Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Job Interview; What to Say

The mere prospect of being perused, face to face, by an interviewer, or even a panel, is daunting for most first time job applicants. Usually, it is not fear of the actual interview but fear of the unknown: What should I wear? What should I bring? What should I say? What should I expect?

C.      What should I say?

I’m not entirely sure if it’s necessary to say that jobseekers should have a mental pdf copy of their resumé.  You, as a jobseeker, should know every inch and crease of your advertisement, since the job interview will largely circulate with what’s on there. Can you imagine Miley Cyrus losing the lyrics of her own song, Party in the USA?

The items on your resumé are like categories for Who Wants to be a Millionaire, or other quiz shows, which have a set of pre-determined questions. The only difference is, you have no lifelines; no 50:50, no Ask the Audience, only Call a Friend (for your references).

These questions intend for you to expound and supplement the contents of your curriculum vitae (CV). These are questions triangulating on collegiate background; student organizations, academics and the likes, for fresh grads. Those with previous work experience would probably know and expect questions they’ve heard before, with one inquiry theme, ‘Why did you resign?’

And knowing what to expect is already half of the game; it may mean the difference between a definite yes and an indefinite, “we will call you if you passed”, no. As fresh grads, here are certain questions you’d probably encounter:

1.       Why should we hire you? Or what can you contribute to the company?
-          This is a beauty pageant question, this gives you the opportunity to shine. Bank on your skills and talents, however, trudge carefully so as not to go overboard. Give the interviewer sufficient evidence that you have a backbone, the necessary specific skills for a particular job.

But also capitalize on your capacity to learn and improve, brandishing your potentials is a good marketing strategy. Employers would want someone who’s not reluctant or too stubborn to learn anything new. An empty cup is easier to fill than a full one.

Just be honest with what you can do and what you can’t but you’re willing to improve on.
                        Tricky version: Why SHOULDN’T we hire you? (Try answering this first on your own)

2.       Why did you choose (insert company name)?
-          This is highly individualized. But here are probable key points you would want to mention: company name, stability and track record; career growth and personal advancement; word of mouth recommendation, like a friend who already works in the company; proximity and convenience.

3.       How long do you plan to stay in this industry?
-          This is applicable, and only difficult, for those who are applying for jobs that’s not in line with their college program. The best and most famous example would be nurses and registered nurses applying at call centers. However, this is also relevant to those with previous traditional jobs applying for jobs way off of their radar: a manager applying as a Korean English Tutor, an engineer applying as a newspaper photographer.

The question is ambiguous. Though it asks for longevity on the job, its underlying pretext is to determine if you are a good investment or you’ll go running back to your specialization once you get the chance.

I can only effectively speak for nurses, as for the others, the best way is to just be honest and banner the reason why you’re not pursuing a job within your scope. First of all, there must have been a strong situation or basis for you to cast a rope far from your expected line of work.

As for my answer, I merely shared a true predicament, ‘It’s not practical to pursue a nursing career now’. Others would buy the advice to convince your interviewer that nursing was forced on you. And yes you could do that, though I’m pretty sure they’ve heard it a thousand times before. But as long as it’s true then go for it.

4.       How do you see yourself 5 to 10 years from now?
-          This is a test of ambition, a test of your drive and your life goals. An ambitious and driven employee is a more desirable part of a team. The best way to answer this is to say that you see yourself successful in 5 to 10 years. If it’s specific to the company, then mention a position or title you would want to get in the future.

The tricky question, ‘Why SHOULDN’T we hire you?’ aims for you to divulge your weaknesses. Remember that admitting your weak points is not weakness but a show of strength and wisdom. A wise man knows he does not know. But do not answer in a way which makes your flaws irreparable and debilitating that it would be idiocy to hire you.

By experience, my answer to that question was, “If you are looking for more experienced applicants, those with years of work experience, then you shouldn’t hire me.” You could go bold enough and answer, “There’s no reason for you not to hire me” but this would surely be a fork in the road. It’s either you come off as confident and trustworthy or an airhead who believes in himself too much.

On the day of your job interview, don’t forget your honesty and confidence. What you say in the entire interview should be summarized in four words, “I deserve the job”.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Job Interview; What to Bring

The mere prospect of being perused, face to face, by an interviewer, or even a panel, is daunting for most first time job applicants. Usually, it is not fear of the actual interview but fear of the unknown: What should I wear? What should I bring? What should I say? What should I expect?

A. What should I wear?

B. What should I bring?

Brown envelopes are billboard advertisements saying you’re a job applicant. Brown envelopes and job applicants are so linked in our minds like witches and brooms.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It might even be a lifesaver. Security guards easily identify you and render, usually, automatic assistance, especially with directions, “
Mag-aapply ser? Sa ‘sea-canned’ floor po tayo ser” (Are you an applicant sir? Go to the second floor sir). And a piece of advice, never be impolite or take security guards for granted because they can help you a lot.

From my job hunting experience, down south to up north; Alabang, Ayala, Ortigas, and even Eastwood, you’re bound to use your envelope as sunblock and fan, so place your documents in a long folder first, to prevent wrinkles or creases on your resumé and other requirements. Then get a plastic envelope. I’m pretty sure you’ll be sweating and you wouldn’t want your resumé looking like a piece of used tissue. Even doubling as an umbrella is possible, in case of rain—not for the Milenyo kind though.

Your brown envelope should contain:

1) Photo IDs: 2-4 pcs of 1x1 and 2x2 unless they would require a different size.
2) Black ball pen, not a sign pen or a gel pen. And never place your pen in your chest pocket, ink might leak out.
3) At least 2 copies of your resumé, and a copy of your cover letter if you initially submitted one
4) At least 2 paper clips, for your photo IDs
5) Necessary documents:

   5.1) Photocopy of your NSO Birth Certificate
   5.2) Photocopy of your NBI for Employment, the orange one
   5.3) Photocopy of your TIN (Tax Identification Number)
   5.4) Photocopy of your SSS
   5.5) Photocopy of your TOR and Diploma

6) Portfolio or sample works depending on the position applied for.

Bring the original copies too, so you could easily dash to a nearby photocopier if needed. But as much as possible, submit photocopies and not the original documents. Those who have gone to government offices for these documents would know why submitting photocopies is more preferable. I’ll probably tackle this on another post.

Though employers would require most of these documents after you qualify, especially for fresh grads, acquiring them beforehand is more reasonable. Because once you have the job, finding time to get these documents from ‘box office’ government offices would be a dilemma. Moreover, you are paid based on your attendance. And incurring absence during the first month of your work isn't good.

Now this is important, unless you want to die of boredom, this would even help you control your nerves. Bring a PSP, or a music player, or a book to pass time especially for companies entertaining a number of jobseekers. Though I'm usually fascinated by watching people, waiting around for 4 to 5 hours changed that. And when they say one-day process, they mean one-day process—it takes 24 hours.

But above all, bring your self-confidence. Remember that you are there because you deserve the job, and that’s what the interviewer needs from you. You may show up with a bible of your certificates and merits, slouching with medals hanging from your neck, and the rest of your qualifications trailing behind you, but if you don’t appear as if you could walk the talk, just listen to Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We’re Going Down.

C. What should I say?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Job Interview; What to Wear

The mere prospect of being perused, face to face, by an interviewer, or even a panel, is daunting for most first time job applicants. Usually, it is not fear of the actual interview but fear of the unknown: What should I wear? What should I bring? What should I say? What should I expect?

a.       A. What should I wear?

You are overdressed if other job applicants appear as if they're sidetracked from their scheduled trip to the supermarket, while you look like you’re on your way to a wedding, rushing to buy a last-minute oven toaster as a gift.

Consider yourself underdressed if other applicants are garbed for a prom while you chaperone for one of the darling spoiled princesses. But being the lone underdressed applicant rarely happens, there is more than one darling spoiled princess in a prom, so there are a few other ‘chaperones’. Kidding aside, these nonchalant jobseekers are the type whose resumes speak for them. Capitalizing on years of work experience, it would be foolish for the Human Resource (HR) personnel to lower their chance based solely on attire.

Here’s the thing, it is always better to be overdressed than be underdressed. Always go for a corporate professional look, unless otherwise advised, or you’re planning to work at a high crime rate area.

It is often recommended to avoid wearing black or dark colors for an interview because you'd appear gloomy, and such a feeling might transmit to the interviewer. However, the trend is classy apparel. So it's safe to say, looking elegant in black, or poised in beige won’t ruin your chances. Just make sure that you beam, or smile, to counter the possibility of a lingering mournful aura.

On the other hand, I think it’s heinous to walk like the morning sunshine, or a neon light of a Vegas club for job interviews (or for any other reason). There’s yellow and there’s painful yellow, there’s pink and there’s pink of eternal scorn, there’s orange and there’s hell-on-earth orange to name a few. Others would be scandalous neon green, death-by-electric-chair blue and killing spree red.

Point is, don’t be an eyesore.

Wear warm and cool colors, and not scalding hot or blistering cold. More importantly, wear something you are comfortable in. Comfort boosts confidence.

B. What should I bring?
C. What should I say?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

No one enjoys waiting. While PSPs and Nintendo DSs whip the minutes or hours to move faster, the lesser techie, more scholastic, or 10,000 peso-deprived, would prefer a novel as a handheld companion. And a funny, opinionated and perceptive companion makes time fly, which are traits of David Sedaris’ When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

Author: David Sedaris
Released: June 3, 2008
#1 International Bestseller
#1 New York Times Bestseller Non-Fiction

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is a collection of essays, on almost anything under the sun. Topics would come from the author’s childhood up to his present day-to-day encounters. Here are certain essays that I really enjoyed:

Ø  It's Catching – Hugh’s mother, 76, does house chores, which are considerably herculean for her age, while her leg worm deeply bothers David.
Ø  The Understudy – At the time when Americans discriminate against blacks, David and his sisters condemn their white babysitter.
Ø  Road Trips – A truck driver straightforwardly asks for a blow job, implying his personal advocacy that oral sex should be casual.
Ø  Solution to Saturday's Puzzle – An unreasonably demanding airplane seatmate. Enough said.
Ø  All the Beauty You Will Ever Need – David tries to make coffee without water. Again, enough said.
Ø  The Smoking Section – How quitting smoking brought them halfway around the globe, and halfly speaking Japanese. A necessarily extensive journal on the hardship of quitting cigarette smoking.

Reading Experience
Funny and witty. These two adjectives are perhaps enough to sum all the essays in When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Even the title itself was captured from a Japanese brochure on what to do during a fire.

Readers are lucky for Sedaris to have shared his funny experiences in this book. As this is a collection of essays, you won’t be daunted by the number of pages you need to finish. It’s not something you can finish, or would want to finish, in one seating. You would want to read it in the waiting room before a dental appointment, in the bus during rush hour, or during an uninteresting class. You can simply pick one essay, read it at a coffee shop while waiting for a friend who’s beyond 30 minutes late.

Sedaris’ perspective is not only entertaining but also interesting, hitting the mark from a different angle, since most of the essay topics are not entirely foreign or unheard of. 

But his delivery is on a higher level, it is a unique, fresh and perceptive presentation of opinion and outlook. There is liberal use of metaphors to further expound a point and the often cause of hilarity. Furthermore, a reader is bound to feel he is conversing with the author rather than just reading his thoughts.

In Conclusion
For those who are already reading a certain title with a convoluted plot or weighs heavily on drama, then this is a good side dish. It would detoxify you and serve as refreshment for the current hardcore novel you’re reading. For the rest, you won’t be making a mistake by taking this off the shelf.


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