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TALKING POINTS

Expert tips to ace your next job interview

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Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview and now there’s just one last obstacle to conquer! Whether it’s your first or 100th interview, take these insider tips from Prudential Hong Kong’s Chief Human Resources Officer Kerry Rooks to land that dream job.
Fresh out of college

Inexperience may be a disadvantage, but you’ll still shine as a fresh graduate if you shift the focus to your strengths. In her 15 years of experience in human resources and recruitment, Rooks recognises that recent grads can offer new perspectives and skills in technology. “Entry-level candidates can teach us a lot in terms of how a company can better engage with the younger population,” she says. So don’t be shy to share your insight during an interview – but of course, in a respectful and mindful manner.
Another thing to emphasise is a willingness to learn. This may sound basic, but there’s more to it than that. “Try to show with examples where you’ve learnt something new and how you’ve applied it,” Rooks suggests. By demonstrating your ability to apply new knowledge and skills, you convey your potential to contribute to the company. “Learning is one thing, but equally important in the workplace is how you apply that and continue to grow,” she says.

Seasoned pros

While experience may no longer be a primary concern, the key for mid-career professionals in terms of impressing a potential employer is the clear articulation of the “why”. Why do you want to join the company? Why have you hopped around jobs? Or why have you stayed in the same role for years? According to Rooks, many candidates fail to give convincing answers to these common questions.
“I’ll let out a little bit of a secret,” she shares. “It doesn’t really matter what they say, as long as it’s founded in good reason and logic.” For example, if you’ve changed jobs frequently, first explain why, then focus on what you’ve gained from those experiences and how they are going to help you in the new job. This will show you’ve spent time thinking about it and have done your research on the role.

To earn extra points when applying to a large organisation, prepare questions that show you’re trying to understand who that company is as an employer, not just how they position themselves on the market. “It’d be advantageous because it reflects their interest in the organisation beyond what they see on social media, TV, and in newspapers,” she says.
Changing paths

“For senior hires looking to switch industries, they have to have the passion to change and help the company evolve, to continue the company’s success,” says Rooks. In other words, highlight what new skills and perspectives you have as a result of your previous career, explain your motivation, and stress the positive change that you can create in your new workplace.

At the same time, don’t let a lack of required skills and knowledge knock down your confidence. The fact that you’ve been invited to the interview means it’s not a major concern to the company. If you still believe it’s important, just bring it up. “Be brave enough to admit that,” says Rooks, “because that will show you’re being honest and will help you to find out whether the job is right for you.”
Bottom line

Remember, a job interview is a two-way process, so just be yourself. “Take the interview as an opportunity to assess the company as to whether you’d be happy working there,” Rooks says. “It’s about authenticity after all.”

Get off to a great start with your new team with these communication skills!
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