Aimed at helping fresh grads make that ever-important step into the working world, this article gained insights from some of Malaysia's most popular employers on what they want to see in a fresh hire.
What types of skills do you look for in graduates when you hire them for your firm? What advice on interview preparation would you give them?
EY: Prior to an interview, graduates should carry out some research about the firm and the position they have applied for. During the interview, they should be prepared to respond clearly and honestly to questions surrounding their education, experience, interests and expectations. Appropriate attire, demeanour and the way they carry themselves during the interview are also taken into account.
Groupon: One tip I can share is that you should always be yourself in an interview. All of us would love to be perfect, but in reality we are not. So don’t oversell or over-promise skills or super powers that you don’t possess in real life.
SP Setia: Communication skills are the top attribute with problem solving being the second. I usually take note of the candidates’ language skills and fluency, their ability to make eye contact as well as body language. I usually put the candidates through a situation in order to gauge their analytical thinking as well as their ability to think on the move.
How much work experience would you expect a fresh graduate applicant to have?
Maybank: A fresh graduate does not need to have extensive working experience. However, an internship stint can be a good warm-up experience before graduates set foot in the industry. They should be able to gauge the intricacies of the corporate culture and transition smoothly from the academic space to the corporate world through such experience.
HSBC: If you have gone through an industry placement or internship, you will have an edge simply because you may have a better understanding and appreciation for workforce dynamics. Where you receive such experiences does not matter; what counts is the quality of those few months in a ‘real world’ environment, and how you apply your knowledge.
PwC: Some exposure to the working world is beneficial but we understand that not all graduates will have that opportunity. This is why it’s important for students to participate actively in extracurricular activities, community work or even voluntary work as it provides them with skills that can’t be learnt in the classroom. It also builds character.
How important are language skills in your industry and what are the three main languages, in order of importance that you believe will be advantageous for graduates to be able to speak/read/write?
Nestlé: We are a global company, and thus the ability to speak, read and write in English is essential. Our local language is the main medium of communication at our factories; however our communiqués are in dual language to cater to the diverse background of employees that makes up the Nestlé Malaysia.
Mondelēz International: We are part of a global food company and we rely heavily on communication skills. English is the primary language used within the organisation and everyone is required to be able to read, write and speak English. However, proficiency in local languages of the different markets and countries we operate in (such as Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia in Malaysia) would be an added advantage.
IJM: In view of the diverse workforce and geographical footprint of our organisation, English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese are equally important to us. Graduates who are conversant in at least two of the languages will make a good career with us.
Content was originally published in Malaysia’s 100 Leading Graduate Employers 2013/14 edition. Read the e-magazine here.