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Top tips for job interview success

Published on Friday, 05 Jul 2013
Mark Enticott
Alex Tham

Summer's here, which means university graduates who haven't yet secured a job need to put down their beach balls and think seriously about cracking on with their job hunt.

One of the biggest barriers to securing that first post-university job is, of course, the job interview. Little - or no - work experience and a lack of interview practice can throw off even the most confident of recent graduates.

There are, however, many things that interviewees can prepare, focus on and practise to maximise their chances of walking away with their first job offer.

Mark Enticott, managing director of search firm Ambition, advises fresh graduates to demonstrate to interviewers that they are mature and ready for a job. "From the moment the candidate picks up the phone to accept the invite to a job interview, he or she is being assessed," he says. "First, they should try to find out who their interviewers will be - this is important in helping you prepare."

Once the details of the interview are known, preparation can begin. "Research the company and the interviewers and find out what the company does and what kind of people they are looking for," Enticott says.

The key to impressing bosses is to show how your past experiences match with the abilities needed for the job. "Tell the interviewers about relevant things you have done, like summer internships and part-time jobs," Enticott says. "Relate these experiences to the requirement of the job. Employers value outside-school achievements as well as academic performance. Show interviewers you are driven and have a clear goal."

Asking the right questions is another key to winning over bosses. "Asking about salaries and benefits is not appropriate. Focus on career development and ask questions related to the job and the company," he says.

For job-market newcomers, Enticott suggests being humble and showing a willingness to learn. "They should try being like a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as they can. Ask questions to learn, but do not question why the company does things in such a way."

It is also a good idea to look at how people you admire got to where they are in life. "It is wise to learn from a role model and try to duplicate his or her success story," Enticott says.

Alex Tham Koy-siong, assistant dean of the Department of Marketing at the City University of Hong Kong, sees presentation skills and the ability to work as a team as two winning attributes newcomers to the job market should possess.

"To prepare students for life at work, we involve them in different kinds of group projects to help them build team spirit. Just like in the workplace, sometimes they do not get to choose who they want to work with. We want our students to learn how to work together with different people."

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