By Mariano Carrera
Special to The Nation
Many universities offer so-called international programmes, meaning the courses are taught in English. Still, the language ability and global (or even local) awareness of graduates are limited. Recruitment practices are evolving but perhaps leaving the most crucial element, the person, behind. Hence, we previously talked about the personnel department or human resources and now let's discuss recruitment.
By asking these three questions, you can increase the chances of a quality recruit and be able to focus on the person.
▪︎Give the applicant five minutes to read an article from a regional newspaper about the business and the industry in English. No translation device. Then ask the candidate to discuss the impact of the content of the article in the context of the role they are applying for, the company, and the industry. Give them five minutes to articulate the article's essential points, as related to the role, the business, and the industry.The ability to present an argument from an article shows that they can read, understand and relate to the material in front of them. It will also show the awareness of current affairs surrounding the role, business, and industry, thus being able to contribute more. Five more minutes of questions and answers would show the depth and breadth of quality — a well-spent 15 minutes. Interviewees cannot easily prepare for these types of interviews unless they are truly aware of the situation.
▪︎Ask the interviewee to make a business case for the international programme. For example, was it beneficial spending two or three times, the tuition cost on the English programme versus a Thai programme? People learn more in their native language than a foreign language unless they are highly proficient in the second language. Why spend Bt400,000 to Bt600,000 when spending Bt200,000 (on average for university tuition) plus Bt50,000 (language school) might give the same results. Being able to discuss the benefits would show that they can make long-term business decisions.
▪︎Ask about how the candidate used their language exposure to develop themselves during their programme. Most international programmes in Thailand have less than five per cent international students, mostly from the region. Though some of these regional graduates are proficient in English many are not. From my experience of two Thai universities, even interaction with international students tends to be limited and focuses on increasing the visitor's use of Thai. Asking about language usage would show how the aspirant uses resources available to them. Thus revealing to what extent a company should invest in potential employee development. A person who can use the resources available would benefit more and contribute more to the company from exposure to costly training.
International education is NOT only about language use but also about being able to put what is learned into action by using the wider society's awareness. There is a wide variation among programmes at Thai universities, with the more competitive programmes having the choice of candidates. Those choice students can maximise the international outlook Thai universities are trying to promote. However, many others are, sadly, money makers for the university. Recruiters need to re-evaluate their hiring process when it comes to these programmes. Some students graduate from Thai language programmes with a better command of English than those that graduate from English language programmes. Focus on the person's ability and do not take the programme the candidate has graduated from as an indicator of quality. Ask relevant questions.
Mariano "Mario" Carrera is business lecturer (international programme),
Faculty of Administration and Management,
King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lad Krabang