Interviews can be a daunting experience, but with practice and preparation, you will give yourself the best possible chance to succeed during the interview stage of our recruitment process. This section provides useful advice on how to prepare and perform to your best at the interview stage.
Types of Interview
For a number of years, we have been examining and using a range of new technologies to support different parts of our recruitment process. As well as interviews in a live setting, many of our interviews take place remotely using a range of video technologies. Interviews can take place at different stages of the recruitment process and can take the form of an automated video interview, live video interview or in-person interview. Rest assured that during your interview, the panel are only interested in the content of what you have to say and your suitability for the job. They will not be assessing how comfortable you are on camera in a video interview.
Automated Video Interview
An Automated Video Interview takes place without a panel of interviewers on the screen. Instead, the questions will appear on the screen. You will be required to record yourself responding to the questions as they appear on the screen. At the start of the Automated Video Interview, you will have the opportunity to do some sample questions to familiarise yourself with the process and see what it’s like to ‘speak to the screen'. Once completed, your responses are later reviewed by our interview board members.
Live Video Interview
This is a live video conference call, with an interview panel, as if you were at a face-to-face interview. For this type of interview, you will be able to log in a few minutes before the interview, and you will receive a message to say you are in a ‘waiting room’. The interview board will be notified when you’re in the waiting room and will call or ‘admit’ you when they are ready to see you.
The process is very similar to a real-life interview and once you are in the call, you will be able to see the interview board members and they will be able to see you. They will ask you questions and get to know you as they would in a regular face-to-face interview. At the end of the interview, you will be asked to ‘Leave’ and the interview panel will wait until you have left before proceeding.
For some roles, an in-person interview may take place. You will be interviewed by a panel of experts who will ask a range of questions that will help you demonstrate your skills and experiences, and ultimately identify if you would be a suitable candidate for the role. In-person interviews are carried out in accordance with Public Health Guidelines, relevant at the time.
Competency-Based Interviews vs Capability-Based Interviews
In 2024, a new Civil Service Capability Framework was designed. This updated framework was designed to capture the requirements of a diverse and modern Civil Service, now and into the future. Please be advised that some roles may utilise the Civil Service Competency Model and others may rely on the new Capability Framework. Candidates will be informed in advance, about whether the Competency Model, Capability Framework, or another method/model will be used. Guidelines are found below on how to prepare for interviews generally, along with tips on Competency-Based Interviews and Capability-Based Interviews.
Before the Interview
We advise candidates who have been invited to the interview stage of a recruitment competition to be well prepared with a range of examples that reflect the skills and competencies/capabilities required for the role.
Our interviews typically follow a structured format, with candidates being questioned and assessed on the competencies or capabilities relevant to the role. This ensures that all candidates are assessed equally and transparently. It is important to prepare examples and evidence in advance, that best demonstrate your competence or capability. These can then be used or adapted as necessary, in response to the specific questions asked during the interview.
Tips to Consider when Preparing for an Interview
- Read the job description and information booklet in detail and make notes on how you meet the requirements.
- Review the capabilities or competencies outlined in the job description and consult the capability framework or competency model for more detail on the grade you are interviewing for.
- Learn about the Civil and Public Service and become familiar with the relevant Government departments and agencies by browsing their websites.
- Check your publicjobs.ie message board regularly and make a careful note of the date and time of your interview.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for attending an interview:
Know your experience
Demonstrate the required competencies or capabilities
Listen to the questions
Preparing your Examples and Experiences
- Reflect on your career experience, educational history, volunteer work and other personal experiences that may provide evidence of the competencies or capabilities required.
- Make a list of what you see as your main achievements to date, things that you are proud of, and where you feel you made a significant contribution, in any area of your life.
- Don't be modest or shy about this - this is not the time to hold back!
- Aim to include about 10 different achievements altogether which can be from different areas in your life; for example, education, work, interests, etc.
- Write down what you see as your strongest qualities or skills and pick about five qualities that you feel are most relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Prepare for questions and think of answers that are relevant to the job description, competencies/capabilities.
- It is important to remember that the interview panel want to hear about YOUR experience, skills and qualities that prepare you for the job in question.
- To build confidence, practice what you would say in the interview with a friend, family member or colleague.
- If possible, tape or video yourself so you can hear how you sound and draw attention to overuse of gestures.
Tips for Competency-Based Interviews
Competency based interviews typically require candidates to give evidence or examples of a time they have demonstrated a particular skill or competence in the past. The examples provided are then probed by the interview board, to explore the evidence further.
For competency-based interviews it may be useful to structure your answers using the STAR model to be able to fully answer the questions in an organised manner.
- Situation: Use one or two sentences to describe where you worked or studied, what your role was, and any other relevant background information that provides context.
- Task: Clearly describe the problem or challenge you faced and the goal you were working towards in the example.
- Action: Outline what you did to either resolve the situation or contribute to the success of the example. Describe in detail the steps you took, any challenges you faced, and what specific skills you used.
- Result: Describe the result of your actions and what you accomplished from the situation. It is important to relate the skill or competency you are illustrating back to the position you are applying for and explain what you learned from the experience.
To sketch out the background situation, ask yourself the following questions:
- WHEN and WHERE did this take place?
- WHAT were you hoping to do / expected to do?
- WHO else was involved?
- WHAT YOU did...?
What exact tasks and action did you do? And how did you use your strengths?
- Ask yourself the following "How, why, what?"
- How did you organise that? Why did you choose to do this? What did you do in particular, which helped to progress things?
What were the results of your actions?
- How did things turn out?
- How did you know it went well?
- How did you measure this?
- Why do you think it was a good achievement?
Examples of competency-based interview questions:
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated interpersonal skills
- Give an example of when you overcame a challenging situation
- Describe a time when you resolved conflict
- Have you ever been in a situation where you had to work under pressure
Tips for Capability-Based Interviews
Interviews using the Capability Framework similarly require candidates to provide evidence and examples of past behaviour. However, they also explore the candidate’s skills, strengths, knowledge, values, motivation and interests.
The aim of this approach is to create a two-way dialogue that gives insight into the whole person and assesses candidate’s on their capability, suitability and readiness for the role. In a Capability-Based Interview, the board will establish a profile and understanding of the candidates’ capability across relevant Capability Dimensions and Sub-Dimensions.
Preparing for Capability-Based Interviews
In preparing for your interview, you may find it useful to:
- Review the relevant documents, including the Capability Framework and Competition Information Booklet.
- Reflect on your career, experience, education and key achievements to date.
- Consider which experiences/key achievements are best suited to demonstrate your capability in the different areas.
- Think of some specific examples and about your approach more generally, in relation to the capability dimensions in question.
- Consider your skills, strengths and knowledge, relevant to each area – how do you develop and utilise these, what value can you add with your specific skillset/strengths/knowledge (you may refer to the key skills listed within the Capability Framework, or you may reference other relevant skills/strengths/knowledge you possess).
- Consider the values/motivation that underpin your approach and drive you to perform. Reflect on your interests and the things you feel most excited about at work.
- For areas in which you have limited direct experience, you may wish to reflect on any transferable skills that may be useful and/or how you might go about demonstrating capability in that area, if you were placed into the role.
Examples of Questions using Capability-Based Approach:
- experience/examples and behaviours
- Please provide a specific example that best demonstrates your capability in the area of Strategy, Change and Reform?
- Give your best example of utilising technology/digital solutions to address challenges?
- What experience do you have of developing skills and capability within a team?
- How do you foster innovation and creativity in your team? Can you give me an example of this?
- skills, strengths and knowledge
- What key skills do you hold to assist you in managing change/reform?
- What strengths have you developed in your career that would help you communicate and influence others?
- What are your most important professional networks and how do they build/support your specialist insight?
- What are your biggest knowledge gaps in relation to digital focus?
- values, motivation and interests
- What values underpinned your approach?
- What motivates you to deliver excellence?
- Why is an evidence-informed approach valuable?
- What aspect of your work is the most interesting?
For additional guidance on preparing for a Capability-Based Interview, please see this Candidate Briefing Video.
Should you require an alternative/accessible format of this video presentation, please contact
During your Remote Video Interview
There are a number of things to consider when you are engaging in a remote video interview.
- Internet Speed: 1 Megabits per second is required for a clear HD connection. You can test your internet speed by following this link.
- Testing your Device: You will have the option to test your device a number of days before your scheduled interview.
- Laptop/Mobile/Tablet: Make sure your device is fully charged before your interview and has a webcam/front facing camera.
- Audio & Camera: Check that your microphone and camera are working correctly and the sound and picture are clear. On our video interview platforms, you can run a test on both so that everything is in working order ahead of your interview.
- Avoid Disruption: If using your mobile phone for the video interview, ensure to place it on ‘do not disturb’, to avoid any incoming messages or calls. If using a PC/laptop for the video interview, ensure to have no other tabs open, and turn off or place your mobile phone on silent so you are not distracted.
- Technical Difficulties: If you have problems with the technology before or during your interview, please let us know as soon as possible. It is OK to let the interviewers know there is a problem or if you are not hearing them clearly.
- Location: Choose a quiet area, where you won’t be disturbed. It may be helpful to place a sign on the door to remind others not to interrupt.
- Lighting: Choose a well-lit area, with a plain bright coloured background
- Camera: Raise the camera to eye-level if possible (you may wish to place a stack of books or a box underneath your device to help with this). If using a mobile device, try to make sure this is steady for the duration of the interview - if possible use a stand to keep the device upright. The camera on your device should be positioned to show your head and shoulders on the screen.
- Dress code: Even though you will be in the comfort of your home, many people find it really helpful to dress as you would for a face to face interview.
- You may find it useful to have a glass of water to hand.
Giving your full attention
It is worth noting that eye contact and posture are just as important for a video interview as it is in person.
- If possible, remember to look directly at the webcam, instead of your own screen, when you are talking. This will help you to align your eyes with the interviewers. You can look back at the screen when you’re listening.
- If possible, remember to sit upright with your back against a chair and shoulders open. This can help in conveying a positive, upbeat mood.
- During the interview, if possible, nod and smile where appropriate to show that you are giving the interviewer your full attention.
During your In-Person Interview
For interviews taking place in person, you should know the exact time of the interview and exactly how you are going to get there. You can find details of our location on our Contact Us page.
If you are unable to attend the interview, please Contact us as early as possible.
Once you arrive at the interview, you should report to reception and you will checked-in and directed to the relevant waiting area. You will need to bring photo identification with you and any other documents you have been asked to bring.
When it is time for your interview to commence, one of the members of the interview panel will greet you and show you to the relevant meeting room.
We are committed to positively supporting candidates with disabilities throughout the selection process. If you have a disability and would like to share information that you feel would assist you to do your best during your interview, please contact the relevant recruitment unit managing the competition or our Disability Champion to discuss your needs. See more information on Reasonable Accommodations on our Accessibility page.
Please note that more detailed information on your interview process will be provided to you via your message board on publicjobs.ie prior to the interview.