If you are a professional seeking employment in Australia, there are a range of visa options you can potentially pursue. At VEVS, we are experienced in supporting people through a skilled migration visa pathway, gaining access to long-term, permanent or provisional Australian work visas.
While we’re not Human Resource (HR) professionals and do not claim to be at any point, we have been in this related industry long enough to provide some general tips and advice on what you can expect in securing a job in Australia starting from adopting the right approach at your very first job interview.
What to expect at a job interview
Before you even start looking for a job or preparing your resume, you need to think about what happens during job interviews in Australia. Employers receive a high volume of applications for all sorts of advertised positions. Candidates will only be short-listed for an interview if their application stands out and helps to prove that they have the right skills and experience for the position and the ability to bring something “extra” or “unique” to the organisation as a whole.
In Australia, interviews are a “2-way street”. While it’s an opportunity for the company to learn about you, it’s also a chance for you to learn more about the organisation, their goal and ultimately, whether it’s the right fit for you. Employers value and encourage questions throughout the recruitment process because there really isn’t a better time to ask and find out than right at the very beginning.
At interviews, you can expect to learn a great deal about the qualities the employer is looking for and why. It’s also an opportunity for you to understand the future direction of the company and how your role will contribute towards the growth of the business. In Australia, employers value confidence and speaking-up, especially during interviews!
How to prepare for the interview
Employers enjoy the ability to spark and hold a conversation with the potential candidate. This conversational approach to interviews in Australia can be challenging and pretty intimidating especially if you’ve never experienced it before.
Understanding the business and it’s story is an expectation on the part of the candidate so ensure that you undertake your research well. It may be a good idea to search for the company in the news, check out their social media accounts, try to understand their growth (Annual Reports can be good for this) and significant events happening in the industry in which the company belongs. Each of these factors could be reasons why the company is looking to hire someone with your skill set.
You also have to be comfortable expressing your own career goals and outlook because this is something that will definitely be raised at your interview. Communicating your goals about what you hope to achieve in your career, especially to a potential employer, takes a lot of practice. Often, it’s a good idea to have a mock interview and have your friends or family put you on the spot with common questions you may face in the actual interview.
The good news is that practice makes perfect! So even if you crash and burn at your first try, don’t be too disheartened, you’ll soon get the hang of how we do it in Australia and you’ll probably even come to appreciate it as an opportunity to get to know your prospective employer before committing. Interviews are an excellent way of ensuring you’re fully informed about the expectations of the company and helping you to decide whether you are ready to accept the responsibilities of the role.
Common interview questions
Here are some common questions that are often asked at job interviews:
- Can you tell me more about yourself? (your time to shine).
- What prompted you to apply for this job? (aligning your goals with that of the business).
- Do you have any idea about this company? (your time to show what you know about the business).
- What do you do best (greatest strength)?
- What are you working on (weakness)?
- What do you like or dislike about your former job? (it’s not an opportunity to complain but rather to communicate the type of structure and management style you flourish in).
- Where do you see yourself in a year / in five years from now? (your time to express your long-term career and personal goals and hopefully they align with the business!)
- Your salary expectations (while this is often an awkward topic of conversation, it’s probably the best time to communicate your expectations rather than to start off on the wrong foot. Companies value candidates who value themselves. So know your worth and know how to best communicate this to the hiring manager).
If you think about the number of times the recruiter will have to sit through the answers to these questions, you’ll realise how important it is for you to shine and set yourself apart from other candidates. Take the time to do your research, think the questions through and construct your answers in the best way to ensure that you shine.
Reflect on your resume and cover letter and use them as a starting point to further highlight your skills and qualities. Be selective about the things you choose to say and ensure that what you communicate across is always compatible and in line with the goals of the business. And where there is ambiguity in a question, don’t be afraid to ask the questions.
Employers often love behavioural questions as they’re a good indicator of future performance based on the candidate’s past experiences. They usually start off with phrases such as “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of a situation where…”
You may wish to have a particular method in mind when answering these questions. The STAR, or it’s extended version STAR-R, interview response techniques are extremely helpful in this scenario. This is where you detail a past Situation, Task / Target, Action(s) and Result(s), and maybe your Reflection of the experience, to demonstrate your particular capabilities to the potential employer.
There is an abundance of free materials on the STAR method on the internet. You will also find plenty of practical examples of how best to use this method. This method is also useful for things you might want to express in your cover letter. So, it’s a great idea to practice applying this method to your own experiences whenever you find the time to jot down ideas about some of the interesting things you’ve dealt with through your work.
These types of questions might start with “What would you do if…?”. Situational questions are hypothetical which means that they do not rely on your past experiences as a reflection of your answer. These type of questions allow an employer to assess how you might:
- handle conflict or manage difficult instances with coworkers or clients;
- make decisions;
- solve problems and whether your solutions are practical or creative;
- prioritise tasks and respond to stress; or
- manage people.
They can also be used to determine whether you’re a good fit for the company’s culture. For example, the company may be interested to learn whether you share the same kind of values as the company? Or whether you are professionally mature, and could handle taking actions to protect the company from reputational damage?
It’s pretty simple. When you turn up to the job interview, try to resemble what you’d look like on your first day of work and that’s nothing short of professional! As a general rule of thumb, Australian employers appreciate an overall formal attire and presentation at an interview. Remember, first impressions definitely count!
Professionalism in Australia is an identity that people cultivate according to the type of industry their business or organisation operates in. To learn more about this, check out our article/blog on Australian Work Culture.
To ensure you put your best foot forward, remember to always:
- be kind and friendly to anyone who speaks to you from the moment you step foot into the office;
- make an effort to ‘break the ice’ especially to your interviewers. This showcases your ability of being a confident communicator.
- always provide a firm handshake and maintain eye contact at all times.
- make an effort to remember the interviewers’ names and try to use their names during the interview.
Preparing your Resume
Your Resume and Covering Letter should always target the specific position you’re applying for and showcase your relevant and transferable skills in support of your application.
Overly generalised Cover Letters and Resumes will not make the cut in helping you secure an interview. While there’s no exact word limit for your Resume, bear in mind that the purpose of the document is to provide a detailed snapshot of your entire career, education and skills. The general rule of thumb is short but concise. Try aiming for a Resume that spans 3 pages at most.
Most employers require a Covering Letter to accompany your resume. Think of this as an executive summary, it’s probably the first document your prospective employer will see and provides them with a chance to understand in the first instance, your experiences and skills and whether they align to the qualities they’re looking for. A Covering Letter and Resume are pretty much staples to any employment process and there are plenty of templates that are available online for you to use.
How to break the ice at a job interview
While some people think breaking the ice is an opportunity for mindless chatter, it’s actually a pretty good indication of just how strong and confident you are as a communicator and your ability to make other people feel at ease in your presence. Like interviews, it’s an acquired skill and something that definitely gets better with practice. Don’t fret, breaking the ice often revolves around common topics such as the weather, what you did over the weekend, often the traffic and your journey into the office!
Why professionals are looking for work in Australia
There is plenty of healthy competition in the Australian job market. With an ever-growing need of job placements across different professional levels in Australia, there are great prospects for recent graduates, post-graduates or highly experienced professionals to gain employment.
Applying for work in Australia does not always require you to be in Australia at time of your job application, although having an existing visa (or at least a pathway) which allows you to work does help a lot!. While Australian employers do place the needs and interests of the Australian workforce first, at times, skill shortages do exist for specific positions and these specific skills need to be sourced internationally. If you’re interested in pursuing a skilled migration pathway in Australia, speak to one our Registered Migration Agents. The Australian government has extensive pathways for skilled migrants and more often than not, these are not clear-cut.
The VEVS support.
Here at VEVS, we’re pretty remarkable at what we do. Our strength lies in the ability to map out your skilled visa journey right from the very beginning. Understanding the needs of the Australian job market gives us the ability to align your skills with what the market needs. And if there’s a qualification gap, we can then ensure you’re on the right track to pursue the right education that will help you get to where you want to be.
Again, we’re not HR professionals but we know Visas and if you’re looking to move to Australia for work, your journey starts with us. Get in touch with us today.