Barry Whelan Excel Recruitment

Part 2: Interview Questions designed to trip you up! By CEO Barry Whelan

Part 2: Interview Questions designed to trip you up! By CEO Barry Whelan

Following on from Part 1 of Interview Questions designed to trip you up, CEO of Excel Recruitment takes you through more tricky questions and how best to answer them…

The best interviewers develop their ability to ask the fewest number of questions that give the most amount of information. Strong recruiters manage to get the interviewees to do all the work. The best interviewers also have the ability to gain the truth from a candidate. This can be done in two ways, ask the same question multiple ways watching out for conflicting or different answers or by asking seemingly simple questions that get the interviewee to reveal information they may have been trying to conceal

In other words: questions designed to trip you up

Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

Why do they ask this? The interviewer is looking for red flags and deal breakers, such as inability to work well with colleagues and/or an inability to work under pressure.

Each job has its own unique requirements, so your answers should really show your applicable strengths, whilst each of your weaknesses should have a silver lining that indicates that negative attributes have diminished because of positive actions taken.

How does this question trip you up? You can sabotage yourself revealing either. Exposing your weaknesses can hurt you if not ultimately turned into positives while the strengths you list may not align with the skill set or work style required for the job.

What response you should give? The Interviewer wants to know that your strengths will be a direct asset to the new position and none of your weaknesses would hurt your ability to perform.

Can you tell me about yourself?

Why do they ask this? They ask to determine how you see yourself in relation to the position. The interviewer is listening for a level of confidence in how well you portray yourself through the information that is communicated. Additionally, the interviewer is listening for strong behavioural competencies which help determine a right fit with the job. If this opening answer is weak, it can be a disaster, ending an interview prematurely.

How does this question trip you up? It can tempt you to talk about your personal life, which you shouldn’t. Most interviewees are not versed in seeing this as a trick question, so they may answer by speaking from a personal perspective: ‘I have three kids, I’m married, etc.'”. Believe it or not, even the most seasoned candidate falls for this question especially when prompted by the interviewer to elaborate.

What response should you give? A focused, razor-sharp answer conveying your value to the organization and department. The employer wants to hear about your achievements broken down into two or three succinct bullet points that will set the tone of the interview. Stay sharp and convey your top strengths when answering this question.

Give the interviewer answers that highlight analytical skills, problem-solving ability, sizing up talent or leadership ability to turnaround business performance, among other things.

You need to convey behavioural traits in your response. It sets the tone for the interviewer to ask more targeted questions.

Why do you want to work here?

Why do they ask this? Interviewers ask this because they want to know what drives you the most, how well you’ve researched them, and how much you want the job.

How does this question trip you up? Clearly you want to work for the company for several reasons, you wouldn’t be attending an interview if you didn’t! However, how you list these reasons reveals a lot about what is important to you.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m not getting paid what I’m worth,” or, “I have a terrible boss,” or, “All things being equal, this commute is incredibly short” — none of which endears you to the interviewer.

You’re also being tested on your level of interest for the job.

What response are they looking for? The interviewer wants to see that you’ve taken the time to research the company and understand the industry.

They also want to know that you actually want this job (and not just any job); that you have a can-do attitude; that you are high energy; that you can make a significant contribution; that you understand their mission and goals; and that you want to be part of that mission.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Why do they ask this? Your future boss is looking for patterns or anything negative, especially if your positions are many and short-term. They may try to determine if you currently have or had issues working with others leading to termination, if you get bored quickly in a job, or other red flags.

How does this question trip you up? No one likes talking about a job they dislike and why. If not answered diplomatically, your answer could raise further questions and doubts, or sink your chances entirely.

What response are they looking for? They are hoping that you’re seeking a more challenging position that is a better fit for your current skill set. Remember, your future boss doesn’t mind hearing that you’re particularly excited about the growth opportunity at their company.

Grocery Salary Survey 2017

Our Salary Survey 2017 is now available.

This past year has been a curious time for the grocery industry with the uncertainty brought by Brexit and other global factors continuing to affect retailers. Fears over the minimum wage increase to €9.25 per hour which concerned some retailers, does not seem to have any major effects. The industry as a whole has weathered through successfully and Christmas 2016 was particularly good for most with shoppers spending an extra €92 million. The market outlook for 2017 is increasingly positive and over 80% of Irish employers have said they expect to be recruiting in 2017.

The ‘Gender Gap’ and disparity between the salaries paid to men and women also became a hot topic in 2016. Our research shows that no such gap exists within the retail industry, as all levels of manager are paid dependent on experience and hours worked, regardless of gender.

Excel Recruitment have been recruiting for the Irish Grocery Market for over 15 years. Our Grocery Team is comprised of former Grocery Managers, passionate about retail, who know the industry inside out. This survey was compiled and designed to give our clients and candidates a guide as to the current market prices for the various roles within the Irish Grocery market.

If you would like to discuss any of our findings, need advice on your staff planning, or assistance with your recruitment needs please feel free to contact our Grocery team here.

All Grocery Jobs with Excel Recruitment are available here.

2017 Grocery Salary Survey


Interview questions designed to trip you up! By CEO Barry Whelan

In the first of our new series, CEO of Excel Recruitment Barry Whelan takes you through some tricky interview questions designed to really test you and more importantly, how to ace them.

In the below examples, the interviewer ask seemingly simple questions that get the interviewee to reveal information they may have been trying to conceal; questions that break through the traditional interview noise and clutter, and get to the raw information.

How would you describe yourself in one word?

Why do they ask this? The question is likely being asked to find out your personality type, how confident you are in yourself and how you would ‘Fit’ the organisation recruiting.

How does this question trip you up? This question can be a challenge, particularly early on in the interview, because you don’t know what personality type the company is looking for and whilst there is no point pretending to be something you are not, there are also many ways (and Personality Types) to get the job done. People are multifaceted, so putting a short label on oneself can seem nearly impossible.

What response should you give? Always stick with the conservative route. For instance if you’re reliable and dedicated, but your friends praise your clever humour, go with the former.

If you’re applying for an accounting job, the one word descriptor should not be “creative,” and if it’s an art director position, you don’t want it to be, “punctual,” for example.

In general, most employers today are seeking team players that are level headed under pressure, positive, honest, reliable, and dedicated, however, it would be a mistake just to rattle off adjectives that you think will be well received when in fact this is an opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job as you see it.

How does this position compare to others you are applying for?

Why do they ask this? They’re basically asking ‘What other jobs are you applying for?’ The recruiting manager is just trying to find out how active you are in the job market. Once you open up, they want to see how you speak about other companies or positions you’re interested in and how honest you are.

How does this question trip you up? If you tell them that theirs is the only job that you have applied for that will send up a red flag. Very few job applicants only apply to the one single job — so they may assume you’re being dishonest. However, if you openly speak about other positions you’re pursuing, and you speak favourably about them, the hiring manager may worry that you’ll end up taking another job elsewhere, and they won’t want to waste their time.

What response should you give? Leave things open, express your desire to find the right role. Perhaps tell them that there are several companies with whom I am interviewing, however, I’ve not yet decided the best fit for me. This response is positive and protects you from having to bad mouth or talk up competitors.

What kind of manager and colleagues have you had the most and least success with, and why?

Why do they ask this? Interviewers are trying to ascertain if you generally have conflicts with people or personality types. They also want to know how you work best.

How does this question trip you up? You can run the risk of appearing difficult if you admit to unsuccessful interactions with others. You may also inadvertently describe some of the attributes of your prospective Manager.

What response should you give? Firstly, concentrate on giving more good than bad news. It’s always best to start out with the positive and downplay the negatives. You don’t want to be evasive, but this is not the time to outline all your personality shortcomings either. Here you have an opportunity to speak generally about traits that you admire in others, yet appear flexible enough to work with a variety of personality types.

For an example try, ‘I think I work well with most people and a variety of personalities’.

What would you do if you won €6 Million tomorrow?

Why do they ask this? They want to know whether you’d still work if you didn’t need the money. Your response to this question tells the employer about your motivation and work ethic. They may also want to know what you’d spend the money on, or whether you’d invest it. This tells them how responsible you are with your money, and how mature you are as a person.

How does this question trip you up? Questions that are out of left field can ambush you, causing you to lose composure. They have nothing to do with the job at hand, and you may wonder if there is any significance to them. If you don’t pause and gather your thoughts before you respond to a question like this, you might lose your cool or come back with a clanger.

What response should you give? They want to hear that you would continue working because you’re passionate about what you do and they also want to know you would make smart financial decisions. If you’d do something irresponsible with your own money, they’ll worry you’ll be careless with theirs.

Retail figures up in November, helped by boost in electrical sales


November saw Irish retail sales rise by .9% in comparison to the previous month, according to the latest statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO)

If auto sales are excluded, the picture is even more positive with the monthly increase rising to 3.1%. There was a rise of 4.3% on an annual basis compared to the same period in 2015.

November was a particularly impressive month for electrical sales which rose by 17% compared to October. It is thought the significant pump could be caused by consumers purchasing early Christmas presents. However, electrical sales have seen an annual rise of 13.8% which means the rise is consistent.

Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sales also saw a sharp rise in November with a gain of 7.9% on the previous month and an annual rise of 10.2%.

Overall, the results are positive for the sector showing steady growth throughout the year. The figures are particularly positive when the uncertainty brought about by Brexit in the middle of the year is taken into account.

Consumer confidence and retail sales hit their highest numbers in 15 years in January 16 but saw a dip after the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

One significant issue with the CSO figures are foreign retailers selling into Ireland are excluded from the calculations. This means that online retailers such as Amazon and other large global firms are excluded from the final data released.

The strong sales figures were unquestionably boosted by the growing popularity of Black Friday, which takes place on the last Friday of November.

Retail sales are expected to grow a further 4-5% in the coming year. Despite the positive news, consumer spending growth is expected to slow in 2017 due to global political and economic uncertainty.

What’s Your Greatest Weakness? How to Give a Strong Interview Answer

What’s your greatest weakness is one of the most common interview questions but one of the trickiest to answer.

It seems strange to discuss your negatives in a situation that is all about selling yourself but your answer tells the interviewer a lot about you and can potentially make or break your interview. Although the question is about weaknesses, don’t take it too literally and ruin the interview by talking about your habit of being late or how your last boss constantly gave out about how messy you are. Instead, your answer should always be framed around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee. Below are tips and tricks to make a potential employer think your ‘weaknesses’ are actually your best qualities.

Discuss Your Positive Negatives

One way to ace this tricky question is to turn your negatives into positives. Examples of this method include “I’m a perfectionist which means I can sometimes spend too long on projects but I work hard to get the balance right”, or “I find it hard to delegate to others which can lead to frustration for me and my team members. However, I am learning to recognise when others are stronger than me at certain tasks.

However if you use this approach its important not to come across as disingenuous, don’t simply say ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I have no weaknesses’, the interviewer will see right through your shameless avoidance of the question and put simply, you won’t get the job.

Discuss Unrelated Weaknesses

Alternatively you could tackle this question by discussing your weaknesses, but only the ones that have little to do with the job you’re applying for. Analyse the skills and strengths that are key to the role you are interviewing for and then answer with an honest shortcoming, not essential for success in the job at hand.

For example, if you are applying for a nursing job, the ability to communicate, simply and sensitively, with patients is vital. The ability to make presentations to large groups is not. Provide an example of your nervousness around public speaking while at the same stress that your skills at connecting one to one are exceptional.

Discuss Your Improvements

Another way to successful answer would be to give an example of a skill you have improved during your previous roles. If you use the example of public speaking, you could show the interviewer that it was a massive hurdle but with practise, hard work and dedication you are now far more confident. This shows your potential employer that you are proactive and willing to improve without being told.

However if you use this strategy, use skills not directly important to the job. You don’t want your qualifications for the job to be seen as something you struggle with.

Above all, the key to giving a successful answers is to keep it positive. Don’t use the word weakness, always keep focused on the positive. The key is to confidently steer the interview back to what makes you fabulous, without dodging or avoiding the question.

Ireland’s first floating four-star hotel and restaurant planned for Cork City’s quays.


Plans have been presented to Cork City Council’s planning office for Ireland’s first floating four-star hotel.The company behind the project plan to permanently moor a 105m luxury cruise vessel on the north channel of the River Lee at Penrose Quay, next to Michael Collins Bridge.

The cruise ship, named ‘My Story’ is 105 metres long and has three decks, 96 cabins with accommodation for 156 people, a panorama bar, several lounge areas, a swimming pool, and a sun deck. The vessel was built in 1971 and is based in Rotterdam, Holland. The vessel is entirely self-sufficient but will require a connection to the water main and the foul sewer.

The vessel, currently tied up for the winter season, has cruised along Germany’s River Rhine and Danube, Europe’s second longest river, but may take up permanent residence in Cork as soon as August 2017.

The cruiser is estimated to cost around €1.75m and its acquisition is subject to planning approval. Sick & Sore Ltd, the company behind the floating hotel project, are keen to get the project up and running and insist if this particular vessel cannot be acquired, the development will proceed with another vessel, similar in scale.

Sick & Sore Ltd is based in Dublin and headed up by Director Sam Corbett Jnr. Mr Corbett has been involved in several maritime projects around Ireland including, playing a key part in the project to acquire the former Cork-based tender vessel the Cill Áirne. Once acquired, the vessel was renovated and refitted for use as a restaurant on Dublin’s North Wall Quay in 2006.

Mr Corbett told CCC that the vessel is well made and effectively ready to go. A decision from CCC is expected mid-February and allowing time for the logistics of transporting the cruiser, Mr Corbett hopes the hotel could be operational by August.

Sick & Sore Ltd have said a high-profile hotel and tourist destination operator is lined up to operate the hotel and the company plans to recruit a high-end restaurateur to operate the business’ food element. The restaurant’s main focus will be on serving guests of the hotel, but will operate lunch and dinner services for the general public.

According to the planning application, the development will enhance Cork’s recreational and leisure amenities, “The proposed development would utilise the quay, attract tourists and provide an alternative/unique dining and accommodation experience for both residents and visitors alike.”


Photo William Murphy via Flickr