They do not take time to reflect on what they really want. As one seasoned recruiter from a Human Resource department of an international fashion company puts it, “Too much effort is spent on trying to impress and giving the ‘right’ answers. Few provide windows to their true selves.”
Most resort to clichés, parroting replies gleaned directly from interview guides. “Everyone claims they are ‘dynamic’ and purport to ‘love’ challenges. They promise to give 150 per cent of commitment and pledge undivided loyalty. While these are things we like to hear, we wonder about the degree of sincerity.”
In the context of management trainee candidates, interviewers are not looking for ‘yes’ men (and women!). The onus is on talent, so that the company can enjoy continuous progress in terms of expansions and diversifi cation. In order to utilise talent and take it to its fullest potential, the organisation must know who it is hiring. For a management trainee candidate to express this convincingly, there is a need to set aside time for self-examination.
WHO ARE YOU?
Start inward by analysing your own personality. Are you a born leader or are you the type who prefers to let others make decisions? Do you really like challenges and if so, in what form? When confronted with a problem, how do you usually react? Do you prefer to work in a team or do you rather stick to yourself? Do you like travelling or are you a homebody?
Then, list down what are your life goals, and be honest about whether you will have the means or ways of realising them. Would you be content driving your mother’s MyVi for the rest of your life or are you looking to own an Audi A6 in the near future? If it’s the latter you want, what are you going to do to finance the payments?
Write all this down in big, clear handwriting, and paste them up. From here, you should be able to form a picture of your whole as we call it and build up a positive self-description.
In any case, there are no right or wrong answers. If you’d rather be a follower or that a desk job is more appealing than the prospect of jetting from one city to the next, so be it. The key here is to be clear about your own stand before you walk through the door. This will enable you to give your interviewers an honest account of yourself. Nothing can be more irritating than a candidate who has no idea of his own personal direction. Even worse if he is sniffed out as a bluff!
IS IT REALLY WHAT YOU WANT?
The job that you are applying for also needs serious thought. Are you really sure what you are going to sign up for is for you? Or are you just pursuing the programme for the sake of better income? If it’s the money that you are after, do you think you can learn to embrace the programme’s core values?
Again, there are no wrong answers. It has often been touted that one should have passion for one’s vocation but the truth is when poverty knocks on the door, love will fl y out the window. Better income translates to a comfier lifestyle, not to mention opportunities for further learning. If you are able to see the long-term benefits of the programme and articulate this to your interviewers, it will be a step in the right direction.
Bear in mind that the fresh graduate will also need to go the extra mile by finding out what the job entails. Being clear about the job requirement, and finding out if you are able to fulfil the requirements is a good start. With research, you will also learn about the company and its philosophies. Then, ask if you are able to identify and agree with the organisation’s goals. Ultimately, you will have to make a significant contribution towards its realisation and this is not something that one can do without faith.
Herein, it is important to look beyond the impressive veneer that is presented in websites and recruitment brochures. If it is stated that trainees will be given the opportunity of exposure, find out how this will be done. Connecting with someone within the organisation and getting a first-person account will give you a clearer picture.
STICK TO YOUR VALUES
Just before the interview, do note that there is a misperception that interviewers enjoy nothing more than shredding one’s confidence to bits. In reality, they are testing you. Case in point: A prospective candidate for a sales management trainee was asked how she was going to deal with team members who make the same mistakes continuously. She answered that the best examples should come from a leader. They then asked how she would feel if she had to constantly stay back to clean up after someone’s mess. When she said that she would only tolerate it for so many times, they added a ‘what if’ in the form of the recalcitrant staff being the boss’s relative. It was only when the candidate embarked on a five-minute speech on professionalism, interpersonal communication and the need for psychology, did the panel finally relent. In a short time, this candidate was able to show that she was diplomatic, hands on firm and in possession of the soft skills needed in a team leader.
Lastly, remember to relax. One useful mindset to adopt is to look at the interview session as a get-to-know-you session. Another is to remind yourself that if you ace it, good for you. If you don’t, then don’t beat yourself up over it. Things happen for a reason, and there is a big maybe that your destiny may lie with another who deserves your talents.
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash