By Yasmin Yahya
After spending four to five years studying in the university, obviously graduates are looking for suitable jobs to seek a proper career that match their qualifications.
With thousands of university graduates from various universities entering the workforce each year, job hunting is now at its peak. For most fresh graduates, in particular, job hunting would be a frightening experience to go through.
As the situation has now become very competitive, the question is how you should market yourself. These concerns are valid as job interviews can be very tough and you need to prepare yourself ahead with the necessary knowledge and skills.
I remember a number of useful tips given by Madam Faredah Mahadi during her Bahasa Melayu Kerjaya lecture last semester which I would like to share. She taught us how to prepare a good cover letter and a resume and overall what needed to be done for job application.
The following are the steps you need to take in order to prepare yourself for job interview:
1. Conduct Research on Employer, Hiring Manager, Job Opportunity
Success in a job interview starts with a solid foundation of knowledge about the organisation on the job-seeker’s part. You should understand well about the company, employer, requirements of the job, and background of the person interviewing you. The more research you conduct, the more you’ll understand the subject matter, and the better you’ll be able to answer interview questions. Sources of useful information should include the organisation’s website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and your network of contacts.
2. Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Responses
Another key to interview success is preparing responses or answers to expected interview questions. First, find out or guess the type of interview questions to expect (which you might want to ask the contact person from the organisation). Your goal is to compose detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool to remember is to put your response into a story form that you can tell convincingly in the interview. No need to memorise the responses but at least develop your talking points.
3. Dress for Success
Plan out appropriate attire that fits the organisation and its culture very well, striving for the most professional appearance you can accomplish. Remember to wear clothing that gives pleasant feeling for others that appears clean and nice. Also keep other accessories and jewellery to a minimum as possible. Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview, it can cause bad breath and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash. Bear in mind that you also need to add some fragrance or cologne to your outfit to keep your confidence during the interview.
4. Arrive on Time for the Interview and be Prepared
There is no excuse to arrive late for an interview (other than you are faced with some sort of disaster). Strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time to complete additional paperwork given by the employer and allow yourself time to get settled. Arriving a bit early is also a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace and its surrounding.
On the day before the interview, it is best if you prepare extra copies of your resume or CV and reference list. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, bring those along too so you can show them to your interviewer. Also remember to pack several pens and a pad of paper to jot down notes. As you get to the office, shut off your cell phone or put it in silent mode so it won’t disturb the interview session.
5. Make Good First Impression
An essential rule of interviewing: be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious how job applicants treat other staff members and you will lose the job offer easily if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff.
Make a strong first impression by dressing well, arriving early, and when greeting your interviewer, make sure you stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm handshake. Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are very important in the process of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
6. Be Authentic, Upbeat, Focused, Confident and Concise
Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and how you deliver your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding honestly to interview questions. At the same time, you want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills or experiences.
Provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments. Bear in mind to keep your responses short and to the point by avoiding long, rambling responses that bore interviewers.
7. Remember Body Language and Avoid Bad Habits
Poor body language can be a distraction or a reason the employer not to hire you at worst. Effective forms of body language includes smiling, eye contact, solid posture, active listening, actively giving response back and nodding. Poor forms of body language includes slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with pen, fidgeting in chair, brushing back hair, touching face, chewing gum, not paying attention, and mumbling.
8. Ask Insightful Questions
Studies show that employers make a judgement about an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not the interviewee asks questions. Thus, you must ask a few questions regarding the job offer. The smart job-seeker prepares questions to ask days before the interview, adding any additional questions that might arise from the interview. Bear in mind that you should avoid from asking about sensitive issues such as salary income and asking personal information about the employer or interviewer background.
9. Thank Interviewer in Person and by Email
As you have already seen from previous tips, common ethics and politeness go far in interviewing; thus, the importance of thanking each person who interviews you should be considered as a must. Start the process while at the interview, thanking each person who interviewed you. Writing thank-you emails and notes shortly after the interview will not guarantee you to get the job offer, but doing so will certainly give you an edge over any of the other finalists who do not bother to send thank-you’s to the persons who have interviewed them.
Success in job interviews takes an effort to make research, practice, and persistence. The more effort you put into your interview preparation, the more likely you would succeed in obtaining job offers. Just remember to be yourself, with full confidence, and appear smart during the interview.***