South China Morning Post – Article 7 – Probation Periods

For our most recent South China Morning Post advice column we gave readers some pointers on how best to handle the probation period once they had started a new position.

Please click the following link to open a PDF of the article:

SCMP Article 7 – Probation Periods

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South China Morning Post – Article 5 – Post Offer Pointers

Our fifth article for the South China Morning Post covered advice for how to handle jobs offers.

Please click the link below to open a PDF of the article:

SCMP Article 5 – Post Offer Pointers

South China Morning Post – Article 3 – Interview Follow Up

Our third South China Morning Post career article looks at how best to follow up following an interview. Article 4 will be published tomorrow (Saturday) so remember to grab your copy!

Please click the link to see the PDF:

SCMP Article 3 – Interview Follow Up

10 Interview Questions to be Prepared For

We recently came across another post online which we thought was extremely helpful in getting candidates prepared for their interviews. With so many websites offering advice and sample interview questions, it’s often difficult to pick out the relevant information before an interview. This article puts things together in an informative and concise manner and when combined with our other articles on interviewing (please see our Interviewing Techniques Revisited post) should help candidates greatly in preparing for that all-important interview.

Original link to article here: 10 Answers You Should Know Before Your Job Interview

“Although no one can predict the questions your potential employer will ask, you can think about how you’d answer some of the commonly asked ones. Here are ten questions for you to consider and a few hints about how to answer them:

Tell me about yourself.

Chances are the employer doesn’t want to know how much you weighed when you were born, when you learned to tie your shoes, or how much you had to drink last night. He or she wants to know how you would fit into the company and what your relevant job experience is. You might answer by asking the interviewer what he’d like to know. Or you might talk about your education, the fact that you’re a team player, or whatever you think might be important to this particular company.

Why should we hire you?

Even though five people may be waiting outside, you need to sound confident, calm, and capable. Explain how your experience has prepared you for the job. Emphasize the qualities you think the employer is looking for, such as your outstanding work ethic or the fact that you’re a fast learner.

What is your worst characteristic?

Some human resource specialists suggest that you make a virtue sound like a flaw. “I tend to be a perfectionist,” or, “Everyone says I work too hard.” But others say these answers have become clichés. Mention a minor flaw, such as, “I think I’m too outspoken at times, but I’m working on it.”

Where do you want to be five years from now?

Let the interviewer know you’re looking for job stability and that you aren’t planning to use this job as a temporary stopping point in your quest for a better position. You could say, “I’d like to be employed in a small company like this one, where I can learn, contribute, and advance.”

Why did you leave your last job?

Never put your former employer or your co-workers in a negative light. Don’t blame them for your departure. Give a positive reason, such as you left to take advantage of another opportunity that was better suited to your skills.

Tell me about a problem you had in your life and how you solved it.

Be prepared with a short answer that shows you’re resourceful. “I really wanted to go to a private university, but my parents didn’t have the money. I went to a community college for two years, worked part time and saved my money so I could attend the last two years at the college of my choice.”

Have you had difficulties getting along with supervisors or co-workers?

You’d have to be a saint to have had no problems with the people you worked with. You might answer, “Nothing major. I try to get along with everyone.”

How do you deal with stress on the job?

The employer wants to know if you’re going to run out the door when things get stressful. Ask yourself if you thrive on working with deadlines or if you need creative time to function more effectively. Think about how you handle stress and be honest. “I focus on the work I’m doing,” or, “I make time to work out at the gym.”

What salary do you want for this job?

Rather than stating a definite figure, tell the interviewer you’d expect to get somewhere in the standard range paid for this position.

Do you have questions for me?

Always have a few questions. They show that you researched the company. Ask about a current issue the company is working on or how their recent layoff in another department affected company morale.”

Working Successfully with Recruitment Consultants – Candidate Guide

We recently asked for votes from our readers and followers in our May Poll rating their experiences working with recruiters. The response was generally pretty negative with low satisfaction levels.

We think it is therefore useful to offer a guide to people in how best to choose and work with a recruiter and what to expect.

  1. Be selective about which recruiter you work with.

    Do your research before you send them your CV. Ask your colleagues/friends for recommendations, see who is rated highly on places such as LinkedIn – just be thorough! A job search is an important process and must be handled correctly. You wouldn’t buy a house without doing the necessary checks so why would you treat a job search any differently? We suggest you check the following:

    • Does the consultant know your market area? Can they therefore advise you properly on the companies you should be targeting based on your experiences?
    • Do they have the connections in the industry to be able to add any value to your search or are they firing CVs blindly into HR email addresses? If you speak to a recruiter you will soon be able to tell and if it is the latter, you may as well send CVs to HR yourself!
    • Are they honest with you? Most people complain to us that they speak to a recruiter and never hear from them again. We ALWAYS say if we cannot help someone and we are happy to give advice on how people can perhaps secure options directly themselves.
  1. Understand what we do.

    Recruiters are employed and paid by clients to find them candidates who they find difficult to find themselves. Depending on the market conditions, clients can be very open or very closed to who they wish to be introduced to them. Right now (June 2012) clients are more prepared to wait for people that tick all the boxes. Therefore if a recruiter is responding to say that they probably cannot assist you then please do not take offence. This is because we know our clients well and what our clients will consider. Take the feedback on board and focus your future search on the basis of the response.

  1. Understand recruiters receive MANY applications for positions every day.

    Therefore be very careful and targeted in what you apply for.

    • Don’t send your CV to all open positions multiple times, particularly if the positions are for a range of job titles. For example, if you are an architect, send your details to the architect jobs listed.
    • Please carefully read the job requirements. If a skill is listed that you do not have, please remember the clients have asked recruiters to find people with that skill – they won’t pay a recruiter a fee for someone that doesn’t have it. A common example in Asia is the requirement for someone with language skills, usually Mandarin, and/or locally based experience. It is no good asking a recruiter if the client is prepared to consider someone that doesn’t have this – rest assured, we will say in our job descriptions if a client is willing to do so!
    • Due to the high volume of applications, recruiters simply cannot respond to every application they receive. If you strongly feel you should be considered for an advertised position then by all means follow up. If you are speculatively asking a recruiter if they can find you a job, please see point 2.
  1. Work with one good recruiter

    There is no need to work with multiple recruiters. Most of you have specific skills and experiences and your market sectors are therefore generally pretty small. Whilst it is tempting to try to cover all options by using many recruiters, this type of approach often results in duplications and a lot of time is then spent trying to figure out where your details have gone. If you follow the advice in Point 1 above, you will find a recruiter that can add value to your search and may be able to present you with a few options based on your experiences. A good recruiter is also one who is honest in telling you if they cannot help – the very best will actually take the time to point you in the right direction so you can help yourself.

  1. Please take (a good recruiters) advice on board.

    For example, if a recruiter advises you to revise your CV, this is because they know what their clients will look for. If a recruiter gives you advice on how to interview successfully with their client, this is because they are helping you maximise your chance of receiving an offer. We work in recruitment, full-time, every day and know how companies go about hiring their staff. The best of us are considered essential partners by our clients so when we are offering advice, we are representing what our client partners are looking for.

The important overall point to remember is that recruiters work for their client companies – they ultimately pay our fees and are the reason the recruitment business exists. Whilst the best of us can sometimes help people to find a job by providing them with ideas and options, it is very dependent on that person’s skills and the needs/sentiment of the market at that time. If you go to a recruiter expecting them to simply find you a job then you are likely to be disappointed. However, if you go into the process having followed the points above and are open to guidance and feedback, then working with a recruiter can be an extremely rewarding and positive experience.

There are of course recruiters out there who unfortunately do give our industry a bad name – common complaints usually centre around a lack of honesty or lack of follow up on actions promised. A lot of candidates also tell us that other recruiters just fire their details out blindly to the market. We are pretty confident that if you follow the guide above you will find yourself working with a consultant more likely to be able to assist you (even if it’s just with some good advice) and avoiding those recruiters who’s sole focus is on quantity rather than quality. We know this guide is relatively direct in it’s tone but at the same time we hope it provides a refreshing, yet honest, guideline on how to make the most out of your experience of working with a recruiter.

We are available for any further advice or tips – just drop us a note in the comments at the bottom of this post!

Opinion Poll: February 2012

*POLL NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR VOTES*

We have a lot of candidates currently out on interview and thought it would be a good opportunity for us to find out what our readers expect to get from attending an interview. Are you just information gathering? Are you aiming to get an offer from every interview you attend? From the following, please select up to 3 which you feel are the most important things you are looking to get when you attend an interview – we’ll discuss the results, as usual, at the end of the month in our Monthly Update. No need to tell us where you are this month either as it’s a relatively generic poll which is perhaps less location specific than most.

Interviewing Techniques Revisited

As it is the New Year now and more and more of our candidates will be out there interviewing with our clients, we thought this could be a very good time to highlight some of our top articles that cover interviewing techniques. Whether you are speaking to someone by telephone, video interviewing from overseas or meeting people for the 2nd or 3rd time, our articles should have you covered!

Click on the links below to learn more:

Interviewing Basics – as the name suggests, this gives you a overview of how to prepare and be successful at interview

How To Interview SuccessfullyPart 1 and Part 2 – this goes into a lot more detail and forms the basis of any interview preparation we go through with our candidates

Telephone and Video InterviewsPart 1 and Part 2 – if you cannot meet the interviewer face-to-face then please make sure you read through our advice on how to interview remotely by telephone or via video (Skype etc)

If you are a recent design graduate then we have a 3 part series which not only covers interviews but the whole job application process – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

And finally Some More Tips On Interviewing with links to other articles on the matter.

Of course, the interview is just the start of the process – make sure you know how to follow up after you have interviewed by reading our related post here.

We can provide tailored and specific interview advice for almost any scenario – if you have any questions as a result of these articles please don’t hesitate to drop us an email info@ellicottlong.com or leave a comment to this article. Monthly Update to follow next week!