On the 31st of January 2020 Ziyana Business Consulting and Training hosted its first Career Readiness Workshop in Centurion. The workshop is aimed at students, graduates and young professionals who are looking to enter the workforce or progress in their careers. The speakers at the workshop covered various topics that would assist the attendees of the workshop to gain insight on the recruitment process and give them a competitive edge in entering the workforce.
Our speaker, Sabelo Ntenga a Senior HR Business Partner at a financial institution started off the workshop speaking on interview techniques. He highlighted the expectations of employers from candidates during the interview process. These include candidates applying themselves during interviews, giving comprehensive responses to questions and not only relying on qualifications to get the position but preparing for interviews. As part of the speaker’s introduction he touched on the belief that some might have that you need to know someone in an organisation to get the job which is not the case, poor preparation for interviews is the biggest hindrance for most candidates to get to the employment offer stage.
Our speaker explained the 3 phases of the interview process for candidates. The first phase is “Before the interview” at this stage the candidate must prepare him/herself by researching the organisations scope, culture, structure and current affairs. This research will assist the candidate in determining the suitable dress code for the interview and know more about the individuals who will be on the interview panel. The job specification of the position can be used as a tool to prepare for possible questions. However, it was also mentioned that “you need to be prepared for the questions that you have not prepared for”.
The types of questions that are asked in interviews have evolved and there has been a shift from asking candidates about their strengths and weaknesses but focusing on the candidates competencies. Employers are now making use of work sample tests which require candidates to be practical during the interview process. When it comes to appearance candidates must remember that first impressions last, candidates must wear clean pressed clothing and dress a level higher to the position they are being interviewed for. Candidates may also be required to bring materials during the interview such as portfolios of evidence, certifications and C.V’s. Candidates need to ensure that documents are updated, correctly sequenced and bring enough copies if it is a panel interview.
Lastly it is important for candidates to plan their journey. The logistics that need to be taken into consideration include traffic depending on which time of the day the interview is scheduled, finding the correct parking as some organisations have designated visitor entrances or parking and the security procedures for visitors to gain access to the building. Sabelo emphasises that in instances whereby candidates are late for an interview it is important to provide an excuse. Furthermore he highlights that lateness interrupts the scheduling of other interviews.
The second phase of the interview process is “during the interview”. Our speaker mentioned that it is important to make a good first impression and being pleasant to deal with. Candidates must be mindful of their body language by avoiding distracting movements, objects and remain calm. Nerves are normal but candidates need to remain in control of their nerves as failure to do so can result in a poor interview.
Candidates need to answer questions appropriately and in order to do so it requires understanding the question. Repeating a question back to the interviewer for clarity is a technique candidates can use to ensure understanding. The interviewer may ask negative questions. These questions are about unsuccessful moments and the intention of these questions is for the interviewer to gain insight on how you deal with such moments.
Sabelo discusses the STAR approach as a technique to respond to competency based questions.
• Situation/Task – Candidates to give an example of a situation they had experienced in their work environment.
• Action – What actions were taken in that situation
• Result – Candidates must describe the outcome or impact of their actions.
Our speaker advised that the STAR response candidates give must be a recent experience and if the candidates have not faced a particular experience they should not omit the question but rather give an answer of how they would handle the situation.
Candidates are encouraged to be brave and not scared of having different views. It is okay to skip a question but you must revert back later. Candidates need to understand that interviews are a dialogue and they are encouraged to ask questions at the end of the interview.
The last phase is “closure of the interview”. Candidates must have a good understanding of their value and personal brand. If candidates have made a good impression they can solidify that impression at the end by thanking the interviewer/panel. Candidates must be mindful that throughout the shortlisting process there is a scoring method and the interview gives you an opportunity to make up for areas that could be a shortfall in your scoring.