How NOT to Approach Job Interviews as a Fresh Graduate in Malaysia

July 16, 2021
Nicholas K

Recently, you might have come across news of a local fresh graduate in Malaysia who got involved in a rather impolite exchange with a prospective employer. The story went viral — for all the wrong reasons — with netizens criticising the applicant’s… interesting approach towards securing employment. 

It’s a little hard to describe, so if you missed it, you can view the screenshots here:

Keep in mind, however, that securing a job can certainly be a daunting task for fresh graduates — and even for more experienced professionals looking for their next move. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a couple of things that you should not do when applying for your first career job, as well as a number of useful tips to making the most out of potential opportunities. 

1. Start by introducing yourself… properly

Whenever you make first contact with a prospective employer, be sure to introduce yourself and your background. If you obtained their contact information from a mutual contact, let the hiring manager/recruiter know, as well. Keep in mind that hiring managers often go through hundreds of applications for a single position at a time, so a good first impression is crucial — as the viral case above shows. 

2. Read up on the job and the company

Before you’ve even made first contact, do some research on the company you’re applying to, as well as the position that you’re interested in. Consider if your skills and background match the requirements of the job, and it’s always a good idea to see if the position is suitable for someone looking for their first career job. This is usually indicated in the job posting; something along the lines of “fresh graduates are encouraged to apply” would suffice.

3. An interview goes both ways

Any interview, for anyone at any stage of their careers, can be nerve-wracking. However, keep in mind that an interview goes both ways — they’re interviewing you, and you’re interviewing them, too. In a nutshell, an interview is a chance for both parties to discover if expectations, experience, skills, and even culture fits match up.

So remember: present your achievements, capabilities, and relevant experiences — but also ask your interviewer about important things like career growth, mentorship opportunities, and of course, remuneration.

4. … don’t ask if your interviewer went to university

The point above doesn’t mean that you should start asking about your interviewer’s qualifications, obviously (but not for some, it seems). While the interview is a chance for you to find out more about a company and the opportunity, it is not the time to be delving into your hiring manager’s background. 

In the viral case mentioned at the beginning of this article, the applicant asked their prospective employer, “Did you go to university?”

And we all know how that turned out.

5. Dress well, even for video calls (and turn on your camera!)

Dress attire has always been a fairly straightforward affair for job interviews — simply dress formal, or smart casual (depending on the industry/company). However, the pandemic has seen a necessitated increase in virtual interviews, where the entire process is now conducted over video call platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or one of the plethora of options out there today. 

This doesn’t mean that you should turn up for interviews in ragged old T-shirts. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, so dress up as you would for an interview in person. Also, please wear bottoms to match the upper half of your formal outfit — you wouldn’t want the interviewer to spot your pajama bottoms in frame during the call.

6. Prepare a resume, or even a portfolio

Nowadays, most job applicants know what a resume, or a CV looks like. You fill in your education history, work experiences, and show off the skills you’ll bring to the table once you’re (hopefully) employed. If you’re a fresh graduate, include some of your part-time work, and a good tip is to also mention any volunteer work you’ve been involved in. 

Do not lie on your resume, as many companies conduct background checks on prospective hires. In any case, a full-time job is generally a mid-to-long-term affair, so any misrepresentation of yourself, abilities, or qualifications will probably come back to bite you. 

Meanwhile, for certain jobs, you may want to prepare a portfolio to showcase your work. This is particularly true for creative positions such as designers and writers, although those coming from agencies may also want to come equipped, too. If you’re a fresh graduate, you can include any relevant part-time or freelance work, as well as any university or college work you may have completed that would be relevant to the position. 

A message to employers:

The pandemic has seen the acceleration of digitalisation efforts throughout Malaysia — and around the globe. Whether you’re looking to digitally onboard new hires, manage existing employees, or set up a reliable time-tracking system, the digitalisation of your HR processes is undoubtedly a crucial element of the new normal. 

Sign up for altHR, the all-in-one digital solution that covers everything from payroll and onboarding, to staff management and providing employees with information kits. You’ve done it the old way long enough.

Sign up for altHR


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