Careers and Enterprise Blog

Transferable skills series- interviews


Transferable skills series- interviews

Transferable skills series

We asked Aitana Day, (Deputy Branch Manager for Unitemps and Enterprise and Engagement Officer) about the importance of transferable skills in job interviews, and this is what she had to say…

As a graduate searching for employment opportunities, you will likely come across the term ‘transferable skills’ and wonder what’s exactly meant by this… In short, transferable skills are those that you develop as you progress through employment, education, or training.

As such, it is important that you demonstrate the transferable skills you have at all points during the recruitment process; from application to interview.

Remember, you will only get a limited amount time to demonstrate your knowledge… Make it count!

As the University’s in-house recruitment service, Unitemps like to see the following transferable skills:

  • Dependability              
  • Leadership and team management                    
  • Problem-solving
  • Data analysis                
  • Communication           
  • Time management                   
  • Empathy
  • Adaptability                                
  • Technological literacy               
  • Organisation


We all know that a job interview can potentially be a nerve-racking and uncomfortable experience, but the reality is that you can mitigate some of this through proper preparation. But where should you start?

Here are some steps you can follow:

  • The organisation – start with the essentials: the company’s history, its product offering or services, recent developments and details of any new projects or innovations.
  • The people/ culture – the culture of a company will usually start with its founder or CEO. Find out as much as you can about the people running the organisation, their background and values. Make sure to research the person/s who will be interviewing you too- LinkedIn is a good resource here to identify job title etc.
  • The role – review the job specification. Make notes of all the specific skills required; from this, adapt your CV, cover letter and overall approach to your interview by incorporating these skills. Based on your research, certain skills could be more important given what you now know about the employer… SO… Highlight them!
  • Know your CV really well – expect to be asked questions about your CV. It looks unprofessional if you don’t know it inside out.
  • Who you know can also help – those connected with the employer can usually offer a deeper insight into the culture of the company and what it takes to work there.
  • More than ever, interviews are taking place online – you may not be used to talking in front of a camera, so take the time to practice. You could even video call a friend to do a mock interview. Pay attention to your body language, voice and background noise and ask feedback from your friend on how you come across.
  • Prepare some questions in advance to ask at the end of the interview – interviewers can base their hiring decision on the type of questions you ask…

STAR method

Interviewers may ask you a variety of questions that you can utilise (to your advantage) by highlighting your most relevant transferable skills. Behavioural questions allow you to provide a specific example of using your skills in the workplace; the STAR method will help you explain the situation, the task you had, the actions you took and the results of your hard work. Trust us… It works.


During an interview, the stress of getting across your experience may mean you forget all about your personality.

  • If you are a fun, friendly, caring person, show it!
  • If you love helping others, talk about that.
  • If you are prepared to have a go at anything or you’re versatile and adaptable, offer examples where appropriate.
  • If you tend to think differently, describe how.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, a generalist or specialist, have a really good think about who you are before you start applying for jobs and certainly before you go to an interview. Employers are looking for a cultural fit as well as a skills fit, so your personality is important.

Body language

A strong entrance is always a good start to an interview… Indeed, how you greet your interviewer can be crucial.

The stress of interviews can cause your body language to send out unintended signals to the person in front of you. If you are feeling nervous or shy, this may be interpreted as defensiveness. Working on your body language prior to an interview, or any stressful public event, can have considerable benefits. The goal is to act and feel as relaxed and confident as possible in what is, a stressful situation.

When candidates come to the Unitemps office to ask for interview advice, for us, it’s so important to make ‘eye contact’. This shows us (and subsequently interviewers) that you are engaging and interested in what they are saying- plus, it suggests confidence. Your natural stance might be to cross your arms when talking or to sit very far back or forward; even averting your gaze can mean you come across uninterested.

If you are very nervous before an interview, or feel insecure, here is a TED Talk that may help. It discusses the transformative ‘power posing’ technique and mentions how you can ‘fake it’ until you ‘become IT’. The moral here is that by embodying (or ‘faking’) confidence, (even if you feel painfully shy or anxious) after a while, the confidence starts to become real

Another tip is to practice relaxation ahead of the interview. There are techniques such as controlled breathing which could really help to keep your nerves in check.

Just remember to sit up straight, keep your posture open and smile.

There are many different types of interviews. By taking the time to prepare, you’ll give yourself the best chance at being successful. You can find some of the most common interview types here.

Finally… Good luck! All interviews are good experience, no matter the outcome!

Want to find out more about jobs that suit your skills?

  • Go on to the Careers & Enterprise Hub, and under ‘Resources’ click on ‘Labour Market Information’. There, you can ‘explore by skills’ – just click on at least 3 skills, and it’ll show you job roles that match!
  • If you click on the job role, it’ll give you more information about average salary, what the role entails etc.
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