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Interview Dos & Don’ts: Practical Tips Before, During & After

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to rock an interview session. Here, I will share what I found to be practically useful.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

In the search for compatibility between a potential employee and the employer, an interview session is a must. I always find it an exciting albeit restless process (at least for me). Exciting because they see something in my CV that interests them, and they’d like to verify and/or know more about in person. Restless because we don’t have any idea on what was it about the CV that interests them, and what to anticipate for that matter.

During my earlier days after graduating back in 2007, the internet was not that broadly used. Hence, there wasn’t much guidance on how to handle an interview, and what to anticipate. Not to mention at the time, information and tips shared wasn’t as abundant as it is now.

I failed my first few interviews, terribly I might add since I wasn’t ready or strategically unprepared. It was my luck (rezeki), I was interviewed differently in one of the oil & gas fabricator’s interview session, and I was accepted. The rest was history.

Of course, times have changed, and as the technology evolved, information can be shared widely, every bit of information can be accessed at our fingertips on our smartphones.

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to rock an interview session. Here, I will share what I found to be practically useful, and something I practised personally.

The Dos

Before the interview session;

  1. Reply to ensure that you received the invitation and confirm your attendance in the interview session. This is the first step to show your interest in the job. Make it short, simple and accurate. For example; “Well received with thank you. I, hereby confirm my attendance for the interview. Looking forward to meeting you and your colleagues.”
  2. Mark the calendar of the agreed interview event, set a notification alarm (at least a few days prior) so you won’t forget.
  3. Find the place prior to the interview session to avoid any last-minute ‘treasure hunting’. Plan your commute beforehand. Do not be late. The first impression counts!
  4. Prepare your attire earlier. Find something elegant, professional and comfortable. Do not overdo, and for God’s sake do not underdress.
  5. Think about what to say when they ask something relating to your resume or CV.
  6. Most importanly, study the job scope offered, and the company products/ services. Find how you can contribute towards the company with knowledge, experience and skills that you have.

During the day of the interview;

  1. Dress appropriately with matching colour. Dark shades and deep rich colours are preferable as this will somehow show some charisma in you (got this advice from an image consultant, they’re the expert!)
  2. Come 15-20 minutes earlier than usual as there will be some forms to be filled in prior to interview session. That way you won’t be in a panting ‘rushed’, which could affect the calm mood before the interview.
  3. Have a light meal so you will not be hungry during the interview, but watch what you eat (the last thing you want is a stomach ache).
  4. Bring an extra copy of your resume or CV, original certificates (and a copy of those certificates). Even though sometimes the company didn’t ask for it, just bring along. Just in case. Better come prepared.
  5. Turn off your phone. You don’t want any unwanted distractions during the interview. No sound, no vibration, etc. Just turn it off!
  6. Have a likeable attitude. Smile, do not slouch, cool, steady and always maintain eye contact while talking.
  7. Keep reminding yourself that this is just a session to know each other. Somehow, it will keep you calm and truthful. You have studied your resume/CV, they have seen it. So, the next step is just to see you in person and see if everything is okay and can be a perfect match.
  8. Again, always maintain eye contact. Oh, already told you. But, I’ll say it again since it’s important.
  9. Ask questions. At the end of the session, there will be “Do you have any question?” question. Do not leave it with a ‘no’. Prepare 3 or 4 questions for the interviewer. However, keep in mind if your questions have been answered beforehand, thus the questions are not relevant anymore. Stay focused. You may need to create some new ones. Maybe you can ask about the expectation of your role, which project will your role be assigned to, ask about the company’s development, ask about your interview performance, and something like that. As much as you have prepared it beforehand, still, try to make it sound original based on the interview session itself.

After the interview;

  1. Send a Thank You email within 24 hours. In this email, other than showing your grateful being interviewed, you could emphasize your interest in the job and the company. And you could also answer any questions that you feel need further clarification during the interview. Make sure the email send during office hour within 24 hours!
  2. Follow up through email or phone call after 1 or 2 weeks. If there’s no response after an email is actually sent out, you should understand. This is life. But just in case you need to hear it yourself, call them a week after the first follow up.

The Don’ts

Before the interview session;

  1. Avoid last-minute preparation. Usually, they will call for an interview 5-7 days prior to confirm your availability. Choose those days wisely so you can prepare yourself, your attire, plan your trip, the documents required, as well as studying the job role, and the company itself.
  2. Not sure where is the interview will take place, but never bother to ask, Google or Waze until the day itself. Anything can go wrong on the day itself, so be prepared for the worst! One way to be sure on the venue is trying to actually go there a few days before (on a working day, same time).
  3. Not knowing what the job role is or what the job entails. This shows that you came to an interview clueless on what it’s all about. That would be a disaster.
  4. Do not eat petai, or anything that can either upset your stomach or give you bad breath! Refer point 5 below (during the day of the interview). Like, come on…you can always eat that on any other day. But not this day! Yeah, maybe after the interview.

During the day of the interview;

  1. Dress too casual or inappropriate. Wear t-shirts, sweaters on, cap and jeans are a NO-NO. I’ve seen many taking this lightly during an online interview, being too casual shows your lack of seriousness.
  2. Late to the scene. Don’t make people wait for you! Time is precious. It cannot be replaced. Cannot be bought. Please appreciate other people’s time. Be punctual. Every minute you waste is wasting the company’s time. Remember that.
  3. Playing hard to get, nobody likes a frowny face. I know, I also had the resting ‘b*tch’ face. Some say it’s just who they are, right? But only for today, work on your smiling muscles and just smile. (Act naturally, please. Do not scare the interviewer by being creepy about it.)
  4. Lie in the interview. Should I say more? Honesty is the best policy. When you tell the truth, you don’t need to remember anything useless.
  5. Smoke, drink, or even not brushing your teeth. No matter how smart and correct your answer is, interviewers might cut your session short just because they cannot stand the smell.
  6. Lack of interest on the job scope. Of course, we work for money. But, we must also have passion for what we do. That is the secret of long, happy and successful career.

After the interview;

  1. Call daily to follow up. Just don’t.

These are the common DOs and DON’Ts tips for handling an interview session that I practice myself. There are many other tips online, but I found these are practical, standout but not overly done.

For any #jobseeker that successfully lands an interview invitation, I wish you all the best and good luck! I hope these tips are beneficial for you to rock your interview.

At the end of the day, if you still didn’t get the job, there will be no regret since you’ve already done everything that you could’ve done. The other candidates might have a better package (experience, upbringing, timing of availability, etc.) than you, that is all. Move on and get ready for another cycle of job hunting.

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Nur Hidayah Haron
Written By

Passionate Piping Engineer that has extensive experience in oil and gas field; who loves writing and value any beneficial sharing experience. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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