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The Ins and Outs Of An Interview

So your resume made a splash and you’ve been shortlisted for an interview – now it’s time to make a solid impression that’ll make you stand out from your peers, while avoiding any accidental interview faux pas.
Attorney-General’s Chambers Photo credit: Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office

After sending out what feels like at least a dozen applications, you’ve finally scored yourself an interview. Now comes the next problem – how do you make a lasting first impression to land you that dream job?

There are countless articles out there with numerous tips and tricks, and it can be hard knowing which of them actually works. For this article, we decided to speak with Ms Julie Melwani from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) who shared with us interview tips as a human resource (HR) professional who has been conducting interviews for more than 19 years.

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1. Get The Name Right

> Before going in for your interview, make sure you remember the company’s name! Messing up the name of the place you’re trying to get a job at would be a major faux pas. If you find yourself tongue-tied from the nerves or make a mistake during the interview, don’t panic. How you react to a slip-up might just salvage the situation. After all, an interview isn’t just about the functional skills. Your interviewer is likely to assess how you respond in different situations and test your abilities to think on your feet.

2. Be Honest

> As tempting as it is to embellish and overstate your experience, avoid doing so. If you were part of the team but did not lead it, make it clear, rather than claiming that you led the project to boost your resume. Chances are, your story will unravel as your interviewer probes about your experience.

3. Come Armed With Information

> Before going for your interview, take the time to do some research about the company. This will help you understand the company’s nature of work and allow you to have a better idea of how you can contribute to the company, and how they can fuel your professional growth. Learning more about key terms and trends in the industry is also important. You don’t want to be caught off-guard when your interviewer asks you a question about a term that you should know of in your line of work. “At the AGC, we value candidates who read up about us and understand our key functions,” says Julie.

Attorney-General’s Chambers Photo credit: Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office

4. Answer The Question

> There are plenty of resources out there with the popular questions that interviewers love to ask. Julie’s advice? Use these as a guide, but don’t answer based on a memorised script. Tailor your response to the question that’s being asked and make sure that you’re actually answering the question. Another tip that Julie gives is to keep your answers succinct. That doesn’t mean you give a yes or no response; instead, stay on topic and be sure to remember the original question. Prepare the interviewer by telling them you’re going to give an example before elaborating – this way they know your story supports an important point you wish to make.

5. Mind Your Mindset

> Give yourself an added advantage by going to your interview with a calm mind. With a cool head on your shoulders, you’ll be able to answer questions coherently. This will leave a strong first impression on your interviewer, as compared to someone who seems slightly frazzled. Your mindset and approach to the interview is just as important. Interviewees should think of the interview as a two-way conversation rather than a test, suggests Julie. The company wants to know what they can offer you, and what you, in turn, can offer them.

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Being candid with your skills and experience would also allow the employer to consider you for other roles you might be better suited for or give you useful advice for your next interview. At the AGC, where needed, HR personnel have spoken to candidates after their interview on other job opportunities within the organisation. At the end of the day, it’s all about give and take and what is best for you and your future employer.