Saturday, September 6, 2014

Job Interview

A few days ago, it was announced that English will be made a compulsory-pass subject in Malaysian universities. Up to now I'm still not sure how to react to that news. It's not that I have totally lost hope in the Malaysian education system, but my guess is that that announcement probably means that we're gonna see a further decline in the standard of English in Malaysia. I come to that conclusion because I just can't believe that they would actually fail students because of the English language. So what do you think they would do in order to ensure that these students pass anyway?

I have of course raised the issue of poor English command in the younger Malaysian population in several articles in this blog, and this is gonna be another one of those. But before that, let me talk a bit about our national language first.

You see, I am one of those lucky Chinese citizens able to handle the Malay language—I can speak and write the language exceptionally well. If by any chance I wake up tomorrow and am compelled to do my job entirely in Malay, I would have no problem to cope. In fact, I dare say that I can do the job as good as the next Malay chap, if not better! That's how confident I am as far as the Malay language is concerned.

But the reality is that English is still overwhelmingly the most popular language in the private sector. Many, many documents and ordinary business conversations are still in English. There is no doubt whatsoever that good English command is an asset in the job market, but especially so in a professional firm.

We are currently recruiting, and have begun to conduct interviews for short-listed job applicants. Let me tell you that interviews are no longer a dreadful thing for the interviewees only; these days they are a dreadful thing for the interviewers too. We have so many people in the job market having what appear to be impeccable paper qualifications, but so very few of them are actually qualified in the real sense! All too often they are crippled by the lack of English ability. Don't get me wrong though; I'm not expecting these people to be a walking English grammar book or the Oxford Dictionary. I'm just talking about a decent English command. In that sense, I feel that our universities have failed to produce what they're supposed to for the job market in Malaysia. And quite frankly, I don't foresee this trend would change anytime soon.

There are tons of articles out there written by so-called "interview gurus" on how to ace job interviews. Those are good too, but only if these people have the means to pass the English-language hurdle first. For no amount of knowledge and skills will be of much use if the candidates can't translate those into something productive to earn revenues. 

Speaking of handling interviews, those of you seeking to secure a job interview anytime soon, please, for heaven's sake, at least make an effort to find out what the company is all about. I can understand that sometimes when one is desperate to find a job, he is willing to take any job and worry about doing the job later. But take it from me—not knowing anything about the job you're applying for is not going to impress the interviewer. And you know what's gonna happen when the interviewer is unimpressed, right?

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