How to prepare for a Job Interview

What is the purpose of interviews:

Most employers offer people jobs after interviewing a number of possible candidates at an interview. Interviews let employers decide if you are suitable for the job on offer. They also provide you with a great chance to ask questions and decide whether or not it is the type of job you think you would like.

Preparation is Key

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so here are a few useful tips to help you get it right first time:

  • Before you go for the interview, do your research. Check out the company website. Knowing about the company and their business will demonstrate that you are keen and have initiative. It will also help you to feel more confident during the interview.
  • Make sure that you are clear about your own interests and goals. Be prepared to explain why you want the job and why you think you are suitable.
  • Prepare and anticipate potential questions. This will help you to organise your thoughts and develop good answers. Most importantly, know your CV inside out and be able to give specific examples to support the information you have given.

The type of interview you have will largely depend on what type of job you are applying for. For example, for part-time and/or temporary jobs in hospitality (restaurants, pubs and hotels) and in retail (shops), the interview will focus more around your manners (how polite you are) and dealing with customers face-to-face, as well as your previous experience or abilities related to the job. On the other hand, interviews for more formal, salaried, professional jobs will require a lot more as you will see below.

What should I expect in an interview?

Remember, it is perfectly normal to be a bit nervous about an interview. A certain amount of nerves can even help you perform better. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a job interview – things you can do to help you feel more confident and improve your interview skills.

  • Re-read and know your CV in advance of interview so it’s fresh in your mind
  • Know who you are meeting and the interviewer’s position in the company
  • Research the company – always check the website
  • Arrive early to allow time to compose yourself
  • Dress appropriately – smart and professional
  • Be polite to anyone you meet in the building
  • Create a strong first impression, be polite and self-assured
  • Politely shake hands, with a warm smile
  • Wait for the interviewer to invite you to sit down
  • Have an easy non-work related topic of conversation ready to discuss
  • Be relaxed but sit up straight
  • Position yourself so your body is facing the other person
  • Pay attention to your body language – look the interviewer in the eye and don’t cross your arms
  • Let the interviewer lead the conversation
  • Listen carefully to the questions and ask them to repeat or rephrase the question if it is not clear
  • Be honest and objective while answering questions and maintain good eye contact during the interview
  • Answer what you have been asked and try not to change the subject
  • If you are interested in the position, make sure they are in no doubt that you want the job
  • Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you
  • Always treat a second interview or any more after that in the same way as the first.


  • Answers that are too short
  • Being negative
  • Providing detail or information other than what is required
  • Becoming frustrated when asked stressful question
  • Making negative statements about former employers
  • Misrepresenting your skills, experience or educational background
  • Poor body language
  • Using offensive language

Will ‘on the spot’ hospitality or retail interviews be any different?

If you are taking your CV round to shops and cafes, or even recruitment agencies, be prepared for an interview there and then- i.e., on the spot. A lot of the points above will apply, but you should think of the interview as potentially beginning as soon as you walk in the door to hand in your CV. Here are a few extra tips that can help you prepare for such on-the-spot interviews.

  • Dress casually but clean and tidy. If you dress in a suit, they will think you are too serious.
  • Arrive when the restaurant or shop is not busy. E.g., not at lunchtime or in the evenings when they are more likely to be at their busiest.
  • If they like you, expect them to ask you to do a trial in the following day or two.
  • Manners are super important in the service industry. Make sure you show them how polite and friendly you are.
  • They may want to have some small talk with you to see what kind of person you are. So have one or two easy, non-work related topics of conversation ready to discuss. The weather or the local area are always good ones.
  • If you get a trial. It is extremely important that you show initiative and that you are hard working.
  • Make sure you are not too eager for the job. This may put the employer off from employing you.

What questions will they ask me?

  • What are your best qualities/weaknesses?
  • How would your immediate supervisor describe you?
  • Where do you see yourself in three years’ time?
  • How do you work/interact with others?
  • What did you learn in your last job?

When answering these questions, make sure you give real examples of situations from the past that demonstrate any qualities you mention.

What questions can I ask?

At the end of the interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask additional questions. Prepare a few questions that will help you understand the job’s potential. Here are some examples:

  • If I am successful in securing this position, what are the three most important tasks I need to work on?
  • What training opportunities are available?
  • I am interested in what I have heard. Do my skills and experience match what is needed to fill your vacancy?
  • How would you describe the culture of your company?

What should I bring?

For a job in hospitality or retail, a CV will generally be enough. But you might also want to have a few other things prepared. Here’s our list of things we think you should take or have quick access to when going to an interview:

  • A copy of your Curriculum Vitae
  • Contact names and numbers for references (local ones if you are looking for a part-time, temporary job)
  • Examination certificates
  • Directions to the company

Employers should not ask you what salary you expect, but they might. Because this is a tricky question, so you should have researched the current market rate and be prepared to say what your last salary was (if you feel that will give a good indication of your expectations). You should have a rough idea of what you would realistically be happy to receive.

How to close the interview?

It is very important to end any interview on a positive note and confirm your interest in the job. You can do this by saying something like, “I really like what I have heard about the company and I feel this is where I would like to work if you give me the opportunity. Is there anything I have said today that you would like clarification on?”

Thank them for meeting you, give a firm handshake with good eye contact, and don’t forget to smile!

What should I do after the interview?

You may not be told straight away whether or not you have got the job. Other applicants may have to be interviewed or the interviewer may have to consult other people in the company before reaching a decision. On the other hand, you might be offered the job on the day of the interview.

But don’t worry if you don’t get the first job you go to an interview for. The more interviews you do, the more relaxed you will become. And the more you prepare, the better impression you will make on the people you meet, and the more you will increase your chances of securing a job offer. To help you get into good habits before going to interviews, use our Interview Preparation Checklist:

If you need extra advice when preparing for job interviews, why not come along to the Job Shop on Wednesday afternoon2.00pm to 3.00pm (Online through Zoom – QR code is available on Noticeboard in the school). Prepare for your job interview with mock interviews and share your experiences and ideas with other students who are also looking for work in Dublin. Get organised and prepare for each interview you go to.  Don’t leave it to luck.

Contact us and we can help you improve your general English skills for better chances of getting a job while also focusing on the skills required to find a job in Dublin.