Career Tips

Job Interview Survival Tips

By Steve Golden, 
Director, Division of Industry & Community Engagement
LASALLE College of the Arts

You’ve been actively searching for your first real job. Your CV is done, you’re scanning the new opportunities on the LASALLE Career Services Platform, on Job Street, and the LinkedIn job app.  And one day you get a call back: you’ve made it to an interview!  As the big day approaches, initial excitement turns to panic. “What if I don’t do well in the interview?” “I wonder how many people are applying for the job?” “How can I possibly compete with others who have been in the labor force and have more experience than me?”

Everyone goes through this experience. The good news is jobs do come through for fresh graduates. But you need to get through the interview. 

TIP 1: Interviews are about making the right match

One of the most common mistakes fresh graduates make is how they view the interview itself. Interviews are not like auditions where one performs, is observed, and hopes to get the part. Rather, interviews are more like speed-dating. In speed dating, both parties are hoping to find the right match. When you approach an interview with the mindset that you have much to offer and you want to find the right organization to personally thrive, you will come across as less desperate. You’ll ask the right questions. You’ll make a better decision. 

TIP 2:  Don’t focus on money or benefits in the first interview

Another common mistake is to ask about money and benefits in the first interview.  Of course compensation is very important. But there is an appropriate time to ask, and that time is if the company calls you back for a second interview. The first interview should focus on the company, the role, and the people. You should be evaluating if the company is a good match for you.  

There are cases when the organization will have HR representatives meet you first, before you meet with the actual person who is doing the hiring. In this case, they may ask for your salary expectations. If you have done your research, you’ll have idea as to what the range is. You can also state that you’d like to understand the role and the job description before you give a final number. Another tactic is to ask what the usual range is in the organization, thereby putting the ball in their court. Again, this will just be in the scenario that an HR rep meets you first; in most situations, if you are interviewing with the department where the position is (such as marketing), salary discussions will not take place in the first round.

TIP 3:  You can never overdress for a job interview

A classic mistake is to arrive at a job interview dressed according to the company’s own internal dress code. For example, an app company may allow everyone to wear shorts at work. You’d never wear shorts to a job interview. Nobody hiring will ever judge you harshly for looking professionally dressed when they are considering hiring you. It shows that you want the job and are making an effort. It also shows that you are a professional. Once you get the job, you can follow the company’s casual dress code.

TIP 4:  “I would never hire anyone who was 5 minutes late for a job interview”

I used to say this all the time. I then hired someone who was 10 minutes late for her first job interview. Throughout the year she was late every day. I should not have broken my own rule. It is essential to be on time for the job interview. And it will give you time to relax and collect your thoughts. Another mini-tip is to be super nice to the reception staff. They are usually the company gatekeepers. 

Its been great sharing these ideas with you. If you have any questions, just write to me at steve.golden@lasalle.edu.sg

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