Introduction to interview types and preparation techniques 

Interviews can be daunting, but a little preparation can help ease those nerves. Here's what to expect and how to make sure you leave a good impression upon a prospective employer.

The rising competition of strong calibre of candidates resulted in a more sophisticated selection processes employers apply at interviews. Below, you will find a list of interview types that will help you understand interview process and ace your upcoming interview!

Competency-based interviews

This is the most common interview type in Ireland. Employers assess whether candidates possess certain skills and competences required for the job and ask scenario and skilled based questions. 

These types of questions would usually start with “Can you give me an example…” and “Tell me about a time…”, as employers would like to hear practical examples. 

Sample of competency-based questions: 

  • Tell me about a time you worked as a part of a team?
  • Describe a situation where you encountered a problem and how did you solve it?
  • Can you give an example when you were working on multiple projects and how did you manage your time?
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a difficult decision and talk me through your actions?

You can prepare for these questions by examining a job description and listing down required skills. Structure your answers using the STAR approach: 

  • Situation – set a scene and introduce employers to the example you would like to talk about 
  • Task – what were you assigned to do? 
  • Action – describe actions you undertook, why and how you did it, covering competences asked in the question. Make this part personal, and talk about your actions rather than describing other people actions
  • Result – what was the outcome of your activity? You can talk about positive feedback, skills acquired or, perhaps, how would you address this issue in the future

Answering competency-based question: Accountability, Jennifer Kwan, Careers Advisor – 4.53 minutes

Strengths-based interviews

Employers start embedding strengths-based questions in their interviews as this gives an opportunity to hear genuine and non-rehearsed answers, compared to competency-based questions, which can be practiced by candidates beforehand. 

Sample of strengths-based questions:

  • What motivates you in life? Where do you seek inspiration from?
  • What gives you energy?
  • What drains your energy?
  • Describe your productive day at work
  • What activities would you rather avoid doing?

Telephone interviews

There is a growing trend for employers to use telephone interviews to pre-screen candidates. This is a great opportunity to impress employers as you can highlight your interest and motivation. We recommend considering about the following: 

  • If you receive a call unexpectedly, it is probably best to explain you are unable to speak properly and arrange a time to take the call.
  • Take the call in a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted and ideally use a landline.
  • It is not only what you say but also how you say it that creates an impression of you. There are no visual clues unlike a face-to-face interview, so the tone and rhythm of your voice are very important.
  • Smiling whilst you talk really helps to life the tone of our voice and convey an enthusiastic tone.
  • An advantage of a telephone interview is that you can have you CV and some notes in front of you.
  • Be prepared for the usual interview questions.
  • Consider standing throughout the interview. It will help you project energy and reduces the risk of sounding too casual over the phone.
Succeeding at telephone interviews: Enterprise Rent a Car, CPL and Guidewire - 1.31 minutes 


Video interviews

Video interviews are becoming increasingly common in graduate applications. All candidates are sent a link with 4-5 interview questions that they can answer at their convenience.

  • There is generally an opportunity to do a practice question but once the real interview begins, you can’t rewind or review your answers.  You will generally have 20 seconds to read the question and one minute to answer it.
  • Conduct the video interview in a quiet place.
  • The interviewer will be able to see what is behind you so make sure the room and background is appropriate.
  • Test the broadband, camera and microphone before starting the interview.
  • Dress in interview attire.
  • Some find talking to a blank screen off putting, so it is worth practicing this beforehand.
  • Self-recorded and YouTube video options tend to be used for sales, media or marketing roles. Candidates are invited to upload a film to showcase their personality and presentation skills.
Tips for completing video interviews: Musgraves, IBEC and Aryzta - 2.33 minutes