How to Ace your interview

After painstakingly crafting your resume and applying for your dream job, you get a pleasant surprise when you are invited for an interview.  It is the final, and most crucial step to landing that dream job of yours. It would be criminal to attend it without proper preparation. So how should we go about it?

Ace-ing an interview is a unique set of skills, yet a lot of us are not well-equipped. The reason being we do not go for interviews every day! As a consummate professional in the Human Resource industry, our HR partner Recruit Haus has been advising job seekers on how to land their dream jobs for the past 13 years. These are some of the essential preparations an interviewee must undertake:


Before you speak your first word, you are already assessed by your appearance. You want to set the tone of the interview right by creating a good first impression. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts:

The Do’s

  1. Dress for the occasion, and let the interviewer feel you are making an effort to make this work.
  2. A well-pressed outfit demonstrates basic courtesy and it’s a MUST.
  3. A well-groomed hairstyle
  4. Rest well the previous night to look fresh and confident
  5. Smiling attracts, so smile and greet.

The Don’ts

  1. Do not wear an overly flashy-colored outfit. Wearing an outfit that is darker-toned (black, grey, blue) gives a more assuring image.
  2. Avoid strong perfume. Applying moderately just to prevent certain body odors.
  3. Do not wear insufficiently to catch attention (which is very wrong)
  4. Do not dress too casually.
  5. Do not be late, prepare adequate time to arrive on time.

Preparing the questions for the interview

Interview questions are mostly typical; they are very common but yet if you are not prepared for them, it can be the difference between landing or not that dream job of yours. While you do not need to memorize answers (as if preparing for an exam), it helps when you are prepared mentally with the pointers in your mind because you will be able to speak with more confidence, and that in turn inspire the interviewer’s confidence in you. Confidence breeds confidence.

These are the most common questions that you MUST prepare for:

1. “Tell me about yourself”

This is a common first question, yet interviewees who are not prepared will be thrown off by it. Essentially, interviewers want to understand what you have done and experienced that makes you an ideal candidate for the role you are applying for. DO NOT start telling your life story.

2. “What is your strength?”

Again, this is a common question. The interviewer is trying to identify the key strength that makes you qualify for the job. And it helps if you can relate how your strength is able to prepare you for the position you are applying for. For example

“As a HR specialist, I am attentive to details and have a good pair of listening ears. I seek to hear out and understand employees’ concerns and organize them as constructive feedback for the company policy-making process.

3. “What is your weakness?”

While many interviewees would prepare themselves well for their strengths, surprisingly, many missed out on preparing to speak about their weaknesses. Avoid personal traits and “deadly” habits, like “I have a habit of being late for appointments”. It would effectively kill off the chance of landing the job.  Or tell the interviewer that you have no weakness. That is a no-no because a human being is not flawless.

You can share about a weakness in the course of your work that you recognize and currently working on improving it.

“As a designer, while I have adequate skills in graphical design, I am still not very familiar with video production and design. However, I am attending a course to improve myself on this aspect.”

4. “Why do you think you are suitable for this job?”

Without sounding arrogant, this is the time to showcase your confidence and upsell yourself as the deserving candidate to land the job! Highlight the key traits that you possessed that make you the most suitable.

“My passion and experience in similar sales and marketing previously, I have a good understanding of what this role requires me to do, and I have absolute confidence to be able to replicate the success I had before”

5. “Do you have any questions for us?”

Conduct research on the company prior to the interview and seek to understand some of the factors that are relevant to you. You are demonstrating the preparation work you have done and seriously wanted to take up the job. Avoid telling the interviewer that you have no questions unless you are not keen on the job.

“I understand this is a team lead position. May I know how many people are there in the group?”

“As a Regional Marketing Director, I understand my role is to support the Asia offices. Is there any strategic plan to continue to grow the company?”

DO NOT ask about the salary. Usually, the interviewer would not discuss the salary package during the first interview. However, if they are very interested to hire you, they may ask you. Leave this question to them.

6. What is your reason for leaving your job?

Do not engage in badmouthing or personal issues. There is no right or wrong answer but the interviewer would want to observe your behaviour; whether you are someone who likes to speak ill of a former employer or engage in petty mudslinging.

Focus on the positive as the reason to move on.

“After working for 5 years, it would be ideal if I can utilize my skill and experience with a new employer with a similar value which helps me to progress in my career.”

As the interview is ending, avoid leaving the seat abruptly. Both the employer and candidate would have invested a substantial amount of time going through the interview. Before leaving, thank the employer for giving you the opportunity, and genuinely hope to have a chance to work together with him/her. Building that extra bit of relationship with your prospective employer would give you the edge against your competitors.