What to expect when you’re expecting a job interview

By Stanley Chan – Consultant, HR & Administration Recruitment, Links International Hong Kong

When it comes to looking for jobs in Hong Kong, or indeed anywhere in Asia, landing a job interview is an accomplishment in itself.

Once you secure the interview, you want to nail it. In general, the fact that you have been invited for an interview should ease certain worries about your qualifications, such as: Is my career history too jumpy? Will my lack of industry experience affect my chances? I only fit three out of the five criteria the job description requires; should I still go?

The employer has already read the information on your CV, therefore your past experiences and education have taken you to the “qualified potential” category. If you have any hesitations about your background, now is the best time to tell the interviewer in person how this will not be an issue.  Now it’s time for you to take centre stage.  This post will include some tips on how you can do this, which nicely complements the additional tips and pointers from an excellent article posted by my colleague Las Rodrigo about how to prepare for an interview.

  1. Know yourself

In the teachings of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, he says: “Know who you face and know yourself, and you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” You are the most qualified person to tell people about yourself. The second part is knowing what the employer is looking for. The job description should be taken as a template for the employer’s ideal perfect candidate. Sometimes, the details are solely based on their previous employee; other times the JD is an employer’s wish list of attributes. If you are invited to meet, concentrate on your own strengths that are relevant to the role.

In addition, the employer knows you may not have certain skills they would like, but how you choose to tackle these issues is another factor. Some employers judge a person by the effort they put in and, although you may not have on-job experience regarding certain attributes, it doesn’t mean you have to go in blind with your hands in the air.  Do some more research. If it is industry related, apart from knowing about the company, you can learn about the nature of the industry in general and the company’s competitors. What areas distinguish this organisation from its competitors in the market? We live in a digital world with the convenience of the internet. This information is merely a few clicks away. There are no excuses for not going in prepared.

  1. Look like a winner; feel like a winner

Have you heard the phrase “Look the part to get the part”? That is entirely true in the job searching world. Dressing up well for job interviews is not only a sign of respect to the interviewer, but also shows respect to yourself. Females have more flexibility in attire, whereas male counterparts have the advantage of having the standard suit and tie already pre-set as the correct option. However, you will be surprised by the number of times that I have met candidates who could not even fulfil that simple request. A particular case comes to mind, where a candidate came to an interview unshaven, with messy hair, wearing a polo shirt, ripped jeans and old sneakers. Appearance aside, his seated posture was hunched up, while he swayed back and forth, cross-legged.  I asked the candidate if he usually dressed like that for job interviews and he said no. I followed up by asking if there was a particular reason why he dressed like that today, and his reply was “because aren’t I only meeting a recruiter?” (said with a worried look on his face) ”Or not?” His hunched up posture became worse, where his chest was basically touching his knees. Suffice to say the interview didn’t last very long. Although we are taught at a young age to never judge a book by its cover, instinctually people are visual beings. Before they get the chance to know the real you and all the wonderful things you have to offer, you need to grab the attention of the interviewer in order for them to want to hear about these things. Dressing well will give you a sense of confidence that will shine from within, thus increasing your chances for the interviewer to want to learn more about you than just your presentation. In my personal option, the suit and tie kind of forces you to sit up straight by default, because if it doesn’t, your suit is probably too baggy!

For more career advice and to see how we can take your career to the next level, please do not hesitate to contact us.