This is a Companion Piece to the Articles

"A Student's Curriculum Vitae" &

"Do Not Panic!" 










Iseult Catherine O'Brien

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor   |   Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students   |   

Online Thesis Specialist





Please see the Section at the end of this Post based largely on an article by Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, on

Reading Interviewers' Body Language.










We are advised what to wear; how to answer questions from a panel, including all of them in our responses.


This advice covers everyone from students interviewing in school or college hoping to change some of their course subjects; it is for students who have just finished their final school exams and are looking for a place in a college, university, in a trades school, or any type of group / organisation or company of interest to the student; it is for post graduate students looking for a first job / internship; it is for all of us attending any type of job interview. 



It is always  Interview Season - we should keep our CVs / resumes up-to-date,  and ensure we add every new achievement, experience, and attainment.










Research reveals that  ~ PEOPLE READ a CV for just SIX SECONDS!!  **


They may know little more than your first name, if that.  PLEASE DO NOT think your CV has been read carefully, noting impressive accomplishments, experiences, or excellent exam results.



Prospective Employers / University / Society / Interview Panellists  ~ MAKE SNAP CHARACTER DECISIONS in HALF A SECOND!


As soon as the half second is up, their "subconscious confirmation bias" kicks in, and it is actively looking for reasons to confirm the initial judgement. *











The interviewer(s) may know your first name, and that's probably it. After mutual greetings, you have to take the initiative and OFFER to give a very quick summary of your CV.  THEN, START IMMEDIATELY,  do not wait for full agreement from the Panel ~ interviews are VERY SHORT.


Use 'key words' used by the Company in their job description and in its corporate profile.  You want them to know you understand their thinking and are comfortable with it.  


ALSO BEAR IN MIND the PROCLAIMED ETHOS of the organisation for which you are interviewing, and what you have been able to discover about HOW IT WORKS.



[You should know this Summary off by heart, and if interrupted with a question, answer it, and carry on.]



KEEP IT SHORT AND PUNCHY, giving your  highlight  achievements,  qualifications, and experiences  RELEVANT  to this particular Interview.  



You have taken a degree of control in the Interview, and  the information you want to get across is getting its chance NOW!


From not knowing anything about you, the Panel now knows three or four of your very impressive achievements.




ASK IF THE PANEL has any questions on your CV.  Your prepared answers must  be adaptable to any  type of question or approach.  This requires lots of practise.





1.  What are your strengths?

2.  What are your weaknesses?

3.  Why are you interested in working for (insert company name)?

4.  Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

5.  Why do you want to leave your current company?

6.  Why was there a gap in your employment between (insert date) and (insert date)?

7.  What can you offer us that someone else cannot?

8.  What are three things your former manager would like you to improve upon?

9.  Are you willing to relocate?

10. Are you willing to travel?

11. Tell us about an accomplishment of which you are most proud.

12.  Tell us about a time you made a mistake.




DO NOT BE AFRAID to ask what kind of candidate the Panellists are looking for.


Having taken note of the various answers the Panellists give, try to gauge where their interests lie IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, and give your most appropriate example(s) from your scholastic / sporting / extra-curricular subjects / work and volunteering experiences, naming the school(s) / clubs / coaches / charity fundraising, or personal experiences with a charity.



You will have found out about the company ethos, department and career structures, advantages and disadvantages of working for the Company and so will be able to answer their questions using 'inside' phraseology.




[While volunteering at weekends with the "Mary Matthews School for Deaf Children", I chose to learn the deaf language, and was surprised how useful I found it in many social and part-time work situations, where I could help people get what they wanted, or give directions. My skill gained me kudos with the families and friends of the students, and the management of the School. It also taught me a great deal about being on the inside, and being on the edges of society.  (This is just an example to show that you made the extra effort, how it lead you to being able to help and engage with others, and how you benefited at the same time.)]





Aside from an occasional gesture to emphasise a point, it is best to keep your hands folded on your lap or, better still, placed on the interview table, folded in a relaxed style ~ that is an indicator of confidence.   People may not be aware that they have a habit of waving their arms about, especially when nervous ~ it is very distracting.



"We are all hardwired to forecast a huge amount from other people's hands so make sure yours deliver the right message."  *



It is best to keep them under control, and show a calm demeanour.










"Adopt a confident but relaxed pose". *  


Realise everything is play-acting.  Playing  'confident' makes you feel 'confident'. 


Make certain your mobile / cell phone is turned off and not just on 'silent'.








When an interviewer comes out to call you in, walk up to beside the interviewer and make a friendly, small-talk, comment.  Subtly, take on a similar posture as that of the interviewer. 

YOU ARE starting the Interview before you get in the room, SMILING!


Have your 'short and punchy' CV on top of any documents you are carrying, so that you have it to hand as a comfort, and in case you get a blank.


Have approximately six extra copies of these 'short and punchy' CVs next on your pile.  If you know how many will be on the Panel, bring sufficient for everyone, plus a few spares.


If you realize that the Interview is going like the clappers, ONLY after you have finished delivering your Summary, hand out copies of your single sheet spoken CV, IMMEDIATELY.  Have a photograph of yourself at the top right-hand-side, across from your name and contact details.



DO NOT distract the Panel from listening to you give your spiel, and remember to speak to each of them.  Speak slowly and clearly ~ sometimes, people speak very fast when nervous.



[You put the photograph on the top right-hand-side of the sheet because if a bundle of CVs is gathered together, your photograph will be clearly visible when someone is going through the pile of interviewees' papers;  it will act as a reminder of YOU, even if subconsciously. 



Scan into your computer, a good head shot from a choice of many taken by a friend, against a plain background.  Create your one page CV and insert the photograph that makes you look pleasant and approachable, but not smiling widely.  You want to look professional, capable, and reliable.



Change the size of the photo when you have entered your text, until you get a good balance.  Update your photograph frequently.]



Some interviewers like to throw in an awkward comment or question to see how you respond. If you are inclined to disagree, bite your tongueTHIS IS IMPORTANT.   Be positive, and give the impression that you are on the same page as the interviewer, even during casual chat. *






AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW, no matter how you think it went, be pleasant, and THANK THE PANEL for the opportunity of the Interview.  It would be fine to say that you would be happy to take any phone calls or supply further information required. 


You may wish to shake hands with the Panel, but make a decision on what you choose to do before attending the Interview. 


Especially if you are a woman, consider if offering to shake hands with a man on the Interview Panel may be inappropriate.  If you have a list of the Panellists, there may be a Muslim name, for example, which you recognise as such.  You should learn the appropriate gesture to use with this Panellist.


We should all know the appropriate gestures and forms of greeting for people of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.



A general, small, nod while thanking the Panel, standing and resting a hand on the back of your chair, would be a polite exit, if you are in doubt.



Within two days of the interview, send a handwritten note to the person who organised the interview to thank him or her for the opportunity.  A personal touch, displaying your good manners, leaves a very good impression and may pay off some time in the future.











In fact, clothes are only important in as much as they give YOU confidence.


Wearing something COMFORTABLE is best, possibly something a friend has said looks good on you.




is much more important than




DO NOT wear new shoes, in the heat and stress, they may become uncomfortable and distract you from your purpose.



BE CERTAIN that any top or shirt you wear does not show off more of you than is proper.  Put it on, and facing a mirror, lean forward fully, if you can see down the top or shirt, so too would a Panel when you lean forward to hand over a requested document!



"Most people would rather hire a scruffy candidate and tell them to update their wardrobe than someone well dressed and teach them a better attitude."  *


DO NOT carry in a briefcase, folders, loose papers, pens, etc.  That is an untidy look, and it suggests you are not organised; not good at making decisions.



Have a slim folder, with two working pens clipped onto it, and it should contain the following, starting from top to bottom:

(i)    All your copies of your one page 'short and punchy' CV, including the one you will have visible to use as a prompt; 

(ii)    Paper onto which to take notes of questions, so that you can be sure you cover everything asked of you, and where you could note down a question to ask the Panel;

(iii)    Two copies of your full, detailed, CV;

(iv)    Two copies of your Letters of Reference and details of Referees;

(v)    Two copies of details of any 'Student of the Year' type award(s); details of winning sports / debating / writing competitions, or any award that makes you stand out;

(vi)    Two copies of certificates, and most recent important exam results;

(vii)    Two copies of your application for this position, plus two copies of their letter offering you your Interview;

(viii)    If it has been some time since you studied formally, make sure you emphasise that you have been keeping up-to-date on your subject(s), and use your details of work experience to highlight your skill base.



You may well have ideas to add to this list ~ please let me know, it would help others.



YOU BRING TWO COPIES of everything (at least) because if you are asked for particular details of something you may have mentioned, or for any reason, you have one copy to give to the Panel, and one to keep for yourself to refer to if asked any questions.


DO NOT leave yourself without a copy of a document the Panel has.



NEVER STAPLE documents or bundles of papers together.


FIRSTLY, if you are asked for a document so that the Panel can have it copied to share amongst themselves, it makes the job much quicker if it involves just removing a paperclip, and gets the information to the Panel faster.


SECONDLY, while keeping each document intact by using paperclips, you could use small pieces of different colours of paper under the paperclip for each type of document, with a shorthand note describing what is in that particular bundle.  For example, 'REF' would be on your bundle for copies of your Letters of Reference and details of Referees.


You could pull out this bundle quickly and hand over a copy of one or both documents to the Panel promptly ~ neither you nor they would waste time removing a staple.


This will help keep you calm, and reduce time flicking through the contents of your folder.



You will be, and appear to be, organised.







Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!



Get friends and family to ask you questions in as formal a setting as possible, in other words, the television and mobiles / cell phones should be turned off.


Give your questioners whatever background information you have on the establishment for which you shall be interviewing. 

Role play with family and friends to get the feel of a 'quick fire' situation.  


Practise using the 'Top Twelve Interview Questions' listed above.



Ask your questioners to put some time into considering what to ask you, and not to treat you like a little lamb!


Impress on them how important this is to you.  They know your strengths and weaknesses, encourage them to use this knowledge.



If you are thrown by a question in rehearsal, it will NOT happen again at the real Interview!



REHEARSE EVERYTHING, from your stance and manner, to your 'lines' spoken aloud, with someone to give you feedback.  YOU WANT to appear confident and prepared.  YOU DO NOT want to come across as cocky and self-regarding. 


Practise in the outfit you are planning to wear to the Interview ~ sit, stand, and walk about in it.  It has to be comfortable, and not distract the Panel from YOU.


As you organise yourself for the Interview, remind yourself that a large number of people applied for an interview place, and YOU GOT ONE!  Interview panels do not waste their own time!



Make sure your clothes are clean / pressed well in advance; polish your shoes; make sure your favourite breakfast ingredients are bought in time for the morning of your Interview.  EVERYTHING you can do to keep to your usual schedule, helps keep you calm.



WORK OUT how long it shall take you to get to the Interview well in advance; check bus / tram / train timetables.  Bear in mind the time of the Interview, and how that might chime with high traffic volume periods.  DO A PRACTISE RUN of the Interview journey if it is someplace you do not know; you may have to find a unit in a large office building, hired out just for the interviews. 


YOU CANNOT BE LATE ~ plan to arrive 20-30 minutes before your Interview slot.  You need time to calm down, cool down, check your hair, and wash your hands.  Check your outfit to make sure all the zips and buttons that should be closed are closed!



Send a handwritten thank you note to the person to organised the interview thanking him / her for the opportunity.  It doesn't matter if you think the interview didn't go well.  That personal touch, and display of good manners, makes a very good impression impression.  One never knows when such an effort may get a pay-back!








DO NOT be afraid to be YOURSELF,

but DO NOT tell any jokes!


Every interview is worth attending.

All practise is good.



Very Best of Luck!

Regards, Iseult

Iseult Catherine O'Brien





* Robin Roberts, qualified zoologist, and founder of "Rehearse It". He was formerly a partner at global executive research firm, Egon Zehnder.

** Janey Fothergill of "Rehearse It".

These quotes were taken from an interview with journalist Rosie Benson of Marie Claire UK, May 2017 Edition.










Job interviews can often feel like you are under a microscope.  Job candidates are aware that they are being assessed for competence, confidence, and candour.  But what about the interviewer?  An interviewer’s body language can speak louder than words.



Here's how to tell what the interviewer(s) really think(s).



1.    Check the feet.  If an interviewer says he “could go on talking with you all day", but his feet are pointing toward the door, he is actually eager for the conversation to come to a close.



If someone is sitting with ankles crossed and legs stretched forward, he / she is probably feeling positively toward you.  



Feet pulled away from you, wrapped in a tight ankle lock, pointed at the exit, or wrapped around the legs of a chair, usually indicates withdrawal and disengagement.



2.     See if she's a copycat.  If an interviewer begins to mimic your gestures, she feels you are a kindred spirit and you’re likely to get her approval.  This is because when we talk with someone we like, or are interested in, we subconsciously switch our body posture to match that of the other person — mirroring that person’s non-verbal behaviour, and signalling that we are connected and engaged.



3.    Watch the shoulders.  If the interviewer shrugs one shoulder as he / she tells you about the Company’s great work environment, it’s probably not that great.   A partial, or abridged shoulder shrug usually indicates that a person lacks conviction about what he / she is saying.



4.     Notice where she / he is  looking.   If the interviewer has good eye contact with you, or keeps glancing at your Curriculum Vitae / resume, he or she is likely to be interested in you for the position.   We tend to gaze longer at people and things we like.  Conversely, when someone is disengaged, the amount of eye contact decreases, and you may notice that she or he  keeps glancing around the room.



5.     Realize that if he or she hesitates, it's not a good sign.  If you ask when you’ll hear about the job, and he / she replies, “Um, uh, er . . . soon,” you’ll probably never hear from him / her again.  For most people, the act of lying is stressful. One of the signs of stress is the use of verbal hesitations and false starts.



6.     Observe the head position.  If the interviewer tilts her head as you’re speaking, she wants to hear more. Head tilting is a signal that someone is interested, curious, and involved.  The head tilt is a universal gesture of “giving the other person an ear”.



7.   Hope for a full frontal response.  If the interviewer’s entire body — head, shoulders, hips and feet — is orientated towards you, he / she is totally engrossed in what you’re saying. When people are engaged, they will face you directly, “pointing” at you with their whole body.  But, the instant they feel uncomfortable, they may angle their upper body away.




*  The above is based largely on work by Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, who is an international keynote speaker, the author of "The Silent Language of Leader" and creator of's video series: "Body Language for Leaders." #LinkedInLearning #bodylanguage #careersuccess #jobinterview.




If you see any errors, typographical or factual, or if you disagree with any of my ideas, I should be very glad to hear from you.







My website,, "Education Matters", is where my Articles originate and are reviewed constantly and updated as new data becomes available.  


They are then updated to my Linkedin site ~







If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly.  If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite!  If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text.  


I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions.  I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology. That's is the best I can do!