Friday, June 1, 2012

The art of job interviewing.

Six courses futher and a piece of the thesis already done, the future is knocking on the door today. Skills need to be developed, more knowledge to be obtained and money needs to be made. Where to find this combination? At the labourmarket. Yes you understood it correctly, the labour market, that big and scary thing people talk about in the papers. That place where evil employers hunt down potential employees and subject them to tortures to be sure that they have the best young professional available that they can mould to be their puppet on strings.
A month or two ago I started to think of what I wanted to do after my graduation and started sending my resume to potential employers. And all of a sudden there it was: an invitation for a job interview accompanied with something you might already know: an invitation to make some test to examine you verbal and numerical capabilities and your personality. Although I was nervous for making the tests, I expected the tortures described above, these turned out to be very do-able. One might expect that if one has finished an academic bachelors’ and masters’ degree that one does also pass these tests, although timepressure and nervosity do add an extra, let’s say, dimension to these things.
My very first interview was a big eye-opener. I thought I came well prepared, but it turned out that some questions where more difficult than I expected. ‘You say you are teamplayer, can you give me an example out of which this speaks?’ ‘What is the thing you accomplished that makes you most proud of yourself?’ ‘What is it that you as a unique person are bringing to this organisation?’.
I really had to learn to think of myself as an asset to a company. What is it that I have in me, that others might not have? How do my skills and interests match this specific company? And how can I show or proof this by giving examples? I must say the training of Tempo-Team organized by the University was a very useful event to help me trying to answer these questions. But as they also say, ‘practice makes perfect’, only by doing interviews, one eventually gets trained in it. And the most important aspect of what you bring to a company, is something you cannot change or do anything about, it is you. More and more we get selected based on who we are, if we are a pleasant person to be around. In all the interviews I had so far, there was one point were I just talked and had a laugh with the recruiter sitting in front of me, because we were talking about stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with the job at all. I hadn’t expected to be talking about bad tv-series and ‘de Zwarte Cross’, did you?