Career Advancement General Knowledge Interview Tips

Stop Spouting These on Your First Interview

One of the many goals of this blog is to develop the young jobseeker into a person who can exercise wisdom at the right moment, particularly at the first interview. To make this easier, you should treat first interviews as “fresh interviews”. First interviews are first impressions and if you could make a good first impression, armed with a redesigned resume, an organised portfolio, well dressed and well spoken, you could be well in favour with the recruiters. Interviewers too, are just people who love to meet new and exciting people who bring an air of confidence and fresh demeanour into the room.

While these are good, communication is the final key to everything else from the point of introduction. The people who want to hire you want to see how you talk and respond. They will scan you with behavioural questions and observe your attitude. We will do well now to highlight some things you should not do in that first interview.

1. Don’t say you didn’t like to work in your previous company.

You don’t want to say this during the interview. It’s really human nature to find things to gripe about and very soon you’d be griping about them. Companies actually get rid of people who find things to complain about their job.

We’ve discussed this at length before so don’t do that. Instead, try saying it in a more optimistic way, “I really liked my boss, my team and my company but now I want something more”.  This can be, “More challenges, responsibilities and job experience which I believe your company can give me based on what I’ve researched about you, your business circle and your clientele.” Something professional like this instead of expressing any kind of resentment or drawbacks that you had with your previous job because this shows that there is a chance that you would always look for things to complain about, wherever you are working.

Although this may be the truth, it may be that you just took the job because you needed a job at the time. However, It was you who made the choice to take that old job and now to leave. You need to come up with better reasons to tell the interviewer. 

2. Don’t show desperation.

The “I’ll do any job” mindset  is not what you want to say in keeping with your self worth. Don’t say “I really need this job”  because very soon, you will leave this job too and they know that. Instead, present yourself as a professional who’s worth it, the value that you can bring and not on what you need. Recruiters are not there to “give you something” and you are not going there to work for free. Focus on the immense strength you can bring and align your skills to their needs stated on the job description. The right focus will save the day.

3. Don’t ask them “What does your company do?”

It’s compulsory that you’ve already done the research about them and if they have a product, make sure you’ve already read the reviews or tried the product yourself. This way you can let them know that you’re a serious candidate because now you are on level and there is a connection. It’s a serious red flag against you if you don’t even have a basic level of what a company does before going to the interview. The worst thing you can do is say “I’ve never heard of your product or the company before”.

If you only know some basic things about them, say things like, “I’ve read about your company and I’m interested in what you’re doing so I’d love to hear more from your perspective.”

So at this juncture, you should know yourself a little better. Have you been a person who is just looking for any job or are you focused on being a sought after professional ?

4. Don’t be generic, like a “Jack of all trades”.

This means, don’t say you’re good in everything or you know everything about Microsoft Office Suite. Specialise and be exceptionally good at something. Positioning yourself as good in everything is just painting an inaccurate picture and recruiters know that from interviewing many people. This is different from being adaptable and versatile which is detailed in a demonstrable way in your resume.

5. Don’t ask “How much is the salary?”

Here is the most sticky part of the interview process. Salary, and it’s probably all in the way you communicate and when. The truth is salary is not a sticky issue. We just feel that way and employers won’t look for people to hire and set up an interview if salary was a problem.

Asking “How much is the salary?” Is the wrong way to ask because it sounds like “How much is that kilo of potatoes” at the morning market. Instead, to give them a perception of a professional, put it in proper Business English like, “What is the salary range you have in mind for this position?”  Now notice we said “range” not a set figure. For example, the answer might come like this. “The range is between RM4200 to RM6200.” Now you have a figure that you can negotiate for something in between depending on how you present your value to them. You can say, “I’m looking for somewhere between RM5500 to RM6000 for this position.” Do note that salary negotiation is always face to face or by phone. Never do it by email or text. Go through the pain of selling yourself to them. Note that the salary expected must be written in the resume as well and negotiated because of your value.

Some people may feel that salary negotiation is taboo and better done in the second interview but here are two concerns about that:

i. How do you know if you will get that second interview?

ii. How can they shortlist you for that second interview if they hadn’t covered your salary expectations?

Based on this, we feel salary expectations should be discussed as one of the closing items in the first interview itself. Remember this, you do not have to feel out of place to ask for a salary based on your market worth and not based on your last drawn figure. What if you were paid below market rate in your last job? Is that the way to progress? Remember this mantra, “People always progress, not regress”.

In order to bring up the question of salary, you must put that range of figures (as shown above) in your resume. That will prompt them to bring it up instead of you. Let them be the one to bring it up. But if you notice that the interview is ending and it’s not being brought up, then you can do so.

On the other hand, I remember one interview where the recruiter was taken aback by my salary expectations at the very start. He just couldn’t move past it almost like it was his own money that he had to pay. I tried to re-focus on the other more important issues and said we could discuss that later but he kept going back to the salary every time. A lot of times, we will face people like this, so limited by finance and that they go off target from the value the candidate can bring. So there you go. Salary is something that can be discussed and should be, therefore it’s not a sensitive matter.

6. Don’t say you don’t have any questions when they ask you if you have any.

This is a big one. Having no questions to ask at the end of an interview shows a lack of analysis. You should always say “Yes”. You can prepare at least three questions while doing your background research and two to three more during the course of the interview. It’s a must. You can ask about the company achievements and future plans, more about the job expectations as you grow in the position over the next five years as well as the work culture.

There are many more points that we can discuss but these are the main ones. Your main duty now is to get your resume and portfolio on target. It also must be modified from time to time for relevancy. Also, feel free to contact us as Xremo Recruitment Advisors can certainly help you out in these areas of communication to prepare you for your upcoming interview.