BY Jessica Xia, English Language Instructor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Bee Dy, English Language Instructor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Job interviews are like first dates: First impressions are crucial, awkwardness abounds, and outcomes can be unpredictable. HKPolyUx is taking MOOCs to the next level in career development by matching students of our 2-part MOOC English@Work in Asia: Preparing for a Job Interview with partner companies for employment opportunities. Working with companies to develop our MOOCs has given us some insight into what interviewers look for during the interview process.
Anyone can look good on paper
On paper, everyone claims to have the similar job skills and outstanding experience. If, on paper, two candidates each have a post-graduate degree, vast experience in the field, and are a good fit for the company, who does the company choose? Only an interview can help the company decide.
As with all first impressions, an interviewer can make an assessment of your character within seconds. During the first meeting, you should be well-prepared, express in-depth knowledge about the position, show enthusiasm toward the company, and be able to outline the unique vision of what you can offer the company in the long term.
Get serious and be prepared
Going on a first interview unprepared and unplanned can make you appear as if you don’t care. Interviewers expect you to plan ahead, to know your skills and character, and to be clear about what you bring to the table, ultimately showing why you are a better candidate than your competition. Know your focus or get beaten by competitors who know theirs.
Practice, practice, practice!
Practice makes perfect, and it makes sense that you should do the same when preparing for an interview. Practice can help you relax and appear more confident, even when you’re not. Going for interviews just for practice can help you get back into the ‘interview scene’ and better prepare you for the next one.
Stay on message
Be yourself, be clear, and be memorable. Prove you are the right candidate by weaving your story to fit the company’s needs. Tell them more about your work ethics and what you are like at work every day through your past experiences. Make the employer want you to be a part of their own story.
Sell yourself. Bring a smile, knowledge of your field, and passion. Show you’re the one who can get it done best compared to the rest.
Don’t make it all about you
Employers want to know that you’re interested in the role and company and not just your career. Ask appropriate follow-up questions to show you’ve thought about the employer’s needs and concerns.
Show some restraint
Don’t speak negatively about your last employer. Save that for a later time.
Close with a bang!
If you’re interested in the job, let them know you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity and eager to work for them. Interviewers will remember this after you go and it will leave a lasting impression.
Talent will get you in the door, but character keeps you in the room.
An employer is looking for a person that fulfills their criteria and one they can easily connect with. That said, if it doesn’t work out, it may not be your fault. There may not have been that spark between you and the employer. Learn from that experience and try again with another until both parties find the right fit.
The English@Work in Asia course team is here to help job applicants present themselves so well, to be so good, that employers can’t ignore them. A job interview is not only a test of your knowledge, but also about your ability to use it at the right time and say it in the right way. We all look good on paper and have great things to offer, but we also need to plan well to make sure the first interview is breathtaking. This course can help one plan and prepare well. One can join this course to discover practical and creative strategies that can send sparks flying during their next job interview! One of edX’s partner companies can be their next ‘interview’ date.