Would having high academic qualifications a.k.a. book smart help you nail that job interview? Or would experience in tackling challenges set in life first hand, a.k.a. street smart appeal more to interviewers?

The value of being book smart or street smart has always been hotly debated in society, and while there are pros and cons to both sides, many are still unclear on which side works best. To help you solve this quandary, we’ve reached out to the Founder of WOBB, Derek Toh to get his views on the matter.


What does being book smart or street smart mean?

Firstly, how do we define book smart and street smart? In the simplest terms, book smart refers to people who gained a high-level education (university) while street smart refers to the people who gained experience through the hardships in life (a.k.a. attended the school of hard knocks).

Should you be book smart or street smart to get a job?

“Qualifications might get you an interview, but getting hired is still about being good at the actual job,” explained Derek.

Derek shared that having high academic qualifications often captures the attention and interest of employers, therefore earning you a slot in their list of interviewees. However, whether you get the job or not all comes down to your wit, confidence and how you ‘sell’ yourself to the interviewer.

 https://i1.wp.com/cgblogassets.s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2016/05/09072207/MY_BLOG_Street-BookSmart_3.jpg?w=900Is there a salary gap between the book smart and street smart?

For years, it was common for people with higher academic qualifications to get a higher starting salary compared to those with lower or without any qualifications. But the practice has changed and having a fancy degree no longer gets you the higher paying job, unless you are both smart on paper AND in showing that you are capable of making critical decisions on the job.

Derek has remarked that both book smart and street smart people CAN earn a lot of money in their chosen career, the trick is to choose a career that is suited to your skill sets. Starting salaries for individuals also vary based on the chosen work industry. For example an engineer’s starting salary is definitely higher than a customer service executive’s, but you’ll need to have the proper education and certification in order to get the higher paying job, while you can be hired as the latter even when you have average qualifications, as long as you have strong communication skills.

However, when talking about a common job, employees usually have a maximum salary budget that they can offer based on the candidate’s qualification or experience – or both. Keep in mind that with the current economy, there are plenty of fresh graduates and experienced people out there seeking jobs, therefore impressing the interviewers is the key point in getting a job with higher starting salary, whether you have high qualifications or not.

Besides, as you progress in your job, your basic salary (and commission, if applicable) will increase in accordance to your overall performance. It’s a long-term expectation, but the better your work performance, the higher your chances of getting a salary increase.

How do you impress interviewers/employers in order to get the job?

Although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to impressing your interviewers as the people and processes vary from job to job, the first thing that you should do to stand out from all the other candidates is to prepare a killer resume.

Derek advises candidates to prepare a tailored resume and cover letter for each of the different companies that he/she is applying to convey a more “personalised” feeling to the applications. He also mentioned that candidates should go with the one-page resume concept as recommended by Elon Musk by keeping it as concise and succinct without omitting any important details. There are also other ways for you to stand out during an interview, read this article more tips  and advices!

Another piece of advice from Derek is to ask relevant questions during your interview to show your interest in the job and the company. To do this, you’ll need to research the company that you’re applying at, and form questions that are parallel to the company’s vision.


Should people restrict their applications to jobs that are within their level of qualifications and experience?

It’s common for employers to list intimidating job requirements when posting a vacancy, from high education level to years of working experience. This is intended to limit the number of applications to the targeted group of people who fulfil the set requirements. However, the job requirements shouldn’t deter anyone from applying if you have the basic knowledge, interest and experience in the position.

If the company really likes you and wants to hire you, you’ll usually be sent for training or have a mentor that will guide you throughout the beginning of the job, so you don’t have to worry about how you’ll go about doing the work as long as you’re adaptable and a quick learner.

All that matters when trying to get a job is to apply to as many companies as possible in order to increase the chances of you getting a post. Derek advised the same, stressing that candidates should apply for multiple positions across companies, regardless of the job requirements stated. He also mentioned, “All that matters is for the candidates to get themselves into the interview room first, the convincing and selling part can come later.”

See also: 21 Ways You Can Earn Money Without Quitting Your Job: Part 1

How does WOBB help job seekers find a job the perfect job for them?

Derek explained to us that WOBB puts work culture above all else, following the belief that being happy and content at work are the key aspects to achieving work-life balance and optimum productivity.

“Job seekers are now looking beyond salary as the culture of job-hopping is now slowly in decline. People are looking to increase their value by working at a company for a longer term, and to achieve this they tend to choose the company that offers them the best work culture and environment in accordance to their roles”

He further added that WOBB helps job seekers to select the job with the best work culture for them by providing detailed descriptions about the hiring company. This is done not just with mere words, but also through videos and pictures of the company’s office and the people who are working there.

Derek stressed how WOBB’s aim is to help job seekers to find the right work culture fit. “We want job seekers to be able to see what’s happening INSIDE the company for themselves before they decide to proceed with the application – that is why WOBB has tons of content for them to refer to in just one single app.”

Do you have any other suggestions on how you can stand out in a job interview and land the job? Share your thoughts and suggestions on the comment section below!


This article was originally written by Syaza Abd Jani and first published on Comparehero.my, an online platform for comparing financial and telecommunication products. To complement their free comparison service, they also provide resources such as guides and FAQs, relevant blog postings and news articles.



Posted by CompareHero.my