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Interviewing. Failing to Prepare is…..

Interviews - it's your chance to impressImagine……..A theatre production with no rehearsals, a dinner party with no planning or even sitting an exam without studying.
An image of chaos and even disaster swirls around my head as I visualise the above.

It is obvious that we need to plan and prepare before we execute our plans.  But do we always plan and prepare as much as we should?
In these challenging times it amazes me how often a job seeker turns up for an interview unprepared. There are fewer opportunities out there at the present, so one must seize every opportunity we get.

So here are some questions and points to ponder before your next interview:

Do you know where you are going and how to get there? I would suggest that you go out to the company a day before the interview, so you know exactly how to get there. I used to walk into the reception area to get a feel of the organisation prior to the interview.

Do you know the names and titles of who you are meeting? Have you where possible researched those individuals? Use the internet or even your personal network to get as much information on your interviewers.

Have you researched the company?Again the internet is a super place for learning about an organisation. However in addition to that – Do you know of any working or that has worked in the Company that you could talk to prior to your interview.
You should know exactly what the company does, who their competitors are and what the company’s values are?

Do you fully understand the Job Description or do I have a detailed job description?
Always make sure you clarify any grey areas prior to interview. It will keep you from getting thrown at interview stage.

Did you write your CV? Many people are getting their cv done up by Agencies or even CV services. Often the end result is that the CV is not written in your words and reads like a foreign document. So know your cv and make sure it represents you and not someone else.Do Mock Interviews

The 3 minute you. Know what you are going to say when asked the question: “Tell me about yourself?”
Maybe practice a 3 minute answer. Highlight your strengths and achievements.

Questions at the end: You have done a super interview and just answered the final question. The interviewer then
asks you “Do you have any questions? Your mind goes blank and all you want to do is get
out of there ASAP. It vital that you think up for 2-3 intelligent questions you can ask before
the interview. Try not to make the questions all about you. Demonstrate your interest and knowledge in the organisation with your questions.

Many interviews today are competency based interviews. Practice answering competency based questions. Eg. Tell me a time you dealt with an awkward customer. Do “Mock” Interviews with friends or family prior to the interview and ask for constructive feedback.

Good preparation will help quash nerves at interviews and ensure that you maximise your chances of securing that position. Who knows your next interview might be the last one you have to prepare for in a long time. Good Luck!!

What tips or advice would you give to a fellow job seeker?

Greg is a Social Media trainer and workshop facilitator with the Digital Marketing Institute. He has also delivered lectures and short courses for leading organisations including SureSkills, and The Michael Smurfit Business School. Greg also works with the Ahain Group as a Social Business Consultant. He believes that in order to make social media work for your business you must have a clear business goal, a clearly defined strategy and make sure that everything you do is measureable. Specialities include: Social Media Training | Personal Branding |Social Business Consultancy | Social Strategy Workshops | Interview Techniques | Psychometric Profiling | LinkedIn Training | Facebook Training | Twitter Training | Blogging | Online Video and You Tube Training | Emerging Social Media (Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+ etc.) More information at: and

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  • Great advice Greg. I believe “The 3 minute you” is extremely important. Knowing exactly what’re your strengths (and weaknesses) might make the entire difference. This is the same thing as asking someone in business “what’s your USP? or what’s makes you different than the rest”? If you don’t know that, you’re in the same sack as everybody else.
    Also, knowing what are your exact strengths goes beyond simply being ready for the question… it means feeling very confident too! For those employers that can’t appreciate what you have, you know there’s someone out there that will 🙂

  • Good post Greg and some worthy advice for candidates. An addition to the piece on competency based interview – essentially interviewers are looking for the “situation, task, action and result” i.e. what was going on, what did you do and what was the out-come. It should be noted that a negative outcome is fine in an example providing you can demonstrate what you learnt :). Just don’t make them all negative!

  • Hello Greg,

    I think you have portrayed some very valuable points that are evident but some people just don’t get it. Doing your homework is vital to make a good impression, from submitting your Résumé to the interview, to dressing the part, arriving early, making a lasting first impression on the interviewer, keeping it simple and staying focused. End the interview on a high note and lastly send a hand written thank you note.
    This could mean you getting the job over somebody else. Technical skills and knowledge account for 15% of the reason you get a job, keep a job and advance in a job. 85% of your job success is connected to your people skills.

  • Greg, great post! I have interviewed many people over the years and here’s something that I noticed. Why someone wants to leave their current role and what attracts them to this new opportunity should have a synergy in my opinion but often the candidate let’s themselves down when answering questions about this. An example: the person says that they want to leave their current role because there are no opportunities for progression. Later you ask them, what attracts them to this role and they say the security of working for a big company. Immediately an alarm bell goes in my head as I’m thinking they are giving me the answers that they think I want to hear rather than the reality of their situation. It’s just a thought, but as I say it something that I have noticed time and again.

  • Ah Greg, the good old classics!!! Arriving late because of “traffic” but actually, the person never found out directions beforehand. Not knowing the name of the person you are meeting, etc etc. It’s hard to imagine this is still happening today, especially as people have fewer opportunities for interviews etc. Job seekers have more time on their hands, the perfect opportunity to gather more information beforehand.

    My tip? Just when you think you have done enough research – DO MORE, never less than you think.
    Utilise the Internet, social networking, social media, and NEVER be afraid to ask for a name or referral, even if it’s down the local pub on a Friday night

  • Anonymous

    Great tip Elaine – “when you think you have done enough research and preparation- DO MORE”
    Spot on.

    PS. I’d say the “Mock interviews” down the local on a Friday night would be a great laugh. Particularly late in the evening…LOL.

  • Anonymous


    Thanks so much for your comments. The hand written thank you letter is a super way to cement that good impression you made at interview stage and to remain at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind. Great point.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comments Niall. You raise an interesting point, that it is important that our answers are sincere and demonstrate our interest in the specific role, rather than over the top scripted nonsense. Very often candidates give an answer without explaining the reason behind the answer.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comments Fred. By demonstrating your USPs, Your strengths and your achievements you will shine above your competition.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your comment Barney. Thanks for mentioning the STAR Approach.

    • Situation
    • Task
    • Action
    • Result.

    It is really helpful for the candidate to be aware of it when answering questions at interview.

  • Barney, Greg,
    Also a great system to build into a CV, simplified as TAR – instead of listing bullets of responsibilities for each role, pick a task that they accomplished well, and do a TAR analysis : Task, Action, Result.

    The key aspect of using this system is it is measureability – one can demonstrate how they tackled a difficult challenge, the approach to solve the problem, and the quantifiable result they obtained (€ savings, percentage increases or decreases, time saved, clients saved etc)
    I can now add the S to my TAR – suddenly becomes a much brighter acronym 🙂

  • Anonymous

    You are a STAR for sharing the TAR with us! Great advice.

  • A great list. Here’s another one

    win-win situation = why not just say “We both have to concede something so that this can progress”. It’s impossible for two conflicting sides to both win and not concede!

  • I have found some interview questions quite funny.”Where do you see yourself in five years?” etc

  • Hi Derbhile,

    Great to hear from a fellow writer! (I’m studying a creative writing and Lit diploma and writing a book).

    It’s like a secret society language for Biz. More powerful and expresses creativity. Plus its a business norm – we repete phases to fit in.

    Here’s a few more for the list :
    When all is said and done (same as ‘at the end of the day’)
    Think outside the box (Innovative – same as ‘blue sky thinking’)
    Our only saving grace (Only positive thing about this)
    Hit the ground running (Get stuck in / energetic)
    Raising the bar (New level)
    Tight-knit on this (Work closely in a group)
    Lay our cards on the table (Be upfront / honest)
    Run with (Carry on with)
    Wrap up (Complete/finish)
    Double-edged sword (Could go either way)
    Caught between a rock and a hard place (Not sure which way to turn as both are as bad as each other)
    Back against the wall (No choice)

    Could go on forever!

  • Best answer – Doing your job! ;0 )

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the post Derbhile, made me laugh. Check out Bulls**t Bingo at

  • Gerard Sugrue

    You’re missing:
    – singing from the same hymn sheet = in agreement
    – leverage = take advantage of
    – ramp up = prepare for
    – steep leaning curve = lot of preparation and research needed

    I think there is potential for an update of Myles na gCopaleen’s “catechism of cliche”

    Q: What colour of ‘atmospheric thought’ is needed?
    A: ‘Blue Sky Thinking’

    Q: How do we arrange our farmyard poultry?
    A: We get all our ducks in a row



  • My favorite that was doing the rounds 7 years ago when all my friends were dappling in shares, who inevitably had their fingers well burnt:
    “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” with it’s opposite “fingers in too many pies”

    I didn’t dapple, but admire them for their enthusiasm
    I’m sure there are plenty more…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Derbhile
    we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet and need to be pro-active when thinking outside the box. With joined up thinking and some leverage we could take ownership and stick it inside the outside of the box.
    If you get my meaning
    Loved your post, all this nonsense is priceless and they’re out there

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