FOR a hiring manager, interviewing is the key to exploring a candidate in depth. Therefore, to maximise his probability of being selected, the candidate must know some basics before even entering the interview room. These are:

•           Preparation: Keep track of important information, such as the time slot for the interview, the venue and a little knowledge about the interviewer as well.

•           Interview styles: Interviewers may test you with different interview arrangements, such as one-to-one interaction, a group assessment or panel interview. If you know the company’s usual style, it can be a great help in preparing yourself.

•           Show up early: Nervousness is common in job interviews and if by chance a candidate is delayed while travelling to the interview venue, stress builds up further. So be sure to leave early so you can absorb your surroundings and remain calm.

•           Dress properly: Wear formal attire that is elegant and in classic colours, such as a plain black or grey jacket over a white shirt. Do not wear distracters, such as strong perfume, chunky jewellery or other accessories. Take special care to wear shoes — not sandals — and make sure they complement what you are wearing. Aim for a formal, professional look.

•           Give a firm handshake: A handshake can immediately indicate your level of confidence and attitude. One that is too loose shows a lack of confidence, and a too-tight handshake suggests dominance — find a middle ground.

•           A warm smile: As soon as you meet the interviewers, give them a warm smile, looking straight into their eyes. This will make them comfortable with you, so keep smiling throughout the interview.

•           Watch your body language: Body language is a form of non-verbal communication and can tell a lot about a person. Hence, you should ensure you do not exhibit negative body language, such as fidgeting with objects, shaking your legs or scratching your nose.

•           Show competency: The competency-based interview is the most common type of interview, and it tests your capabilities in four core areas: Situations, Tasks, Actions and Results (STAR). So to impress your interviewers, consider using phrases like, “The situation was…”, “Key tasks involved were…”, “I took action…”, “the results were…”, and so on, in your answers.

•           Write down important points: While the interviewer is speaking to you, take notes to show him his information is important to you, especially when he is talking about a company or profile. Avoid cheap, colourful pens — you want to look serious and professional.

•           Do research: You should have the company’s information at your fingertips. This can be its vision, mission, products or services, financial position and so on. Read the company website, annual report and news coverage about it when you do your research. This will enable you to answer the interviewer’s questions with confidence and help you to ask intelligent questions.

•           Pay special attention to your resumé: Keep your resumé in a professional-looking folder (that is, not colourful), and bind multiple sheets properly with a stapler. Make sure you know every detail about what you have written on your resumé, especially profiles and achievements. You should carry a copy with you in case you need to refer to it.

•           Be positive when you speak: Consider using language like, “When I join you or start to work with you…”. As long as your tone is neutral and matter-of-fact, you will come across as confident — not arrogant.

•           Ask questions: You must also find out if this company is right for you, so ask relevant questions. You may want to ask, “When will I be told of your decision?”, ”Do you have a dress code?”, ”Who will I report to?”, “Which department will I be assigned to?” and so on. Try to get a feel of the corporate culture and if it will suit you.

•           Thank them for their time: After the interview, mail the interviewers a thank-you note (on the same day). This will help them to remember you and will create a good impression.

• Be calm: Try to be cool and calm when you go for an interview. Take a few deep breaths before you enter the room. Remember, it is not a war, only a discussion to help you and your potential employer to get to know each other.


Article by Yusuke Nishino, a manager with en world Singapore, an international recruiting agency focusing on managerial and senior-level career solutions. He has extensive experience in recruitment and human resources consulting in the financial services, IT and manufacturing industries, in Japan, Singapore and other South-east Asian countries. For more information, visit