Interview insights: We ask a major Irish employer what they love and hate to see in interviews
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Get the lowdown on interview dos and don'ts.
Doing an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. We'd all love to know exactly what to say and do but it's never that easy.
While we can't tell you exactly what your interviewer wants to hear, we can give you the next best thing. We asked a HR professional from a major Irish employer for their interview dos and don'ts.
Jean O'Gorman, Group HR Manager with Wright Insurance, was kind enough to provide some valuable insider insights that could really help you to ace your next interview.
Can you give us a brief summary of what you do at Wright Insurance?
I oversee the HR function for the company, which includes overseeing the provision of HR support to our key stakeholders and supporting strategic initiatives on the people side of the plan. It includes recruitment, workforce planning, employee learning and development, employee engagement, upholding employment legislation through advice and training, driving performance management and managing any employee relations and welfare concerns to name a few areas.
How do you judge an interviewee and what are the main qualities that you look for?
For our company, it is not just about whether the candidate matches the technical skills and knowledge for the role. We look for someone who is aligned to the values of our organisation. These are customer, integrity, communication, innovation and learning.
We feel that these are the important success factors for our employees and indeed, for candidates to be successful, we feel these are highly important. So a consistent demonstration of these values in terms of attitude and competency is what we look for at the interview. Researching the company’s website is also important - knowing what the company does shows a genuine interest in the business.
How important is a candidate’s presentation in an interview?
It definitely depends on the industry sector. Within the financial services industry, we feel it is important to represent a corporate and professional image with our clients and any visitors to our premises. If a candidate presented themselves in a way that did not match our dress code policy internally, then yes it would affect their success at the interview stage. It would be important for people to research this prior to the interview.
From an employer’s point of view, what’s the worst thing that someone could do at an interview?
There are probably many things to be honest. But, to name a few… not preparing their answers for questions they think may come up. Answering negatively about a previous employer or role or indicating frustration of some degree, being overconfident to the point where they come across as arrogant, smelling of alcohol, being late, not researching the role or company, or parents bringing them into the interview (yes that has happened).
What is the most common mistake that people make during interviews?
Not answering the actual question asked. Sometimes less is more. People can waffle on and go completely off the point which gives an indication they didn’t understand the question. Also, when asked a question around any particular areas for development, it’s important for a candidate to recognise that they have some areas of their skills which need improvement and answering honestly on this is preferable.
Obviously, it shouldn’t be something that is a required skill for the role but there is always something for everyone to improve, regardless of how long that they have been working.
What’s been the best/most memorable thing that you’ve seen in an interview?
For me, there have probably been a few occasions when a candidate is asked to prepare a presentation on a topic as part of their interview and they hit the nail on the head of exactly what it is you were looking for. They give you more than you expected in terms of content and delivery. They always stick with you.
Would you recommend that candidates memorise answers to common interview questions?
I think it’s wise to have preparation completed and each job is different, with a different interview question set potentially even within the same company. So there are definitely typical questions that are used for general competencies.
It's important the candidate can relate an example to something they have done previously, which would demonstrate the skill or competency needed. The best source for this is the job description. It can give you an idea of what the company is looking for.
What general advice would you offer to someone who is about to do an interview?
Research and preparation is key. Read through the company website or ask for a job description for the role. It shows that you really want the role and ensures that this is evident at the interview. Prepare examples of where you have shown the skill required in a previous job. Be aware of body language in the interview also - appearing friendly and making eye contact is important.
Have interviews changed in recent years and, if so, how?
Yes, I would think so in the last seven years or so. The interviews are more focused on behavioural attitudes and a match to the organisation’s values. Sometimes, they may be conducted via Skype or video interviewing now, depending on the business.
What kind of things do you look for in prospective employees at Wright Insurance?
We look for people who are customer-focused, innovative, honest and who are interested in career progression. Also, people who are really interested in the actual job itself and have a passion for it.
What kind of positions are on offer at Wright Insurance?
We recruit regularly, with a variety of positions available in insurance, sales and finance.
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