'Interviewers' put six candidates on the spot
In a meeting room permeated with palpable nervousness, six candidates in formal business attire were concentrating hard as they listened carefully to interviewers' questions, awaiting their turn to answer.
In this group interview, simulating those widely used by job recruiters, a total of 24 semi-finalists of the ACCA Job Hunting Competition strove to impress the two judges, who had assumed the role of job interviewers. Contestants were asked to make a brief self-introduction in Putonghua, followed by a session in which each fielded questions about themselves in Cantonese or English. The session ended with a group discussion in English on social networking's impact.
'Because all the semi-finalists major in accounting or related fields, I could sense their logical thinking and analytical ability,' said one judge, Quinny Chan, a senior consultant at Michael Page International.
The other judge, Rebecca Chan, also a Michael Page consultant, was impressed with the semi-finalists' eagerness to enter the accounting profession. 'They all share a passion for a career in accounting,' she said.
Quinny agreed. 'The semi-finalists were keen on sharing their internship experiences on tackling numerical matters and their involvement in financial statements.'
Rebecca thought the contestants did well in the self-introduction section after acquiring experience in internships or student exchange programmes. 'They also did well in the Q&A segment,' Quinny said. 'Many were able to think on their feet and illustrate their points by citing examples.'
Corporations often use group discussions to identify team players, especially in recruiting graduates, who are likely to begin working in a team. 'Many demonstrate communication and other soft skills in such discussions,' said Quinny. 'Interviewers assess whether individual candidates respect others' ideas and let the others participate in the discussion.'
The contest semi-final group discussion centred on current affairs because judges wanted to see if contestants paid any attention to what happens around them. 'Employers look for individuals with broadened horizons and all-round skills in addition to solid academic credentials,' noted Quinny.
Both advised finalists to prepare by anticipating questions. 'They can prioritise the main points in their answers based on time constraints,' Quinny said. 'They can be selective and focus on elaborating on one or two points so that others can have a good grasp of their ideas and it helps make a good impression.'