I was a staffing manager for two years in Las Vegas with a company called Benchmark, a subsidiary of Robert Half International, which was once again named to FORTUNE® magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, ranking #1 in the industry on March 1, 2015. In those two years, I interviewed at least 2,000 individuals and placed many of them in different companies.
One of the most important things I learned as an interviewer was how to properly match a candidate with a particular company since there were many kinds of individuals seeking different positions, and there were many kinds of companies, each seeking different kinds of employees as well. While many failed miserably because they were either unprepared or not competitive enough, there were a few that would make you want to call a corporate client right away and tell them all about this new great candidate you have. I have placed individuals from assembly line positions to executive positions.
I came to the Philippines about 10 years ago, and I have co-founded the American Institute for English Proficiency with my friend and business partner, Paulo Magbuhos, whom I met at a call center we both worked at. I first came for a visit, but I decided to stay a little longer, and when I went to apply at the call center, even with no call center experience, I was hired as a team manager.
After five weeks at the call center in their training program, I decided that I would instead build my own business, and since then, I have also interviewed many teachers who wanted to be a part of the company. Furthermore, we started working with potential call center agents, recruiting and training them for the BPO industry. We have interviewed thousands, and we’ve placed many of them at Convergys, Hinduja, VXI, and other call centers.
So why do many people fail to pass the interview and get hired? Why, after having gone through high school and college, do we still lack interviewing skills? Generally, most of those I interviewed failed because of appearance, intelligence, and skill. Of course, there are other specific reasons why others failed, but generally speaking, most interviewers concentrate on these things first. These words can be very ambiguous, so let’s look at them one by one as they could mean many different things to different people.
The way you look says a lot about you. As soon as your interviewer sees you, they are already making an impression on you, and most studies suggest that hiring managers know right away whether they like someone or not based on the person’s appearance. Though it would certainly help to be goodlooking, pretty, hot, gorgeous, sexy, handsome, or beautiful, it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have the artistahin look, you will have a hard time finding a job. It simply means that you should look neat and clean, which tells your interviewer that you’re the kind of person who takes care of himself and would care enough to look good, which could also mean that you care enough about details.
When your hair is clean-cut, your clothes are pressed, your nails are clean, you smell good, and you have a bright smile with a pleasant face, the interviewer will judge you more favorably. If you are sloppy, sweaty, untidy, and smelly, you are putting off the interviewer. It wouldn’t hurt to be in shape as well, but as long as you look healthy and polished, you are on the right track.
When we’re talking about intelligence, we are not talking about rocket scientists or Albert Einstein. We are also not talking about how much information you know. Intelligence can mean many things, and to most interviewers in the corporate workplace, it means critical thinking, your ability to analyze or problem solve. Hiring managers nowadays complain about the quality of college graduates because they lack this one very important skill. Most graduates may have the knowledge of their respective field, but what distinguishes a more hire-able graduate from the one who is not hire-worthy is that the former can think, synthesize, assess, determine, and recommend, whereas the latter merely recites or regurgitates data. Simply put, the critical thinker can work through complex ideas and situations, and the non-critical thinker would find it difficult to work through difficluties.
Looking smart and being smart are just halfway there. You must have the goods to prove your worth as well. The skill you have should not only be specific to the job you want; you must also consider how well you do it. For example, if you are going to be a web designer, how skillful are you really? Are you a beginner, intermediate, or at the expert level? Competition is stiff, so knowing how to web design is not enough. You must be better than the others who also want the same job.
Are you constantly updating your skills? Do you know the difference among good, great, and excellent? Do you know what mastery means? If you are just beginning your career, are you better than those who are also just beginning their career? Or are you the same? Other than the specific skill for your job, you should also possess one soft skill that is very important: communication skills. How well do you express your ideas? How’s your English? As you already know, most employers are looking for those who are able to communicate effectively with international clients.
To summarize, interviewing doesn’t have to be a painful experience. It becomes excruciating only when you are not prepared, and mediocrity has become your best friend. You do not need to fear the interviewer when you look good, you think well, and you do well. To achieve that, you must constantly upgrade your appearance, intelligence, and skill. At the American Institute for English Proficiency, we can help guide you to your dream job or career goals. We can start with your English and communication skills.
In my next post, I will be writing about strategies on how to answer questions like
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why should we not hire you?
- Tell me a time when you failed.
- Give us an example of an achievement.
- What questions do you have?