Three Tips From My Conversations With Job Seekers (Part 2)

In my last post, I wrote about three tips for job seekers who are going for interviews. The gist is if you are going to spend 30 minutes to speak with the prospective company, please put on a good attitude. That will speak well of you, even if you are not offered a place eventually.

I continue sharing here further thoughts about what job seekers should prepare for if they receive an opportunity for a conversation. Hopefully my sharing from my conversations with job seekers will prompt you to be better prepared for your next opportunity.

1. The truth is … first impression counts.

You have a credible list of credentials. Your experiences sound like what the company needs. But remember this, those only get you to an interview slot.

We started the session with a round of introductions. Then the chair of the session posed the first question to her. She was unsure of her response and took a while to find the right words. Worse, when the second question was asked, she could not link her first response to the second question, and instead talked about how she could contribute to my department’s work in an area we don’t even handle.

She managed to calm herself down subsequently. Towards the end, I could see glimpses of her potential from her responses. I could also see the expression from one of my panellists, how this candidate can fit into one of the teams.

Unfortunately, she was not shortlisted. The reason? She fumbled at the start and that created the wrong impression in the panellists. If the majority of panellists is not convinced that this person is the right fit, it is difficult for the candidate to clear the hurdle.

2. Job descriptions are meant to be mined.

I always remind myself to write as simply what the position requires. What amazes me is that applicants don’t read the descriptions carefully.

Some applicants assumed the job requires the person to be skilled in the particular area, only to realise that the job also needs them to have basic working knowledge of the sector they will be working in. While chatting with applicants interested in doing media design work, some showed us their abstract designs, but they are unsuitable themes for the engagement pieces we are hoping to create to reach out to those in education.

In other instances, applicants who say they want to work with students with special needs fail to understand that the position we put up requires them to work with school leaders and teachers at the higher levels, rather than in the capacity of supporting students directly. Some even assume that the students in question refer to a particular group in schools.

There will always be those who read through the description and ask sharp questions. Like one candidate who asked if the successful person will work alone or in teams, or the other person who asked if we work with other ministries to achieve the outcomes we want.

3. Show an open mind when you respond to questions.

If you are looking for a change in career trajectory, say so. If you are searching for better prospects, say it too. If you do not know much about the position, be open about it. Being honest is good because it helps you learn more about the position and it helps the panel make a more informed choice too.

Nobody wants working relationships that become strained because of mismatch in expectations or because people come to uncover issues later.

One candidate expressed interest in wanting to work on special needs. Yet when I did a check with the principal of her school, I was told that this candidate does not have much work experience with this student segment. The principal also added that this candidate does not sign up for courses in this area when approached too.

Another shared that she is interested in special education schools in general and would like to work closely with them. It was only later that we found out that she has a child in one of these schools. Why did this candidate not share with us first? If she had been open with us, we would have understood her interest in these schools. We will also not ask ourselves why the candidate decided not to reveal this information from us too, and if there is any hidden agenda in deciding not to reveal this earlier.


This concludes part 2 of my sharing from my conversations with job seekers. I will continue with another post on additional thoughts for job seekers. I hope this has been useful for your reflection.

What is one advice you will have for those looking for a job?

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