Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What Employers want – by Margarita Dimitriou, Events Placement Student

So last month I attended some presentations at the Students Union run by local employers on how to impress at interviews, understanding your skills and strengths and how to behave professionally in the workplace. Being a placement student at the Careers and Employability Service I was responsible for greeting the Employers before the presentations and taking them to the room which gave me the chance to have a chat and ask them questions about employability skills and how students/graduates can make a good impression. The more I talked with the employers  the more my understanding of what employers want increased.
Being a student I sometimes struggle when it comes to understanding my strengths and weaknesses.  I always focused on what a job has to offer me instead of what I have to offer/add to an organisation. Now I can see that both are equally important. For me a job is not the same as a career.  As I said before, I am not an expert, I am just a student, but in my eyes you can be working in a junior position but wanting a career in marketing, a career is your development and your progress. The road which you take, starting from a junior position and working your way up as high as a Director or Manager.
I will never forget my first interview 3 years ago after graduating from college.  I finished college thinking that my grades and my diploma was all that matters and I was definitely going to get a job but after being let down and not hired I can now understand why and what went wrong in my interview. I was not prepared and ready to start working. I think the question I would ask myself today before an interview is: would I employ myself?
So here are some top tips I picked up from all the presentation that helped me a lot and hopefully will help you and other students.
What recruiters want:
Most recruiters want the candidate who fits in with their company culture and the person who has the right attitude/credentials/qualifications/experience for the job, but how many people actually fit in with the company they are applying for? Some of us don’t even know what it’s like working there and at the interview we find it very hard to convince that we are the right person for the job. So how do you start?
ImageMost employers are looking for someone who can add value to the organisation. They are interested in your personal Skills, your interpersonal skills and your experience.
  • Start with a detailed research of the company’s mission statement, work ambition and culture.  Know exactly what the difference between the marketplace is
  • Find out their mission/goal and ethics, do they match with your ethics? Find out how to link your work ambition with the company
  • Understand their consumer/customers and their competitors.  Also know if they are expanding
  • Think about what they will ask you. Identify gaps and suggest what they could add
  • Go that extra mile and impress the interview panel
Remember:    First impressions count !!
Avoid saying “we” – they want to know what “YOU” did
Drink water, it is okay to bring a bottle of water in the interview room
Interesting facts about interviews
The tone of your voice matters 38% and what you actually say matters 7%
You are the product and the employer is the consumer – it’s time to “sell yourself”
Begin with: Who you are, what you want & what they could give you - Make it clear to them in 40 seconds
Tips: practise, makes it all clear/easy for them.
Self-belief: Think “ I have the job”
Show them you have a desire to develop
Explain your skills as you speak to someone who doesn't know you
Most employers will use the STAR Technique:
Situation: Remember a situation when ....
Task: Explain what the task was
Action:  What did you do about it?
Result: Not Failed - Positive outcome

Professional behaviours in the workplace:
Image: Have a professional image, dress code, personal hygiene, body language, the way you carry yourself (sit at a meeting)
Do you have the ability to “fit” into all situations?
Ideas: put yourself forward/volunteer, be confident, up-to-date and know new theories.
Reputation: your media presence tells people about you, gain attention for the right reasons
Behaviour: be consistent, reliable & patient with others.  If it is your first job observe the workplace, watch, learn & listen. Do not point out people's weaknesses, help them learn instead and do not criticise.
Respect your colleagues - it will help you do your job better
Values and beliefs: demonstrate acceptance, never hold a grudge, always be willing to apologise, know when to ask for assistance.
“Listen do not only Hear” or “Listen more than you talk”


  1. Excellent and very helpful post, especially for somebody who's just gone out into the employability market. ;)

    But that's all nice and neat. What happens if you're interested in a non-business-oriented company? Apart from the confidence factor how can YOU persuade that you're the best suited candidate when there's so much more competition out there?!?

    Best post in this blog, by far! Keep it up. :)

  2. Thank you Lucrezia :) As I said, I'm only a student and I post only what I've learned so far, what I think and believe It's true and what applies to me and what I do !

    I guess in a non-business-oriented company and depending on the role you apply for, your portfolio, skills or experience could matter more than your attitude but anything you do you definitely need a Can Do Attitude !!

    Thank you for reading :) xx