Bonita’s Top 5 Interview Tips

Within 10 minutes, I have a pretty good idea whether I’d like to hire you or not.

The fact that you’re in an interview with me means that you’re in the running, and a second interview means that you’re on my short list of possible candidates.

Hence, during the interview, impress the socks off me.

Bare it all.

Show me what you’ve got.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do on an interview…

1) When the interview asks you, “So tell me about yourself…”

Do not start talking about your life history.

Seriously, some candidates even go as far as telling me where they went to school, where they want for an MBAs and all those blah-blah-blahs that are already included in their resume and are unnecessary to waste more of my time. They tell me about their personal hobbies and what they like to do in the weekends.

Who. Freaking. Cares.

I do not care if you’re a nice, great kind-hearted person.

My only care is whether you are competent and you are dependable.

Focus on these two things —- We want to know if you can do the job, and you can stay long enough in the job for us to not regret hiring you.

2) When the interview asks you about your most challenging accomplishment…

Do not tell me about your job description.

Do not tell me how you go about a normal day.

This is your chance to shine. Boast. Stop the humility and show me what you got.

Give me facts and figures to tell me that you’re capable of accomplishing something wonderful.

Tell me about that record-breaking sales account you managed to get for your company. Tell me about the number of repeat customers you got. Tell me about the awards you helped your company earn.

Let me know how much and how great you are in quantifiable terms that I can connect with. Money talks. Numbers talks.

Job descriptions — well, heck. So what makes you special again?

3) When the interview asks you about your spotty employment record (e.g., jumping companies like you change underwear)…

Please, do us all a big favor and try avoiding changing employers as you do to change your underwear. For employers, this is a BIG red warning flag.

It shows that you are not dependable, and anytime a better deal comes along, then there you go and we have to find another new person once again (e.g., more headaches for us).

Here’s a tip: Please look before you leap.

A lot of people tell me, “Well, I didn’t expect that my employer to be this local before I got in the company. Hence, I was disillusioned when I saw that despite the foreign brand name, they still had a local management.”

Sure, but what you cook, you have to eat.

Use your head before you agree to sign that contract. From the interview to the time you sign, you basically have a pretty good idea on what type of company you’re gunning for. Observe your interviewers’ style. Check out the company webpage. Do some research, for goodness sakes.

Not doing so shows that you are reckless and are easily swayed by money, which makes you more susceptible to other people pirating you to work in other firm.

Around 2 years is a good record in jumping ship if you wish to do so. Ideally, we wish that you have promoted yourself somehow in the company before doing so. But then again, especially in these unpredictable day and age, who can tell?

4) When an employer asks me to share with them what differentiates you from other candidates, or asks about your strengths…

Please do not tell me that you’re a friendly person.

Or a sincere person.

Gawd, do you know how many nice and friendly person there are in this world? Yes, realistically I know that there aren’t many and most are just superficial liars, but still, don’t offer me any cliche answers. You’re not doing me any favors ‘cept inciting me into rolling my eyes.

Again, knowing that you’re friendly does NOT do anything much for me. Heck, I can tell you that I’m a friendly person, but will you ever believe me?

If you make such a vague answer like that, the least you can do is explain and expound in what way are you friend/nice/sincere and how has these qualities raked in profits/goodwill/savings for the company!

Capische?

A lot of candidates tell me they have great communciation skills.

*roll eyes*

The fact that you’re telling me that you have great communication skills show to me that your communication skills are mediocre. People who are rich do not shout out that they’re rich, but others would just know just by talking/looking at them.

Instead of giving me such a general response that your communication skills is great, tell me about that project where your “great” communication skills has come to play.

For example, you can say that you’ve once organized a 400-person conference where you had to laiase with the big-wigs of 80+ top-tier companies, and also dealt with organizing the schedules of over 250 of the wealthiest individuals around the region… and the fact that you can speak to that many high-level people and satisfy the needs of some of the pickiest people in the world tells me that your communication skills are more than great.

So give me examples. Tell me a story. And yes, spare me vague answers that only makes backless claims.

And lastly, 5) When your interviewer invites you to ask them questions…

Do not come out and ask us straight up about salary.

Or your total annual compensation. Or the benefits.

It shows that you don’t really care about the job, or the company… but instead, just care about the money and how much you’re gonna get.

Sure we can be realistic and say that money is important, but then again, you haven’t gotten an offer yet, the interviewer is NOT human resources (the people you need to talk to about salary) and it shows you’re a greedy candidate who don’t know how to interview.

So what to ask if not about total compensation?

Ask us about the job itself. Get more details. Find out what we do from day to day. Find out if it’s something you’d actually want to do.

Ask about the company. Find out if the culture is something that fits your needs. Find out how stable it is, and what type of people it hires.

Ask about the interviewer. Find out what are the career prospects for this position. Search on whether this is the type of person you’d like to work with. See what he/she thinks about you and the position.

There’s so many questions you can ask — ask intelligent ones, and that may very well earn you a second or third interview.

And for goodness sakes, if the company gives you an exam, do the best you can in it. It’s okay to fail, but don’t fail too much.

Good luck and hope you can find some use in these Job Interview Tips! 🙂

Happy weekend!

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About Bonita

I'm a forgetful person. But I think a lot. Every day, a lot of thoughts enter my head. That's why this blog came to be: first, to keep my memories alive through the years, and two, to actually see how I and my thoughts have changed. Please note that I seldom draft or edit my posts. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I offend some of you, my readers. And while I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable, I am not sorry for being honest or for making well-intentioned mistakes. I will however be the first to admit if I change my mind. Hence, do read and proceed with caution. My life is as colorful and as boring as you make it. I complain many days, but offer some encouragement in others. Life is fluid, it changes. So keep the positives and throw away the negatives, and I do hope that at the end of the day, you will enjoy reading the blog and leaving comments here and there if my posts touches you. Happy reading!
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9 Responses to Bonita’s Top 5 Interview Tips

  1. Anonymous says:

    Heh, those are some nice tips that I definitely try to follow, but I’m wondering about number 2.
    What if you don’t have any such accomplishments, or if it’s your first job? I doubt the employer is going to be impressed by a story from some school competition or whatever else can be put out at that stage. Or it’s not a lost case even with that?

    Cheers!
    Goran

  2. raven says:

    Accomplishments accummulate. Trust me, it’s not just winning the school competition or getting the credentials that count. It’s about telling a story, to grab the interviewer that you create a good positive impression about yourself.

    For example, I would tell my interviewer about my race against a coalition in college. Then explain the excitement and the fear I felt going for a position. People don’t tell stories anymore. They just say, “I’m good” or “I have good communication skills.” Tell stories. Stories that inspire. Stories that make you stand out. And regardless on what story you tell, so long as you tell it with heart and passion, you’ll get the job. 🙂

  3. Stella says:

    Helpful tips, thanks. Telling stories make sense. Good conversations can develop a good relationship with a person. So it will be helpful in building trust to the employer. Since good communication skills are one of the qualities needed in most or all jobs, it will show that you have one.

  4. raven says:

    Thanks Voucher for leaving a comment!

    That’s great Stella. It’s always the smoothest interviews that get the job. If your interviewer asks a question and you answer and that’s it, that makes a bad boring interview…

  5. @l says:

    may apply it to dating 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting how you talking about interviewing tips…yet you also complain about the people you hired. Hiring people and complaining about the people you hired is a problem you have. Your hiring skills sound like they need improvement.

  7. raven says:

    Good point Anonymous. Never said my interview skills are perfect. Quite the contrary, am learning something new every single time.

    So far, have a 20% failure rate so have much to improve on! Any tips you can add maybe?

  8. Always in Taiwan says:

    Always look for somebody who you think wants to replace you. That’s hunger, and in this business that’s what you need.

  9. namelessintaipei says:

    Yes, the hunger. Not a lot of people have it. The danger is behind that hunger is exactly that — someone who wants to be you, replace you, exceed you. That’s scary…

    But you’re right. Successful people always find someone bigger and better than they are. When the company succeeds, you are carried with it. It’s indeed a great lesson to retain the humility to find others who are way better than you are. It’s a lesson that I’ve been learning. 🙂

    Right on the dot AIT.

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