Often, the toughest part of getting any job is likely to be the interview - that moment when you come face to face with a prospective employer. And just when you need all the confidence you can muster, it seems to completely disappear.
Getting through interviews and making them work effectively for you just takes careful planning.
If an interview has been set, you will know the name of the employer (that is, the company name). Do your homework: find out more about the company you are hoping to join.
Find out as much as you can about the job you are applying for, try and work out what sort of person is required and match that to your own strengths and skills.
This information can be found in many sources like business directories and listings and company websites. Company profiles can also be found in their annual reports. You could also speak to friends, relatives and acquaintances in the workforce to find out what they know about a certain company or job.
If you are confident enough, you may also wish to call up the company and speak to someone in the corporate communications or human resource department.
Staff in corporate communications and human resource are generally willing to assist by giving out non-sensitive information on their company provided you explain your purpose.
Larger organisations and foreign companies tend to be more open to giving information. Ask questions about the nature of the company's business, where it based, where its headquarters are and what their main products are.
Time and place
If necessary, check a street directory for the exact location of the building and the location of the nearest bus stops and MRT stations.
Plan what you are going to wear the day before the interview. Ensure your clothes are clean, fresh and well pressed. Take a cue from how people in that profession or sector generally dress. It is safer to be slightly conservative.
Wearing a suit is not really necessary unless you are a candidate for a senior appointment. A conservative simple tie, a well-pressed long-sleeved shirt and dark trousers is adequate for men.
For women, a dark jacket with a plain blouse always gives a professional appearance. Skirts should be of an appropriate length. Jewellery and accessories must not be distracting to the interviewer. Avoid clothing that is ill-fitting, revealing or casual.
Ensure your hair is properly combed or brushed. If you wear aftershave or perfume, choose something with a light fragrance; avoid anything that is "overpowering". For women, put on some light make-up for a polished look.
Be sure to place all the important documents, references and information you need in a good-quality folder with clear plastic sheets. This way, you can display all your certificates nicely without having to take them in and out of an envelope.
Some applicants bring their documents and references rolled up or crumpled - this creates an impression of a disorganised person.
Carry the folder in a presentable briefcase that makes you look professional. Avoid shopping and travel bags.
Prepare yourself mentally. Spend some time reviewing your achievements and praise yourself for what you have done so far. This is not the time to be self-critical or to compare yourself negatively with others.
Tell yourself that the fact that they want to interview you means half the battle is won, and you have got a foot in the door.
Visualise yourself succeeding at the interview and being happy with how you performed. If necessary, practice and rehearse how you will respond and conduct yourself. Practise your answers to frequently asked questions at interviews so that you can respond naturally at the acual interview.
If the interview is in the morning, try to have an early night the day before the interview. For an afternoon interview, avoid scheduling activities two to three hours before that, in order to arrive in a calm and relaxed frame of mind.
Make sure you get to the interview on time. Being even a minute late is very rude. If your interview is in a large building, you may have to wait for elevators that may take a long time.
Allow sufficient time for travelling, get there at least 10 minutes early and make your way to the office where the interview is being held. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before you enter.