我還在念書的時候就聽說，面試人員通常只會花非常少的時間看履歷，有時甚至連 10 秒都不到。今日，我發現這個說法非常符合現實，因為即使自己有心，在一份履歷上通常也很難花超過 1 分鐘。
因此，常有人說最棒的履歷應該只有 1 頁，這話有其道理：各項經歷和表現的說明應該用一句話就搞定，讓面試人員在瀏覽之時，可以一眼就看出最優秀的特質。
我在剛開始撰寫履歷時發現，遵循前述建議並不容易，因為我在把自身特質化為文字之時，常會太過囉嗦或太過謙虛──這個能力需要不斷練習才能精進，我們也會練習「電梯提案」，在有限時間（從 10 秒到 1 分鐘都有可能）內介紹、推銷自己。
不過，如同前述的例子，「電梯提案」倒是個相當有趣、值得台灣面試者進行的練習：受試者可以多練習在 1 分鐘、30 秒甚至是 10 秒內介紹自己。
說到這裡，我從受試者轉換為面試者已有 10 年的時間。我聽過，前者認為後者有如殘酷無情的強盜資本家，不合理地獲取了應當公平分配的利益；另一方面，我也聽過後者認為前者牢騷滿腹、只在乎自己，以及最重要的，找不到合適的年輕人。
One thing I have been doing since I moved back to Taiwan is conducting interviews. I often interview potential candidates for my company, while I also interview prospective students for my alma mater Columbia. When I was a student in the US, I have attended numerous forums that help students prepare for the job searching process that covered topics from how to write a succinct resume and how to present yourself to your interviewers in settings ranging from elevator chat to ice breakers to interviews.
Now that I have relocated back to Taiwan, instead of being an interviewee I have become an interviewer, and instead of looking to work in the US, I am now interviewing Taiwanese students on behalf of my company. While now we are entering job hunting season, I wish to opine on some of my reflections over these past years. I do not wish to be patronizing nor overly didactic, but I will list my observations in order to elicit constructive dialogues.
When I was at school, I was told that interviewers usually spend very little time looking at your resume, sometimes not even ten seconds. These days I find that statement to be extremely valid as I usually do not spend over one minute looking at individual resumes. Therefore, I was told that the best resume should be kept under one page, and description of your activities should also be kept in one sentence in order to poignantly list your best qualities for the interviewer's perusal.
While working on my resume, I struggled at first to fit the above guideline because I was either too verbose or too modest with putting my qualities into writing. Similarly, we practiced the "elevator pitch", introducing ourselves in a limited amount of time (can be 10 seconds to 1 minute) to market yourself. There is a underlying purpose in all these practices, and that is to teach you to promote yourself efficiently, effectively and cogently. The “elevator pitch” exercise came in handy recently as when I was in the same elevator with a CEO of a big tech company and I was able to use the brief moment when she can not ignore me to introduce myself and our product. When we were in school, everyone is pretty much a second degree connection away from knowing one another so we may find these sort of exercises to be unnecessary and pretentious. At work though, when opportunity comes, one ought to seize it no matter how brief the time window is.
Now that I am usually in the role of the interviewer, I have come to appreciate these lessons from another perspective. In short, the interview process is similar to match making, I look for candidates who they believe will be a good fit to the job opening. Moreover I hope to identify candidates that are worth investing time and effort to train and mentor in order for them to be active contributors within the organization. Likewise, the interviewee wishes to join a company that they can invest their precious time and effort, offer their service and be fairly compensated. Therefore, both parties are tasked to understand both sides in an finite amount of time, making the communications in these interviews crucial.
There are several things I want to hear from an applicant, mainly who they are and why they want to be a part of my company. For the first question, it is obvious for an interviewer to ask for the interviewee to provide a brief background of himself, but much like what I mentioned previously, I would like to listen to how the interviewee is able to narrate his own life. It is also a showcase of how one is able to construct, compartmentalize and organize informations that he wishes to convey. Simply put, if one cannot even properly introduce himself, how can we expect said person to communicate effectively?
The applicant should touch upon his strength, personal quality, and past accomplishments that might highlight any of the above attributes which can paint one in a positive light. I will also ask the applicant whether he or she has done any research on my company (or school), this is to test if the applicant is just randomly submitting his candidacy or has already done prior preparation to determine that the institution I represent is a good fit. Overall, as I have stated above, interviews is very similar to matchmaking, so at the beginning of the process I wish to deduce whether this candidate is serious enough about the process and if whether he possess the mental acumen and personality for the job. I will always ask the applicant to ask me a question, if there is anything that he or she wishes to inquire. I look at this concluding question as a free opportunity for the interviewee, in a form of a question to touch on any outstanding issues. Of course it can be a question about compensation or work hour, but if the interviewee is able to pose a question in order to lead it to a finishing summary for him or herself, than I will definitely know that this person came prepared.
Referring to the tutorials I received back in school, I have realized that the applicants I have interviewed tend to be too modest or not really knowing how to package oneself though I am not suggesting that what I have learned back in school is a better approach. I concur with having a concise yet easy to read resume which brings out one's best quality, but from the perspective of self-presentation, I feel the “American” interview process is too packaged, rehearsed, coached to even sounding braggadocios. As an interviewer, I understand that a college graduate might not have many achievements to share, so if one sees a resume full of incredulous accomplishment, wouldn’t one find it to be a far stretch from reality? The elevator pitch would be an interesting exercise for interviewees to rehearse though, one may practice introducing oneself in one minute, thirty seconds, and even 10 seconds.
Having said all that, it has been ten years since I have changed my role from an interviewee to an interviewer. I have heard from the perspective of the former that the latter are ruthless robber barons who are irresponsibly benefits that should be equally distributed. At the same time, I also hear from the latter that the former are whiny, self-obsessed and most importantly, nowhere to be found. Much like what respected business leader 徐重仁 has said, these elders do have a lot of misunderstanding and misgiving towards the younger generation. Regardless of all these schism, interviews still need to be conducted as professional as possible as no matter how we dislike one another, business still needs to be done.
I think both parties are entitled to have their own views, my impression on this matter is that applicants these days tend to shy away from onsite, production line posts in favor of jobs that are not directly accountable to the making of a product, such as marketing/sales or quality control. That is not to say one is more important than the other, but I am implying that these all these positions are equally significant and complement each other. A common question I also hear is the interviewees' disdain for working in shifts, or to put it more mildly, that they care a lot about work hours. I realize that there are companies that exploit their employees, and work hour has become a hot button issue in the public discourse, I feel perplexed that I have to explain to them the concept of "shifts".
To offer some different perspectives, it is common for factories to have shifts in order to keep the machines running at full capacity, and by having shifts, meaning working in a set and finite period of time, one would actually know when one will be getting off work, and logging in time outside of your shift would actually consider working overtime, hence one will also be lawfully awarded with additional compensation. As previously stated, in order for one to fully understand the inner working of a factory and its production line, one ought to at least be familiar with the manufacturing process, and thus openly refusing to work in shift is actually counter intuitive, a discouraging sign to interviewer of one's commitment to learn and unprofessional. However, if I do meet someone who is willing to be on site and learn, I would gladly better compensate said applicant. In one of my recent interview for a management associate opening at our gypsum board factory, a very well educated candidate whom we held in high regard upon an initial review of his resume immediately told us he left the tech sector because he found their work hours are too strenuous. While I appreciate his honesty, he also then immediately told us that he would not want to work in shifts, to which our senior managers incredulously responded “but that was how we all worked for decades”. I understand how my colleagues were shocked, but I also realize that members of my generation fear being exploited by capitalists akin to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Time. Bourgeois and proletariats may dislike one another, but to enhance economic creation the two must work together.
The process of the interview should be about consensus building, notdissension identification. If two parties can arrive at a mutual agreement that we are a good fit to each other, then the time spent together is worth while. Coming from a background of learning to be well prepared to the extent of over coached, I find the interview process in Taiwan to be a bit raw, but also more down to earth. Yet, I would urge interviewees to still consider how they should present themselves in order to show their forte. Interviews should be a mutually beneficial process for the interviewer to know why we should invest our resource to train the interviewee, but also for the interviewee to know whether the company is worth them dedicating their time and effort to contribute to. I do not need to find someone who can save the world or be the next great CEO, I just need to find someone who can do one's job.