The LABU2060 course equipped me with critical competencies for the globalized workplace. I gained opportunities to strengthen my communication, collaboration and critical thinking abilities.
By studying types of interview questions, their objectives and applying the “STAR” framework, I improved my interview performance and confidence. In developing a business pitch for a social enterprise, I co-authored a business report, delivered an impactful PowerPoint deck and articulated ideas professionally, which further honed my written, verbal, and visual communication in a collaborative workplace setting.
To reflect on my progress, I will evaluate my performance during the mock Job Interview and business Pitch Presentation, from preparation to execution. I will also discuss additional steps I took to further strengthen my business communication toolkit.
My CV and Job description:
For my assessed Job Interview, I chose to simulate an interview with Nuveen, a pioneer in impact investment whose functions and mission greatly align with my passion for sustainability and investment management. I selected the “Global Client Group, Summer Intern” role as the job description best matches my current skills and financial knowledge. For instance, responsibilities detailed included relationship building and cross-departmental collaboration which plays to my strengths in engaging with people of diverse backgrounds and my curiosity about various business functions. By simulating an interview with a firm I genuinely wanted to serve under, I gained valuable insights into how to improve my articulation of my passion for and fit with a firm’s mission and culture during an actual recruitment process.
Practicing my responses in front of a mirror beforehand helped me appear poised, confident, and enthusiastic throughout the assessed Job Interview. I was able to vary my tone of voice and use gestures in a natural yet controlled way to enhance my messages. However, upon reviewing video footage of the interview, I noticed issues with my posture and eye contact that I had not focused on during practice. I realize now that my constant shifting of eye contact between the interviewer and the camera was distracting. In future interviews, I will sit up straight and maintain eye contact with the interviewer who asked the question, rather than trying to look at all the interviewers present. I also saw that my eyes would flit upwards when thinking, which I had not noticed the frequency of while practicing – maintaining steady eye contact is an area I will work to improve on.
My articulacy also presented opportunities for improvement. While I effectively expanded on my relevant qualities and experiences, my answers were noticeably ridden with filler words such as “um” and inappropriate phrases such as “you know” and “you guys” which diminished the intended level of professionalism. Nerves also caused me to provide underdeveloped responses at times. For instance, although I used the STAR framework to share and reflect on a particular experience, my delivery lacked conciseness – I went off track and reflected on an irrelevant lesson before, and fully answered the question only after a follow up. In preparing future interviews, I will place more emphasis on professional and succinct communication to strengthen my credibility and overall performance as a candidate.
[Link to My Job Interview Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YThTBHtGnGE]
Job Interview: Peer Evaluation
My classmate David demonstrated several best practices in his assessed Job Interview which I aim to emulate.
Throughout the interview, David maintained a friendly yet professional demeanor by smiling with his eyes and maintaining a good posture, conveying sincerity and enthusiasm. This was furthered by his slightly faster speech pace which helped him come across more energetic and keen, as opposed to my sluggish tempo.
David also displayed a strong understanding of HKEX’s operations, referencing their listing chapters and resources. His answers were well structured, beginning with a concise summary, followed by details separated by ordinal adverbs such as “Secondly”, and ending with a conclusion. The clarity and organization made his responses easy to follow and demonstrated his competence. Having recognised my need to improve on my ability to elaborate on “results” in the STAR framework, I also admired how David was able to take his reflection to the next level by linking how his internship and piano experiences would benefit HKEX. He did so not only by explaining the specific job areas in which he could apply such skills, but also through word choices such as “useful” and “transferrable”. While David did occasionally use filler words and informal language such as “sort of” and “you know” these minor issues did not detract much from his otherwise professional and poised demeanor.
Overall, David’s performance reflected key areas for improvement in my own interview skills, which I will seek to hone in future interview preparations going forward.
[Link to David’s Job Interview Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YThTBHtGnGE]
Business Pitch and Plan Reflection:
I had the pleasure of completing the Business Pitch and Writing segment with my classmates Megan, Nicholas, and Harry. We chose the firm HelperGo, which is a social enterprise that connects migrant domestic helpers (MHDs) with Hong Kongers in need of in-home care through its online platform and mobile app. Noting HelperGo’s extensive network of MDHs and the unmet mental health needs of Hong Kong MDHs, my team and I proposed that HelperGo create “AsaMind”, a mental health app tailored to the MDH community’s needs.
To establish an emotional connection with the audience and the urgency of the social issue, my team and I opened the pitch with a storytelling approach that leveraged the “identifiable victim effect”. We told the story of Maria, a fictional Filipina MDH who endures great mental burdens to provide for her family, who she has not seen in years. By presenting Maria’s challenges and hardships, we were able to shed light on the widespread mental health issues faced by Hong Kong’s MDHs. This helped us justify our choice of social issue and underscore the need for our value proposition. However, some parts of our presentation were repetitive. Instead of redescribing the business idea, my team and I could have allocated more time to justify certain aspects of our proposal, such as the rationale behind selected target demographics and regions.
In terms of Visual delivery, I displayed enthusiasm and energy by smiling through my eyes, maintaining a straight posture, and using appropriate hand gestures. However, I recognise that my hand movements were somewhat repetitive and constrained to a small area, so I will work on making them more controlled and purposeful in future presentations.
Regarding, Verbal and Vocal delivery, I mitigated the impression of reciting word for word by practicing from a set of bullet points instead of a written script, which helped me appear more composed and fluent. I also used intonation to enhance my message and convey my enthusiasm. However, I experienced noticeable breaks in flow and frequent use of filler words like “um”, which diminished the conviction I intended to convey. To improve in future presentations, I will begin practicing earlier to familiarise myself with my part and prevent long pauses when presenting.
My teammate Nicholas was in charge of explaining our Business Model. By holding eye contact with various members of the audience, he was able to make the audience members feel addressed and engaged. Nicholas also made use of hand gestures effectively and naturally to enhance his message. Given that the context of this pitch, I think Nicholas could be even more engaging and persuasive if he demonstrated more enthusiasm for the business idea, whether it be through facial expressions or intonation.
I also appreciated Nicholas’ use of professional but easily understood language, which allowed him to effectively break down more complex elements behind AsaMind, such as pricing approaches and revenue models to audience members who may be less familiar with business jargon.
[Link to the Business Pitch Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YThTBHtGnGE]
My team and I ensured a natural and coherent flow between sections of our Business Report. I had the pleasure of writing the Introduction, Opportunity and Innovation, and Conclusion & Recommendations sections.
After receiving feedback to narrow our target market, my team and I recognised that accommodating the needs of all MHDs in Hong Kong on launch would be challenging to achieve, so decided to focus on Hong Kong MDHs with Indonesian or Filipino ethnicity to ensure our proposal would generate real social impact. Receiving feedback that the Opportunity and Innovation section did not provide enough rationale behind why there was a need for AsaMind, I elaborated on the severity of mental health issues among Hong Kong’s MDH population. For instance, explaining that existing mental health solutions offered were unsuitable to Hong Kong MDHs due to the nature of service providers and geographical and time constraints.
[Link to Written Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10uaU-kjZIjEx8AnJBW4M_WXZWUxbqGQa/view]
Other Sources of Learning:
To prevent blanking out again in the second oral presentation, I consulted online resources for advice. I found two tips recommended by Frantically Speaking extremely helpful in my final stages of preparation. In his video, the Youtuber proposed two ways for speakers to stall time for regaining composure:
- Redirection Tools – prepared questions or media to deviate to (e.g. “What is the main challenge we are trying to solve?”)
- Thorough Line – a key, defined idea the speech revolves around that can be repeated for emphasis when our mind goes blank
Inspired, I planned to reiterate the nonexistence of a shortcut to success and consequent importance of a long term, sustainable approach to business if lost my train of thought during the Recommendation 2 Oral Presentation.