Have you ever wondered how a personnel officer, who might see 16 to 20 applicants a day can possibly sum people up well enough to know whether he or she wants to follow up certain applicants and not others? Have you ever wondered why one applicant, whose qualifications were less than spectacular, got called back for three further interviews while another’s efforts resulted in stony silence?
The interviewing officer has a tall order to fill, yet somehow he or she manages to do it. What is the secret?
Each interviewer has his or her own way of doing things, ranging from playing it by hunch to using a fairly detailed rating scale. Below are two such rating scales that show you the sorts of things you may be rated on in that seemingly unstructured interview. In each case the personnel officer ticks what he or she considers to be the appropriate item on the list after each interview.
Firm A This firm uses a form with a 1 to 4 rating, where 1 is low and 4 is high, and the employer allocates the appropriate ranking.
- Personal appearance (first impression, bearing, grooming).
- Attitude (outlook, courtesy, responsiveness, mood).
- Personality and maturity (friendliness, self-confidence, rapport, realistic estimate of value, sense of humour).
- Communication skills (vocabulary, grammar, clarity, participation in interview, persuasiveness).
- Mental alertness and ability (logic, discretion, response to questions, inquiring mind, potential for growth).
- Motivation and drive (initiative, achievement oriented, energy level).
- Interest (in company, breadth and general interest, knowledge of profession).
- Leadership ability (desire to organise and direct, willingness to accept responsibility).
- Overall evaluation .
- Would you like to have the applicant work for/with you? Yes/No .
- Would you recommend the applicant for employment? Yes/No.
Firm B has a slightly different format.
How does the applicant’s initial appearance impress you?
- Excellent first impression
- Good impression
- Somewhat unfavourable
How do the applicant’s manners impress you?
- Awkward, ill-at-ease
Is the applicant effective in communicating his or her thinking?
- Excellent choice of words
- Good choice of words
- Sometimes at a loss for words
- Limited vocabulary
- What degree of determination does the applicant seem to possess?
- Strong determination
- Good determination
- Some determination
- Easily discouraged
- Gives up easily
Does the applicant give evidence of initiative?
- Strikes out for himself/herself
- Needs little direction
- Some originality
- Wants to be directed
- Needs to be directed
How hard do you believe the applicant will work?
- Consistently hard worker
- Will work systematically
- Tends to take things easy
- May loaf on the job
What degree of enthusiasm does the applicant seem to possess?
- Above average
- Very poor
Has the applicant shown evidence of leadership ability?
What potential does this applicant possess?
- Very good
- Very little
Would you want the applicant to represent you or the company at a meeting?
- At any meeting, large or small
- an asset to any organisation
- Will be very effective
- Will be moderately effective
- At small affairs only
- Will antagonise most people
I recommend this applicant for employment in the above-named position:
- Strongly agree
- Strongly disagree
We haven’t reproduced these rating scales to scare you, but to make you aware of how important personal qualities are at an interview. Don’t try to project an image that is not really you, or it will ring horribly false, but forewarned is forearmed and after reading this you will surely not slump and mumble and sell yourself short.
Reproduction courtesy of the University of Sydney -Focus 1981
ASSESS YOUR PERFORMANCE
After the interview, take time to assess your performance so that you can learn from it for your next interview.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I present my case well?
- Did I take advantage of every opportunity to sell my services to the employer?
- Did I talk too much or not enough?
- Did I allow the employer to conduct the interview?
- Was I relaxed enough or too relaxed?
- Was I able to find out enough about the employer and his or her organisation to give an intelligent performance?
Some employers will provide feedback on your interview performance that may be very helpful for future interviews. Contact the interviewer (or chairperson of the interview panel) and ask if he/she would be prepared to discuss your interview performance with you. Whatever the response, remain pleasant. If you become defensive or aggressive you will not obtain the constructive criticism that would be most useful to you.
KEEP ON TRYING
If you don’t get a job quickly, obviously it’s depressing. Try first to make sure you’re looking widely enough and in the right directions – , check again the earlier section on self-evaluation.
Second, try not to think you’ve failed in some way. If there aren’t as many jobs as people applying, someone has to be unlucky.
If the Interview is not successful, keep on trying. The more job applications you send, the more chances you will have of obtaining interviews. The more interviews you have, the more experience you will gain and the better you will perform.
If you have difficulty in finding suitable permanent employment, do not reject the chance of casual or non- professional jobs. These can provide useful experience-almost any experience is more appealing to an employer than none at all-and provide a reasonable income.
Job Search Allowance.
If you are unemployed, but are willing and able to undertake work, you may be eligible for a Job Search Allowance. If it looks as though you won’t be employed immediately after you finish studying, ask at your local Centrelink office what the procedure is, and register as soon as possible.
The Commonwealth Government may provide assistance through its various labour market programs to people whose qualifications and skills fall short of labour market requirements.
Information on eligibility for assistance under these programs may be obtained from your local Job Network Office.
The majority of further education institutions have either a full-time or part-time careers adviser, sometimes disguised as a student services officer, counsellor or registrar. Whatever their title, they will be glad to help you.
Check your letters of application;
Draw up your resume
Improve your interview technique
Find employer information
Generally assist in every way possible in your job hunt. These services are normally available to all students, past or present, and may even be extended to graduates of other institutions now living in different areas.