A recent Classified Postsurvey found that when it comes to interviewing candidates for management training programmes, employers at dozens of leading multinational and local corporations value a sense of responsibility, an outgoing personality and a proactive attitude.
Respondents were from a broad range of sectors, such as banking and financial services, telecommunications, consumer products, and legal and professional services.
Some 92 per cent of them said it was important for candidates to have a sense of responsibility. Almost 80 per cent considered an outgoing personality to be important. A proactive attitude was ranked as important by 94 per cent of the respondents. Confidence was considered an important attribute by 86 per cent of the respondents.
Some 80 per cent of respondents said a candidate's performance at a job interview was very important. Employers said candidates should be prepared for individual and group interviews, as almost 40 per cent of respondents said they conducted both types. Respondents also said they expected candidates to have studied their companies' backgrounds before the interview and 42 per cent believe they should also have studied industry trends.
More than 90 per cent of respondents ranked skills in English, Cantonese and Putonghua, and overall communication ability as important soft skills, while 88 per cent ranked problem-solving and teamwork abilities as important. In terms of hard skills, 82 per cent said the ability to use Microsoft Office software was important.
Almost 90 per cent of respondents said not showing up for an interview was the worst mistake a candidate could make, while an equal number of companies said arriving late or unprepared were also serious gaffes. Some 65 per cent said a long resume also hurts a candidate's chances.
The job market for university graduates is buoyant and demand is expected to stay strong next year, says Callan Anderson, group general manager of recruitment consultant Gemini Personnel.
The significant increase in the number of job postings in the Joint Institution Job Information System
(JIJIS) reflects this trend. In the first five months of this year, companies in several industries increased their job postings in JIJIS by 50 per cent compared with the same period last year. The industries are: electricity, trading, hospitality and tourism, communications, financial institutions, engineering, and architectural and technical services.
A well-structured resume is essential, Anderson says. "Candidates should put down a profile to express the skills and knowledge they can bring to the prospective employers," he says.
Simple answers are inadequate at job interviews, Anderson says. "Candidates should prepare a 14-second `elevator speech' when they are asked what they would do."
Putting the right foot forward
Companies offering management trainee programmes consider a sense of responsibility, outgoing personality and confidence as very important attributes
Candidates are expected to prepare for interviews by studying companies' backgrounds and industry trends
Resumes should emphasise the skills and knowledge candidates can bring to prospective employers