Tips for a successful job interview

January 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm (Personal, Tips and Tricks)

You might be a fresh graduate looking for the new job offer you’ve been eyeing for. However, you don’t know what to do or what to expect. Having the “paper” is definitely not enough to secure the job application.

What I’m going to share are some of the tips and personal experiences I got from various friends who managed to secure their very first job. You should always use these as a general guideline, and not take it as a whole. Pick the right ones for you.

  1. Learn about the company and the job scope. This is critical. I was asked this during my practice interview session, and I couldn’t answer it. It was one of the typical questions interviewers liked to ask. Make sure you check out the latest happenings in the company, read up about them, what they do, and make sure you know what to expect for your job application. You can work in a Banking company, but you might be doing Networking Administration job.
  2. Always be early. Let’s say your interview starts at 1pm, what time should you arrive? Preferably as early as ½ hour earlier. If you’re an experienced driver, and driving a vehicle, then it shouldn’t be a major problem because you should know how fast to travel from one place to another. What if you’re using the public transport, and that place seemed alien to you? Plan your route early, anticipate problems like “what if there’s a traffic jam?” or “what if I missed this bus stop?”. Plan and make necessary adjustments to your timing. Being late is definitely a no-no for the first timers. You wouldn’t want to show a bad impression to your interviewers by turning up late for the scheduled appointment.
  3. Dress appropriately. If you’re applying for a part-time job, in most cases you probably can just wear anything casual. As long as it’s presentable, it should be fine. Avoid wearing open-toes shoes, sometimes the toes can be the most unsightly thing you’ve ever seen. Don’t turn up in skimpy clothes either, it may just turn off your potential employer. Don’t be too casual either. You wouldn’t want to turn up in baggy hip-hop clothing. Over-dressing is definitely a no-no. If you’re applying for a position that works in an office environment, put on the office wear, dress smartly, and go for that interview.
  4. Be prepared, or over-prepare. Prior to the interview, there might be some documents that you need to bring (they will probably ask you to). If they don’t, just bring all the necessary documents to support your skills. If you have previous employment, you could also bring your last received payslip. All other documents that boost your values such as testimonials are definitely helpful in convincing the interviewer your value. Bring extra copies of your proof-read resumes. Being prepared shows that you’re reliable and proves that you’re serious about clinching the job.
  5. Speak out loud and confidently. You don’t want to sound boring to your interview. Being soft doesn’t help either, because they can get irritated if they can’t hear you repeatedly. Don’t stammer, pace your speech, don’t rush. Avoid shouting (I doubt anyone would do that?) at all cost. Make sure your intonations are pleasant enough. If you want, do role plays with your siblings, or your friends. If you’re shy, try practicing in front of the mirror. Look at how the interviewers would look at you. Speaking confidently also helps interviewers to picture your personality.
  6. Maintain eye contact. You can be the most shy-est person in the whole wide world. But think about it. If you keep moving your eyes around, the interviewer can get irritated by you. Maintaining eye contact means that you’re serious. You wouldn’t want to make the interviewer feels that he’s talking to the wall. Engage in the conversation.
  7. Wait for your turn to speak. Sometimes, you just wanted to say something. But no matter what you do, DO NOT INTERRUPT the interviewer while he’s talking. Let him finish, then you speak. Interrupting just shows how rude you are. No one wants to hire a rude personnel.
  8. Turn off or silent your mobile devices. You don’t want your handphone or pager to ring during the interview. It just creates a wall of disturbance and it distracts your conversation. Always remember to turn them off. You don’t need any calls during this period of the time.
  9. Be courteous. Not by actions, but by speech. Sounding pleasant and courteous makes your interviewer thinks that you’re friendly. The more friendly people joins, the more fun the workplace will be.
  10. Don’t over-talk. Some questions requires your answer to be a little lengthy, but avoid talking too much. There’s a saying that goes “the more you talk, the more you lie”. Over-talking can sometimes deviates from the original speech, causing more confusions between you and the interviewer. Keep your answers simple, but not too short, and make sure it answers the question.
  11. Always clarify. If you can’t hear what they are saying, politely ask them to repeat. Say something like “I couldn’t get your last sentence Sir”, and they will gladly try to repeat themselves. Most of the time, they will probably try to rephrase the sentence to make it sound clearer.
  12. Add some joy in the conversation. I remembered once during my interviewing skills lesson back in my poly days, where I managed to tickle my interviews. The thing is, if they find that you’re a fun person, they might probably hire you. Maybe their company is just out of fun people.
  13. Lie subtly. Lying is part of the skill. If you lie at the correct place and the correct time, they will never find out. Don’t lie about critical things like “I have skills in cooking” but you can’t cook, that’s not a very good lie. You lie about things that affects your situation. For example, if you’re doing part time studies, and your interviewer knows about it, you can tell them like “although I have my studies to manage, I’m confident that I can continue to give 100% commitment into the job that I do”. Remember, securing the job is one thing, doing what you say is another.
  14. Know your strengths and weaknesses. This is very tricky, and it’s a fairly common question to purposely tickle your bones. Don’t panic though, you should already be prepared for these kind of trick questions. Find out what you’re good at and what you are not. If you don’t have any weaknesses, convert one of your strengths and make it sound like it’s a weakness. For example, if your strength is that you are hardworking, say something like “My weakness is that I get bored easily when I’m not doing anything.” Look at how contradicting it sounds. This may make your interviewer put a trust on you in whatever you might be doing.
  15. Know what you want to be. Plan ahead. What do you want to do in 5-10 years time. Everybody starts low. Make sure you set a reasonable goal for the future. Share your aspirations to the interviewer. This will reflect on your determination to strive on becoming a better and invaluable personnel.
  16. It’s all about the personality. Like I said, it’s not all about the paper. The interview can be made to just trying to get to know you much better. Try to sound lively, share your experiences and hobbies, make them feel at home. The more friendly you are the better.
  17. Thank them for their time. Sometimes, the interviewer is a busy person. Make sure you thank them appropriately before leaving the room. Explicitly thank them for their time, because we don’t know if we have either wasted or utilised the time they set aside for you.
  18. Before you leave… Tell them that you are very interested in securing the job application and will wait for them to contact you back. Suprisingly, research shows that expressing interest causes the interviewer to remember you. If they have interviewed a few candidates on that day, they will probably get reminded of you because you show explicit enthusiasm in trying to secure the job.
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