Employment: Interviews & The Art of Employee Selection

2 Dec 2020 by Irni Shazana, Head of Operations

Reading the news article where Malaysia’s Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad stated that it is estimated an overwhelming 75,000 new graduates are expected to be struggling to find jobs due to the impact of Covid-19, I was hit with the mixed feelings of compassion and sympathy.

Already Malaysia is struggling with economic crisis due to the global pandemic Coronavirus, with companies winding up and businesses go bust, potentially resulting in employees being made redundant, given pay cuts, or told to take unpaid leave for an undetermined period of time. Employers are struggling to retain their workforce, while employees are desperate to hang on to their jobs. With an estimated 41,161 graduates from 2019 remaining unemployed and also on the lookout for jobs, how would our fresh graduates fare against the more experienced and the more skilled, especially when the latter is less demanding of competitive pay due to desperation? And what about employers seeking for a potential candidate? Do we cast a chance on the greenhorn, or do we take advantage of the situation and have our ‘pick of the litter’, so to speak, from a sea of more experienced candidates?

During an interview session with a candidate for an IT executive position, our team was faced with a daunting decision to make. The candidate has the tertiary qualification, but a total lack of experience in the required field. When asked about it, he confessed that he had applied to numerous companies for the past couple of years, but have no takers, being constantly told to find work experience and try his luck again. To survive in the big city of Kuala Lumpur, he took up work as a copier repairman instead. Its work experience of course, but non-related nonetheless to the skills and knowledge of the position he applied for with us. I was a bit sceptical at first, but his enthusiasm and personal motivation were delightful to see. Despite countless rejections from many companies (more than twenty!) due to his lack of relatable experience, he continued to strive forward, faithfully believing that one day he will land the opportunity that will open the career path to his dream job. As the potential hiring company, should we then dismiss him and move on to the next candidate? Or are we willing to spend our resources to hone his skills instead and give this young believer his chance?

In the end, we decided to offer him the position. Today, this young man is a confident, skilled, and competent employee, and I’m proud that IPSB Technology took the chance back then and invested in its people. Integrity, People, Sustainability, Believe. We believed that he could, so he did. All he needed was the chance.

To other job seekers out there, do not lose hope and continue striving for your dream job. In the meantime, hone your skills and improve your communication. There are many courses available both online and physical for you to take up, some even for free. The government of Malaysia, too, offers many courses and training programs, whereby those seeking information can easily do so by accessing the website of the Ministry of Human Resources. Continue to believe. If your current career takes you on a different direction than intended, think of it as a stepping stone to the next path. One day, when you are given the chance for an interview of a dream job, come prepared and ready physically as well as mentally. And be honest during the interview too. Most interviewers are not just looking at qualifications, skills or experience, we want to see how your mind works too. And who knows, sometimes an honest confession may tip the scale in your favour.

After all, we interviewers are humans too.

Link to Malay Mail News: Higher education minister foresees 75,000 fresh grads struggling to get jobs in Covid-19 era

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