Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My tips on successful job interview... Part I

This week, I have the opportunity to interview candidates for 3 vacancies in my department which 2 of them will be reporting to me. The panels were the Head of HR, Head of IT (my boss), AGM Corporate Support (my big boss) and I.
However, I found it quite frustrating to see Malay candidates coming for interview with very few preparations, unsure and lack of confidence.
The situation...
It is such a waste because these people have the brains and the skills but were unable to 'stand out' from those many candidates or at least convinced the panels to hire them. I am not being racist; even though I have no problems working with people from any race but I feel that it would be much better if I can help my own race to get the job.
Sharing the tips on successful Job Interview...
For that particular reason, I will humbly share a few tips to be successful in your job interview. These tips had been given to me by Encik Salleh (my mentor and my Peers Counselor Secretariat advisor during my Universiti days) and Puan Sharifah (the Bank's HR Manager where I had my 1st job interview). In addition, I will also include the tips and tricks I picked up myself during my various interview sessions.
#1. Start early
This tip is specifically intended to those students out there. My advice, start sending your CV as early as possible. You can use your academic transcript or your result slips as supporting documents. You have to know that the recruitment process do not just happens overnight, the process normally takes about a few months. So, if you are in your final semester, then you should start sending your CVs now. The deal is that, by the time you graduated, the interview calls start coming in.
"Rezeki" is indeed one factor but, your timing to enter the job market plays an important role as well. If you waited until the time you graduates and then only apply for jobs... by the time you enter the market it is already flooded with fresh graduates like yourself. However, if you start early, the chance is that the competition for a post is not that much. Imagine this, if you start now, than you might only be competing with 3,000 other unemployed graduates (only a figure to illustrate my point); BUT, if you start later, then you will probably compete with a total of 3,000 unemployed graduates + another 3,000 fresh graduates like yourself. The probability ratio of securing a job has just shrunken about 50 percent!
#2. Do your homework
This is highly crucial - do the homework so that you are prepared to answer any questions the interviewer might probably ask. The most important thing is to know in depth of the position you are applying. If you are applying for an IT Security Admin post, better make sure you know roughly what the IT Security is all about. Then, you will not get caught speechless if being asked, "What are the IT Security standards that you will recommend for the company to implement". Or, another example is you have to know the difference between Finance Executive and Accounts Executive because the nature of the work is different between companies.
Also, do a background research about the company you are applying. Personally, I don't think this is mandatory. It is because, from my experience, there were 2 types of perception from employers:
a.) You have to know about the company to show how serious you are to join the respective company;
b.) You don't have to, that one can be learnt after you are being hired. They are more interested to know about you rather than how much you know about them.
#3. Come early for interview but not too early
Many people always advice us to come early for an interview; at least 1 hour or so. The reason being is to avoid you feeling restless and panic if any unanticipated event happens, i.e car broke down, traffic jams etc. You will have an ample of time to handle should any of this thing happens.
What I want to add to the above 'usual advise' is that; it is good to come 1 hour (or more) early, BUT only enter the interview place 30 minutes before the interview. 30 minutes will be sufficient for you to fill in any personal data forms or anything.
This is because; many companies do not like people 'flooding' their reception area. They might think that you have no respect for time. This rule only applies for scheduled interview. For an open interview, crowd is something normal and has already been anticipated. Therefore, if they ask you to come at 3.00pm, please don't come at 2.00pm. You have to understand that the company has made the necessary arrangements to make sure a smooth interview process. That is why only a certain number of candidates are entertained at a certain allocated session. By coming too early, you are becoming a liability to them and an 'eye sore' at the reception area. Respect the time, unless you are instructed by them to be in 1 hour early. If not, then 30 minutes will be just nice.
#4. Don't worry so much about your English
Yes, trust me, the employer is not hiring an English teacher, so don't worry so much about your English. What the employer is seeking is the way you express your mind, construct your argument as convincing as possible and how mature are you in responding to their questions. This is what most Malay candidates lack of. Candidates from other races would just "belasah jer even English tunggang langgang".
This is the most important tip I got during my 1st interview (thank you Puan Sharifah, wherever you are). Usually, Malay candidates took quite sometime in answering because in their heads they are trying to translate their thoughts into English. They are also trying to get the best English words for that matter. It is quite normal for those who are not using English for their daily conversation though.
So, this is where the negative perception arises. It is not so much about how Malay candidates failed to provide excellent ideas, but the time taken to convey the message is the main issue. The delay in responding to questions will give the impression to the interviewer that you are not confident enough or hesitated to answer. You may have plenty of bright ideas and top class arguments but if you are wasting time looking for the right words, then it makes you look bad... as if you are not prepared, not confident and emotionally unsecured.
So, what to do? "Belasah jer" as it was told to me by Puan Sharifah. She said that the interviewer is more interested in your thoughts rather than your grammar. It is because; your grammar is something that is fixable later by sending you to any English short course. So, my dear friends out there, guys and girls, please, "belasah jer" and make your opinions heard!
To be continued...
I think that is enough for today's posting. I will definitely share with you other tips in my next posting when I have the free time. As I said earlier, it is not wise just to leave everything to fate; you have to work hard for it. And, working hard alone is not enough without a proper strategy to 'stand out' from the crowd and get noticed by your prospective employers.
Until then, happy job hunting and all the best for your future undertakings.


Cucu Tok Selampit said...

Nice write up especially on expressing your thought and not correcting your English grammar. Hope the part II version is not taking sooo long to be posted.


Me said...

Finally able to visit your blog (mcm la bz sgt pun, hehehhe). Exactly true about that English thingy. So how's life? Didn't catch you online for ages. Send my best regards to Makcik, as always we miss her a lot!