Interview Tips: Make a Great First Impression

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re fresh out of university. You may be up against more experienced and smarter applicants. Nonetheless, you can still make a great first impression with these interview tips.

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Tips before the interview

In the days leading up to your interview, set some time aside to prepare for it:

  • Do some research on the company so that you understand key information such as company goals and background. Check out the company’s website, social media and press releases.
  • Prepare and practice your answers to interview questions that are common. For example, be ready to answer questions such as ‘Tell me about yourself’ and ‘Why are you interested in this position?’ You’ll be able to communicate better if you practice.
  • Be sure of the job description. Reread it and be aware of the specific skills that your potential employer is looking for.
  • Prepare to answer questions about how you used a specific skill to deal with a work situation.
  • Ask a friend or family member to run through a mock interview so that you can practice answering questions aloud. This will help you to build confidence.
  • Get ready with some smart and appropriate questions. Employers do expect you to ask questions as this demonstrates that you’re serious about working at the company.
  • Have your list of references ready.
  • Be ready to discuss salary expectations.
  • Plan your attire beforehand so that you’re appropriately dressed for the interview.

Tips during the interview

Here are some tips to help you during the interview itself:

  • Bring along copies of your resume as well as a pen and notebook to take notes. Write down information that you might need in the follow-up emails.
  • Be early. Arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before the interview starts. Be sure to know where the interview is being held. If you’re using public transportation, have a backup plan in case of any closures, or disruptions.
  • Be aware of your body language. Maintain eye contact, be confident, smile and speak clearly. Sit tall with your shoulders back. If you’re feeling anxious, take a deep breath and slowly exhale.
  • Treat everyone with respect and practice good manners. Your handshake should be firm but not crush your interviewer’s fingers.
  • Be authentic and positive. Being genuine can help potential employers to relate to you, which is always an added plus in an interview. A positive outlook can help to keep interviews constructive and work in your favor.
  • Respond with honesty. Be truthful about your skills and accomplishments, rather than embellishing on them and then not measuring up. Give focus to your strengths and experiences and use them to explain why you are suitable for the position.
  • Relate your answers to your skills and accomplishments, addressing the requirements in the job description.
  • Your answers should be focused and concise. Don’t ramble on as the interview time is limited. Practising beforehand helps.
  • Don’t talk about previous employers negatively. Companies look for people who are able to problem-solve and speaking negatively about your previous or current employer can reflect badly on you. Instead, focus on what you have learnt in your previous or current position.
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Tips after the interview

Give yourself the opportunity to move forward after the interview with the following actions:

  • Inquire about the next steps. Ask about what you should expect, such as a follow-up email with interview results or other requirements.
  • Send a thank you letter or email within 24 hours of the interview.

Virtual interview tips

With Covid-19, virtual interviews have also gained popularity. Here are some tips to help you get ready for a virtual interview:

  • Test your tech beforehand – you will need a reliable internet connection, as well as a working microphone and camera on your computer.
  • Dress professionally – Yes, even though you’re not meeting in person, you should put in the same amount of effort in the way you dress. Virtual Interviews are just as formal as in-person interviews.
  • Prepare in advance – Similar to how you would prepare for an in-person interview, do the research that is needed.
  • Limit distractions – Choose a place that is quiet and professional looking. Before the interview, check how your background looks like on the camera and remove items that are not suitable – you don’t want to have your dirty laundry seen on camera! Also, have your laptop on a desk and not on your lap.
  • Be professional, authentic and build rapport with the interviewer
  • Follow up with an email to thank the interviewer and let them know that you are available for additional questions.

Scholarship interview tips

If you’re applying for a scholarship, chances are that you’ll be called in for an interview before the award is given.

Here are some scholarship interview tips that will prepare you for a successful meeting:

  • Practice – Have someone do a mock interview with you and practice answering common scholarship questions.
  • Be on time – Being on time demonstrates that you are interested in receiving the award and that you have respect for the interviewer.
  • Be aware of our behavior – Try not to be anxious and be confident in who you are. Speak clearly, make eye contact and maintain a good posture.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any.

If you want to find out more about scholarship applications, read ‘Scholarship in Malaysia: Where To Get One And How To Apply?’ or check out UOW Malaysia KDU’s scholarship page.


Interviews can be stressful moments but with preparation and practice, you can ace them and land the job you want. Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t succeed the first time. Keep pressing on and there will be other opportunities. Here’s wishing you all the best in your job hunt!


18 November 2021


Education and Career