There’s an old saying first impressions count – and there is no better instance of the truth to this than the impressions made during an interview. A variety of factors are in effect. It may include the way you are dressed, how you communicate, your personality, and a number of other considerations. It takes a lot to develop a positive impression, and conversely requires very little to leave one that does not work in your favor as key decisions are made for the new talent they need to bring on.
While first impressions can be wrong (and they often are), the job candidate might not be given a second chance. Better get it right the first go. All the time invested into planning and preparing becomes obsolete with these mistakes commonly seen with some job candidates.
First impressions count, and they count in the West, in Asia – everywhere. At Getin2China, we help you prepare for your interview for your China internship program with a host company. Internships are not guaranteed, and you’ll have to impress during your interview (which will mostly likely take place over Skype, unless you’re already in Beijing or Shanghai).
If you don’t want to leave a bad first impression, avoid the following.
1. Arriving Late
Everyone’s time is value. Show respect and do not waste other people’s time. If there is an unexpected delay, at the very least, give a call to apologize and inform your contact of your expected arrival time. In China and other Asian countries, time is a lot more fluid and not so to the minute as in other parts of the world. That being said, no matter where you are in the world, show up on time, whether for a job or internship interview.
2. Jumping into the Discussion of Pay And Benefits
There will be a time for this discussion – generally not in the first interview, unless it is approached by the employer. You do not want to appear as though all you care about is “what is in it for me.” At the same time, approaching the topic of salary is especially risky. You may end up putting yourself in a position where you are asked to present a desired salary and fall under what the company had anticipated. Learn more about the position and conduct research before going into discussion of salary.
3. Answering a Cellphone
Show respect by letting your employer know this interview is more important than any call you have. Turn off your cell phone. If you forget and it rings, apologize and turn it off.
4. Talking Badly About Your Previous or Current Employer
Regardless of the reality of the situation, never talk bad about your current or previous employer(s). It brings to question if you will do the same with this potential employer in the future.
In China, this is especially a big no-no because many Chinese firms are state-run and often work closely together.
5. Being Brief, Hiding from Questions, or Talking Too Much
Just as you want to learn about the employer, the employer wants to learn about you. At the same time, you don’t want to be the only one talking throughout the interview. Learn to listen and have a balanced conversation where you both have a chance to receive information and ask questions.
6. Not Asking Questions
Regardless of how thorough the interview discussion is, when asked, “Do you have any questions for me?,” always have a question. When you do not have a question, it may come across as though you are not sincerely interested in the opportunity.
No matter where in the world you go for an interview, the employer will always ask if you have any questions. Be ready with a list of three to five questions.
7. Dressing Inappropriately
Your appearance includes not just what you wear but how you groom yourself. Employers will not be impressed with a sloppy appearance. You need to appear and dress the part of what is expected of the position.
In China and Asia in general, appearance is especially important. Because of the high populations in Asian countries – and thus fierce competition – many job candidates try to get a leg up by spending plenty of time on their appearance. Ideally, every candidate should be judged based on their talent, qualifications and experience. In the real world, it isn’t so – at least for some employers. Dress appropriately, whether the interview is in person or via Skype.
8. Being Unprepared
Conduct research so you have at least a general sense of the type of business the company is in and what the position you are applying for is about. You will be able to better tailor your communication during discussion and questions with the employer.
False information can lead to an immediate disqualification and exemplify your weaknesses.
10. Being Inattentive
Carefully listen to what the interviewer is saying and show you are attentive. You do not want to appear disinterested and come off as inattentive. It is not a desirable characteristic for any position.
Most candidates will only receive one opportunity to make an impression. Make sure the one you leave is as positive as possible by keeping these tips in mind during your next job or internship interview.