Ace Your
Job Interview

Ace Your Job Interview

Watch and Learn

A job interview is an opportunity for the employer to evaluate your skills, personal motivations, interest in their work and your fit for their organisation. At the same time, it is an opportunity for you to determine if the job aligns with your interest and goals.

To showcase the best version of yourself, it is important to go into an interview well prepared.

01

Get Yourself Organised

Rushing to make it on time, worrying if you are dressed appropriately and not bringing essential items are sure to add on stress. Here are some tips for getting organised, so you enter the interview calmer and more confident.

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Schedule Wisely

When responding to an interview request, try your best to accommodate the employer’s suggested day and time. If the appointment clashes with your schedule, offer an alternative option that allows you to arrive at the interview with ample time to spare.

When planning travel time, account for unforeseen issues like traffic jams, the need to clear security lines or difficulties in locating interview venues.

Ensure you have your route mapped out the day before the interview. Some offices are located in far away in industrial parks where transportation is limited. Plan your travel accordingly.

Pack Your Interview Kit

Prepare your interview kit in a presentable carrier such as a simple black folio or a satchel. Do not use a backpack.

Your kit should include your:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Transcripts
  • Qualifications
  • Testimonials (if any/applicable)
  • Portfolio (if any/applicable)
  • Business Cards (if any/applicable)
  • Tissue
  • Breath Mints
  • Any other documents requested by the company

Check the interview invite for specific instructions on what to bring.

Dress Professionally

First impressions count, so dress well. You will look professional and feel more confident. At the same time, it communicates respect to the interviewer.

02

Research the Company and Role

Interviewers look beyond your grades, talents and skills to evaluate your character. A great way to demonstrate an impressive work ethic is by coming into the interview well prepared.

Having a strong understanding of the company goals, needs, challenges and the megatrends affecting the business will prove useful in helping you answer industry-specific questions. This effort also demonstrates that you are motivated, curious, hardworking and diligent. Your preparation will show in your self-confidence and tells the recruiter that you will deploy similar efforts towards understanding the needs of the clients.

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What to look out for

  • Products and services
  • Values and Mission
  • Who their customers/clients are
  • Long-term and short-term goals of the company
  • The geographical presence of operations
  • Business models and sources of revenue
  • Challenges facing the business
  • What differentiates them from their competitors
  • Industry trends

Where to look

  • Job descriptions
  • Company websites
  • Company reports
  • News and blog posts
  • Factiva and Euromonitor Passport via NUS Library portal
  • 1st and 2nd-degree connections who work there
  • LinkedIn profiles
  • Glassdoor
 

When you have been invited for an interview with a company, subscribe to "Google Alerts" about the company to receive daily emails with daily news articles about the company.

03

Answer Using Frameworks

Interviewers are impressed by confident and articulate candidates who provide well-thought, clearly structured answers and communicate them engagingly and concisely. The way to reach that standard is to practice answering questions.

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Common Interview Questions

The questions you receive during your interview are likely to fall into 5 categories.

Informational & Personality

Sample Questions:
"Tell me about yourself."
"Why did you apply for this job?"

Interviewers are looking for:

  • Motivations and personal background
  • Prepare engaging and interesting snippets about yourself
  • Showcase a positive attitude by smiling and displaying a cheerful disposition
  • Show confidence in your capabilities and believe in yourself
  • Be honest and authentic with your answers
Hypothetical

Sample Questions:
"What would you do if you had to work with an uncooperative teammate?"
"How would you handle an unreasonable client demanding an overnight turnaround on a project?"

Interviewers are looking for:

  • Personality and values
  • Use the S.T.A.R. framework to answer these questions
  • Create your own bank of stories you can share to answer these questions. These stories may come from internships, extra-curricular activities, class projects, National Service, etc.
  • Prepare alternative courses of action to the hypothetical scenarios
Behavioural & Situational

Sample Questions:
"Tell me about a time where you had to lead a large and complex project."
"What was your biggest setback and how did you recover from it?"

Interviewers are looking for:

  • Specific skills or competencies
  • Use the S.T.A.R. framework to answer these questions
  • Create your own bank of stories you can share to answer these questions. These stories may come from internships, extra-curricular activities, class projects, National Service, etc.
  • Prepare alternative courses of action to the various situational questions
Skill-Based & Technical

Recruiters may ask you to perform a coding task, make a policy recommendation or solve an engineering question.

Interviewers are looking for:

  • Function specific knowledge
  • Think of the key technical skills required for the role you are applying for and revise your knowledge before attending the interview
Curve-ball

Sample Questions:
"How many golf balls fit in this room?"
"Sell me this pen."

Interviewers are looking for:

  • Recruiters are looking at your thought process rather than the absolute answer
 

Use Google to search for common interview questions. Prepare your answers and ask a friend to pose as the interviewer. You may also use CFG’s Video Interviewing Tool to practise interviewing and receive feedback from your career advisor.

Frameworks to Answer Interviewing Questions

These following frameworks will help to keep your answers well-organised and logical.

S.T.A.R. Framework

The S.T.A.R. framework offers a structured way to craft your responses to behavioural interviewing questions. These questions typically revolve around your previous experiences, where you are asked to provide real-life examples of how you responded to a particular situation. This framework will keep your answers compelling and succinct without answering too briefly or elaborating too much.

"What is your greatest strength?"

  • Situation

    What was the challenge? What was the context?
    During my internship in ABC Company…
  • Task

    What was expected? What were the tasks you needed to accomplish?
    I had to solicit for sales leads. I noticed we didn't have a blueprint for reaching out to potential partners — each salesperson did their own thing. This was inefficient and ineffective…
  • Action

    What did you do? What actions did you take/initiate?
    so I collaborated with our team to build a partnership process and some guidelines to upload leads and contacts on a cloud platform.
  • Results

    What did you achieve? What was the outcome of your actions?
    By the end of my internship, the data I collected showed that 91% of the staff had become active users of the new platform.
C-Star

A variation to the STAR framework is C-STAR where you state the conclusion before anything else. When asked to share a weakness, share one that you are working on improving.

“Tell me your biggest weakness.”

  • Conclusion

    My biggest weakness is public speaking.
  • Situation

    During my presentations in front of my class, I would stutter nervously. I would quickly notice people getting bored but as much as I wanted to, I could not do anything about it.
  • Task

    To fix this, I set myself the challenge to become an engaging presenter by my 4th year.
  • Action

    In the last 2 years I’ve made a concerted effort to raise my hand to answer questions or give presentations to practice operating out of my comfort zones. This year I signed up for toastmaster club practice sessions – it has been really helpful.
  • Results

    To be honest, I’m still nervous and I still stammer occasionally but despite that, I know I am improving. I gave a presentation last week to 50 people and the feedback I received was highly encouraging.
3-Points Framework

This framework helps you to shape your answers in a clear and straightforward manner. Keeping to the rule of three allows you to express yourself concisely, highlight your points, and augment the memorability of your messages to the interviewer.

You can answer the questions using the following sentence structures:

“There are 3 steps to solving the problem with the aggrieved customer. Firstly… secondly…thirdly…
“There are 2 reasons why I applied to your company. The first is … The second is…”

"Why are you keen on this role?"

  • First

    The first is the cutting-edge technology that you work within 3D metals printing. I think the industrial applications are limitless and very exciting!
  • Second

    Secondly, this role would give me the chance to combine my technical skills with my people skills. I was privileged to receive good training in the industrial design program and internship. At the same time, I was the head of donor relations for NUSCares and was able to raise $150,000 by cultivating deep relationships with our donors. I believe this role will allow me to leverage my current combined strengths.
  • Third

    Finally, I see joining your firm as a chance to grow into a thought leader in this emerging field. I’ve noticed that some of your young hires are publishing articles to share their knowledge of this area. I like that the firm encourages this and provides opportunities to let us develop and showcase our professional expertise.
Present-Past-Future Framework

This framework gives you a chance to share anecdotally – to tell stories of the present, past, and future in an engaging manner. A narrative makes it easier for interviewers to consume the information and provides them with the necessary details to assess you as well.

"Tell me about yourself."

  • Present

    What are you currently interested in?
    I just graduated from NUS with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Sociology and am keen to start my career as a Market Research Consultant.
  • Past

    What have you accomplished in school and the workplace?
    In my Final Year Project, I used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to study the purchasing patterns of single mothers in developing South East Asian economies. I also served as head of marketing for the Singapore Young Muslim Professionals Society where I attracted a record number of 1600 participants to our annual community development conference.
  • Future

    How do you hope to contribute to the organisation?
    I hope to be able to use my social science research skills to help businesses be more customer-centric so that they can generate greater value for society and their shareholders.

04

Ask Good Questions

At the end of most interviews, the recruiter will ask, ‘do you have any questions?’ Saying no at this point makes you look like you are not thinking deeply enough about the role or that you are not curious. Get started with sample questions below.

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Good Questions to Ask

Success In The Role
  • Looking at people who have filled this role before, what differentiated the ones who were good from the others?
  • What are your expectations of this role in the first 1-2 months?
  • How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
Understanding Company Needs
  • What projects will the person in this role be working on in the future?
  • What are some of the pain points your clients need help with?
  • What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the department now?
Corporate Culture
  • What do you like best about working here?
  • How would you describe the work culture like in the company?

Other Tips

Interviewing Etiquette
  • Arrive at least 15-30 minutes before the interview.
  • What you do before and after the interview matter just as much.
  • Keep your phone on airplane mode and out of sight.
  • Follow up with a thank you email within a day.
Building Great Conversation
  • Let the interviewer take the lead.
  • Be prepared for small talk.
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Avoid questions on salary or benefits, unless asked.
  • Paraphrase or clarify the question if necessary for you to collect your thoughts.
Gain Confidence Through Body Language
  • Firm handshake
  • Use gestures
  • Upright posture
  • Eye contact
  • Positive energy

Would you like to practice interviews with pre-recorded questions?

References