After documenting your experiences and achievements on your resume and sending it out to different companies, you receive an email from one of them a few weeks later, requesting to have an face-to-face / skype or even phone interview with you. Score!
Or is that more like an… eek? Let’s be honest here: job interviews can be nerve wrecking! But don’t let that daunt and deter you from presenting yourself to your potential employer in the best light possible.
Here are three tips we have for your big interview
1. Preparation is key
Most importantly, do your homework! The interview is a test, and there is no way you can sail through it without knowing what you are in for. You can start by visiting the company’s website and social media pages and take note of what they do and what they stand for, such as their brand vision and mission. You should also read up as much as possible about the industry and be well-versed about relevant news. This would help you answer any related questions the hiring manager might ask you and differentiate you from the less-prepared candidates.
2. Don’t just say what you’ve learnt – show it!
It’s easy enough to list down the qualities that you have on paper – for example, being confident, efficient and a team player. But, what do you have to show for it? During the interview, do your best to present examples of how you exemplify the traits, qualities and skills that you have to better support your resume.
Where possible, remember to also draw upon your time overseas and create links with what you’d learnt abroad. For example, you could mention how you’ve worked with diverse groups of people while at school or at a part-time job overseas, and how you’ve learnt to deal with cultural differences during that time.
3. Ask smart questions
“Do you have any questions for us?” Don’t be surprised if your interviewer pops you this question towards the end of the interview. Remember, an interview is a two-way process – even as the interviewer assesses your capabilities, you should also evaluate the suitability of the company. It’s actually a common practice for the interviewee to ask questions and find out more about the role and the company.
Remember – this Q&A is STILL part of the interview, so it definitely isn’t the right time to ask about wearing jeans to work, the benefits the company provides, or about ‘employee discounts’!
Putting it into action
With the tips above, imagine this: You are an economics major interviewing for your first internship at a local digital marketing agency.
Prior to the interview, you’ve scrutinised the company’s website, read the LinkedIn profiles of the boss and employees, learnt about the company culture through its social media channels, and even went on to read about the company’s clients, portfolio of work and current events relating to digital marketing. You’ve spent a few hours reading case studies, learning more about understanding business challenges, setting goals, and understanding audiences and execution strategies.
Soon, it’s the day of the interview. Here is a hypothetical excerpt of the conversation between you and your interviewer, the boss and hiring manager of the digital marketing company:
Interviewer: I enjoyed reading your resume. Tell me what brings you here and what you know about the company.
You: Well, I’ve been interested in digital marketing since my first year of university. I was part of the Economics faculty’s Dinner and Dance committee. I was tasked to help with online promotions and social media marketing – though it’s not something I formally studied in school, I still learnt a lot from that experience. I hope to learn even more about managing larger-scale campaigns and accounts.
Also, I’ve seen that The Digital Marketing Company has done some influential work over the four years in the business, spanning various categories and services. In particular, I enjoyed the work that was done for the International Gap Year campaign.
Interviewer: Oh, interesting! What stood out for you most in this project?
You: You might have read in my resume that I’d spent the last year and half studying in Beijing. In a city that’s such a melting pot, living there was a fast-track for me to learn about both the history and culture of a place, while meeting people from other cultures. This juxtaposition of the life that one knows, versus the one experienced in a new place and culture often becomes a point of discussion among friends, which in turn, brings new perspectives on life. I think the team really brought this point out through the campaign content!
Interviewer: That is spot-on! We had to speak to a few friends to get to this idea. So, you’ve applied as a marketing intern, specialising in Facebook. And as you’d also pointed out, we’re a small team. This means that each member often takes on multiple roles that help get our marketing ideas off the ground. What are your thoughts about that?
You: I’m definitely up for it! I’m aware that I may be a step behind my marketing peers, so managing multiple roles will also allow me to really get into the thick of learning how Marketing works. Even though I’m in Economics – which is a world of difference from Marketing – I see that the underlying philosophy of demand and supply can be mapped onto the dynamics of People, and how marketing can effect behaviour.
Interviewer: That’s an interesting thought. How have you experienced this?
You: I may not have had much experience in the industry, but I have a habit of working out of cafés, which is a way for me to understanding the impact of Marketing! It has the power of influencing purchase behaviour, which is something we may take for granted. This is especially true in China, where engagement on mobile platforms actually draw crowds into the café. In Beijing, cafés have also primed themselves to have ‘star power’, which has also been a global phenomenon. In fact, Singapore is also currently experiencing this café culture boom.
From this short exchange, you have shown that you are curious, enthusiastic, and have an understanding of applying your skill sets in lateral ways. In particular, knowing how to apply your skill sets is key for any boss or hiring manager when looking out for new hires, as diversification of a team’s perspective often drives new ideas to the table. You also demonstrated the ability to present astute observations from your stay abroad, and extended it to a learning point that is also useful for the industry.
You went on to further impress the interviewer with questions such as “What is crucial to succeed in this role?”, “How would you describe the company’s culture?”, ”Where does the company see itself in the next 2-3 years?” To the interviewer, these questions displayed a genuine interest of the company, while you gained valuable information about the company and its culture.
Congrats, you got the job! .
We hope this helps to give you a good insight into a potential interview situation and what you’d need to prepare for it!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on how you can prepare yourself for an internship or work attachment in Singapore, and how your global experience can play a part in adding value to that. All the best in your endeavours!
Expand your global experience from home: Tips to securing an internship / work attachment in Singapore