Panellists advise job seekers to be themselves

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am

WHEN ANSWERING QUESTIONS in job interviews, there is no such thing as a surefire correct reply, so the best strategy is still to sit up straight, make yourself heard and show your true colours.

This was a prevailing theme highlighted by a panel of industry leaders during the Classified Post seminar on 'The Money Business - How to start a banking and finance career' held on March 13.

The speakers gave pointers on how to behave during job interviews to enhance one's chances and outlined how better communication skills could provide a career boost.

According to the panellists, interviewees often forgot the importance of just being themselves.

Eva Chau Yee-wah, co-head of human capital management at investment bank Goldman Sachs, said that nowadays, most companies would probably be more interested in a candidate's personal attributes than in specific academic achievements.

Financial institutions put a premium on personal honesty and integrity in light of the spate of high-profile financial scandals that have hit the headlines in recent years.

Ms Chau said that candidates typically embellished their resumes by mentioning memberships of societies or participation in extra-curricular activities. She emphasised, though, that this was not enough because mere membership did not demonstrate the crucial leadership qualities that investment banks and other employers preferred to see. Instead, students should look at taking on key decision-making roles.

Ms Chau also said that networking helped strengthen candidates' chances of landing their desired job. Making contacts allowed them to get a better understanding of the work involved and to know more about the culture of different companies.

Fellow panellist Paul Sham Ho-chung, vice-president at public relations agency Ketchum Newscan Hong Kong, offered advice on effective communication in the workplace.

'You have to consider the other person's position, what you have to offer him and how you can meet them midway,' he said.

The panel, moderated by Linda Tsui Yee-wan, president of the Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals' Association, also took questions from the floor. Issues raised by the audience included a request for advice on how to handle an overwhelming volume of e-mail correspondence, how staff should respond when employers engaged in borderline illegal business activities and whether candidates should send thank-you notes to prospective employers after a job interview.