A few deadly interview mistakesYou finally have your foot in the door. After jumping through a few hoops you finally got the interview you have been after. This is a stressful part of the job search. Here are some common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
Arriving too early
Getting to an interview 30 minutes early is better than arriving 30 minutes late. But if you get there early, instead of checking in with the receptionist, cool your heels at a nearby coffee shop or in your car. Then you can make an appearance about 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
If an earthquake opens the ground in front of your car and you are going to be late, do not panic. Shin Shi-gyung, a career specialist with the placement agency, Accolade, recommends that you call and succinctly explain why you are going to be late and ask if the company wants to reschedule.
“You make your greatest impact on the interviewer in the first 17 seconds,” according to Leslie Plotkin, who writes for an Internet job search site. Try on your interview outfit ― everything from clothing to shoes to accessories ― the night before the interview and check yourself in a mirror before you walk into the interview. And avoid smoking or chewing gum once you are in the office.
Being too passive
An interview is not an interrogation. It is a two-way discussion, so ask questions and engage the interviewer. “If candidates have no questions, the company may think they are not truly interested in the company. So ask a couple of questions,” Ms. Shin of Accolade says.
Lack of research
If you want to ask some intelligent questions at the interview, you have to do your homework before you arrive. If you landed the interview with the help of a job search firm, ask your contact there to give you some information. Look up the company on the Internet or in trade magazines. If you know any current or former employees of the firm, talk to them.
Lack of self-knowledge
Get to know not only the company, but your own strengths and weaknesses. “You must know your own background so thoroughly that you are prepared to answer any question about it without hesitation and in enough detail to satisfy the interviewer,” says Arthur R. Pell in “How To Sell Yourself on an Interview.”
Some potentially delicate questions include: “Why did you leave your last job?” “Did you enjoy your college experience?” Or a straightforward “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Even if you left your company because you disliked your boss, Ms. Plotkin recommends that you avoid any bad-mouthing. “You don’t want to look like a complainer.”
Ms. Shin agrees. “If you can publicly talk poorly about a previous company, your future company starts wondering, ‘What will this person say about us if we hire her, and then she leaves here?’”
And if you left your previous job after a relatively short period of time, you are not alone. “These days, people move around a lot,” Ms. Shin says. Just do not lie about your reasons for leaving. Ms. Shin notes that in Hong Kong, if a person stayed at a job for six months or less, they simply explain why in the cover letter or resume.
As for answering questions about your weaknesses, many career specialists discourage admitting a flaw and allowing the competition to appear better than you. Instead, counter the question by playing up your strengths.
If you find the questions too personal, say so, or change the subject.
Fear of improvising
Even if you are interviewing at a Korean company, there is a good chance that you will be asked a couple of questions in English. Ms. Shin had one client who was surprised to have a couple of questions thrown at him in English. “Be prepared, you never know,” she says.
One U.S.-based finance company asked its interviewees what they thought about the situation surrounding Yoo Seung-jun, a Korean entertainer who was denied entry to Korea after he became a United States citizen to avoid conscription in the Korean army. “Among our candidates, the Korean-American ones found it hardest to reply,” Ms. Shin says.
Quite often, the interview breaks down when the subject turns to remuneration. Money might not be discussed at the first interview, but it will come up. Every company has a different salary structure. Try to talk to someone at the company, perhaps in human resources, who can give you a heads up about normal starting salaries. Salaries can include base pay, performance incentives, bonuses and other perks.
Before you leave, thank the interviewer for their time. You might want to send a follow-up letter if you do not get the position to let the firm know you are interested in future openings.
by Joe Yong-hee
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