Interviewing Basics

I have put together a list of 10 tips which I think will help you in getting ready for and attending an interview.

**Please note, I will go into a lot more detail regarding interview content specifics in the articles “Interviewing Successfully” and “Telephone and Video Conference Interviews – Some Pointers” which will be published in the coming weeks.**

This guide is designed to provide an overview of what you need to do to have a successful interview. There are lots of resources out there on the web but this has been put together based on my experience over the years with candidates interviewing at companies in Asia.

One thing I would say above all others is that an interview is your opportunity to get yourself an offer to consider. Even if you are not 100% sure about the opportunity you are interviewing for, make sure you get yourself the offer to consider and then decide if you wish to turn it down. Don’t let any lack of enthusiasm show to the interviewer. A lot of people are rejected by clients for a perceived lack of interest in a position. This is easily avoided. Now for the tips:

1. Be prepared

Make sure you know your own CV and you can talk through all your experiences in detail. Research in depth the company you are meeting too. Do check out their website but go further and look for more information e.g. press articles, financial information, company structures, information on key people. Memorise some key facts and figures you can use during the interview. Also practice any presentations you are going to make.

2. What to wear

The general rule here is if in doubt, dress as smartly as possible. Some firms (particularly design companies) are more casual in their office attire. If you can, try to find out the interview protocol if you are unsure – ask your recruitment consultant or someone you perhaps know at the company. If in doubt wear a suit and tie with smart shoes. If you are certain of protocols at a company and know things are more casual, a smart jacket, trousers, shirt (no tie) with smart shoes is ok.

3. What to take

If you have some examples of work, whether it be a project list, portfolio or laptop presentation, make sure it’s all in order before you leave. Charge up any electronic equipment you need to take or use. Ensure the portfolio or project lists are in the correct order for the interview. Generally speaking, it is always safer to take too much with you to an interview rather than too little. You can always be selective about what you show.

4. Know where you are going and who you are meeting

Sounds simple really but there are a lot of people who don’t know where their interview will be or who to ask for when they arrive. Taking the time to confirm the address, look it up on a map and preparing your travel arrangements accordingly will help reduce the stress on your part. Also asking for the right person on arrival and knowing who they are will ensure get into the interview room with the least stress and potential for delay, which leads to…

5. Arrive early

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. Try to arrive at the building if nothing else 10-15 minutes early and get yourself composed. You’d be amazed how much this can reduce the stress of interviewing. On the day, check the weather, confirm your travel arrangements and leave with lots of time to spare.

6. Greet your interviewer with…

A firm handshake and a smile and look them in the eye. Allow them to introduce themselves and to get you settled. Accept a business card and if in Hong Kong or China, take the card with two hands and study the information for a moment before putting it down. A good interviewer will start fairly casually and put you at ease before going into detail about your experience.

7. Body language

There are lots of websites outlining this in detail. The basics are to maintain eye contact, smile (where appropriate), sit up straight and with an open stance and to talk slowly and confidently. Try not to slouch or mumble through answers and avoid shying away from eye contact. Listen carefully to any questions and if you need to, take some time to answer but make sure you answer the questions asked! Some people when nervous speak very fast, try to focus and speak slowly and keep things brief and to the point. Avoid excessive hand gestures and try to maintain a calm and composed appearance.

8. Asking questions

Before the interview and based on the research you have done you should prepare some detailed questions to ask the interviewer. Make sure they are relevant and are equally about the company and the role. Try to avoid generic questions and go into a bit more detail bringing some of your facts and figures out if you can. This will show you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and company. Try to avoid questions that a cursory glance of the company website could reveal the answers to. You will come across as unprepared and appear not to have researched the company.

9. At the end

Thank the interviewer for their time, smile, maintain eye contact and offer a firm handshake again. Equally show your interest by indicating you look forward to receiving their feedback in due course. You can sometimes ask when you can expect to hear or an interviewer will often let you know.

10. Follow up

On most occasions it’s worth sending through a polite thank you note by email to the interviewer. This can thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in hearing from them soon. Offer any further material or information that they may have shown an interest in seeing.

One final tip, it’s always worth being polite, attentive and chatty to the secretary or receptionist who you meet on arrival/departure. Once you walk out the door, quite often the interviewer will turn to the receptionist who could offer up a “they seemed nice” or if you’ve got it wrong “they seemed rude.” You’d be surprised how often I’ve heard this in feedback so it’s worth keeping in mind.


8 Responses to Interviewing Basics

  1. Patrick says:

    Great website guys – good luck with it all.

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