A good start is half the battle

By Patricia Maloney, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers Galway

Patricia Maloney, Career Coach
Patricia Maloney, Career Coach

The opening question is crucial in an interview – and I urge my clients to be totally prepared for the one most likely to come up.

The question might be framed as ‘tell us about yourself’ or ‘talk us through your experience to date’. Our client surveys here at Sli Nua Careers show that this question, or a variation on same, is asked in almost 60 per cent of interviews.

Interviewers perhaps think it represents a gentle introduction to the interview, a kind of ‘settling in’ question. In reality it is a question that can so easily throw a candidate.

It is a broad question. You could easily find yourself veering off down the wrong road in the answer.

That’s why I get my clients to prepare their answer very carefully. My main advice is to ‘get straight to the point’. Don’t waste time telling them about where you were born and reared, what football team you support, what music you like.

Refer immediately to your CV or application form. “As you can see from my CV, I have considerable experience in…” or “as my application form shows, I am qualified…”

That way, you bring the answer to a place that is both professional and relevant. If you’re going for interview, you need to have this answer carefully prepared. I don’t recommend learning it off by rote, but I do recommend preparing the key points you wish to make in this answer.

A broad question such as this can also be difficult to piece together. Have a few link phrases ready such as ‘in addition to’, ‘prior to this’ and ‘following on from that’. You will be able to fall back on them during the answer until you reach your conclusion which might be along the lines of ‘in conclusion, I hope I have given you a good overview of my experience and suitability for this role.’

Handle the opening question well and you will be into your stride for the rest of the interview.


Patricia Maloney is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Galway. You can read more about her, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE