Simple guide to preparing for an interview
On the Day
What information do I need before I go to the interview?
- Confirm with your recruiter or contact at the company the name and position of the interviewer(s).
- Get an emergency contact phone number.
- Get an original job description.
What should I wear to an interview?
- Confirm the culture of the company and dress accordingly. If the company is very corporate, dress in a suit and tie.
- You can always check with your recruiter or contact. Enquire about the office dress code and dress one level higher. Remember you will not give a negative impression if you are well dressed.
- Make sure your shoes are polished, your shirt is ironed and in the case of men, you are neatly shaved. Beards and moustaches are fine, just make sure you keep them well groomed. If you have any visible tattoos, either cover them with clothing or makeup.
- Any accessories should be professional and business focused. Do not wear too much jewellery. For men a wedding ring is appropriate, for women an engagement and or wedding rings and a thin necklace are appropriate. Too much jewellery will give off a negative impression.
- Although many Myanmar based companies allow traditional dress (Yongi etc) we strongly recommend for interviews to stick with internationally recommended business clothing.
When should I arrive to the interview?
- Many people get nervous before an interview and arrive too early at the company. As a rule, even if you do this, do not enter the company’s office until 5 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start. Arriving too early is almost as bad as arriving late.
- A special tip for interviews in summer or during the raining season is to arrive about 15 minutes early and wait in the building lobby or a neighbouring coffee shop and stand in front of an air-conditioner to cool down. Also, make sure you have a hand towel to wipe any sweat from your hands and face.
- If you are running late, contact your recruiter or the company directly and inform them of the reason before the scheduled start time of the interview, e.g if your interview starts at 10am, do not wait until 10am or after to let them, contact them 15mins or 30mins before. Traffic is always the best excuse, forgetting something is not, so explain a reason that will not leave a bad impression. Either way, this should never happen. Always aim to arrive in the location of the interview 20 minutes before the start time.
What should I bring to the interview?
- The interviewer should have a copy of your resume handy, but it is always safe to have two copies in your bag just in case. If you are being introduced by a recruiter, ask them for a copy of the resume they submitted to the company.
- If you are taking a bag, make sure it is a brief case, not a back pack. You are not going to school, so look professional.
- If you want to take notes during the interview or have questions prepared to ask them, take a professional notebook.
Last minute checks before you arrive
- Turn your phone off. Silent mode is not good enough as it will still distract people in the interview and it is not professional.
- If your palms are sweaty, wipe them with your hand towel. It is very awkward shaking hands with someone with sweaty palms.
- Chew some gum or take some breath mints
- Take a few deep breaths and make sure you are relaxed.
A few days before the interview
- Research the company, understand the products and/or the services they sell, Google news related to the company and get up to speed on company announcements and highlights. Just reading the About Us page on a company’s website is not enough.
- On LinkedIn, research people who have previously been in the same or similar role for that company so you can get an idea of backgrounds that have been interesting to them. If you have the interviewer’s name, find them on LinkedIn and do some background research on their history. However, do not add them to your connections.
- Questions are key in any interview. They give the interviewer a good idea of how you think and these should be prepared before the interview. It is also important to ask questions during the interview, do not wait until the end.
- We recommend candidates come prepared with at least 10 questions that are focused on three main topics: the job responsibilities and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the team, and the company. Do not waste time with questions that do not add value to the conversation. Questions about holidays, type of computer, desk space, etc. are useless and will only leave a negative impression with the interviewer.
We recommend questions such as;
- What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) for this position?
- Who are the key stakeholders? What was the relationship these stakeholders had with the previous person in this role?
- What tasks are the top priority tasks for this position?
- What are the main challenges the team faces?
Statistics and Achievements
Any interviewer is going to be interested in statistics and achievements, so make sure you review all of yours and write them down. Do not rely on your memory to remember detailed statistics in an interview when you are already feeling pressure and stress. Writing them down in point form and reviewing them before the interview will keep them fresh in your mind. For example, if you’re in Sales, talk about sales results vs. target, new customers you brought in to the business, etc. For Supply Chain you might talk about inventory reduction, forecast accuracy or cost reduction.
Being able to give a clear explanation as to how you achieved the results, long term benefits of your achievements and most importantly how that experience can be applied to the company you are interviewing with, will give the interviewer a very positive impression.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Most companies will ask you to list your strengths and often your weaknesses in an interview. This is often difficult for candidates to explain clearly in an interview. Before the interview, during your preparation, write down three of each with specific examples of where you experienced these.
Why are you interested in the position and company?
This is an area in which most candidates respond poorly in interviews. Especially when specific to “why they are interested in the company”. The most important part is to be as truthful as possible. Many candidates say things around “the company values and corporate responsibility, the way they treat employees” etc. While this may be true, it is only information that candidates think the client wants to hear, so they say it. Say something instead from the heart--“you love the products, you are passionate about the industry, location of the office, the role is the next step you are looking for in your career, to eventually get you to a Managing Director role”.
Why are you suitable for the role?
This is the most important part and why we saved it for last. This is what you will use throughout the entire interview and what is going to be the core of your sales pitch to solve their problem.
With the information you have received from the job description, research you have done, prepare 4 to 5 points about your experience that directly relates to the 5 or 6 key requirements for the role and company.
You want to be able to give a lot of detail around these points so prepare specific examples of previous experience, the key achievements related to them and also potential questions you want to ask the company about these points.