HR executive Berglind Fridriks says when speaking with recruiters:
“Have a list of questions ready to ask”
Photo: Olivier Minaire (archives)
The unemployment rate in Luxembourg dropped to 5.3% and there were nearly 8,000 vacant positions in October, according to statistics released by the jobs agency Adem.
The positions most in demand were in the competitive areas of IT and finance (particularly accounting and audit). So how does one best prepare oneself for that crucial job interview and what questions do recruiters really want you to ask?
“The most important thing to remember is that the recruiter wants to know that you can do the job you are applying for,” according to a former talent acquisition manager in the financial sector, who did not want their name published. “Experienced recruiters will usually ask competency based questions based on your past experience, such as: ‘Give me an example of when you have had to work in a team.’ They are looking for clear, concise examples.”
Berglind Fridriks, an HR director who has worked in the sector for more than 23 years, agrees. “An interview is not a one-way dialogue, it’s more of an assessment of whether you are suitable for the job advertised and whether the working environment is one that suits your skills and personality,” she said. “The company wants to make sure that you are a good fit for their culture and vice-versa.”
Whilst both agree that there is always some formality to the interview process, it should, in theory, allow the maximum freedom for the applicant to express themselves. “External recruitment companies should offer coaching on the job interview process,” stated the ex-recruiter. “But in reality, this is not always the case, especially when the recruiter is overseas and does not know the intricacies of the Luxembourg market.”
Berglind concurred: “Do your homework and be prepared for the interview. Ask people you know about the company you are applying to work for. Does it have a high turnover? Is there a good working environment? What are the organisations’ ethical values? Have a list of questions ready to ask.”
Generation Y workers, in particular, are interested not just in the salary on offer but also other benefits. Fridriks said that she welcomes questions on values, environment and benefits, which are particularly important to this demographic and show a genuine interest in the company.
“As a multicultural country, a number of languages are sometimes required for a position,” Fridriks said. “Unfortunately, many external recruiters do not have the required skills to test 3 or 4 languages. Especially if they are abroad.” She added: “That is why it is of great importance on your application to detail your language level, as this can be a ‘showstopper’.”
For those applying for a position who currently don’t live in Luxembourg, it is important to be aware of the cost of living.
“On several occasions, I have interviewed candidates from abroad who thought the salary was great but had no idea how expensive it is to rent an apartment in Luxembourg City,” Fridriks stated. “Each individual’s tax circumstances are different, so an HR department can only give you a ‘rough’ idea of the net salary, it’s important to keep that in mind.”