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Trinity College Dublin

Prepare for Interview

Read the job description again carefully. Underline keyword/skills associated with the role.

You need to prove you possess the necessary attributes and skills. Destinations® Self Awareness will help you identify your skills, values, interests and personality preference and clarify what you have gained from experience of all kinds. For instance, interests often take up very little space on a CV or application form but they are important to the employer for what they say about your motivation and what you are enthusiastic about. How your answer to a question on interests can give a more rounded picture of your passions and skills. Learn more about What Employers Want.

Your task is then to match that experience against the requirements of the employer and to ensure there is the closest fit possible.
The Employer Interview Evaluation sheet at Destinations® will help you to see how decisions are made.

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.
    Video availableLearn more about these needs at Destinations® (Association of Graduate Recruiters, UK) .
  • 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.
  • To move yourself from a perceived 'candidate' at the beginning of the interview to a potential 'co-worker' by the end.

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?
    More information available Tips for researching the company can be found at Destinations®
  • Read the organisation's website, brochure or annual report. Check social media for current news about the organisation. How many does it employ? What backgrounds do they have?
  • Talk to someone who works there. Use the Trinity Alumni Community to identify alumni who may be working there and who can give you some informal advice and information.

2. Establish the ideal candidate

  • From your research you should be able to work out a list of ideal qualities, skills and competencies required for the position. For example, self-motivation, problem solving, communication, creativity and teamwork, are some of the skills that employers will look for.

3. Plan your interview

  • Have plenty of specific examples drawn from your own experiences to help you answer questions the interviewer may ask to establish if you are the most suitable candidate. Provide evidence and examples of your successes. The employer is recruiting you for your strengths. Your achievements are evidence of those strengths. If possible try to identify measurements for those achievements eg. "increased membership of the Tiddlywinks Society by 50%".
    Video availableHear advice from Avril Quinn, HP Recruiter, Stryker Instruments at Destinations® .
  • 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.
  • If psychometric or ability tests are part of the interview process it is useful to practice beforehand. See Testing section for links to sample materials.
  • For skype or video interviews see ?????

5. Be attentive to your personal presentation

  • Dress appropriately for the job and sector. If in doubt, formal business attire is recommended.
  • Exercise availableVideo AvailableSee advice on the importance of personal presentation at Destinations®.

Golden rules for answering questions

  • Be enthusiastic, listen actively, lean forward slightly and keep eye contact with the interviewer.
  • 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.
    Exercise available Learn how you can deal with these types of questions at Destinations®
  • Always be positive. Even when things have gone badly for you, try to think positively about what you have learned from the experience.
    Learn how you can rescue an interview that is turing out badly for you at Destinations®
  • 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.
  • don't interrupt the interviewer.
  • 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).
  • More information available Learn more about the logistics of interviews from Destinations®.


Disclosing a Disability

  • Consider the issues relating to disclosing a disability.
  • Consult the available resources and talk to your Careers Consultant for advice on disclosure but remember it is your decision.




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What’s On?

... your publicizing of the role was very successful, we have found and hired someone thanks to you! Thanks for your help.

Henry TindalPositive Equity,
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