Can you think on your feet? You may get the job

Can you think on your feet? You may get the job
If you thought you had encountered tough questions at job interviews, you probably have not applied for positions at companies such as technology consultancy ThoughtWorks, management consulting firm Bain & Company, and game developer and publisher Ubisoft.
PHOTO: Ubisoft

A 90-minute "intelligence test" consisting of numbers and arrows to gauge your ability to think logically.

A situational exercise in planning the budget and timeline to localise a video game for the Middle East.

A two-hour hands-on "pairing" assessment or presentation in tackling a real-life case study.

If you thought you had encountered tough questions at job interviews, you probably have not applied for positions at companies such as technology consultancy ThoughtWorks, management consulting firm Bain & Company, and game developer and publisher Ubisoft.

The trio are among companies that boast elaborate interview processes to sieve out the best candidates for their jobs.

A common thread among them is the strong emphasis on testing the candidates' ability to think on their feet.

For hopeful candidates, mental preparation and stamina are key - interviews at ThoughtWorks span at least six rounds and can include two written tests and a take-home assignment.

It is not unusual for candidates to be paired with a full-time employee, called a ThoughtWorker, to review and improve their code assessments as part of the interview.

Candidates also go through in-depth discussions about ethics and values.

A project manager candidate for Ubisoft's graduate programme might go through five stages, which include a live presentation following a take-home assignment.

ThoughtWorks' head of talent acquisition Nikhita Cyriac, 32, said: "Each step of the interview has a specific goal or aim. The first step, a phone interview with a recruiter, covers the candidate's experience and reason for a career change.

"After that, we want to know how open they are to feedback, how intelligent they are and how they might fit into the company."

All three companies value an open mind. Preparedness, drive and asking the right questions also go a long way.

Mr Allan Schulte, 37, a partner at Bain & Company and who leads the recruiting in South-east Asia, said: "We want to see how they react to an ambiguous situation and structure a possible solution on the spot.

"We want to see their ability to recommend a solution to a client. There is no right or wrong answer."

IMPRESSIONS

So what impresses them?

For Ubisoft Singapore's talent acquisition manager Alex Lim, 37, he looks out for candidates who go for the interviews well prepared, ask questions that show great knowledge of the company and are proactive.

He said: "We want someone who can be a solid investment, who can grow fast and make a difference."

But sometimes, it boils down to just being able to hold a great conversation.

Mr Schulte said: "One of the more memorable interviews was with an engineer by training, and she was able to give her own take on a solution.

"On top of that, we had a good conversation just talking about cooking and her other hobbies. She had the energy, charisma and passion that stood out."

Hiring tips for companies

Five tips from HireRight Asia Pacific managing director Camilla De Villiers:

1. BE KNOWN AS A GREAT EMPLOYER

While focusing on the company's bottom line is important, it is also crucial to realise the value of building the corporate brand and promoting the company's culture.

It can be as simple as embracing transparency in the workplace by having an open-door policy for employees or promoting flexible work hours and work-from-home options.

2. MOBILE OPTIMISATION

The talent acquisition process should be mobile-friendly. This applies for the company website that candidates browse through for more information, the application process and the background screening.

3. TAP ON WORD-OF-MOUTH RECOMMENDATIONS

Do not just tell others that you are good - have others do the job for you. It is more credible and more cost-effective as well.

Also, a great candidate experience can have a positive effect on your reputation if he walks away with a good impression, regardless of whether they got the job.

4. SIMPLIFY CANDIDATE APPLICATION PROCESS

Make everyone's lives easier by streamlining your hiring process - your potential hires, not to mention your HR department, will definitely thank you for this.

5. KNOW WHO YOU'RE HIRING

Do not go in blind when looking to hire potential employees. It is always a good idea to screen your candidates, especially when they are applying for roles of a more sensitive nature.


This article was first published on January 9, 2017.
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