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What Interviewers Look Out For

What Interviewers Look Out For

A job interview is the time for you to showcase your strengths, tell your story and win over your potential employers. But beyond dressing well and showing up on time, how else can you make a good impression? Deputy Director of Human Resources (HR) and Organisation Development at the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), Ms Julie Melwani, gives us an insight on how to score at the next interview.

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Be humble and polite

How you treat people speaks volumes about character. Being rude or dismissive towards administrative staff may signal that the candidate has an entitlement complex and be a poor hire, Julie says adding that she seeks collective feedback from her other colleagues on the candidates. At the AGC, the collective feedback from colleagues supports HR in the assessment of candidates. This is also in line with AGC’s values-based interviews which seek to hire officers who are aligned with the agency’s values.

During an interview, if the candidate isn’t giving everyone on the interview panel equal attention, and only looks at and addresses the most senior person in the room, the candidate also runs the risk of giving the impression that he or she is not a team player, added Julie.  

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Answer the question

Not all the questions you prepared for will be asked, Julie said, recalling many a candidate who had clearly prepared and memorised an answer and then insisted on using it – even if it didn’t answer the question. This is often painfully apparent to the interview panel and may show your lack of clarity and understanding of the question. It also signals that you may not have the ability to think on your feet.

Also, candidates should not assume that using examples will answer the question, she said, sharing that many candidates get carried away in telling long stories and often forget what they were asked. If and when a story is necessary, Julie recommends preparing your interviewers first by signposting with terms like “for example”. Being succinct is key!

Do your homework

Know which company you are interviewing with and set the right impression from the start. Julie recounted some occasions where she asked candidates why they applied to AGC and the answer started with: “I applied to AGO because…”. It gave her the impression that candidates didn’t do their homework.  

She advises reading up on the company and role you are applying for before your interview. Bringing up key projects the company cares about is a surefire way to demonstrate your knowledge and initiative. At the AGC, we value candidates who have read up about the agency and understand our key functions.

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Be honest

Don’t oversell and overstate your involvement in projects. “If you’re part of a team, say you’re part of a team. Don’t say you led it,” Julie shared, noting that it is possible for the company to find out if someone is being dishonest.


She firmly believes that an interview should be an open conversation where you are honest about your skills and expectations. Being candid with your skills and experience would also allow the employer to consider you for other roles you might be better suited for, or give you useful advice for your next interview. At the AGC, where needed, HR personnel have spoken to candidates after their interview on other job opportunities within the organisation.

Ultimately, interviews are not just about landing a job – it’s for you and the company to determine your professional compatibility. “Be clear about your own brand, your own desires and what you want in your career,” Julie said, cautioning that if you secure a job even without first having clarity on the job scope, it may jeopardise your future success and happiness in the job.