Job Interview Was Too Short? That’s Probably a Bad News for You.

Oleksandr Shelegéda, currently a controlling specialist in financial services, is our interviewee at One on One column today. Oleksandr has 7+ years of experience in finance and change management. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and interpreting in Kharkiv Technical University, Oleksandr continued his education and obtained a Master’s degree in Project Management. One of his most memorable experiences is working for OSCE observing missions. To learn more about him, visit Oleksandr’s LinkedIn page.

Rina: How long have you been studying English? When did you first realize that you can communicate in it fluently and well enough to be able to live and work in the English language environment?

Oleksandr: I set off on my way of learning English when I was 6 y.o. It was in a small town in the Western part of Ukraine, in a small school, and with a new teacher every couple of years. There was more fun than learning in it to me. Probably, the first time I started to believe that I could speak and understand English was on the day of 9.11.2001. On that day, one of the TV channels was going live without translation and I was interpreting all that to my family.

Rina: Can you recall your first job interview?

Oleksandr: I’ve been on interviews since my University times so I can’t remember the very one. My personal attitude towards interviews in general is that you should go there quite often, just in case. Even if your job is good and you don’t want to change it in the next year. Just try to analyze the information you get there. This skill will only come if you practice a lot.

Rina: Of all the interviews you have been through, what question do you always find the trickiest and the most difficult to answer?

Oleksandr: Once you’ve had enough experience, everything becomes normal for you. You should never be afraid of saying no or I don’t know during interviews. The hardest thing for me now is to keep myself from laughing when I hear some old fashioned questions, like Where do you see yourself in 5 years? or What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Rina: Have you ever had to answer absolutely unexpected questions that took you by surprise? How did you answer them?

Oleksandr: Sometimes recruiters would like to find a person with excellent knowledge of specific areas and they ask you questions out of your working field, like, What kinds of books for kids do you prefer? when you are applying to be an accountant.

Rina: Are you always nervous during the interviews? Does your emotional state during the interview affect your presentation in English? If yes, in what way? How do you prepare for your interviews every time when you get an appointment?

Oleksandr: I would say that it is normal to be a bit nervous before or even during interviews. To me, it really helps when I realize that I am also here to check how good is the company for me, and is it not only them who are in charge of the interview. Also, it always helps to think about possible ways of communication with interviewers beforehand. In this case, you will always have something to say and you won’t be scared.

Rina: How long do your interviews normally last? Do you feel more confident in the beginning or in the end of an interview?

Oleksandr: I would say that usually it takes from 30 to 60 min for a good interview. If it is too short, that’s probably a bad news for you. If it is too long, it may mean that the interviewers are nervous themselves or are unprepared, and then you can’t understand what are they looking for. You should probably forget about them and switch to other opportunities.

Rina: Can you remember any situations of using (not using) particular English words/phrases that influenced your communication with the interviewer? Were there any situations of misunderstanding because of misused words or mistakes made by you or by interviewers? Share any stories you can remember.

Oleksandr: It is always great when you know the necessary terminology in English. Sometimes it can also help when you give an explanation to the interviewers about a specific topic in order to sync with them. That helps in both ways – they can see that you know the topic, and you are not afraid that you are being wrong with your answers.

Rina: What is the best way to refresh your English communication skills before a job interview? How do you usually prepare for coming interviews? How much time does it usually take you?

Oleksandr: It is really hard to prepare yourself for this before the interview, especially when you have another job and the only time you have is a time for commuting between 2 locations. SO the only piece of advice here is to have a good rest on the night before the interview, and then to stay positive and fresh – that helps a lot.

Rina: Have you ever failed a job interview? If yes, what lesson(s) did you learn after it?

Oleksandr: It is not hard to receive a ‘no’ from recruiters. It is hard when they just ignore you and do not write back to you after the interview, not even a short message. Unfortunately, this may happen, so be prepared to send a note to them after some time if they don’t write back – and then, put them on your black list and try to forget about that interview, ASAP!

Sometimes, the recruiters provide you a feedback along with the rejection; it will help you to understand your weak points and to see what you need to learn for the future.

Rina: What kind of advice would you like to give to the young people who are about to have the first interviews of their lives?

Oleksandr: Lots of advice you can see above, so just to summarize a bit –

  • Don’t be too afraid;
  • Remember that you are going to that interview to take a look at the company and your potential manager;
  • Try to take some notes during interview, especially the names, and maybe some key questions;
  • Don’t be afraid to write back to them after a while if they never contacted you; and
  • Ask some questions, especially about general topics like their working atmosphere, their attitude towards working hours, and about payment, and about your possible colleagues and managers. This will help you make up your own opinion regarding the company.

That Smile That Can Win a Job Interview …

The video chat was not long: I needed an interpreter urgently, because the client was already waiting for my email proposal with a whole package of services. A good client, by the way, it would’ve been stupid to loose him. So, I didn’t have much time and I had to choose an interpreter to work with.

The girl seemed smart, reliable, serious and motivated, which was good. But she was so young! Her voice was child-like and she looked like a high school student. We were still talking, but I kind of knew that I was not going to hire her.

I was wrapping up the interview and saying something conventional like “It was a pleasure meeting you”, when all of a sudden she moved a bit forward toward her screen so I could see her face in close-up. She raised her hand in greeting and answered something like “I am sorry I cannot shake your hand”. Her eyes were looking directly into mine and she was smiling genuinely, showing me rows of beautiful white teeth, and I suddenly realized: that was the smile of success!

She had it in her nature, without training or spending years in international work. She was a diplomat by personality type, and so every experience was going to only develop what she’d already had from birth. That was exactly the smile I always expect to see on faces of experts in international business.

I hired her and gave her the job. In the following years, she became a wonderful assistant, and a friend, a good friend. I never regretted that I’d hired her.

So, how does it work? What kind of smile can win a job interview? During years of my career, I learned a few ‘smile-building rules’ that cannot be just  imitated: they become the background for forming the facial expression of success. Here they are:

  1. A good smile is the one that is
    relaxed. A tensed smile only shows your nervousness, but a natural
    one displays your strong ability to control yourself even in
    situations of nervousness.

  2. A smile of success shows
    confidence and independence of a person’s mind: it is not blunt or
    arrogant; it is simply a smile of a person who is completely
    self-sufficient and knows what he/she is doing.

  3. A smile of success is not about
    making jokes or showing your humorous nature; no, it is different.
    It tells everyone without words that you are intelligent and smart.
    This is a smile of politeness and respect for those who you are
    talking to.

  4. A good smile should come on a
    good moment. You should not smile all the time — just keep it like
    a trump card and pull it out when the moment is right.

  5. A good smile reflects your positive nature: it tells to
    others that you aren’t bringing problems, but quite on the opposite:
    you may become their mascot, if you know how to use it.

Well, now, try to imagine that you possess all of the qualities I listed above. Think of a skill that you are really proud of (it may be anything, from cooking delicious foods to making great tea or dancing polka, or  programming). Think about your best skill and tell about it to a looking glass. At some moment you’ll see yourself smiling. This will be the smile. Remember it.

Train it and keep it with you when you come to a meeting that’s very important to you. If this is a job interview, that smile can well get you hired.

Job Interview Tips: “Explain Why You Are Looking For a New Job”

Every time you face a hiring manager in a job interview, you should be prepared to answer questions about why you’re leaving your current job. The ‘trick’ of the question lies behind the hiring managers’ expectations: as often, they do not want to hear about your personal reasons for leaving your team or your lack of agreement with your direct boss. Rather than sharing about your problems and any negative experiences, you should build your answer around discussing the opportunities which this new position is going to open for you.

While the specifics of your answer will depend on whether you are leaving your current company voluntarily or were asked to leave, it’s very important to answer in a way that will work in your favor.

For example, you should never say that your boss is a tyrant or that your colleagues are not nice people. Even if all this is somewhat true, there is no sense or use in pointing this out in a job interview.

Instead of crafting a negative answer, simply highlight the reasons why you’re seeking the new position. For example, “I’m really looking forward to working in a collaborative environment. I do my best work as a team player.” That’s a much better and more positive response.

Your interviewers are not only interested to know about the reasons why you are looking for a new job; they also want to know why you are applying for this particular position in their company. They will also make mental notes when they hear how you speak of your current employer as a gauge to how you would speak to another employer about them. These are very important factors in the hiring decision, so it is critical that you answer this question appropriately.

There are a few mistakes that you should avoid during your interview.

1) Do not try to skip past this question with a vague answer.

2) Try not to show disdain for your duties or your current company.

3) Even if you have personal reasons closely tied to why you are leaving, do not lead with them.

4) Do not try to appear overly saddened to be planning to leave your current position; this can be a bit confusing and come off as deceitful.

The last thing you want to do is leave any doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you have fully thought through your decision to leave your current position.

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librocubicularist | nonfiction | moonlights as the host of Silent Book Club Kota Kinabalu | writes on Scrivener