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How not to stuff up your job interview

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

On 8th November, 2018, I had the opportunity to present to students at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College my guide to success in job interviews. Here it is.

Next, on the question of jobs, do not expect to start at the top. A degree does not qualify you to do anything in the real world. Do not expect to be doing important work in your first job. Do not feel you are being wasted .. you are absorbing everything that will stand you in good stead as your career progresses.

Do not get frustrated by your lowly status: the worst managers are those that never learned the basics. Build your value in the early years. It might sound strange but right up until I retired from law, the times I enjoyed the most were those where I would spend hours, often working through the night, preparing bundles of documents for trial, a job that most partners think is grunt work and hand down to clerks. In fact, it's the most valuable part of preparation because you get to see every document and to assess its value. Sadly, in these days of electronic discovery, that no longer happens and when you see hearings today, the inability to quickly locate documents and take the court to them is a retrograde step. I tell you this because even supposedly menial tasks can have enormous value.

Make it plain in your interviews that you want to learn and you want to learn everything, including the most basic and mechanical tasks because if you don't know how to do those, you will not have a full understanding of the job and, equally importantly, in future as you progress up through organisations, you will not know how to most effectively delegate.

Equally, it doesn't matter how menial the task is, it's your job to do it. So if you are told to count rubber bands, you count rubber bands - but there is no reason why you should not say "yes, I'll do that. Can you tell me why we do this so I can learn the purpose of the tasks I'm given." Do not say "but can.." because that is a conditional and it says that you will do the task only if that condition is satisfied and that is tantamount to a refusal.

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