Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

Interviews – Competency Based (Part 2)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

competency based interviews


Competency Based Interviews are a popular style of interview in the public sector and HSE, and used by many US multinationals.

Common competencies titles include problem solving skills, team skills, leadership skills, communications skills, analysis and decision-making skills, negotiation skills, influencing skills, and planning and organisational skills.

Competency Based Interview questions seek past examples that demonstrate a certain set of behaviours. To achieve optimum outcome at a competency based interview you should use the STAR technique – Situation, Task, Actions and Results.


Below I will discuss two competencies – team skills and influencing skills.

Team Skills – Demonstrates an interest in and understanding of others; Adapts to the team and builds team spirit; Recognises and rewards the contribution of others; Listens, consults others and communicates proactively; Supports and cares for others; Develops and openly communicates self-insight

An example of a competency based interview question would be …….. Tell me about a time when you had to adapt your own style to work effectively with others in a team? How did you approach this? What was the outcome? What did you do to build team spirit?

Influencing Skills – Makes a strong personal impression on others; Gains clear agreement and commitment from others by persuading, convincing and negotiating; Promotes ideas on behalf of self or others; Makes effective use of political processes to influence and persuade others

An example of competency based interview question would be …… Describe a situation where you had difficulty persuading someone around to your point of view? How did you try to persuade him/her? How successful were you? What would you do differently next time?

Paul Mullan a leading interview coach. He has helped many job seekers successfully navigate competency based interviews. Contact Us for more information about competency based interview coaching.

Job Interview Preparation (Cheat Sheet)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Job Interview Preparation

I believe the saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is very appropriate when it comes to job interview success. Having said this, sometimes we just don’t have enough time to prepare for job interviews. Job interviews can be set at short notice or a busy schedule limits time.

Stuck for time, then here is some good advice. I believe it’s possible to predict many of the questions you’ll face at a traditional interview. They’ll fall into three categories – CV questions, common questions and job spec questions.

CV Questions – It’s important to review your CV – dates of employment, reason for moving jobs and key achievements/highlights. Here are some of the popular CV based questions.

Talk me through your CV?
Tell me about “x” role?
Why are you leaving current role? (Why did you leave your last role?)
What have you been doing since you left your last role? (If relevant)
Tell me about your qualifications and training?
What do you do outside of work?

Common Questions – These interview questions come up over and over again. People often call them “difficult interview questions”.

Why do you want this job? / Why do you want to work for our company?
Why should we hire you?
What you know about our company?
Do you have any questions?
What are your strengths/weakness?
What are your salary expectations?
What are your career goals?

Job Spec Questions – Prepare to be questioned about any point highlighted on the job specification. You should be very familiar with the job spec prior to interview. You should address each point on the job spec and sift up relevant examples, achievements and experience. Knowing the job spec will help you focus during interview. Sifting up examples/achievements will minimise the amount of thinking you’ll have to do during interview.

Paul Mullan is a leading interview coach. He has helped many job seekers successfully navigate job interviews to land new jobs. Paul offers challenging mock interviews and practical interview preparation advice. He will ensure you maximise your performance at interview.

Call 0871223308 or email to book an interview coaching session

Interview Coaching – Dublin, Meath, Louth, Kildare, Wicklow, Ireland

Interview Preparation – Improve Confidence at Interview

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Most jobseekers are nervous about interviewing and you know what – nerves are ok!! From experience coaching jobseekers I am more worried about those who don’t have any nerves. Quite often they mess up because their confidence normally equates to cutting corners in preparation.

Interview preparation for extra confidence

The more you prepare the more confident you will get. It is no secret that effective preparation will improve your confidence and performance. This is your starting point. Know what the employer wants and how you meet their needs. Know your own CV and learn about the company/industry.

Acknowledge your achievements before interviews

You need to acknowledge your achievements. This is an empowering exercise and will certainly boost confidence. My favourite exercise to support this is writing out “100 Successes List”. Please not that you will probably start struggling after about 20 successes BUT keep going. When you read through your success you will experience a significant rise in confidence. Worthwhile exercise even if you are not interviewing!!

Interviews – Confidence is a habit

You need to practice confidence as confidence is a habit. Watch how confident people act. You should also work on changing your thoughts and internal speak. What picture do you visualize when you think of an interview. For most people it is 3 (always 3) interviewers sitting at the far side of the interview table looking intimidating. Very rarely a reality. Start by changing this picture!!

Go to interview as a superhero

Superman – Try this as it really does work. We did this exercise at a martial arts workshop. Close your eyes and imagine you are entering a phone box, you spin around three times and emerge as superman/ or wonderwoman. You have the full outfit on. This does work and no I am not mad!!

Interviews – Some facts that might interest you.

You were called for interview because the employer liked your CV – A positive start!! He/She now wants a chat about your experience (which they love!!). The recruiter has a problem and you are the potential solution. They want you to succeed so they can stop recruiting and get back to their day job. By the way they don’t do much recruiting and are probably more nervous than you.

Measurability offering Interview Coaching & Interview Preparation information to jobseekers across Ireland – Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Cork, Clare, Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Westmeath, Longford, Mayo, Meath, Louth Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, Antrim, Down, Dublin

Interview Preparation – Negative results at Interview?

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Jobseekers can fail interviews for many reasons. I received a phone call from a jobseeker I had previously help with CV design. Their problem had now moved another step down the line. They were able to locate the jobs and get the interview but unfortunately failing at interview. My initial response was to enquire what feedback they were getting from the employers. There was a mixed response which can be normal as may employers feel they do jobseekers a favour by letting them down politely greatly reducing the opportunity to improve. Two bit of feedback stood out. The individual said one employer said that he came across as desperate to leave his current job. Another employer said that he didn’t seem interested in the job.

Interview preparation – hiding desperation.

Quite often a jobseeker can be desperate to leave a job BUT employers will look on this negatively as the question will always be there – does this individual want to join us or just get away from the current role. The likelihood is that most employers will shy away from these individuals as could be perceived that negativity is your driving factor and you would take any job. If you are desperate you must ensure that you do not portray this to the employer.

Interview preparation – playing it cool

Many jobseekers use a play it cool strategy when job hunting. They will not show desire to join a company for fear that they may seem desperate or that it may affect salary and package negotiation. Playing it too cool though can give the impression of lack of interest.


There are responses that can help you get the balance right ensuring that you do not fall into the above pitfalls at interview. Interview preparation will hone these skills so ensure you spend the time. Interview coaching can help you iron out the problems and improve your success.

Job search strategies – The speculative CV approach

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Most jobseekers take a reactive approach to job hunting. What I mean is that they send a CV to a few recruitment agencies or set up job posts with an online job board and sit back and wait for the interviews to roll in. This is great if it is working for you but what if you are not getting the results you want. There are 3 responses you can take;

1. Keep doing what you are doing – don’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results though!!
2. Change your approach when dealing with agencies or search the job boards differently.
3. Try a more proactive approach to job hunting.

Proactive job search strategies can help.

There are two popular strategies networking and speculative CV’s.

Speculative CV’s can take up a lot of time and seem a thankless task BUT when you do strike gold it can erase all these feelings and memories. A few tips about sending speculative CV’s include;

Targeted Approach – try to focus and not just approach this sporadically. Target a geography region or an industry sector. Ideally a preferred region or sector. Also record all your activity and responses.

Avoid HR Departments – Sending speculative CV’s to HR can be a waste of time. Although most recruitment will go through the department quite often there is an information time lag between them and the function you want to join. For example the Marketing Manager may know that an executive has just given notice or that it has been agreed with the MD to increase headcount and not have passed this information to HR yet.

Focused cover letter – A general letter with not title will lose impact. Find out the name of the department manager and address it to him/her directly.

Follow Up – Try following up with the manager you have targeted with a call. Have short sales pitch prepared.

Measurability offer expert career coaching services including career assessment, career direction, cv writing and interview coaching,

Competency Based Interviews / Behavioural Interviews

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Most jobseekers fear them but I say embrace them. Ok competency interviews are more difficult BUT they mean that the client has put some though into the recruitment process. This means that you will not be assessed on you interview ability or what school you went to. Instead you will be assessed against the key behaviours and competencies for the role. This will reduce the chance of a wrong hire for the client BUT more importantly a wrong job for you.

What is a competency based interview?

These interviews are based on the theory that past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. It uses probing questions such as “tell me about a time when you failed to achieve a specific goal” or give me a specific example of a time when you managed a number of projects simultaneously”. You need to prepare for competency interviews by recalling specific examples. You can also expect the interviewer to probe for more details on the situation you describe. If you have work experience great but if you do not use project, college of hobbies to provide examples.

How to prepare for competency based interviews?

You can ask for the competencies you will be assessed against. If these are not available try to work out what competencies will be assessed or hunt out similar job descriptions. Then use the STAR technique to prepare.

Situation or Task – Describe the situation, be specific and avoid generalization. Give the interviewer enough information so they understand.

Action – Describe the action taken and ensure you focus on “you” and not the team.

Result – What was the outcome or what happened? What did you achieve? What where the learning opportunities?

For more information about interviews or interview coaching visit our site.

Interview Coaching – Difficult Interview Questions

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Interview Questions
Probably the most common question I am asked when providing interview coaching sessions is “How do you handle the Salary question?” Simple think of a figure and multiply it by 10 – That would be nice!!There are a couple of points I make clear to job-seekers.1. It is probably best to dodge answering this question because you could price yourself out of the job BUT worse under-price yourself. I advise job-seekers to respond something like “I am currently on x but I am open to salary depending on the role and the location” This side steps answering and it also give the impression that you are not money driven. Or you could answer with a question “What would a role like this pay in your company?” The important thing is that this strategy forces the employer to lay their cards on the table first. If they make an offer under your expectation then you can negotiate. If they make an offer over your expectation – great!!.

2. If you have a minimum figure and money is a key motivation it is probably best to give the client indication of this if asked. Again how you ask for it is important. There is no point dancing round the question only to find after 3 interviews and alot of time invested that they can’t meet your expectations – wasting you precious time.

3. Final point – it is probably best to let the employer bring up the Salary topic. Only time I would go against this if you have to go to great time or financial expense to attend an interview and what to assess if it is worth your effort.

For additional information on Interview preparation, Interview Coaching, Competency Interviews and more check out our website Measurability.

 Happy Job Hunting

Career & Employment Blogs – Free CV, Interview, HR, Recruitment advice.

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

There is much free information and advice on the internet for jobseekers and employers. Below are the names of a few blogs which are focused on the Irish jobs market – Career advice and information about the job market in Ireland – information about CV’s and interviews – Blog for employers on related HR and recruitment topics – Jobs and news on the Irish jobs market