identify alumni who may now be working there and who can give you some informal advice and information.

2. Establish the ideal candidate

  • Work out a list of qualities or skills the interviewer will be looking for. For example, self-motivation, teamwork, flexibility, coping with stress and dealing with the public may vary in importance for each job.

3. Plan your interview

  • You must be able to answer the list of requirements, with examples drawn from your own experiences. Have plenty of concrete examples to draw on and know what you want to highlight to ensure a successful outcome.
  • When you have prepared examples for all the requirements you will have a good idea of what you have to offer the company and what the interviewer will be interested in hearing about.
  • If you have a disability:
    • You may need practical help (getting to the interview or maybe a sign-language interpreter) it is a good idea to get in touch with the employer before the interview, if you have not already disclosed your disability. The employer will appreciate you getting in touch and you'll be more relaxed on the day.
    • Even if you don't need help some people find it easier to address their disability in writing whereas others prefer to talk to someone face-to-face.
    • Where a disability is not obvious some applicants might choose not to disclose their disability until they are sent for a medical examination.
    • Consult the available resources and talk to your Career Consultant for advice on disclosure but remember it is your decision.

4. Practice

  • Role-play a practice interview with a friend. Get them to give you feedback
  • What does your body language say?
  • Are you giving coherent and relevant answers?
  • Practice talking aloud to yourself in front of a mirror .
  • The Careers Service arranges practice interviews, on a one-to-one basis with a careers consultant or on video.

5. Be attentive to your personal presentation

  • Dress appropriately for the job and sector. If in doubt, formal business attire is recommended.


Golden rules for answering questions

  • Reply to the question that is asked, not the one you might like to answer - in other words, listen. Undoubtedly there will be questions that are difficult to answer too.
  • Always be positive. Even when things have gone badly for you, try to think positively about what you have learned from the experience.
  • Promote your strengths - leave others to identify weaknesses.
  • Remember you should not be asked, nor are you required to answer, any questions regarding: race, ancestry, political beliefs, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, membership of the traveler community or age.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Be ready to recognise simple questions calling for a brief answer.
  • Be prepared to expand on something, which seems to interest the interviewer. Cut short descriptions when they are clearly not so interested.
  • Mature candidates should avoid the trap of appearing to want to draw a line on previous experience and starting afresh - your time spent in the workplace already, whatever the level of responsibility, is an asset and an area where you can 'shine' above conventional new graduates.
  • Ask for clarification - don't pretend to know something that you do not or try to answer a question you have not understood.
  • Speak clearly but not too fast.
  • If the employer knows about your ill health/disability present yourself in a positive manner.
    • Highlight your achievements to date and show how you have gained unique yet transferable skills from the experiences and challenges you met.
    • Demonstrate how your disability has not limited your academic or work performance and personal achievements.
    • Don't allow the focus of the interview to be your disability, and do not use the interview as an opportunity to air past grievances.
    • Remember employers want candidates who are positive and enthusiastic.
    • Should you need any special equipment or adjustments to the workplace find out what support you are entitled to so you can advise employers who may not know what help is available.
  • Try to avoid mannerisms - don't fidget.
  • Be enthusiastic, but most of all be yourself.
  • At the end of the interview you will have a chance to ask questions. Have one ready.


Give yourself time before the interview

  • If the interview is being held at the company's premises, make sure you know the address and that you have checked out the transport situation.
  • Ensure that you arrive on time.
  • If the interview will involve making a presentation, don't forget to check what technology will be available (computer, projector etc).



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You've guided me through some fairly scary decisions and situations as I've moved towards finding a career for myself... We're enormously lucky to have you as a Careers Adviser in Trinity and you've had a really positive effect on my life. Many thanks.

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