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Hacking First Impressions


Are you up for a job interview, but have no idea how to prepare? Whether you are fresh into the job market and need some beginner tips, or you have a challenging time speaking at a professional level, we have some tips for you in this article.

When you are just starting out, the concept of a job interview may seem baffling. Even if this isn’t your first job, but this is your first transition after being employed for a very long time, getting interviewed again may seem daunting. Interviews appear as high stakes encounters, and this is what intimidates us often.

An interview is a pitch, a sales presentation. You are the product on sale, and your character, skills, and values are your features. And while selling is a challenge in itself, the main factors are always recurrent: 1.) How you fit into the company’s culture and setup; 2.) How your skills match the business’s requirements; and 3.) How effective and retainable you will be once employed.

How notable your interview's outcome will depend on how you prepare your mind. It’s not merely a matter of confidence. Being loquacious isn’t as effective as having direction and focus on your conversations.


Highlight Your Character and Attitude

This is what really could set you apart in an interview. Many interviewees just go through their educational and employment history chronologically, which the interviewer may have already figured out by reading their resumes anyway. Add value to the conversation by presenting qualities that your resume could not show. Briefly discuss the pivotal decisions that led to your milestones: What made you decide to take that course in college? What made you leave a company and what attracted you to the next? What did you learn from those jobs? What values did you develop throughout your experience?

Use your history as the rails for you to keep the conversation cohesive and moving, but do highlight the things you value the most in your own experiences. However, keep it professional and not sensational.

Allow the interviewer to interrupt and ask you to talk more about certain things you mentioned. This helps them verify the authenticity of your claims, and understand how your mind operates. This also shows which items piqued their interest. You just have to be honest with these things. It doesn’t really help either of you by trying to give answers that you think the interviewer will want to hear. Remember that an interview not only gives you the opportunity to showcase yourself to the company but also for you to determine if the company itself is a place where you want to work. By being honest, you can get a feel for how the company may treat you. It also enables you to gauge your skills and capacity according to their needs.

Anticipate the Questions

This is something you cannot accomplish perfectly, simply because companies differ on which questions they find the most value from. Nonetheless, do note the common questions asked by interviewers. Do your online research, and speak with recently employed or interviewed friends and relatives. It also won’t hurt to do a serious simulation with a trusted person and imagine as if you are in the actual situation.



Research the Company and the Position

A quick Google search may reveal a lot of things about the company you are applying to. Browse through their website, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts, and check their Glassdoor and Jobstreet reviews. Do any of these channels reveal to you the nature and culture of the company? Does it give you an idea of their vision and mission? How does this information resonate with your own values? You can use this information to show your interviewer how aligned you are with the company’s own goals and motivations. It can also give you the opportunity to ask relevant questions to give you a deeper perspective on the company.



Ask Your Own Questions

A job interview is a conversation. Asking your questions shows how interested you are with the company and the position. Don’t hesitate to seek clarification during the conversation, so you can give better and more relevant answers. Also don’t hesitate to ask questions about the company that you wouldn’t find through research, like their office culture, how the daily grind looks like, and others that will give you an insight of what they value.

Mind Your Mind

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

– John Milton, Paradise Lost

How well you respond to the interview is not only based on facts but also where your head is at.

Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you hungry? Did you go to the bathroom before coming to the interview? Physical discomfort and concerns will definitely detract you from your focus and influence your attitude, so make sure you have these things handled.

Be in the present. You need to remain professional and focused throughout the session, so make sure your mind is just in one place. Avoid thoughts that will give you a bad attitude during the interview, such as things that happened on the road during your commute. Do some focus exercises, like taking slow, deep breaths. This helps you relax and signals your brain and body to get ready.

Don’t worry about the outcome. Good interviews offer you a fair chance to the position. You have made your preparations and done your homework, so let that guide you throughout. At this point, your worries would only detract you from the task at hand and do not solve any of your concerns. Instead, mentally go through your main points and do a simulation.



Sometimes an interview has gone really well, but you are lacking a few skills that are required for the position. At that point, try to offer a compromise that you can sincerely follow through. If it is reasonably trainable at a short span, your would-be employer may consider your offer. Sometimes you may need to do this on your own time, rather than causing an inconvenience and burden to the company’s time and resources to accommodate your upskill. If you are given this chance, this is another opportunity for you to show your hard work, self-direction, and capacity to learn.

Other things you need to be mindful of during the interview:

  • Come in early – the time of your attendance is crucial in displaying your dedication; coming in earlier helps you mentally prepare prior to the interview

  • Dress appropriately – the recruitment officer may provide you guidelines on what to wear for the interview; if not, depending on the position and industry of the company, you can get away with something between business formal and business casual

  • Respect anyone you encounter – it’s just good practice to show respect to everyone; take note that you might be working at this company in the future, so make a good impression with anyone, not just the interviewer

  • Use small talk appropriately – small talk can give you a social advantage of making the other person feel comfortable around you; engage in small talk only if it’s a matter of genuine interest to you, and make sure your topics for conversation are safe; avoid small talk during the interview itself to stay on track and not prolong the session unnecessarily

Hope these suggestions can help you in your next interview. Good luck!

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