People often face challenges when they attend a job interview.  Indeed many people face challenges even thinking about applying for a new job as they fear the interview process so much.  I have sat on both sides of the interview table as an interviewee and as an interviewer so I can empathise with these feelings.

The biggest challenge for most people who come to me for interview skills is they really are unaware of their own skill set so they feel they have little to offer. Exploring and delving into the client’s skill set is an important part of our interview skills session. Preparation is the key to success in the interview process.  A bit like Roy Keane’s motto fail to prepare, prepare to fail. A good starting point in this preparation is to be aware of your skill set. So start working on a skills transcript NOW using the following tips;

  • Write down in our own words (forget the new buzz words), exactly what you do every day in your work/college/personal life,


  • Think about why you carry out these tasks,


  • Think about the skills used to complete these tasks,


  • Think about the results achieved by using these skills,


  • Think about what would happen if you didn’t use your skills to carry out these tasks.


  • Now convert these skills into what prospective employers are seeking and start the marketing process. You will be surprised how much you have to offer.

 People who have worked in the same or similar role for a number of years have a huge amount of tacit knowledge and skill built up.  In some cases they are unable to verbalise what this knowledge and skill is as they carry out tasks every day without thinking about the skills they are utilising.  Again they need to become self-aware by building up a skills transcript. The above exercise will help you to realise how much you have to offer. Belief me it works.

The next step is putting it all into words, knowing what to say and when to say it.  Some people tell me they are afraid of babbling on and not answering the question they are asked. With confidence this will get easier and being aware of your skills really builds your confidence here.

It is always a good idea to give a tangible example of a situation you used the queried skill in.  This is often referred to as Competency Based Interviews. My advice is to always relate the example to the role you are applying for or to make it relevant to the tasks set out in the job description.  This not only shows your ability in the skill but also that you know it is important to the role and demonstrates how you would practice this skill in the role.

I think a big mistake people make when preparing for an interview is learning off paragraphs of text to answer questions.  In the interview process it comes across as unnatural. The interviewer will question the integrity of the information provided. However, once you get comfortable with your skills and speaking about them in a positive way there is no need to learn paragraphs of text as the message you are communicating flows naturally from you to your interviewer.  Listen not only to what you are saying but how you are saying it; remember tone of voice can give away many clues regarding your suitability for the role.  

In the interview keep it simple; know yourself, know your skills,  know the job you are applying for, know the policies, procedures and regulations attached to the role, know the organisation you are applying to and know the industry; what is current in that industry.

Keep calm, remember to breathe and let the conversation flow.

“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is” (Scully F. 1950).


© 2017 Mary Hickey