Contestants must thoroughly prepare themselves for a job interview and also show nerves of steel, says Simmy Cheng, assistant general manager for human resources and administration at Orient Overseas Container Line. Ms Cheng, one of the judges in the semi-final of the ACCA Hong Kong Job Hunting Competition 2009, said the contestants were 'a bit nervous, especially in the self-introduction segment. Proper preparation will help in any interview'. Her advice to contestants is that they should focus on career goals. 'Third-year students, in particular, need to have a very clear direction about what they would like to do and what industry they would like to enter,' Ms Cheng said. Another judge, Rita Wong, senior manager of human resources at KPMG China, said she was impressed by the contestants' language abilities during interviews. 'About 10 years ago, fresh graduates could not even speak a single word in Putonghua. But today all candidates are able to speak clearly,' she said. Language ability is one of the key elements. Judges said the way to score high marks did not lie in the number of languages one could speak, but how well they expressed themselves. 'Being a fast speaker does not mean you can [score] more points; it is more about the content. You can cover more valid points when you speak slowly,' said Ms Cheng, who added she was impressed with bilingual contestants. The judges also felt that contestants needed to possess more than just language skills, and it was essential for them to have good analytical abilities so that they could present their ideas and personality clearly. Interpersonal skills formed a major area. 'Interaction within the group is also important, but the contestant should not keep on talking and completely ignore other members, ' Ms Cheng said. Becky Ku, human resources director (North Asia) at DTZ, said contestants should be conscious of every single detail during an interview, including how firm the handshake should be. 'Preparation is the most important. You must do research in terms of the company background, the job you are applying for and the requirements,' Ms Cheng said. 'The four areas we will be looking at are interpersonal skills, presentation skills, communication skills and analytical skills.' Eva Yeung, director of tax services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said it was equally important to show commitment to the company.