Scoring an interview gets you a foot in the door, but being prepared is half the battle won – here’s everything you need to know to stay on top of your interview prep game. 

1. Do Your Homework

This might seem like the most obvious thing to do, but there are still candidates who still show up having little to no knowledge about the company they’re intending to work for. Before even submitting your application, do ample research on the organisation’s history, values and services, check out their social media accounts, and even identify their main competitors. Also, read up on industry-related news so you have a better grip of the latest trends in your field. Understanding your company’s culture will give you an edge over the competition.

2. Socialise From The Get-Go

From the moment you walk into the office compound, be friendly to everyone you meet along the way. Riding the elevator with a bunch of co-workers? Don’t just stand there awkwardly – step up and introduce yourself and initiate conversation. Leave the hard-selling for later; treat this as an opportunity to work on your soon-to-be colleagues. Even better if you memorised – all the better to greet them with after landing the gig. 

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Avoid getting caught off-guard during the interview by conducting a mock session beforehand to work on answering questions you might be asked. Not only does it help to frame your responses, this allows you to polish your communication skills while easing your nerves before the actual interview. Get a trusted friend to act as the interviewer, but make sure they are adept in identifying the weak areas you need to improve on and provide constructive feedback on your performance. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect! 

4. Dress To Impress

 Not every workplace requires you to don a formal suit but it’s important to look presentable; and overdressed rather than underdressed. To prevent a dress code mishap, attempt a bit of geotag researching on Instagram to observe what employees wear and pick out an appropriate outfit that fits the vibe. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong erring on the side of smart casual (think button-down shirt and pants for the guys and a well-tailored dress for the ladies). Pro-tip: have a second set of clothes handy to save yourself from coffee spills or wardrobe malfunctions. Trust us, you never know when you’ll need it.

5. Never Too Early

Tardiness is a big no-no in any situation, so be sure to have everything prepared the night before to prevent a mad scramble on the day itself – get your outfit ready, your documents filed away and your transportation route all mapped out. You can never predict when there will be traffic delays, thus its important to factor in a generous buffer time while commuting to your destination. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier, but use those extra 20 minutes to mentally prep yourself before the approaching the receptionist five minutes prior to the arranged time. While the proverb ‘the early bird catches the worm’ does rings true, showing up too early for your appointment can be a red flag, especially for employers who have schedules to attend to before that.    

This was adapted from an article originally published in Portfolio.

Need more advice? Discover other ways you can prepare for an interview and more in Portfolio, our handy guide to helping young adults navigate the workforce and beyond!  

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How To Survive Being Googled By Potential Bosses

23 May 2017 by Teenage

Be it having your social media profiles viewed by employers or curious new colleagues, the last thing you would want is embarrassing social media content that could jeopardise your rep or career. Maintain a clean and effective online presence (and come through a Google search unscathed) with these easy tips.

1. Do: Use Correct Language 


A post shared by Zoey Maiden (@zoeymaiden) on

 Nothing could be a greater red flag for potential employers than your online posts containing mistakes such as misspellings or bad grammar. Ensure that your social media profiles and posts are free from such mistakes by proofreading before publishing them for the world to see – get a second opinion if you need to. Refrain from using vulgarities even in casual posts – they certainly won’t add any intellect to your viewpoints and could reflect badly on you if noticed by corporate peers.

2. Do: Subscribe To Your Career Interests

Notice your colleagues liking the same Instagram posts you do? Subscribing to online feeds and official brand accounts that are related to your work scope will not only keep you updated, but let others know you have similar interests – which both increases your relatability factor and makes for good conversational topics the next time you see them IRL. In addition, staying up to date with industry news guarantees you won’t be left out in professional conversations, all the better for you to mingle with!

3. Do: Filter Personal Matters From Your Account

Photo: Pexels

Having a work-life balance goes further than just knocking off punctually to spend time with loved ones. Keeping your personal and professional lives separate online is an essential, unspoken part of the job too. Your bosses and colleagues don’t need to see your lengthy Facebook status updates about how badly you day went or what you choose to write about next. Shed a positive light on your social posts and good vibes will return your way. Always remember, nobody likes a perpetual downer!

4. Do: Keep It To A Minimum

Social media updates tend to have higher views if they’re posted less frequently – even Facebook’s algorithm marks persistent posts as spam! Do yourself a favour and avoid being classified as a ‘spammer’ and maintain your posts to the essentials. Posting too often (and during working hours) may give the impression that you’re on your phone 24/7, inadvertently giving rise to the assumption that you’re shirking away from work. The next time you’re poised to upload to multiple images to Instagram, ask yourself: “Do my followers really need to see it from three different angles?”  

5. Don’t: Post Inappropriate Content


The party you attended the weekend before was #Lit, and the photos uploaded online certainly prove it – too well. Pictures that feature you partying might seem like harmless fun, but it might leave a bad taste in your colleagues’ mouth. Prevent yourself from becoming the unnecessary victim of trivial gossip in the office by not posting the photos online. If that’s not an option in this digital age, utilise the ‘Privacy’ function on your social media platforms and set them to be hidden from anyone of concern.

6. Don’t: Comment About Your Work Online

Sending out work-related updates on your social media platforms can be a double-edged sword. While sharing your enthusiasm for work will be positively received as a whole, being overly expressive of your work achievements might be off-putting for your colleagues. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, publicly expressing negative thoughts and complaining about your workload (or boss) won’t do you any favours either. Be safe rather than sorry, by keeping both celebrations and frustrations about work solely for your trusted confidants. 

7. Don’t: Be Offensive


While everyone has the right to their opinions, being overly vocal on your views of social matters might just land you in hot soup. We’ve all witnessed cases of controversial statements and behaviour going viral online, which led to companies firing said employees. Instead of ignorantly following in their footsteps, prevent yourself from committing a similar blunder by steering clear of airing any offensive opinions online. Should you feel affected by a situation and feel the need to share your thoughts on a public outlet, write them down in an objective, professional and inoffensive manner. Getting a high number of likes and comments on your page can be a good thing – but only when they’re for the right reasons.

8. Don’t: Be Careless

If you’re in charge of managing your company’s online profile, this might see you juggling multiple social media accounts between your work and personal profile. Before uploading anything, be sure you’re about to blast the correct content to the right account and channel. You’d not appreciate the panic attack that comes with accidentally sending out a shameless #Selfie on your work account, risking unwanted questions from your boss before you manage to take it down. Never take social media for granted and remember to meticulously examine every single aspect of your postings before uploading them!

Featured image credit: Pexels

This was adapted from an article published in Portfolio, out on newsstands now. 

Have other tips on maintaining your online presence? Let us know in the comment section!

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Expanding your knowledge doesn’t always have to come with a pricey school fee. Ahead, discover fun online classes you can take up, FOC!

Practice Your People Skills

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Course: Diploma in Customer Service
Duration: Nine modules, six to 10 hours

If you’re intending to pursue your first part-time job, chances are you would snag a gig in customer service, which will require tons of human interaction be it as a store assistant, banquet waiter, or barista. This course preps you by teaching the essentials of delivering good customer service, encompassing both hospitality and retail industries. You’ll also be able to discover if customer service is truly for you by finishing three self-graded assessments.

 Get That Perfect Instagram Feed

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Course: Photo Editing with the iPhone
Duration: Three hours

Envious of perfectly curated Instagram feeds? Well, you don’t need to be a social media influencer to have visually appealing photos! A few hours with this course will have you learning how to edit your photos with pizzazz, using only your smartphone. By the time this video course ends, you’ll likely say goodbye to spending extensive, unnecessary time editing your snapshots, and achieve your #Feedgoals in a breeze.

Manage Your Money

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Course: Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making (University of Michigan)
Duration: Six weeks, five to six hours per week
*Online course is free. Verified certificate is available at US$49.

Having trouble managing your finances despite trying your hardest to save every month? Register and enroll in this free online course that gives you professional financial advice to hone your money smarts. Easily relatable and applicable with real-life examples, you’ll be able to make clearer decision the next time you’re thinking of splurging your allowance on a random buy.

Become An SEO Expert

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Course: SEO for SEO Beginners
Duration: One hour

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), SEO knowledge is fast becoming a necessity. Short for “Search Engine Optimisation” – SEO is essentially, keywords we enter into the search engine while looking for information. Knowing how SEO works is a vital skill to acquire, and can do wonders for your career – be it at a web store you’ve started or the new company you’re about to intern at. With this straightforward course, you’ll have a better understanding and strategy to help your website top the search results. Google ain’t got nothing on you.

Try Your Hand At Becoming A Social Media Guru

Photo credit: LinkedIn

Course: Social Media in Public Relations (National University of Singapore)
Duration: Four weeks, six to eight hours per week
*Free version only allows access to course materials; excludes grade and certificate

The social media landscape is ever-changing and thus, comes the importance of staying updated (and savvy). With this helpful online guide, keep up with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and learn how to capitalise them for your business. The course also ventures into what makes content viral, so the next time you’re sharing or uploading your content, you’ll know exactly how to get that view count rising. Acquiring the ins and outs of this skillset is guaranteed to be imperative for your digital future, so there’s no better time to get schooled than now.

Learn What It’s Like To Be A CSI Investigator

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Course: Introduction to Forensic Science (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Duration: Eight weeks, four to five hours per week
*Free version only allows access to course materials; excludes grade and certificate

After all those years watching CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, you can now fulfill your dreams of being a detective. Well, close enough, Nanyang Technological University is offering a concise eight-week long course that will have you equipped with greater comprehension in the field of forensics and DNA. Even cooler are the real-life investigations you’ll get to study, such as the infamous JonBenét Ramsey murder case. 

Geek Out With Video Game Knowledge

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Course: Video Game Design History – Rochester Institute of Technology
Duration: Five weeks, three hours per week
*Online course is free. Verified certificate is available at US$49

Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda might’ve been your childhood go-tos, but not many truly know the complex story of how video games came about. Make history lessons exciting with this course by delving into how the first ever video games were invented, and be mind-blown at how it has evolved into incorporating Virtual Reality today. You’ll feel like the smartest one in the group the next time you and your pals are having a video game marathon when you impress them with your newfound facts!

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Discover more tips on effective ways of learning in our April 2017 issue out now!

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We totally understand how difficult it is to focus on one thing at a time. You’ve got distractions aplenty – from itching to play that new game you just downloaded, to stealing peeks at your mum’s K-drama playing on the television in the background. The temptations are endless, but with these 6 methods, dispelling that ineffectiveness in you isn’t all that impossible.

1. Take a break every 45 minutes


Vision getting blurry? Realised you’ve meddled with your hair that they’ve started falling out all over your desk? Then it’s time to put away those books, for a while at least. Studies have shown that taking breaks at optimal intervals to rest your eyes (and brain) from concentrating for extensive periods does wonders for your productivity. Set an alarm for every 45 minutes of work-time and step away from your desk when it rings to just stretch, scroll through your Instagram feed or scour your fridge for a snack – you deserved it.

2. Switch off your phone or lock it away


The world’s greatest invention might possibly also be the most distracting one, tempting you with its evil forms of online shopping, social feeds and gaming apps. If simply setting your phone aside at the corner of your bed or at the side of your table still doesn’t stop your fingers from crawling towards your device, do the unthinkable and… switch it off. Should self-discipline not be your strongest trait, take it a step further by locking it away in a drawer and giving the key to your trusted parents or sibling until you’ve finished your assignment of the day. You’ll thank them later.

3. THIS app

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While your phone can be your biggest distraction, it can surprisingly also be a great source of productivity. The ingenious Forest app actually encourages you to to put your phone away – to grow trees. Yep, you read that right. Be your own virtual gardener as you seed different species of plants and watch them grow together with your productivity the longer you don’t touch your phone. What’s more, you can even collect in-game tokens and exchange every 2,500 for a real tree to be planted in the world. Getting work done and giving back to the environment? Two (green) thumbs up!

Forest is available on the iOS app store for S$2.98 or on the Google Play store for free.

4. Create a schedule that works for you


The only person who knows how and when you work best is after all, yourself. Get more effective by setting up a routine customised to your schedule so you know you have to get down to business when it calls for it. How exactly should you go about doing this? Treat your study/work time as a daily mandatory activity, just as you would for having your meals or taking a shower – and you’ll feel the pinch when you fail to keep up with the regulation you’ve set yourself, and be all that more motivated to get off that couch and be productive.

5. DON’T multitask


Hold up – if you think doing more tasks at the same time will get things completed faster, you couldn’t be more wrong. Always remember that quality edges out quantity, and it’s imperative to complete responsibilities with dedication and commitment, rather than delivering slipshod work. Limit your full attention to one assignment at a time, only moving on to the next once you can check it off your to-do list with pride. 

6. Binge on the right food


We all already know chowing down junk food will leave you restless nursing a food coma, and extinguish any form of motivation to get work done. However, eating the right kinds of food will actually do quite the opposite – and get your brain juices flowing in all the right way. Foods like salmon, berries, nuts, avocados and bananas are delicious sources of energy and help induce that much-needed burst of productivity, while green tea stimulates your mind and improves memory retention. Also don’t forget good ol’ water throughout your day to keep yourself alert and hydrated!

Featured image credit: Pinterest

Got a unique productivity tip that works for you? Share with us in the comments below! 

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