Why do you want this job?
What is your greatest weakness? Your greatest strength?
How did you once resolve a conflict?
If you have failed at something in the past, and what did you learn from it?
We asked Maria Siopacha, Director of the Career Success Center at University of Nicosia about what questions graduates should expect in a job interview, and she gave us these examples.
“The question about why are you applying to this job enables the recruiter to understand your motivation. Do you really want this job, or are you just applying to all sorts of jobs? How will you fit in to this role?
The questions about strengths and weaknesses show that you have a good sense of self, and this reflects on your ability to work with others.
How you managed a conflict and how you came out of it goes to your desire for achievement and conflict management skills. Are you proud of what you’ve done? The same applies to the question on failing and learning,” Siopacha explains.
Obviously, graduates should be ready with answers to these questions, but preparing for job interviews requires more effort than that, according to Siopacha.
“Candidates should have developed career skills – CV compilation, interviewing skills and working on LinkedIn, for example. Then the candidate also must have developed soft skills, which are increasingly important in the workplace,” Siopacha notes.
Siopacha warns that waiting too late in your studies to acquire these skills could affect your ability to get a job when school is done.
“The later in your studies in which you start career preparation, then the harder it will be to develop these skills at a sufficient level. We have Junior graduates, who just graduated, and they’re coming to us to start their career planning but I’m afraid now it’s too late. We need some time to work with the students.”
Career skills include how you can make your CV stand out from the crowd, and how to successfully perform a job interview. Some students don’t have experience with job interviews, and they find this process quite complex. We do mock interviews with our students; practice is quite important in preparing for job interviews.
We also help them to build a strong LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the only social professional medium we discuss with students as this is the profiling tool for the professional online presence.
This is our baseline preparation. This is what we view as the cornerstone of successful entrance to the job market. On the other hand, we stress the importance of soft skills for our students and young graduates. Career skills are needed so that they know how to enter the job market. But soft skills are just as important, and we tell them that they should start developing them through the employment experience, volunteering anything they can do to enhance them.
Developing soft skills is something you learn by experience. The ability to acquire them depends greatly on the characteristics of each person, his/her personality. And then it also depends on what you have done outside your studies or at school or as hobbies, everything that has helped you to develop further your skills in human communication. If a young graduate has had zero experience, either through internships or volunteering or extracurricular activities, like clubs, societies anything, then it’s difficult for that person to start building upon those skills.
Adding to the preparation, a new graduate should also determine what roles to apply for, Siopacha continues.
“These can vary, we have lots of people that don’t know where they can fit, even though much depends on their field of study, and we have many that are more aware of how they can best fit in. Some will focus on the technical skills they have developed, and others will seek more general positions. We do our best to help our students to identify what attributes they have, and then to work with them to find opportunities where they will be able to contribute and successfully perform ,” Siopacha says.
Siopacha directs students to search first on the University’s internal portal with job openings and second on its LinkedIn page.
“We share a wide range of employment opportunities of all types, both remote work, as well as physically located jobs. But we also stress the importance of building a network and finding jobs on LinkedIn as well because we believe if LinkedIn is used correctly, then this is a very powerful tool, not only to apply, but also to be discovered by recruiters. It’s critical that the profile be constructed in the right way to reach the maximum number of viewers,” she adds.
How do companies assess candidates for soft skills today?
“Companies are especially looking for emotional intelligence and communication skills – everyone has to have these to thrive in the workplace and to build relationships – but also adaptability, and flexibility.
Personal interviews are still the main tool to assess these skills, especially if the hiring manager or the line manager is trained in these aspects, then they can identify and assess the soft skills much better than others. Some other companies also use psychometric assessment tests that reveal personality type strengths, abilities, motivation factors and so on. we utilise the Ariston psychometric tool which is ideal for personnel assessment on job matching and job potential, and we do offer it to companies that don’t have something similar.” Siopacha says.
Jobseekers can demonstrate their skills through results based statements and through behavioural answers.
“A short story or a scenario or an example helps to demonstrate the skills that the person has. The more employment experience or anything related to it that a person has, the more demonstrations he/she is able to make.”
Feedback should be a critical part of the job search process, but it is not always provided when it should be, Siopacha says.
“Today, unfortunately, in most of the cases, the company provides no feedback. This is a broken step in the process that needs to be fixed, because if candidates do not receive feedback, how can this candidate develop and improve in certain areas?”
What is the most basic advice Siopacha can give to graduates?
“I would advise them to get out of their comfort zone, and to grab opportunities as they come up. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to appear. Maintain a positive attitude, challenge yourselves and identify your potential. full speed on the job search until you get hired, because it’s really almost a full-time job in itself.”