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Getting A Second Interview

What you really need to know The majority of people find interviews a daunting task. You really should not. The long and the short of it i...

What you really need to know
The majority of people find interviews a daunting task. You really should not. The long and the short of it is that an interview board have asked you to come see them. Taken time out of their day because they believe from just your CV that you have something they need. They have a vacancy and it is within all companies' priorities to get the best candidate. Whether the position is for waiting tables or as a CEO always remember that the interview board want you to be there and it is them that are lucky you are. Once you start believing that and knowing it is true,it will certainly ground you. That said it is okay to be nervous.
The last thing you want to do is leave people thinking you are too "cocky" for the role The only thing worse is if your CV speaks volumes about you but your personality or confidence on the day doesn't live up to what they were expecting. Here are some tips that should help candidates.
  1. Sell Yourself:
    Don't be afraid to say you were the youngest person to be promoted in your last job, or even that you received highest leaving cert marks in your year at school. You can't do anything wrong doing this. Just remember it is meant to be a conversation and not a fact sheet on you.
  2. Answer Briefly:
    When asked something, give direct answers, with minimal detail. Remember most interview boards will see many candidates for the same role. Don't leave them trying to remember the one good point in ten minutes of waffle. It is perfectly fine to ask things like "would you like me to give more detail on any of the responsibilities I undertook?" In an interview you should ideally be talking one third of the time, and never more than half the time. If you feel you are waffling then round it up and cut briefly back to main point to reiterate, then stop. Practise your own answers before hand it will help you focus on the points you want them to know.
  3. The Why You Left Question:
    If people did not leave jobs then people would never do interviews. Do not come across as defensive or false. Describe why you left or are leaving; give references to support your work performance in your current or previous employment.. Stick with the facts and make sure you don't slate your company. This always scores black marks, even if they are direct competitors nobody wants to hear somebody in an interview with no respect for last job or colleagues. It immediately says you are not a team player.

    If it is the case that you are leaving because you are unhappy in your work place, don't be afraid to say this. The truth in most situations like that is that you know you won't be given the opportunity to progress, or possibly have been overlooked. Even if it is colleagues that are making you unhappy don't name names. Be diplomatic and simply and openly use something like "I have been doing my job for X amount of time, I have gotten to the stage now where I don't feel as challenged and (this could be a good place to put due to help of colleagues and team work I have got to this stage etc) I think I can do really well in a more challenging role with the experience I have gained". You can even say how there are things you would do differently in your next position or how you may be able to avoid an inevitable departure next time.

    It is never any harm to bring up a weakness saying something like "The truth is, I really need to work on my leadership skills. I'm a good worker and totally competent, but sometimes I lack the confidence to stand up and take a leadership position." Nobody is good at everything, and no interviewer expects it. But don't sugar coat it and certainly don't say i'm leaving just because I want to!
  4. Take Control:
    It is ultimately you who takes control of the interview. Don't leave the interviewer have to ask you one question after another for an hour. That's when it going to feel like an interrogation. If you can't fit in a follow up to an answer question like "was I clear on that?" or "did I give enough detail?" then don't be afraid to ask generic questions like "how many employees are on this site?" or "will there be any further growth within this department in the coming months?" Even asking small things that aren't directly related to the job like "does the sports and social club run many events throughout the year?" will add a bit more filling to any interview. Most interviews end with "have you any questions for us?" Make sure you do, but don't ask about money or benefits at the first interview.
  5. Be Prepared:
    In this highly technological era most companies will have a website or at least articles on their business published. Have something to say that will show you have an interest in this job and this sort of work. Even something as small as knowing that the sister company recently hired 50 new production staff, make the interviewer feel good about you and your capabilities and initiative and the rest will fall into place. A good tool is Google-News,( for checking up to date news on a company. The Sunday business papers will always have up to date facts on any of the big rollers. And the stock market can even tell you how well a company is doing.
  6. Look And Feel Your Best:
    We have all worn that special something on a night out that made us feel great. Do the same at an interview but keep it professional. I would always recommend a suit and failing that at least long sleeves make you look more professional. If the budget is tight don't be afraid to wear the 5-year-old suit they won't have seen it before. All things are easily spruced up with a new top or even basic accessories. For longer hair if it is not tied back make sure it is looking well kept. Do not step out of the shower and tie up a wet ponytail either! Girls when it comes to make up stick with neutral colours that suit you best and neither guys nor girls should overdo it on the perfumery. You're going to be shaking hands with this person or persons don't have them get a mouthful of perfume and likewise they don't want to smell smoke either. If you smoke before an interview, it surely will be noticed. Take this from experience always have a mint or bottle of water with you.
  7. Feedback:
    Regardless of the result, if you are called for a second interview or told no thanks ask for feedback! Whether it is with the recruitment agency representative or the company itself. If you hear something you don't like then try to turn it into a positive, i.e next time you will know that this kind of job/company really wanted a team player so you will emphasis your involvement in the sports and social club in your last job etc. Not only does it help you for other interviews or jobs but it does allow the person giving the feedback a bit more insight into you. They will remember how professionally you took the let down or how disappointed you were or how open you were to suggestions and it will stand to you. Hiring a recruitment agency is an expensive undertaking and if they think you might be right for the job next time round you can be sure they will call you directly. Even when the interview is over and if the next time you see the person is in a social sense even just remember why they know you.
  8. In Short:
    Look good feel good. Approach with a smile, welcome all questions openly and know what you are talking about. The interview will be about you and who knows you better than yourself! Do not answer a question you don't understand simply ask them to repeat it or just say "im afraid I don't understand what you mean by ...." Make sure you make eye contact and ask the power questions that will make you stand out from other candidates. Do not give out too much information about your personal life, there will be plenty time for that later. Stay focused and listen. Mimic the interviewers' style and approach. Use your hands while talking to draw they're attention back if you start to waffle, then hush! Be enthusiastic!!! Remember, whatever you do, do not sound desperate, even if you have been unemployed for months let them be impressed with you and not depressed by your demeanour. And best of luck!!
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This is one of the first questions you are likely to be asked. Be prepared to talk about yourself, and why you're an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer questions about yourself without giving out too much, or too little, personal information. You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don't relate directly to work, such as a favorite hobby or a brief account of where you grew up, your education, and what motivates you. You can even share some fun facts and showcase your personality to make the interview a little more interesting.

If it feels daunting to generate this information from scratch, you can rely on a simple formula to construct your answer. The ‘present-past-future’ formula is a way to share key background points while ending on a high note. Begin with a brief overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion), reference how you got to where you are (here you could mention education, or an important experience such as a past job, internship or volunteer experience) and then finish by touching on a goal for the future.

Bonus points if you’re able to identify how the position you’re applying for aligns with how you envision your future.

Remember to be careful about what you include in your answer – avoid potentially contentious subjects such as political or religious leanings, unless you are absolutely positive that your opinions would be well-received by your interviewer. You should also avoid talking too much about family responsibilities or hobbies that might make your interviewer wonder whether you could commit yourself 100% to the job.

No matter how you choose to respond, write out your answer in advance and then read it aloud to ensure it sounds natural. Try to keep it short and sweet, as you don’t want to come across as the type of person who endlessly drones on about themselves.


When answering this question, interview coach Pamela Skillings recommends being accurate (share your true strengths, not those you think the interviewer wants to hear); relevant (choose your strengths that are most targeted to this particular position); and specific (for example, instead of “people skills,” choose “persuasive communication” or “relationship building”). Then, follow up with an example of how you've demonstrated these traits in a professional setting

Tips to answer this question:

+ Grab hold of the opportunity this question gives you. This question really lets you guide the interview where you want it to go. This your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!
+ Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position. (As I mentioned earlier)
+ Find out from your company research and from the job description what strengths the company puts a lot of stock into.
+ Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or fact.
+ Don’t be overly modest but don’t claim to be Superman or Superwoman either.
+ Don’t name a strength that is irrelevant to the job at hand.


"What are your weaknesses" is one of the most popular questions interviewers ask. It is also the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."

Tips to answer this question:

+ Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it.
+ Show that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself.
+ Don’t you DARE answer with the cliche “I’m a perfectionist” answer or any other such answer that the hiring manager can see right through.
+ Don’t highlight a weakness that is a core competency of the job. (Know the job description “inside and out”.)
+ Don’t dodge this question.


If an interviewer asks, "Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?" and you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20% reduction in the workforce, which included me."

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."

Tips to answer this question:

+ If it was because you left voluntarily then reference a specific characteristic that the company you are interviewing for has that you are attracted to. One that your previous employer didn’t have.
+ If you were let go, be honest and explain the situation and own it. Explain what you learned from the experience, because the interviewer knows you’re human, you make mistakes, and just wants to see that you were able to do something about it
+ Words like “downsizing” and “budget cuts” and “bad economy” are good defenses if they are true and are the reasons for departure from the job.
+ Don’t bash your last company or boss or anything along those lines.
+ Don’t say, “It’s time for a career switch and I’d like to try my hand at the job you are offering” or “I’m tired of doing the same old thing.” Give a pointed, Positive reason for why you want to head off in a new direction.
+ Don’t lie if you were fired.


Nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past jobs, so don't be shy when answering this interview question! A great way to do so is by using the S-T-A-R method: Set up the situation and the task that you were required to complete to provide the interviewer with background context (e.g., “In my last job as a junior analyst, it was my role to manage the invoicing process”), but spend the bulk of your time describing what you actually did (the action) and what you achieved (the result). For example, “In one month, I streamlined the process, which saved my group 10 man-hours each month and reduced errors on invoices by 25%.”

Tips to answer this question:

+ Talk about an accomplishment that exhibits how you will be a perfect fit for the company and for the position you’re interviewing for.
+ Try and show some genuine passion when you’re talking about your accomplishment.
+ Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your accomplishment is “too small”. The fact is, relating a small accomplishment that is inline with “what the company values” can be more powerful than an unrelated accomplishment. (Remember: “It’s not about you, It’s about them.”)


If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals, but consider this: A hiring manager wants to know a) if you've set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition (a.k.a., this interview isn't the first time you're considering the question), and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. And if the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations? It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.

Tips to answer this question:

+ Demonstrate when you answer the question your level of commitment to the position they are interviewing you for.
+ After you have demonstrated your commitment to the role you are interviewing for, outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the role you’re in and the needs and values of the company.
+ Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company.
+ Don’t exhibit ambition to the point of seeming like this particular job is just a “brief stepping stone” for you. You need to show commitment.
+ Don’t say you want to be CEO of the company in 5 years.
+ Don’t say “Actually I want to be in YOUR seat within the next 5 years.” to the hiring manager.


Answer "Why should we hire you?" by summarizing your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

Tips to answer this question:

+ Show the hiring manager that you are uniquely suited to filling this position. Be the candidate that solves their “problems“.
+ Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared.
+ Tell a “success story” that highlights how you have the ‘qualities’ needed to fill their specific needs.
+ Don’t get discouraged if the hiring manager mentions that “they have lots of very well qualified candidates…” before they lead into this question. (It’s a common “lead in”)
+ Don’t be too modest. This is your chance to shine. Make it count.
+ On the flip side don’t go too overboard and sound too arrogant.
+ Don’t be “wishy-washy” or too general with your answer.
+ Don’t answer with “why” you want the job. Answer with “why you are the perfect fit” for the job.


Any candidate can read and regurgitate the company’s “About” page. So, when interviewers ask this, they aren't necessarily trying to gauge whether you understand the mission—they want to know whether you care about it. Start with one line that shows you understand the company's goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, but then go on to make it personal. Say, “I’m personally drawn to this mission because…” or “I really believe in this approach because…” and share a personal example or two.

9. What are your salary requirements?

The #1 rule of answering this question is doing your research on what you should be paid by using sites like Payscale and Glassdoor. You’ll likely come up with a range, and we recommend stating the highest number in that range that applies, based on your experience, education, and skills. Then, make sure the hiring manager knows that you're flexible. You're communicating that you know your skills are valuable, but that you want the job and are willing to negotiate.


At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to put your own questions to the interviewer.

+ Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.
+ Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!
+ Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to ask.

It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as follows:
Interviewer: Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there anything you would like to ask me?
Interviewee: Thank you: I'd made a note to ask about your appraisal system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went over those earlier and I really feel you've covered everything that I need to know at this moment.

You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you feel is important to your application:
Don't feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions - if the chance to ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation - with a purpose.


Now onto the more generic skills, such as your ability to work in a team. No matter how big or small the team is, the hiring manager will want to know that you can develop a strong working relationship with them, as this is essential for productivity and achieving company goals. You may be asked something like the below in order to test if you are a strong team player:

Question: Give an example of team leading in past employment

Answer: You should summarise the task and nature of the group but focus primarily upon your role as team leader. List the personal qualities you possess which made you ideal for leading this team and how you achieved success. Conclude your answer by giving examples of the lessons you learnt while leading this team.


Your ability to communicate effectively and influence others to act in support of your own and team goals will be examined. An ability to adapt your communication methods depending on situations and individuals is important here.

Question: Provide an example of how you explained a technical concept to a client or co-worker lacking your technical expertise.

How to Answer: Competency based interview questions are meant to determine how well you communicate with others, including your ability to simplify difficult concept. The customer service question about negative feedback is meant to determine whether or not you’re capable of dealing with customer comments that aren’t all that positive in a courteous, constructive manner. With a few of your examples, briefly discuss what you learned from those interactions.


Decision making is a skill that requires the ability to process information and filter this information to ensure you produce a sound and valid decision. You should be able to provide examples of situations where this skill has been tested. Use examples where an obvious answer is not immediately apparent.

Question: Can you tell me about a time when you consulted others when making important project decisions?

How to Answer: You’ll notice that interviewers tend to want specific examples to illustrate your abilities. It’s not unusual for questions to be fairly complex in nature, often involving multiple, related parts. Don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, answer questions one point at at time by providing relevant, easy to digest examples. If you forget the rest of the question, politely ask the interviewer to repeat it.


This competency assesses your personal motivation and how you approach challenges.

Question: What is your biggest achievement?

Answer: Ideally, use a work-related example to illustrate your key career achievement. Highlight exactly why you consider it important, with details of the role you played. If your biggest achievement in life is related to your personal life, use commercial references such as budget slashing, determination, commitment and team work to communicate all the associated positive aspects.


Auestion: Give me an example of a time when you had to plan a project or a large piece of work.

Tips for Successful Answers:

+ Demonstrate how you have worked in a structured and methodical way.
+ Show real detail about the steps you have taken to plan.
+ Explain how you have amended or flexed the original plans you’d made.
+ Talk about how you built pre-emptive solutions to potential problems


Your ability to understand and believe in the importance of customer focus will be tested here. You must display a competency for understanding the difference between internal and external customers.

Question: What about important clients, or complex or sensitive customer relationships?

Answer: If you can show that through your customer service orientation you saved the company from losing something of value (a big client, $X amount of revenue, 20 man hours a week) then you will really demonstrate your customer focus. Or did you save the company a political, organizational, or image problem? Write it out. What was the situation? What action did you take? How did you communicate to your teammates and how did you communicate with the customer? What was the result? … I hope this gets you thinking.


Leadership is a competency employers look for in candidates who are applying for jobs that require them to lead, motivate and/or develop other people, usually team leader and management positions

Question: Describe a time you took a leadership position when you did not have the title of a leader.

Answer: In this question, take an example from a situation where you were in a group and took responsibility to delegate to achieve goals. Show how you gained from the other members to follow your lead and the result of your leadership.

For instance, in college, we were put into groups of four to complete a marketing project. We had to prepare a 15-page paper and 10-minute presentation on a new product. We want to introduce that outside the U.S. I took the initiative among the group to lead a discussion on how we should split up the work when we meet throughout the semester and deadlines for each person’s part of the work. Because I was the one to take the lead the discussion and had a plan in mind, I gained the buy in of the other members quickly. I took everyone’s e-mail address and created a group email to help us all keep track of our progress and so we could help each other outside of class and our meetings. By the end of the semester, my group achieved a 95% on our project.


Conflict resolution skills and the ability to disagree with others professionally and politely are necessary for successful contribution in organizations. If every employee employer hire is willing to engage in conflict resolution, more new ideas and better approaches to solving problems will take place in your organization.

Question: Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace

Answer: Your interviewer will assess your adaptability and gauge the constructiveness of your approach towards conflict, tension and differences of opinion. Your example(s) should highlight the importance of your role in resolving these issues.


Question: Give me an example of your creativity?

Answer sample:

One of my key creative accomplishments occurred in my current job, when I had to increase market share for a new product without increasing our existing marketing budget. I kicked off with some internal brainstorming on how to maximize the use of our resources and be more creative in the way we market. I worked with our two interns, both of whom were creative writing majors, on creating a blog for our website, plus Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for the company’s new product. I tasked the interns with managing the pages, and the three of us came up with relevant content for each social page. The ultimate aim was to create a community of fans and buzz around the new product.

Through product teasers on Twitter, the timely answering of questions on Facebook, and brief video tutorials on Instagram, we grew a fan base of 2,500 people in just three months. When the product was released, first day sales exceeded all expectations, and sales continued on a steady incline for the rest of the year. A lot of the success was attributed to the online fan base we developed, where positive word-of-mouth spurred an influx of customers to purchase the product through the trackable online sales page we created in-house with our design and dev teams.


Question: Explain a time when you were not able to meet a deadline?

Answer: Use an example were you where not able to meet a deadline due to outside factors. For instance, there was a big project that my team was working on, and I had split up the work among some members and myself. During that time, one member of the team had to leave due to their spouse getting a position in another city. He left at a critical time, and I had to re-assign his duties to someone else. I make the new person work to speed with the progression of the project and due to this, was not able to complete it on time. We were still able to complete the project a few days after the deadline even with the change in the team member.


The old adage goes that managers want people who come to them with solutions, not problems, and for me, I couldn’t agree more. The employees who can rise to a challenge and think of innovative ways to solve a problem are the ones who go on to achieve great things both for themselves and the business. Taking this into account, your manager may ask something like:

Question: Give an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace, and how you overcame it

Answer: If you are entering the workplace direct from school, college or university, this question will be geared towards your academic experiences.

Provide a great example of a task that involved using as many skills and abilities as possible. An ideal answer to this question enables you to demonstrate your ability to work in a team, display leadership skills and handle pressure.


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