“Companies are looking for enthusiasm, motivation and sincerity,” explains Sophie Domenech-Vindex, an HR consultant at A.P.E.C. “The best applicants are those who are able to demonstrate what excites them and explain why they want to work in the organisation. While a little shyness is understandable, too much hesitation risks hiding your motivation. To be relaxed on the day, you must practice and practice so that your responses come clearly and easily,” maintained Sophie Domenech-Vindex. Apec provides interview role playing tools.
How does the interview phase work?
“Generally, the applicant attends a series of interviews,” explains Sabine Kopp who is in charge of V.I.E. recruitment at Business France. “If the company has provided us with a short-list of applicants, we arrange a telephone interview of between 45 minutes and 1 hour, which enables us to check the suitability of the applicant in terms of the proposed assignment. Usually, the applicant then attends two interviews in the company; the first with the HR manager in order to check his/her application and then a second interview with an operational manager, which can be in person or on Skype.”
Hence the importance of finding out about your interviewer, his/her role in the organisation (you wouldn’t speak to an HR manager as you would a manager) and even his/her career path: remember that websites like Viadeo and LinkedIn have been designed specifically for this purpose!
In the case of direct contact with the company, the applicant must go through one or two “filters” before meeting the final interviewer.
Prepare your content and style
Being well prepared for the interview shows that you have perfectly prepared your arguments to “sell yourself” to the recruiter and stand out from the other applicants. The first step is to think carefully about what you want to convey in a coherent and convincing manner in response to questions that you will certainly be asked: Can you tell us about yourself? Why did you choose this company, this assignment? What skills, qualities and value added could you bring?
What the recruiter expects from you
Pierrick Ehrhardt, a former V.I.E. intern now working at Keyrus-Biopharma a company specialising in clinic research and drug safety, thinks it is important to downplay the interview phase. “You shouldn’t see the interview as an interrogation or as something designed to trip you up but rather as an open two-way discussion”, he explains. “What I expect from applicants is that they can demonstrate that they have understood the context of the assignment, its challenges, can explain how its fits into their career path and how it will benefit us. Simple, as long as all the preparatory work has been done…”
However, in all cases overly academic or structured responses will be very unlikely to impress the interviewer or correspond to the company’s requirements. “Recruiting a V.I.E. intern is not something we take lightly as we consider a V.I.E. assignment as a pre-employment phase i.e. prior to offering the intern a permanent employment contract,” explains Pierrick Ehrhardt. “The interview is the moment when we decide if we want to make a long-term commitment to the applicant.”
Alexandre Rambaud, CEO of Agendize
“For me a Skype interview is a full-scale test.”
“As the company’s headquarters are in Troyes, applicants rarely come to the company in person for interviews. We usually conduct interviews over Skype. It is our main method of communication with interns and overseas employees. For me the Skype interview is a full-scale test. The candidate should not take it lightly. Because applicants are people I am considering sending to the other side of the world to represent my company, I fully expect them to have mastered the use of Skype. The applicant should use their own name (i.e. not “skinky12”, etc.) and that for the duration of the interview they have an excellent Internet connection and are using good quality equipment (microphone, headphones, etc.). It is very important to be relaxed and comfortable especially when speaking in a foreign language in a limited time frame. If you have to repeat the same phrase three times - it’s already a disaster! To avoid any last minute problems, we recommend that you ask for your interviewer's username and test that it works before the interview. It is also a good idea to have a back-up telephone number if there is a problem. So, when D-Day finally arrives, you should send a short message 10-15 minutes prior to the interview to say that you are ready. These small actions are not unnecessary details, they show us that we are dealing with someone who is organised, professional and who respects his/her interviewer. It’s not only reassuring, it make all the difference.“