Grooming 'professionals' for the workforce

Students of Wawasan Open University received valuable pointers ranging from preparation to dressing, handshake and how to conduct oneself in a job interview, during a talk on “Social Etiquette” held at the main campus today.

The full-time students listening to the talk.

The full-time students listening to the talk.

About 60 first and second-year full-time students pursuing Accounting and Management degree at WOU benefited from the highly interactive and entertaining session by social etiquette coach Hor Phooi Sin.

Highlighting that 180,000 fresh graduates enter the workforce every year in Malaysia, she said only a small percentage of job applications lead to interview. “You have an average of 40 minutes to impress the interviewer or HR personnel,” she underlined, “and 70% of the HR profession is dominated by females.”

The speaker gestures to highlight a point.

The speaker gestures to highlight a point.

Speaking on ‘image portrait’, she offered basic tips like wearing a watch that’s not too flashy or colourful, adorning simple or no accessories, simple specs or clear contact lens, little or no perfume, and clean shoes so as not to distract the interviewer from you as a person. “Wear a smile to show you’re comfortable, confident, that you’re in your comfort zone in the interview.”

She advised being well-prepared by researching the company and the position applied for before going for the interview. “You must understand the company culture. Go online and check. Explore the dress code of current employees if you can,” she remarked.

Students asked to choose the more appropriate bag.

Students asked to choose the more appropriate bag.

Hor shared on the proper dressing for men and women for job interviews, using items like shirts, pants, ties, bags and briefcase that she brought along to drive her point. She said women should avoid tattoos or piercings other than a pair of earrings, white shoes or white purse, sandals, flats, and excessive make-up, to project a more professional image.

For ‘job interview etiquette’, she told the students to “walk into an interview confidently. Greet your interviewers immediately, stretching out your hand as you start to speak; make eye contact when talking, opening your interview with the comment about being pleased for the opportunity.”

Proper self-introduction when attending an interview.

Proper self-introduction when attending an interview.

She showed a video on ‘top 10 bad business handshakes’ before demonstrating how to execute a proper handshake - a firm grasp and pumping the hand 2 or 3 times smoothly up and down – with the help of a student volunteer. The students then spent a few minutes practising self-introduction and performing introduction between two other persons.

Students practise introducing one person to another.

Students practise introducing one person to another.

Touching on interview skills, Hor said that confident levels matter during an interview. “Don’t think of language as a barrier. Speak at your pace, in your own way. You get more confident as you speak. Be well prepared, so that you don’t say the wrong thing. Make eye contact and enjoy the process as a conversation.”

She described the usual format of job interviews and how to address them. “Hide all your personal data, photos, timeline, etc on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram at least a few months before the interview. Don’t hashtag your interview or the company. Never comment about a job interview on Facebook or any social media platform,” she cautioned, adding that HR personnel have been known to track these channels.