Attending a job interview for new graduates could be a daunting experience simply because it is indeed a skill not taught in college or university. Throughout my many years of experience as an employee as well as an employer, I have seen many simple mistakes made by the interviewees. In my opinion, there are five of them:

Lack of preparation

Imagine a young graduate coming to an interview does not even know what job he is applying for! The proof is in the application form where the candidate could not fill in the job title just because he doesn’t even know what job he is applying.

I soon found out that because of the sheer ease to apply online at the portals of recruitment agencies, a graduate could simply click “Apply” to all alerts sent by the agencies, WITHOUT really looking at the job description.

Very often when a candidate is called for an interview, he just “drops by” the the office without doing any back ground research.

Coming Late or No show

It is frustrating for the interviewer to wait for the candidates to come when they are either late or come “just in time”. For example, the interview is scheduled at 10 am, some will turn up at 10 am sharp or even after that. The worst is sometimes the candidates promise to come but never turn up and even has no courtesy to inform earlier.

The rationale is simple. A candidate who is late for his interview is likely to be late for work when he starts work. The way you do anything is the way you would do everything!


A lot of times candidates dress inappropriately for the prospective job. For example, I have seen candidates come with slippers and shorts. Some wear sports shoes or shabby jeans when interviewing for an sales job.

In one incident, the candidate wore something as though she was going for a night party when interviewing for a office job.

Talk too much or complain too much

Have you ever met up with candidates who talk non-stop as though they are interviewing the interviewer? The best approach is do not talk unnecessarily on non-relevant subjects or contents.

I have seen candidates start complaining their parents, lecturers, friends or even the Government half way through the interview. OMG!

Ask stupid or silly questions

Before the start of the interview, I have seen candidates asking whether they can answer the interview questions in other languages other than English (knowing very well that the job requires the ability to speak English).

This is something very serious as it is quite certain the candidate will not get the job! How can an employer hire you if do not speak the language specified in the advertisement or job description?

After an interviewer finishes his questions, it is customary to ask the interviewee if he has any questions or concerns. The worst questions to ask your prospective employer are:

  • What is the salary I can get?
  • How many days of annual leave do your company give?
  • When can I get a salary increment?
  • How long can I take for lunch?
  • Can I come a bit late to work?
  • Do I have to work on Saturdays?

The first three questions should ONLY be asked when the interviewer has indicated you are about to be hired OR when he is starting to negotiate your salary package.

The last three questions are really stupid because all companies would have their own policies on working hours and lunch hours and are USUALLY non-negotiable except in flexi-hour environment. When you are hired all these information would be made known to you.

This is your last chance to impress the interviewer with your interesting and thoughtful questions. Some good example questions are:

  • What are the top three qualities an employee needs to be successful in this job?
  • What would I do during a typical work day?
  • Will I be trained in this job?
  • What is my career path for this job?
  • What are challenges your company is likely to face in the near future?
  • How is my job performance evaluated?
  • Whom shall I work with?

My two cents

For a fresh graduate to be successful in a job interview, it is really simple:

  1. Do your background research on your prospective employer. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
  2. Be punctual and be at least half an hour earlier to arrive. Allow time for traffic jam and remember usually you are required to fill up an application form again in hand writing even if you have sent in your resume.
  3. Dress appropriately for the kind of job you are interviewed for. Do not over-dress or simply too casual.
  4. A job interview is a session for the prospective employer to understand you better especially your communication skills and character. It is not a complaining session!
  5. Ask intelligent questions when you are given a chance.

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