The importance of enthusiasm and asking questions

Q. I have recently been successful as a receptionist with a small engineering company and have a trial period. Any tips on getting through this? This is my first real job.

The first job for anyone is daunting. Your initial few months are a testing period for you and your new manager, so it is important to make a good impact.

Being professional at all times works in all environments and it shows you in a positive light.

Respect for your direct line manager is absolutely vital. Learn the best way to communicate with your manager.

Do they prefer to have a detailed phone message or not to be disturbed at certain times of the day? What are their most important priorities? Take time to decide what works best with your new manager.

By investing in this ‘research’ you will make an excellent first impression and will this will accelerate your learning curve in the company.

Finally, find out the most effective ways that you can contribute value to the company. Go beyond the main day-to-day duties of your job. If you are told to answer phones and do some simple typing of reports, offer to take on extra work. If there is extra filing to be completed in a specific area, take this on.

Finally, find out about the dress code in the company and comply with this. Give yourself extra time to get to work in your first few weeks. Arriving late to work is one of the cardinal sins when starting in a new job.

Q. I never know what to say when I’m asked at the end of the interview ‘so have you any questions you want to ask us?’ I usually say no and I wonder if I am missing out on opportunity. Any suggestions?

Do not bring up topics such as holidays, perks or your future salary. The interviewer is still ‘judging’ you and you still need to show the interviewer that you are interested and enthusiastic.

Remember that this is your chance to show the interviewer the research that you have done on their company or their market. It can also make you stand out from other candidates as it helps build your relationship with the interviewer.

“This is a great opportunity to set you apart in a positive way from other people being considered for the job," says Eddie Payne, division manager of professional staffing for recruiting firm FGP International.

“Employers say they are interested in candidates who ask quality questions and make intelligent conversation based on what they know about the organization.”

Not asking questions, however, is passing up a chance to stand out from the competition. Treat this part of the interview as a chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm. Questions based on future growth and promotions within the role show that you are serious and ambitious.

For example “I was looking at your website and it said that you were looking at expanding in the next year, how are those plans coming along?” or “I saw in your website that your skincare range specialises in mainly European markets, do you have any plans to sell to the US?”

If applying for a managerial position, your range of questioning needs to seriously thought out. Asking about the existing performance appraisal system, and type of management style, are important topics to discuss.

When asking a question, it is important that it is not just for the sake of asking. Having a discussion about the interviewer’s answer shows that you have a genuine interest, and leaves an excellent impression.

Remember that your questions need to be tailored to the position for which you are being interviewed. Having a set series of questions used for all interviews is not advisable.

Sli Nua Careers (Headford, C. Galway, tel 094 95 42965, www.SliNuaCareers.com ) carry out CV preparation, mock interviews, interview training, and career direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email [email protected]. It provides online CV makeovers at SliNuaCareers.com/cv-makeover

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