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Work Life: Different Types of Interviews

(Originally published on May 19, 2010)

By JHOANNA O. GAN-SO

Find out what they are so you can prepare for them

Most of us have experienced one-on-one interviews where the recruitment officer asks questions and we answer them as best we can. But did you know that, depending on the position you are applying for and your entry level, you might encounter other forms of interviews? Let me share with you some of the most popular types of interviews so that you can come to any interview prepared, and you won’t get shocked if all of a sudden, you are asked to do something else other than just answer questions.

ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS

The most common type of job interview, this is usually the format you will encounter during first contact meetings. A recruitment officer will conduct testing and interview you as a first step. Once you pass this, you will then be called in for a second interview which is usually conducted by the supervisor or manager you will be working under. Depending on the hiring policy and procedure of the company, you may then be asked to return for a third interview. Otherwise, if your qualifications are suitable and the supervisor or manager gives the go-signal for hiring, you will meet the recruitment officer and receive a job offer.

This differs from company to company. Some companies have two to three series of interviews with different formats, but there have been cases where applicants are hired on the spot by smaller companies where you deal directly with the boss.

PHONE INTERVIEWS

Increasingly becoming popular, phone interviews are done as a screening method before an actual face to face interview. Some recruitment officers prefer to ask questions during the first phone call so that they can see if you are applying for the appropriate job and if your circumstances suit you for the job. This saves them time and effort. When they see that the basics are covered, they will then schedule a face-to-face interview for you in that same call.

Meanwhile, other recruitment officers also use this type of interview, particularly if they are mass-hiring for back-end types of jobs (general documentation, billing, accounts, etc.). It is supposed to eliminate biases as they won’t immediately see your appearance and mannerisms.

Phone interviews are also best for long-distance interviews. Before asking you to travel and spend money to go to their main office, recruitment officers will do phone interviews first for your mutual benefit.

JOB/CAREER FAIR INTERVIEW

Most career fairs are used by companies to collect resumes. However, there are some instances wherein you will be given a chance to undergo a screening interview wherein the HR representative will allot 2-5 minutes for you. If you do well, you may be called in for a more in-depth interview. Since time is limited, you will have to take care to make a good first impression. So be sure to dress properly for job fairs; you never know when you might just get a quick interview right there and then.

When you are interviewed, be sure to smile. Listen attentively and give concise but informative answers. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and before you go, tell the interviewer that you would be available for a more in-depth interview anytime and that you are really interested in their company. Do this confidently and not desperately.

GROUP INTERVIEWS

There are cases when you will be interviewed and tested with two or more other candidates who are all vying for the same position.  There could be two reasons for this. Either there’s only one job opening and the interviewer wants to see candidates prove themselves or there could be several job openings for the same position and the interviewer wants to see how well you can collaborate with other people. Testing your competence for collaboration is usually done in technology industries where employees work in teams to find solutions.

PANEL INTERVIEW

There are also instances wherein you will have to face three or more members of the organization. These may be the management committee or representatives of different departments that you will be closely working with.

This type of interview is usually done in academic institutions or for senior level positions. It is somewhat similar to your college thesis defense. It can be a bit nerve-wracking, so you will need to trust in yourself and believe that you can do it. The reason why this is done is because it saves time and effort for everyone, but more importantly, it also tests your ability to face a group of people, how well you can address their concerns, and perform with grace under pressure.

AUDITION INTERVIEW

For careers that require public speaking such as event hosting and training, or on-cam jobs like acting, singing, or entertainment performance, you will most likely have to undergo an audition or screen test. You will be given a series of public-speaking exercises, reading lines, and impromptu tests. This is to see how well you are able to communicate with an audience, whether you are prepared or not. You will also be asked questions and it may feel like an interrogation, but it is a necessary part of an audition. Remember, when you are faced with this type of interview, just have fun, enjoy it, and bring out the star in you. You are being asked questions because they are interested in how you communicate with an audience or in front of a camera.

These are just some of the types of interviews that we normally use as HR practitioners. In fact, in our recruitment seminar, we further examine interview styles and questionnaires so that we find the best person for the job. As a job seeker, it is important for you to know what to expect and take time to mentally prepare for these types of interviews since some companies use several of these formats in their recruitment process. I hope this helps you job seekers prepare for and enjoy your interview! Good luck!

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Jhoanna O. Gan-So. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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Wide World of Work – Hiring the overqualified: Special handling can pay

(Originally published on Sunday, April 25, 2010)

By L.M. SIXEL

A common complaint among job seekers is that they didn’t get hired because they were overqualified. Now it turns out that may be a good reason.

A graduate student at the University of Houston in industrial organizational psychology found that overqualified employees who aren’t given enough to do get bored and cynical.

They figure the job is a waste of their skills and education, doctoral student Aleksandra Luksyte said. That, in turn, leads to counterproductive behaviors, she said, including surfing the Internet, playing jokes on co-workers, taking company property and having long personal calls on company time.

Luksyte studied 215 psychology students who also work full time in a wide variety of jobs, including as legal assistants and in health care, fast food, retail and management.

She asked whether they believe they are overqualified and put the same question to their supervisors in an anonymous survey. There was strong agreement among managers, she said, that they saw signs of burnout.

Norman York, president of York Career Development in Houston, believes the problem stems more from a poor fit than anything else. Employers need to find the right people for the job, said York, whose firm coaches individual and corporate clients.

He finds the same burnout problem among employees who have worked the same job for a long time and essentially become overqualified for the position.

“People sort of outlive their value,” York said, and their usefulness may diminish.

The turnover issue

Employers are often reluctant to hire overqualified employees, said Luksyte, who with the help of her adviser, associate professor Christiane Spitzm?ller, is preparing the master’s thesis for a journal article. They worry employees will leave as soon as they find something better.

While that’s true — overqualified workers do tend to have higher turnover rates — they also often are efficient and effective.

The key is to give them extra duties that use their skills, such as mentoring new employees, or offering training opportunities for advancement, Luksyte said.

“Don’t avoid them,” she said. “You just have to maximize what they have.”

An exciting workplace

It’s also important to provide an exciting workplace, she said. If overqualified employees are satisfied with their work situation — they work with bright co-workers or the atmosphere is great — they’ll tend to stay.

Employers must have an upward mobility plan in mind when hiring someone who’s overqualified, said John W. Allen, president of G&A Partners, a Houston-based human resources outsourcing firm with 300 clients and 50,000 work-site employees.

They have to understand the reality that an overqualified employee will begin looking for something more challenging or a job that pays better, he said.

While it may be better to have the skills and talent from an outstanding employee for even a short period, it’s best to have a plan in place to move the employee into a better job or with greater responsibility.

Luksyte, who grew up in Lithuania, was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California Berkeley before she arrived at the University of Houston.

She got the idea of researching overqualified employees when her husband came home every night complaining about a boring project he was assigned. The software engineer was essentially cutting and pasting, and he was about to lose his mind. Luksyte also noticed that he was cruising the Internet, chatting on the phone and generally wasting time — activities that are not typical of him when he’s involved in an exciting project.

She looked up the subject in the scientific literature and found little. Now that she’s searching for a doctoral subject, Luksyte said, she’s back to quizzing her husband on what’s going on at work. (NYT-c. 2010 Houston Chronicle)

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and The New York Times. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Classified Cubicle – Employer Wisdom: More hiring tips from friendly companies

(Originally published on Sunday, April 25, 2010)

By C.F. BOBIS

Recently the Classifieds had the opportunity to talk to Ramona “Dot” F. Velasco, senior executive and human resources lead, delivery center network (DCN) for technology, Accenture Delivery Centers in the Philippines. Her career spans 20 years of experience, which includes 9 years as a systems developer and more than 10 years in HR.

Interestingly, Velasco graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, major in Mathematics, and her career seems to show how you can carve your own path out at business process outsourcing centers in the country. Her company, Accenture, is one of the world’s leading management consulting, technology services and outsourcing companies, with more than 177,000 people in 120 countries. Here, she shares answers to some of the most common questions Classifieds readers ask.

What are the job openings you need to fill most often? What are the duties under these jobs, and what are the qualifications for them? What do you look for in an applicant?

We have many opportunities for fresh graduates. For BPO, we need a lot of entry-level recruits for customer contact BPO, as well as for non voice BPO projects, such as health administration and insurance. We also have various openings for accountants in all levels for our Finance and Accounting BPO projects.

For our Technology workforce, we are looking for entry-level and qualified programmers and software testing professionals.

Talent comes in many forms and from many backgrounds. Each project has its own set of qualifications but generally, we look for bright and energetic people with a great appetite for learning. Accenture has always been known for its high standards but  intelligence alone does not determine success in our company, but a combination of intelligence, work ethic, guts and the flexibility to work with diverse people.

Do you have pet peeves when it comes to job applicants?

As we consider them our customers, we treat all our applicants equally. It’s not good to have so-called pet peeves about jobseekers.

Can you share any funny or unique stories (brilliant application strategies, memorably bad applicants) with us?

Memorably good – We interviewed, through an interpreter, and hired two hearing impaired people who will soon become our regular employees. They do payroll processing for our Global Service Center Organization (GSCO) and communicate mainly through e-mail and Office Communicator.  To help the rest of the GSCO team adjust to working with their hearing-impaired teammates, HR had them go through a special orientation and sign language classes

Memorably bad – We interviewed a sales director who didn’t know her company’s sales targets and forecasts, which left us wondering how she can be an asset to any company!

A lot of jobseekers fail at the interview portion; based on your experience, could you give tips to them with regard to how to answer questions, how to dress, and how to conduct themselves?

The interviewer has to make a good and informed decision based on the candidate’s performance during the interview. A job interview is not a game where you must score points or are eliminated when you make a mistake. A good interviewer sees through what an applicant says or does and makes a good decision based on a person’s potential to do well in the company.

Having said that, there are few tips we can give applicants, except to be yourself and be honest. Express yourself confidently.  Answer first before you explain–not the other way around. And dress appropriately for the job and the company you are applying with.

If you don’t make it, it’s only because the interviewer does not want to set you up for failure at the company, and believes there is a better career opportunity for you elsewhere.

What, in your opinion, is/are the biggest mistake/s jobseekers make?

Some applicants focus and give too much value to the salary, giving priority to short-terms rather than long-term gains. The best way to a rewarding career is going through the right experiences. Endeavor to join a growing company that offers varied opportunities for learning and success, and more room for growth and promotion.

What can a jobseeker do to increase his or her chances of getting hired, both at your company and outside your company?

  • Develop your English skills. You may be brilliant but you need to be able to converse, present and sell your ideas in English, the language of business.
  • Research about the company you are applying with.
  • Always try to express, not impress.
  • Focus on your strengths. Are you a creative person? A people-oriented person? An analytical person? Try to focus on what you do best and get into things that will develop those strengths. At interviews emphasize how your strengths can help the company you are applying with to reach its goals.

Would you have openings that non-college graduates, the differently-abled, and those over 35 can fill? If so, then what are these jobs and what do they require of applicants?

Accenture is an equal opportunity employer so we accept anyone as long as they match our requirements and hurdle our recruitment process. Most of our projects accept second-year college-level or graduates of two-year courses, provided they have at least two years of relevant work experience. We also have a project with hearing-impaired people.

Can you give our readers resume and cover letter advice?

Don’t make cover letters. Recruiters have to read through hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to read cover letters. Keep your resume brief but concise, highlight your strengths; you will have the opportunity to talk about yourself in detail during the interview.

Your best advice for a jobseeker is?

Be yourself. Be honest. Try to think of how your strengths can help the company you’re applying at. Always ask “what’s in it for them” – how can you help the company with, for example, your people skills, creativity, analytical skills, or significant previous work experience.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C.F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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