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.

How to Answer the Job Interview Question: “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

The dreadful “Why Do You Want to Work Here?” question has spoiled many careers and is continuing to do so. Quite often, candidates do not even realize that this particular question became one of the reasons why they were rejected. They answered it honestly and they never said anything negative — just the truth, like: “I know I can make a good contribution to this company”, or “This company’s products are awesome”, or “my relative, who works here, has told me many positive things about your company”.

In fact, these seemingly harmless answers do not add any scores to the candidate. Even more: they may create some air of disappointment in the hiring manager’s mind, because they let the hiring manager see that the candidate did not understand the basic approach which he/she should follow in a job interview.

By asking every particular question, a hiring manager expects to hear a certain kind of answer. The “secret” is simple: he/she is not interested to hear about the benefits that this job is going to bring you as a candidate; instead, he/she expects that your answer will focus on the benefits of using your professional potential and talent for the benefit of the employer.

Therefore, your answer should not be focusing on your personal interests, but rather it should demonstrate understanding of the employer’s needs. Do you feel the difference? Yeah, this is the sad truth. Well, if so, how should you approach to answering this question then?

The method is quite simple. You need to follow a few steps:

First, and this will be necessary for answering all questions in the interview — learn as much as you can about the employer company, the position, and if possible – about your interviewers. This may help you a lot when you compose your answer with the focus on the company, not yourself.

As the next step, do not forget to keep focusing on the employer company’s needs in your answer: on the quality of their products, or on their reputation, or on some statistics about the company that you managed to find while researching the information about the employer.

Here are a couple of sample answers which are worth looking at. In both examples I underlined the phrases which you may want to use when putting together your own sample answer to this interview question:

Example 1:

I have always been very impressed with the quality of your products (or: with your innovative approaches to… / the company’s attention to customers needs, etc.). With the high quality of your products, marketing them almost feels like a public service. I would greatly enjoy helping you to continue to innovate and to increase your market share.

Example 2:

This company has the reputation of being one of the leading …-producers in the country, with a list of impressive customers such as … . The company is a frequent participant of trade fairs, exhibitions, biennale and various international events. These are signs that this firm is a leader, not a follower. With my background in …, I’m very interested in applying the newest technology (methodology, etc.) plus common sense practices to keep this sensitive information as safe as possible.

Finally, it is always good to remain calm and confident during the job interview. Even if you are not a perfect match for this particular job, they may like you and want to hire you. They may find the right place for you in the long run. So keep trying to show them your best sides and do your best to win that interview. 

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