askST Jobs: What should I prepare ahead of a remote or in-person job interview?

There are online resources that job seekers can use to polish their interview skills. PHOTO: PEXELS

In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: What should I prepare ahead of a job interview, whether remote or in-person?

A: Interviews can vary for different companies and job roles.

First, candidates should read up on the job requirements and company culture. If possible, do a quick search of the hiring manager or recruiter so you know who exactly you are meeting.

The next thing to do is to figure out how to tell your story.

To do so, rehearse potential questions. These may be hypothetical based on candidates' research of the company, or even reaching out to peers who are already familiar with the company or the role, says JobStreet Singapore managing director Chew Siew Mee, adding: "Preparing simple guiding points to these questions will ensure that candidates are equipped with the responses to ace their interview."

There are online resources that job seekers can use to polish their interview skills. On JobStreet's career advice page, for instance, candidates can get tips and tricks on doing well at interviews, things to take note of and how they should present themselves as a confident candidate for the role.

Whether it is a remote or in-person interview, be cautious that your answers don't seem rehearsed when you're speaking with the hiring manager, says Ms Florence Yip, senior manager of talent acquisition at Indeed.

"Although you may feel nervous during an interview, try to showcase your personality so the employer can learn more about you and can visualise you in the role alongside the current employees.

"Make sure to smile, engage with the interviewer and, if you feel it's appropriate, share personal information like about your family or hobbies."

Try to answer the questions you are given with examples.

"Even with yes or no questions, you can still provide an employer with specific situations you were in before that showcase your skills and experience," adds Ms Yip.

"Let the hiring manager know how your skills or decisions in that situation helped your previous employer."

It is also probably a good idea to prepare some questions to ask the interviewer, including clarifying certain expectations and finding out what the work culture is like. The trick here is to make the interview seem like a two-way conversation.

Remember to dress the part on the day - and this applies to virtual interviews too. Some firms have more formal dress codes, while others, like start-ups, prefer more casual outfits.

If in doubt, it is best to show up in "business casual" attire.

If you are attending an in-person interview, arrive at the interview venue 15 minutes early. This gives you time to calm your nerves, check how you look and make final preparations, experts recommend.

Be polite to those you meet at the venue - from the receptionist to the cleaner - as how you treat them says a lot about you. Even just a smile goes a long way.

Always remember that people are watching you.

Pay attention to your body language and not just during the interview - but before and after. When it is your turn, walk into the interview room with a straight but relaxed posture.

Offer a handshake if the situation allows for it. If in doubt, wait for him to do so. Some interviewers may prefer not to for hygiene reasons amid the ongoing pandemic.

When you sit, position yourself comfortably - not too near or far from the table. Avoid slouching, have both feet on the ground, and maintain eye contact.

Career coaches also advise job seekers to keep their hands on the table or on their laps, so they do not make large gestures.

Take cues from your interviewer. When he speaks, listen and nod at appropriate junctures. Do not cut in or look elsewhere.

When it is your turn to speak, enunciate your words clearly.

These days, with hybrid work arrangements, hiring managers may resort to virtual interviews.

Most of the tips mentioned earlier for in-person interviews - including being early, adopting a good posture and speaking confidently - apply here too.

Besides these, ensure that your Internet connection works well and you are familiar with the video-conferencing application used.

You could ask a family member or friend for help with a test run.

Try out the different settings. Do your microphone and camera work? Is your room too dark? Is the background behind you too distracting?

During the online interview, it is important to listen carefully as there may be unexpected audio delays due to the connection.

After a question has been asked, wait a few seconds before speaking so you do not unintentionally cut in. Take your time when answering so the interviewer can understand you.

When it is time to wrap up the interview, whether in-person or virtual, you can pose a few questions that you have prepared.

At the end of the session, remember to thank the interviewer for his time.

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