Tips on how to ace a job interview

By Heidi Yeung

After you've applied for a job, the interview is the chance to impress. Be remembered for the right reasons with these tips

By Heidi Yeung |

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Job interviews can be frightening, especially if you've never been to one before. As summer jobs become available, many people will be preparing for their first job interview. Whether you're interviewing for a job at McDonald's or an internship in an office, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Before the interview

If you're interviewing for an office job, do your homework. Research the company you're interviewing for. A website can tell you a lot about a company. Look for "About Us", "Mission/Vision Statement" or "History". The design of the website often reflects the vibe of the office. Is it very formal? Or is it a bit more fun?

Expect to be asked: "Tell me about yourself" and "Why are you interested in this position?" Practise your answers in the mirror, and try to keep them short and relevant. Your interviewer doesn't need to know what your favourite cat video is, but they would want to know whether you've had work experience, and what your attitude towards work is.

Prepare your outfit the night before. If you're interviewing for a non-office job, keep it casual but not sloppy. If it's an office job, a suit is a safe bet, or a neat skirt, trousers or dark jeans paired with a nice shirt or blouse would be OK.

Listen to relaxing music on the way to the interview, because nerves will only work against you. Don't worry. You've got this!

At the interview

Greet the receptionist with a smile and tell them your name and why you're there. It doesn't hurt to make a good impression on everyone you see at your interview. Just a simple "Hi, my name is Laura Li, I'm here for an interview with Ms Nina Ng" will do.

When meeting the person who will interview you, start with a firm handshake. There's nothing worse than a limp handshake; it suggests you don't want to be there.

Smile, introduce yourself by name to your interviewer, and maybe throw in "It's nice to meet you."

Try to stop yourself from saying "ummm", "ehhh", "well", "ahhh" and "like" too often during your interview.

Watch your body language. Don't slouch and don't fold your arms. It comes off as defensive. Just sit up, relax your shoulders, and turn your torso to face your interviewer. People turn their torsos to face the thing they deem most important, and people subconsciously pick up on that. Consider mirroring your interviewer's body language. People are also programmed to feel relaxed around those who are behaving similarly.

Keep a polite smile ready, and look your interviewer in the eye when you're talking.

Try to link your answers to the research you did beforehand. For example, "It's interesting that you ask why I'm interested in this position. Young Post is known for its international reach and friendly yet effective work ethic, and they're qualities I'm very much hoping to learn from." It shows you're interested in the company and are looking for ways to improve yourself.

An interviewer will often end the meeting with: "Do you have any questions for me?" It's nice if you come up with one that's relevant to the company or the position you're interviewing for. But if nothing comes to mind, non-specific questions such as "What are you looking for in the candidates for this position?" and "How long should I expect this decision to take?" are good ones to have up your sleeve.

As you leave your interview, shake your interviewer's hand again, and thank them for taking the time to talk to you. And don't pull out your mobile until you're at least in the elevator or back on the street!

After the interview

For a corporate internship, it's not a bad idea to email your interviewer or the contact person who set up your interview within 24 hours afterwards to thank them again for their time.

Interviewers often tell you how long it should take them to fill the position even if you don't ask. Unless they indicate that not hearing from them means you didn't get the job, after that period of time is up, send a follow-up email to ask about the process and whether or not you are still being considered. Most importantly, always be polite and gracious, even if you are unsuccessful.