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How to Ace Your Interview?

The cornerstone of every successful hire all too often lies in one’s performance during the interview. Interviews can be daunting, but with this guide on how to ace your interview, you will be able to nail your dream job.

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Before the Interview

Preparation is key for an interview. We advise that you always do your homework on the hiring company. A good way to start is by learning about the team, achievements, and even their annual reports. Use the publicly available information on the Internet to help you understand how you would fit in and contribute to the needs of the client.

“A good way to start is by learning about the team, achievements and work they have done… to help you understand how you would fit in and contribute to the needs of the client.”

Knowing their customers and major competitors will also provide you with a competitive edge.

Do not forget to bring along important documents, such as photocopies of your IC (identity certificate), transcripts and certificates. Throughout our time at Citadel Search, we often encounter candidates who remember their ICs for interviews but forget important transcripts and certificates to back their qualifications. These documents are important to the hiring manager in determining your fit, and forgetting them may reflect poorly on you. Other materials such as forms to be filled beforehand could also consume quite a bit of time. 

If possible, familiarise yourself with the interview by practicing with someone who understands the recruiting client’s culture or the direct hiring manager. As an Executive Search company, Citadel Search will be able to brief you on the culture and strategise questions that may be asked during the interview with candidates.

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During the Interview

Dress appropriately for the interview. First impressions matter and the impression you want to make is one that exudes competence and professionalism. Your attire should be comfortable and smart.

For ladies, heels are a good way to assert authority and confidence. Accessorise sparsely, and ensure that your hair is neat and tidy and your nails are no more than 0.5 inches beyond the end of the fingers.

For men, wear leather laced closed shoes to project a more formal air. Choose a solid coloured dress shirt as a patterned design may be too flashy to an employer.

The tie you should wear, however, depends on the job you are applying for, but a regular tie is always preferable to a skinny one. Wearing a suit is not mandatory, but recommended for higher executive positions.

Use results-oriented instead of task-oriented language, announcing objective accomplishments instead of describing the job functions you do, during the interview. Familiarise yourself with the STAR framework: Situation or Task, the Actions you took, and Results you achieved. With over a decade of experience in grooming a diverse pool of talents for interviews, we have found that candidates who follow this framework usually engage the clients better and nail their interviews more successfully.

Candidate Services

Always ask questions to show interest in the job and to clear up misconceptions and doubts you may have. Avoid asking inane questions to show off what you know. Instead, ask short and concise questions related to whatever you have researched prior to the interview to evaluate if the role is something you can excel in. Some good questions we suggest will be what deliverables are needed, how the role fits into the needs of the team, or what it takes to be a good fit for the role to benchmark what you have to offer with what the client expects.

Confidence is good, but overconfidence is offputting for many hiring managers. Nor should you be too meek and conservative. Instead, try to strike a balance by exuding quiet confidence while remaining humble.

As an Executive Search firm with more than a decade of experience, everyone here at Citadel Search has seen our fair share of candidates from both ends of the spectrum.

One professional candidate from private banking, for instance, was selected from a pool of candidates as he was the most talented amongst the few in Singapore who had a strong background in investment management. However, due to his defensive attitude, he had a dispute with the hiring manager and the interview ended up as an argument of philosophies. Of course, he didn’t get the job!

Try not to ask about the salaries and benefits unless it has been brought up, especially if you are only in the early stages of an interview. While it may not necessarily disqualify you from the job you applied for immediately, it may cloud the judgment of the interviewers and leave a bias that could work against you.

“Confidence is good, but overconfidence is off-putting for many hiring managers. Nor should you be too meek and conservative. Instead, try to strike a balance by exuding quiet confidence while remaining humble.”

Do not worry though – the job descriptions from the ad will usually detail the estimated range that could be offered. You don’t want to be seen as a greedy, money-grabbing person, do you?

After the Interview

An email to thank the Human Resource personnel immediately after the interview is usually well-received. However, you should be aware of who you send the email to. From our time liaising between clients, we know that certain industries, such as Banking, have a strict policy to disqualify candidates who disregard the chain of command for hiring. Communicating directly to the hiring managers is a huge no!

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Do also inform your references that they may be contacted. Give them a day or two to prepare themselves for it and seek to get references who have objective impressions of you. Additionally, if you are still working in your previous job, avoid using your direct boss as a reference. Otherwise, things may get awkward…

Following up with the recruitment consultancy firm, like Citadel Search, who got you the interview is also a good step in showing sincerity.

Send an email three days after the interview, and then call the recruitment consultant agency again three days after that. Although you may want the job badly, hold back on calling them too often to follow up.

Once you have been accepted, it is in bad taste to negotiate for better terms or compare two or more job offers. If you like to think over the offer, you should articulate your decision criteria to allow the recruitment consultancy firm to understand what information you may need to make the final decision.

Congratulations! You have successfully nailed your interview!

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Not sure if you are fully prepared for your next big interview? Citadel can help to equip you with the skills you need to ace your interview! Check out our Interview Preparation Services or contact us  to get the help you need now!

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