Surviving that summer job interview


Corey I. Lindner, Youthlink Writer

Many of us will be seeking employment this summer and though there's no guarantee we'll be blessed with this privilege, we still need to put measures in place that will make us ready should the opportunity arise. Mastering an interview is key to landing a job. The interview process can be excruciating but it may just determine whether or not you're chosen for the job. Youthlink wants the best for you so we contacted Dwayne Hickey, human resource officer at Jamaica National Building Society, to share tips on how to survive a job interview.

What are four things persons should be conscious about during a job interview?

Dwayne Hickey: Be conscious:
1. About your level of enthusiasm for the job.
2. When answering question, listen carefully and give quick, honest and appropriate responses.
3. About non-verbal signals, including appearance, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc.
4. About demonstrating your level of knowledge and research about the organisation and the job.

It is only natural for someone to be nervous in such a setting and situation. What can a person do when his/her nerves begin to act up?

Remind yourself that you were selected for an interview because the company has an interest in what you may have to offer; you're just there to prove them right. See the interview as a conversation; once you have done your research and you know what you are about, not even a little nerve should derail you. Remember, nervousness is never the cause for anyone not being successful in an interview.

Politics and religion are two controversial and sensitive topics. How do you think a person should approach questions on these topics?

You cannot be discriminated against based on religion. If this happens then it simply means the company does not share your values, so move on to the next job. Never compromise your religious belief for the sake of getting a job. It may just come back to haunt you. Never encourage partisan activities in the workplace, however, if cornered to respond, state your views intelligently without insulting others. Keep it brief.

How should one approach the issue of salary if it's not discussed/outlined by the interviewer? Is a question like "How much will I be paid" appropriate?

Usually, the interviewer asks how much you would be willing to accept for a salary. It is expected that you would have done your research to give a response in terms of range, eg $80,000 to $100,000 gross or net pay. Never dodge this question. If you are not asked, it is appropriate to ask the interviewer the rate of payment towards the end of the interview. Where the response is not favourable or no salary is given, do not insist.

What are some of the documents you'd encourage an individual to travel with when going on an interview?

The candidate should present proof of qualifications as listed in the résumé, identification card, proof of name change, birth certificate, TRN and NIS.

It is very important to be on time but suppose an emergency arises prior to the interview time, and it will result in lateness, how should one manage such a crisis?

The candidate should estimate how late he or she will be, contact the designated person at the company, advise him or her of the situation, apologise for the delay then request the opportunity to still attend the interview despite the delay. Upon arrival, apologise for the delay before proceeding to answer any interview question.

Practice makes perfect. Do you encourage persons to rehearse answers to possible questions?

Yes, for those who are slow thinkers it is good to have a framework to guide responses to questions. It shows that you are well prepared. However, rehearsing does not mean you should memorise, word for word. It can make you seem robotic and mundane to the interviewer.

There are online articles that urge persons to send a letter or email to the interviewer a day later expressing gratitude and expectancy. Is this a common practice in Jamaica? Should a prospective summer employee follow this trend?

I would not say it is a common practice. However, while it can add value, it does not guarantee success in the recruitment process; summer employees can but they don't really need to.

On an average, how soon after the interview should one expect notification about whether or not he/she was selected for the summer - employment programme?

It varies, but it's reasonable to expect notification within three weeks.

Is it necessary to follow up with the interviewer to find out if he/she was successful?

The summer employee will be notified whether he or she is successful after an interview, so contacting the employer would not add any value to the process.