Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tackling campus interviews
I.M. Soni

Employers who come to a campus to interview candidates are seeking to fill career openings in open areas, but today’s demand for technically skilled people offers more to specialists. Research has shown that it is the specialised individual who has a better chance of entry in the job market.

An on-campus interview is one way to enter a career. It is the softest because the employer comes to the employee.

The direct approach may open a closed door. You may be able to make a favourable impression. This approach can simulate employer interest, lead to an offer interview, and with some skill and luck, result in a job offer for you.

The strategy involves knowing the status and area of responsibility of the individual with whom you are seeking contact. By researching the organisation, you can find out the individual who is responsible for hiring in the area to which your contribution of skills, interests and experience will be the greatest. This is the contact with whom you want to make an appointment.

Your task is either to risk a bold strategy that will "impress" some and "depress" others or to take a middle-of-the-road approach that is not likely to affect anyone, one way or the other.

Your task is to identify the individual who has the power to hire you and to show him or her how your skills can increase the efficiency of that organisation.

You may say that you appreciate the responsibilities and activities of his or her position. Tell the employer that you have been doing some studies on the company, they may be specific to that organisation.

One word of caution: Be sure you have got a good answer once you get in through the front door. If you lack experience, you will need to work long and hard for some sound answers or risk embarrassment and no to an employment offer. Practise role playing. All this work and research is worth it.

It is crucial to know where your contribution can be the greatest and most helpful for an organisation. Some good personal contact can help you determine the right areas for you and discover the individual who has the hiring power there. Know a little about this individual, it can work to your benefit by using personal contacts to learn about an employer’s idiosyncrasies. You can increase your chances of turning him on rather than off.

Enable him to view and evaluate you as a potential source of help to his organisation, rather than as one of 100 job applicants. With follow-up and some ability on your part, you can increase your chances of job and a career.

If you adopt this strategy, mind the three words: what, where and how. "What" designates your skills — what you can do; "where" indicates where you can use your skills. "How" — how do you identify those places, and then how do you get hired there?

After identifying your skills and the organisation, you can initiate a meeting with someone who has the power to hire. Play yourself. Do not overplay your role.

Once you are in the meeting, your questions should be well-informed, and based on research of the organisation’s operating procedures. People love to talk about what they do in a job and are usually more than happy to talk to you in this context.

You can now seek other organisations and resource people. Through this, you are becoming more visible to employing organisations in which your interests and skills are applicable.

A return visit will begin to bring an employment perspective into view. Discussing specific job activities and responsibilities, as well as taking the more traditional job-hunting steps are now appropriate.

Having narrowed down the possibilities to four or five that really interest you, you now seek an actual job there. At that point and only at that point, you now become candidate and the employers or organisations, or employee.

This process takes courage and confidence, but it is workable and capable of bringing you success. The more you do it, the more you will feel comfortable in your increased competency.

Its emphasis is on knowing yourself, knowing the work world, as well as meeting people who can potentially offer you jobs.

It is difficult to argue against a process that urges you to use as many means as possible to secure a job. How much effort and hassle you put into attaining that initial position? It is your decision as you alone are the beneficiary.