Graduates get to grips with speed dating-style job interviews

graduates get to grips with speed dating style job interviews Graduates get to grips with speed dating style job interviewsDubai, UAE: University graduates are likely to be familiar with the concept of speed dating, but are less likely to have tried it with potential employers.

However, that was the concept behind a recruitment fair on Monday and it seemed to be a hit as organisers had to extend the event to cope with demand.

The interviewing event was initially open to only a select group of 200 graduates, but word quickly spread on social media and many had to be turned away when they arrived after the 9.30am deadline.

The Talent Hunt event was held at the Capital Club in Dubai International Financial Centre and was organised by InternsME, which aims to connect graduates with employers.

“We had initially planned for about 240 people, including any extra graduates who came on the day,” said Jean-Michel Gauthier, the company’s chief executive, who was overwhelmed by the response.

“However, I think the people we invited told their friends about it, so we had many more people turn up, probably close to 400.”

The thinking behind the event was to give an opportunity to graduates and employers alike to meet face-to-face rather than graduates anonymously sending out CVs, he said.

“You can see that there is talent in the UAE but that it is a tremendously competitive environment and you need to stand out from the crowd if you want companies to notice you,” Mr Gauthier said.

Eager candidates, some of whom had arrived an hour early, stood around desks waiting their turn to have a speed interview with prospective employers.

Stephanie Al Khoury, 25, from Lebanon, who graduated from the Lebanese University in Beirut with a BA in banking and finance, was hunting for a job in marketing or sales.

Although there are more opportunities in Dubai, she said, it was a much more competitive environment here compared with Lebanon.

Ms Al Khoury had interviews with Kcal, Aramex and Sephora and was hopeful of a positive outcome.

“Some of them said that they needed interns but I’m looking for a permanent job so we’ll see,” she said. “I just went into the interviews and tried to be myself and I think that came through.”

Yoana Doycheva, 24, from Bulgaria, completed a degree in applied imagination in the creative industries, from Central Saint Martins college of arts and design in London, and had been in Dubai on and off for the past year.

“I really like the way it’s been designed because you can talk to the companies directly and that way you can make an impact on people,” she said.

Ms Doycheva is looking for a job in advertising and was hopeful about at least one of her interviews.

Palestinian Abdullah Barakji, 22, graduates next year with an e-business degree from the Canadian University of Dubai.

He spoke with Intel and Digitas LBI but faced a problem common to many new graduates.

“Employers ideally want someone with experience but you can’t get experience unless someone gives you a job.

“So it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation,” he said.

Yousef Ahmad Hamza, a partner at Envestors investment company, interviewed more than 100 people during the three-hour event.

“Although it is time consuming, it is probably the best way to interview people because I can tell within the first hello and handshake if that person is the right one for us,” he said.

He was impressed by a handful of people but did have a few whom he asked to leave after they had made a poor first impression.

“I had three people tap me on the shoulder and put their CVs on my arm,” he said.

He urged candidates to prepare well and have knowledge of the company they want to work for, have good English and be confident.

Roland Daher, from Wamda, a company that supports entrepreneurs, believes more should be done by universities to prepare graduates for the world of work.

“We do find that many candidates are unprepared for when they join the workforce.”

He advised graduates to improve their communication skills because that is what would give them an edge when looking for work.

With the success of the inaugural event, InternsME plans to host regular speed interview events in future.

© The National

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