Get real by teasing out the job in question

Q: I am going for a job interview next week that could prove tricky. It’s a new position within our organisation – we’re a charity – and while they have outlined a job spec, there are still a million and one unanswered questions in terms of how the job will pan out. Is it permissible to put questions to the interview panel to help me clarify a few key points? (LT, email).

A: In a word, yes.

Your answer reflects a common ‘defensive’ mind set among candidates. It suggests that there are a set of rules or protocols that you must observe, and also implies that the interview panel will be monitoring those rules and protocols with great vigilance.

This is not likely to be the case for a number of reasons:

  • It’s new territory for all concerned, so some exploration of roles and duties is inevitable;
  • They may welcome clarification questions as that could help them fine-tune the nuances of the role – just make sure you don’t bore holes in them with your questions;
  • An insightful question can help to enhance the quality of the interview. In an interview, the challenge is to make the discussion as real or as concrete as possible. If you need to know something about the job, ask it: it will save you – and them – from having a conversation in a vacuum.

Don’t ask token questions. Ask ones that help to advance the discussion and to bring more certainty to the entire exercise.

Useful career resources

I want to bring your attention to some useful career resources that I’ve either come across of late or known about for quite some time – from feedback received I’m increasingly aware that people like tip-offs of this nature:

  • – make your LinkedIn profile an all-singing, all-dancing online curriculum vitae. It needs just a few button clicks and, to the untrained eye, it will look like you’ve put enormous work into it. It won’t be for everyone – or every situation – but those who like it will love it (a sizeable cohort of which will include tecchie saddos and geeks like yours truly);
  • The FAS Career Directions website has a lot of useful resources if you’re exploring career options. I refer you, in particular, to their Career Directions Matching Programme which suggests possible careers based on your interests and qualifications. Fill out the 64-part survey – it will only take a few minutes. If you’re on a journey of career exploration, it is helpful to have suggestions thrown at you by either a site of this nature, friends who think about you, or a professional in this field. Go to You can create your own Career Action Plan there too – we’re a fan of such a thing because our experience with clients is that to write a plan down is to give it durability and power;
  • In the spirit of exploration, check out They have a number of useful career planning tools there that you will find stimulating;

For a copy of our Career Action Plan template, plus samples of previously completed ones, email with Action Plan in the subject line. Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. More: