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There is a very thin line between being confident and appearing complacent. Confidence is about finding a happy balance between complacency (“I am the best thing that’s going to happen to your organization if you hire me”) and passivity (“Well…I’m really not sure how I will perform on the job…I’ll just try my best I guess.”)
 
Translated into the interview room, candidates have to strike a delicate balance between staying in control (of the situation) and treating the interview session as a two-way communication process (remember: nobody is going to eat you up!)

I’m back on a Saturday to share my expertise on resume writing and interview skills to 50 fresh-faced polytechnic students from the School of Health Sciences (Nursing) at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Eager to learn and asking lots of questions (which I welcome!), I was also more than willing to share. In my workshops, energy breeds energy : )

It is not difficult to appear confident. In fact, it has to emanate from within you. Once your thoughts and body are aligned, you will be for a great time in the interview room.
 
I know fresh graduates will always feel the jitters and butterflies in the stomach. Well, this is common as it’s their first time presenting themselves formally in front of others. 
 
To allay everyone’s concerns, let me share 3 tips to boost your confidence at the interview.
 


Tip #1: Smile & Make Eye Contact
 

Ok, this is a two-in-one tip. But it will never fail you. Organisations do not like employees who act cool. They love employees who are warm and friendly. 

So always look directly at the interviewer and smile. Show some teeth. A smile relaxes both you and the atmosphere. 
 
One question I was asked today by some students was this – who should I give eye contact to? The answer is if you are interviewed by a panel, you should give the first eye contact to the person who asked you the question…before taking time to look at each interviewer in turn. This way, no one is being left out.

Let me share one big secret and that is if you can make the interviewer seated at the opposite end of the table smile and perhaps laugh too…you will have aced the interview beautifully. No second questions about this. Interviewers are human beings too and they have emotions. This does not mean you are to act silly. In fact, just be candid and sincere. 

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Tip #2: Engage The Interviewer(s) As Equals
 

Regardless of whether it is a solo interview or panel interview, just bear this tip in mind. If you can reframe the ‘interview’ as a conversation among friends, your performance will be way better.
 
Believe it or not, the interview may appear intimidating but it actually isn’t. It’s just a meeting whereby you are assessed to see if you will be a good fit for the organization. 
 
Just like in a date where you want to impress the other person seated across the table, so too do you want to make a positive first impression in the interview room.
 
As equals, you want to demonstrate your intelligence, maturity, enthusiasm and curiosity by answering questions thoughtfully and honestly. I’m sure you do not want to have an immature and nonsensical date, right? The same thing goes for the interview.

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Tip #3: Use The First Person Singular


I know it’s difficult for most people to ‘sell’ or promote themselves in front of others.

Well, you can say Asians are shy or reserved. But if you do not say enough in the interview, then there’s a chance of you not being chosen.

So don’t use the plural pronoun ‘we’. Instead, use the first personal singular ‘I’.

What did you do?
 
“I led my team mates in the XYZ project. This project aimed to __________________.”
 
“I was responsible for the inventory management, cashiering and customer service during my stint as a part-time sales executive at ________.”
 
Of course, you must remember to speak the truth with compassion and not overblow your own trumpet because when some things sound too good to be true, that’s when interviewers will start asking more questions to validate your claims. And if you do not speak the truth, you will be found out very soon.
 
If you ask me, I do miss my days as an interviewer. It’s exciting to see bright minds spar with me and eventually become colleagues. And for this reason, I’m so looking forward to next week’s run of the same Resume Writing and Interview Skills workshop

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We are honoured to partner Nan Hua High School for the third year running. Welcome to Camp Horizon 2015 – where we attempt to mould students into gentlemen and ladies.
 
Seeing the sea of 407 Secondary 4 students dressed in their finest, I know they are really looking forward to both the grooming and dining etiquette workshop.
 
It is especially heartening to see more schools and educational institutions focus on soft skills, or shall I call them lifeskills, for the students. After all, lifeskills cannot be learnt from textbooks. They have to be experienced firsthand.
 
One of the biggest giveaway secrets I’m going to share is that your image and etiquette should never scream out for attention. This is for wannabes. Instead, it should be subtle. It should be so subtle and almost second nature that you don’t even have to think of what to do next. It just comes naturally. You go with the flow. And the flow is smooth, like cruising on a traffic-jam free expressway.
 
I know the biggest Achilles heel of most people remains the dining etiquette. So let that be the focus of today’s blog entry.

Let me share three tips on how to perfect your dining etiquette skills at the dining table.  
 


Dining Etiquette Tip #1: Know Your Territory
 

You are not going to war. But you still need to know where your territory lies. Remember this simple rule – breads to the left and drinks to the right. That is the extent your ‘territory’ starts and ends. 
 
Do not eat other people’s food at the table. Similarly, do not drink from another’s wine glass. This is considered extremely rude.
 
Your ‘homebase’ of course will include the soup bowl, dinner plate and various cutlery placed on both sides.

 

Dining Etiquette Tip #2: Cut Your Meat In One Direction
 

I’m sure everyone has heard of the British pop group One Direction. Take a cue from these cute guys and cut your meat in one direction.
 
Pin the meat down with your fork in your left hand and using the knife in your right, neatly cut the meat straight down. It’s like doing a mini-operation. Surgeons do not play with the knife nor do they cut the patients up in zig-zag movements. Got it?
 
You only cut the portion of the meat you want to eat. You do not cut everything up in one go.

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Dining Etiquette Tip #3: Hold The Wine Glass Correctly
 

As society grows in affluence, we tend to pamper ourselves and indulge in a little wine. Many have asked me where they should hold the wine glass.
 
If you look at a wine glass, there is the stem and the bowl. 
 
Just remember this – if you are drinking red wine, it does not matter if you hold the glass at the stem or at the bowl. This is because red wine is served at room temperature.
 
But, if you are drinking white wine, then you have to hold the wine glass at the stem. White wine is served chilled and you do not want the heat from your palm to warm the wine.
 
In today’s society where we spend so much time getting to know each other better over the dining table, it makes good sense to perfect your dining etiquette skills. When you are at ease at the dining table and everything flows, you can then concentrate on enhancing the quality of your relationships via good conversations. 

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