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4 Things You Should be Doing in an Interview Other Than Worrying About How Well You Did

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Joanne Poh

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So you’ve just gone for an interview, and boy did you blow them away. Judging by the losers you saw queuing up for the same interview in the reception area, there’s no way they won’t choose you. Perhaps they even offered you the job on the spot and you came out feeling like a boss.

Even if you totally kill it at the interview, never ever sit back and twiddle your thumbs in satisfaction. Sure, they might be desperate enough to cram a job offer into your hands. But here are three things you should still do while you’re in the interview room.

 

Size up the boss and company culture

Before you go for an interview, your main concern is usually how you are going to look to the potential employer. You make sure you don’t have any vegetables stuck between your teeth and that your hair doesn’t make you look like Einstein. You try to answer all the interviewer’s questions with a mixture of intelligence and humour. Phew, exhausting stuff.

But don’t forget that there are more unhappy employed than unemployed people in Singapore. That means you should be worried that this is not a company you actually want to work at. To be sure you’re not signing your life away to a few years of hell, use your interview time to ask questions and size up the boss and the company.

If the boss seems like someone you wouldn’t want to work with or badmouths former employees, be on your guard. Likewise, ask about the company culture and what the interview enjoys about working there, and see if you can detect his or her true feelings. If you leave the interview room with a feeling of foreboding despite having done well at the interview, it might not be the place for you.

 

Think of some good questions to ask

At the end of any interview, you will be asked without fail whether you have any further questions. Even if you’re dying to get out of there, just shaking your head stupidly in response is not only going to reflect badly on you, it’ll also make you lose your best chance to get to know the company better and decide if that’s where you want to work, as well as whether it’s the right place for your career.

Other than trying to suss out the company culture and your would-be boss’s personality, take the opportunity to ask the company about training options and advancement potential for the position you’re interviewing for.

Don’t be too lazy or too timid to ask these questions, and then later complain that you’re stuck in a dead-end job or that your company doesn’t bother to train you properly.

 

Plan to negotiate your salary

Singaporeans hate having to do confrontational things like negotiating salary or asking for a raise, yet they complain like crazy behind closed doors.

Well, we’re telling you even before you turn up on the company’s doorstep that you’ve got to be prepared to negotiate your salary no matter what. Even if you’re tempted to just accept the first offer you receive because it’s so much easier than being assertive, refrain.

Chances are, your potential employers are going to quote you a salary that’s lower than what they’re willing to pay, just in case you decide to negotiate. If you miss this chance, you’re shortchanging yourself.

The first rule of thumb is to always get them to suggest a figure first. If they pressure you to tell them your expected salary, decline or say you wish to discuss with the recruiter if you’re going through one. Also, try not to bring up salary till as late in the game as possible. If there are several interview rounds, don’t go mentioning salary in the first round.

 

Determine how desperate they are to fill the role

Getting an idea of how desperate the company is to fill the role you’re interviewing for can work to your advantage. If you’re going through a recruiter, you’ll want to ask them how long the company has been trying to fill the role and whether there are many other candidates vying for the same position. It’s also fine to ask the interviewer the same question.

If the company has been holding the position vacant for a very long time but hasn’t found anyone suitable yet, it usually means they’re not that desperate to fill the role and are willing to keep it open until they find the right person.

But if their last hire just departed and they seem swamped with work, there’s a good chance they’re desperate—and will be more than willing to accede to any requests you might make.

For instance, a former colleague of mine joined the company at a time they were understaffed and desperate. Because they were so anxious to fill the position, they agreed to allow her to work staggered hours, coming in and leaving an hour earlier each day, even if this meant she wouldn’t be doing OT. This was a company that was very anal-retentive about working hours, but she played her cards right when she realised they were desperate enough to agree to her terms.

Ultimately, when you join a company it’s not just about pleasing your boss. You need to ensure you’re happy working with the company, too. So open your eyes when you go for interviews.

What else should candidates be doing in an interview? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.