Friday, July 21, 2017

An Internship Interview

 A minimum of preparation is required and expected from the candidate’s side. Here are some basic points:

First impression, this where all begins, it has to be put in mind: formal clothes + strong (not too much !) handshake + confident friendly eye contact, these are the basics !
A perfect self presentation, “So can you tell me a little about you?” This is usually the first ice-braking question of the recruiter.Follow the  3 W’s: Who, What, Why.

  •             “Who” for telling your complete name, age and your current status (final-year student, graduate, …).
  •             “What” is for what have you done in your life: 2 words about education, 1 word about extra-curricular activities and 1 word about your main interests. Don’t talk about your projects and technical background. That will come later.
  •             “Why” is of course why did you specifically apply for that company. Some standards always-working arguments are that the company works in a field that you are very interested in, the company has a distinguished learning environment, the company has a good supervision strategy (how did you know that? From an acquaintance working here)… The perfect conclusion is when you end your speech with “and this fits exactly my short-term career objectives”. This small speech shouldn’t exceed 3 minutes !

    Then the recruiter will ask you to talk about the projects that you have done. It’s obvious that you should master what you will be talking about, that you should provide a non-technical, complete, global and short description ! A strategic pedagogic way of explaining will make you distinguished (when you for example link your sentences with: firstly, secondly, that’s why, in order to, finally).    

Later, the recruiter will present you the topic in which you will eventually work on. At this moment you have to be very focused and try to pick up interesting questions for later. If the recruiter finished and you still don’t have any questions, then you are screwed !

Usually, the interview ends here. But some recruiters go further and carry on with some harder parts and questions like: “Tell me a moment in which you had to convince your team (for example which you made the P2M with) with your idea and how it went”. or “Tell me one obstacle that you have encountered during your project and that you succeeded to overcome with another solution”. Those are ones of the hardest questions in an interview. Ideally you should be prepared. But this happens very unlikely in an internship interview.

At the end of the interview, the recruiter will certainly ask you “Do you have any questions?” You must have at least one ! “Try something like how long it takes to process your application”…

I advise you to practise frequently at home. Stay in front of the mirror, turn on the recorder, speak then listen to yourself later, or give a try in front of a friend. It may be stupid, but believe me it really works and it really helps.

Adapted from How a graduation internship interview really goes

The secret of an excellent Cover Letter

The cover letter is –coupled with the CV– one of the first-contacting and first-impression papers through which an applicant has to get in touch with a recruiter. It’s important because it’s the candidate’s show case. It’s delicate because it’s the candidate-company’s first contact.  

Some of the best practices which a candidate should follow to make his application intrigued:

On the top right of the page:
  •  your name and you personal address only, no email no phone, nothing else
On the top left:
  • the date. 
  • the full name of the company followed by its address 
  • mention only the last name of the person to whom you are addressing.

Layout: a cover letter should contain 3 visible, well-separated, main parts
  • an introduction
  • a body (that could be divided to 3 sub-parts as well)
  • conclusion. 
  • At the end, your full name (on the left or on the right, it doesn’t matter).

The introduction:
  • First thing’s first, a typical good introduction usually begins with how you knew the company and how you found the job position (the company website, through an alumni, during a career related discussion…). 
  • Then you should mention why this position is interesting and exciting for you, and what makes you motivated to work for this the company as well. Here comes the part where you should mention some key-details about the company. Numbers are preferred, because they are concrete and easily-memorable. This is a typical good stream of a cover letter introduction.

The Body: the main part of the cover letter.
  • The first part is useful for a brief introduction of the applicant (newly graduated, final year, current position…) and what he/she is planning to do in the near future (acquire more experience, get better in a specific field…).  

  • The second part should contain a brief overview of your technical background (what type of school you are from, main points of strength, and the aim and caracteristics of the eventual most important internships fulfilled. No details, this paragraph should be an appetizer to push the recruiter and trigger its curiosity to go to the CV to see what you are talking about. 

  • The last part should be dedicated to your extra-curricular activities, it’s the best place where to mention what positions you have held and what soft-skills you learnt.

The conclusion:
  • You should mention something related to getting an opportunity to introduce yourself better through an interview and discus more how you will be useful for the company. 
  • Invite the recruiter to know more about you through taking a look at your CV. 
  • Finally, don’t forget to mention that you are available through any contact data mentioned in the CV and thank the recruiter for his/her time and consideration.

Some fatal typical mistakes that applicants usually make, like: mentioning your own name, evaluating yourself (I am good at… I have excellent knowledge about…) that is the job of the recruiter not yours. Or also mentioning too much details about your education or your internships and activities. That would be boring an that will make your CV obvious, predictable and not worth to see. Remember: a cover letter should push the recruiter to check the CV, not the other way around.

Adapted from The secret of an excellent Cover Letter

The Anonymous CV Concept

An anonymous curriculum vitae (CV) includes a summary of our professional and academic backgrounds as well as research experience, publications, awards, honors, affiliations and other details. However, our names and other personal identifying information are not included in order to avoid choice-based discrimination by recruiters.

Who has never heard of discrimination during a job search? Given the vast typology of situations it covers, (seniors, gay, pregnant women, disabled, “unionized” people surnames or physical original inhabitants in badly-reputed neighbourhoods …) and its foundation which is often subjective (perception, beliefs, unspoken), discrimination can potentially affect all of us.

This idea emerged when some worries-raising figures appeared: in 2009, 16% of Europeans said they had been victims of discrimination, while 25% mentioned have witnessed such an act over the past year. Then in this case, what about non EU-citizens? In fact the concept started even before, in 2006, in France with the adoption of the law of “equality of chances“. This law caused a lot of talks and debates between pros and againsts. UK Companies like Tesco, Barclays and Coca-Cola have agreed to apply this policy, others stayed non-responsive.

This topic seemed to solve discrimination problems in hiring. At the beginning, people thought that the recruiters will not have any discriminative choices anymore. However, this policy has caused a bigger threat, which had reduced even more the chances for immigrants for example to get hired. According to a study conducted by the Centre for Research in Economics and Statistics (CREST) ​​between November 2009 and November 2010 over a thousand companies, the anonymous CV fight effectively against gender discrimination but not against those of ethnic issues. The opposite just happened: the immigrant candidates have only one chance in 22 of getting an interview, against a 10 chance if their resume were not anonymous.

This seemingly surprising result is due to the tendency of recruiters to “relativize” the shortcomings of the resume immigrant when they are registered. Spelling mistakes are more tolerated, the non-respect of the conventional national CV form and layout are not badly seen. Indulgence disappears then otherwise. “Recruiters forgive more ‘holes’ in the CV or spelling mistakes when they know the social origins,” says CREST.

The question at then end stays the same: how can it be guaranteed that companies will not make discriminative choices when recruiting? How can immigrants, despite their outsanding technical and academic profiles, find challenging positions without getting faced to descrimination? After all, this idea of the anonymous CV is not that efficient, as the recruiter will get to know the candidate once he/she is invited to a job interview.