Career Forum: Preparation the key to a successful interview
Robert Walters manager June Tam says nothing beats an inquiring mind
Getting the letter or email inviting you to an interview for your dream job can feel like some sort of triumph. Until, that is, the nervous anticipation kicks in.
What should you say? What shouldn’t you say? And how should you prepare for a meeting that could change your life?
These questions and more will be covered in a variety of “Topical Seminars” presented by industry leaders at the Career Forum.
June Tam, manager of the IT – financial services division and IT – contract division at recruitment specialists Robert Walters, will speak on “How to Ace an Interview”. Having worked with job candidates, and those looking to hire them, she is ideally placed to dispense advice.
“Interviewees should be well-prepared and have done thorough research about the nature of the job and about the company’s background,” Tam says. This should cover the industry it is in, its business, and recent events and news stories it has featured in, such as product releases and industry recognition.
“Interviewees should also prepare a few questions to ask at the end to demonstrate their interest in the role. Some good questions to ask are those about things like career-progression opportunities, team size and structure, and project status,” Tam says.
“They should also arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the interview so they have time to calm down, tidy up their suit or dress, and check their grooming, to ensure they look presentable and professional. If they have the time, they can quickly review the job description again – but they shouldn’t take the note or paper into the interview with them.”
And as they walk through the door, interviewees should give a firm handshake and a smile when they greet the interviewer.
Tam warns, though, that novices at job interviews can sometimes unwittingly leave prospective employers unimpressed by what seem to be their priorities. “Some young interviewees ask questions about such things as the budget for the role, the working hours and if any overtime is required. This often leaves a negative impression with interviewers, as it can appear that the applicant is too money-driven and is not actually interested in the role or the company.”
To be called to an interview in the first place, candidates’ CVs have to stand out from a pile of what can often seem like cookie-cutter résumés at a point in their careers when they have little or no work experience to point to.
However, Tam believes it still pays young job candidates to highlight relevant achievements and experiences. These can include internship experiences; certificates and awards they have gained – professional or academic; courses they have completed related to the role; and exchange programmes they have participated in. “I would encourage young candidates to participate in exchange programmes to broaden their horizons,” she adds.
Tam points out, however, that they do not have to draw particular attention to any areas they are weak in. “So they do not have to include their grades if their academic results are below average,” she says.