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How to stand out in an interview

The interview:

Where your listening and speaking skills count.

THE main purpose of a job interview is for the business management to get to know you better. They are already satisfied with your qualifications and now they wish to see you in person to have a clearer picture of who you are. How you carry yourself before a panel of interviewers will be observed and assessed. The interview is often the final filtering process as confirmation of recruitment can be made after deliberation by the panel of interviewers.

Getting prepared

Before attending an interview, it would be helpful to get hold of a brief history of the company, identify their products or services, their customers as well as their vision and mission. This will help you see how your expertise and experience fit in with the company.

Although one cannot judge a book by its cover, the interviewers are able to judge you by verbally exchanging information with you. At the same time, they are watching you and scanning you from head to toe and your body language can either enhance your image or betray you.

Your attire should be neat and professional. A lady may sport long hair but not a man. Imagine how a professional manager in a well-established firm would look, and dress that way.

You need to carry with you all the relevant documents and certificates. Your CV (curriculum vitae) or résumé, list of referees, samples of your past projects and anything else that they may want to see should be brought along. Make sure everything is well arranged and any item can be easily retrieved.

Testing the applicant

A company may make a mistake by firing the right person or hiring the wrong one. Therefore, the management has to be very cautious in its selection process. A job applicant may be put through a series of tests other than the interview to see his true colours.

Handling job interview questions

Your listening and speaking skills will be put to the acid test in the interview. This means that you must not remain silent during your meeting with the interviewers or just give yes or no answers to their questions. That would indicate to them that you dislike communication or that you lack communication skills.

Interviewers will often ask some warm-up questions, such as:

How did you arrive at our company?

Did it take you long to get here?

Where did you park your car?

Were you caught in the rain?

Whether you say yes or no, do elaborate.

In other words, provide slightly more information than required.

Tell them, for instance:

Oh yes, it is very convenient to get a cab at KL Sentral. It took me just 20 minutes to reach here. The cab driver knew your company location very well …”

Of course, don’t drag on.

Answer their questions precisely.

Tell them what they want to know,

and don’t tell them what they do not ask.

The interviewers will continue to ask about your previous employment or education, or they may ask you a hypothetical question to gauge how you would handle a difficult situation or to hear your personal opinions.

What if we want you to work at our branch office in Kuantan in the first two years?

We know your major is Financial Management at the university.

Do you mind if we post you to the Public Relations Department?

Frequently asked questions

Here are some questions that the interviewers may ask you:

How would you handle a difficult customer?

You may relate an incident at your previous workplace,

then explain the situation and how you helped solve the problem.

If you have not experienced such a case,

you could tell the interviewers about a similar situation where you managed to settle a quarrel among friends.

That would give the interviewers some idea of your social or inter-personal strategies.

Why should we choose you?

Mention that you like the job and you are suitable for the job. Let the company realise how they will gain from having you as an employee. Give some idea of what way you can be of value to them.

Tell us about yourself.

Give a brief summary of your education, experience and expertise. Tell them your ambition and immediate plan.

Reveal your personality by saying that you enjoy team work, are eager to learn and will do your best for the growth and development of the company.

What are your weaknesses?

Don’t say “I don’t have any”. Everyone has weaknesses and it takes courage to admit them. Say something relevant in a humorous way:

Yes, my girlfriend always tells me I am too straightforward and I will never make a successful sales manager. Perhaps I need to learn how to be a little bit tricky in order to function in my job.

What are your strengths?

Tell the interviewers honestly what you can do well. However, be modest and tell them there is still plenty of room for you to improve yourself.

Show your goodwill

Throughout the interview, maintain eye contact with each of the interviewers.

At the end of the interview you may ask the interviewers one or two questions to show that you are really interested:

Could I know when you will inform me of the outcome of this interview?

Do you encourage your officers to do a part-time MBA while they are serving in your company?

Before you leave, thank all the interviewers.

Thank them again by e-mail, text message or phone after a couple of days.

That may impress them to a certain extent. Try to be a little outstanding, and your name will at least stand out in their short-term memory.

ENGLISH IN MANAGEMENT
By YONG AH YONG
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