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use of english listening test 1996

part i

smith: good afternoon, my name is john smith and i’d like to welcome you all to this seminar
about how to join graduate trainee schemes. the seminar is sponsored by the graduate
placement service, the organization i work for. the objectives of the seminar are,
to give you the facts about the schemes; secondly, to explain the selection criteria,
that is,
how companies go about choosing applicants, and thirdly, to describe the stages
in the recruitment procedures. so now i’d like to introduce our first guest speaker,
peter lee from ntw limited.

lee: good afternoon everybody. i'm very pleased to be here today. well, as we're a computer
manufacturing company, i’l'll talk about our schemes for graduate engineers rather than our
management training schemes.

in our field we need electrical engineers and computer engineers, but in the past, we've also
hired electronic engineers. we need engineers with technical expertise because we see an
increased demand for innovative products and services in the coming years.

our graduate engineering training schemes last two years, after which the trainees become
what we call professional staff. firstly, during the training, the graduates work on
engineering projects these are done under the supervision of a senior member of staff. their
purpose is to develop the trainees' ability to work in a team. then, the trainees have review
meetings in which they and their managers look back over the project work. this is to help
the trainees evaluate the results of their work. we also send the engineers on management
courses. these courses are designed to develop their managerial skills. it's important for them
to develop these early in their careers.

smith: so what would make an ideal applicant for one of your trainee schemes?

lee: well, to start with, we are of course looking for a good degree, but there're other qualities
required too.

many of the graduates we interview think that as long as they have a first-class honours
degree they'll be automatically taken onto the scheme. some think that attending a well-
known university will guarantee them a place. they also feel that their technical skill’s the
most important thing for their careers.

these things are not necessarily true. as a company, we're looking for signs of leadership. his
might be shown by such things as involvement in student clubs or committees. we also look
for a broad range of interests outside the subject they've studied - sports or community work
for example. another key thing is the ability to communicate. we need people who can
communicate effectively in both chinese and english.

smith: that’s very interesting. can you tell us a little about why companies run these schemes? it
seems a lot of effort.
lee: yes, it is a lot of effort, and there some problems. one is that it's very expensive to spend
years training someone. if the trainee drops out, we’ve then made a bad investment. keeping
trainees after they've completed the training is also a problem. young people don’t always
think about the longer term benefits, so they may go to work for someone else for a slightly
higher salary. obviously, there're benefits for the organisation, - we wouldn't do it otherwise.
we can plan for the future - we know we're have competent managers to fill posts. we also
get people who can be trained in the culture of the company. it's easier for us to train
graduates who've not worked in other companies in the ways of our organization and
culture, and it’s quicker too.

smith : so what're the benefits for graduates in joining these schemes?

lee: of course, there have to be some advantages for them too. obviously, they can learn a lot in
their two years of training. in this period, they can also benefit from rotation from one work
area to another. what’s more, the long-term prospects for these graduates in our organization
are very good. and finally, we offer very competitive salaries for those on these schemes.

smith: thank you, mr lee. perhaps now we can speak to mrs. wood about her scheme.

wood: thank you mr smith. can i first say how pleased i am to be here representing beijing bank at
this seminar.

smith: we're glad to have you here. now, mrs wood, can you tell us something about your
recruitment process?

wood: yes, after the screening process we have the first interview. but, we don'r interview
individuals - we have a group interview.

smith so what’re you looking for in this?

wood: well, we're looking for three things. firstly, we want to see if they're good at communicating
in a group. for example, can they contribute to the discussion, are they too aggressive - this
type of thing. we also want to see if they have an analytical mind, so we give them material
they've not seen before to use in the discussion. lastly, we get the interviewees to take part in
discussions so that we can see what their interpersonal skills are like.

smith : what happens after the group interview? is the selection made then?

wood no, there're three more stages for the applicants to go through.

the next stage is an interview with the chosen individuals. during this interview, we're
looking for signs of leadership ability, as well as business knowledge and, most importantly,
commitment to a career with our company. leadership is especially important, and our
questions during the interview focus heavily on this. by business knowledge, i mean some
understanding of finance and management. the last quality - their commitment to working
with us - is very difficult to assess, but we have ways of telling.

smith: and how many applicants get through this stage?

wood: usually we narrow it down to about 30 or 40. what we do next is give them a series of tests.
some of these designed to discover their problem-solving abilities. we give them a set of
case studies they need to work through by analyzing the information they're given.

we also do some tests to find out how adaptable the graduates are. and ability to adapt to
new things is definitely an advantage. we're also particularly interested in looking for people
who can work well in teams. these personality tests help us to find the right type of job for
the graduates we select.
smith: and that takes us to the last stage?

wood: yes, the number of applicants is reduced until we are left with only those we think are the
best. the last stage is a presentation to managers. this is similar to mr lee’s process. one
obvious quality we're looking for is how well they cope with stressful situations, but we also
want to see if they can answer questions well. the managers make the final selection.

smith: thank you for telling us about that. i believe ntw has a very similar recruitment process to
yours, but that there are some differences between your training schemes and mr lee’s. can
you briefly tell us about the differences?

wood : yes, they are very similar with regard to the activities, but the focus is slightly different in
our scheme. so, for example, our graduate trainees work in two or three areas of the
business, as do trainees of ntw. we at beijing bank focus on developing managerial skills,
though, which is very important in banking, whereas ntw emphasize the completion of
projects and tasks.

both groups of trainees are provided with classroom training. however, ours is focused on
job knowledge and elements of banking that the graduates need to know. we do not teach
management skills in the classroom at this stage because we feel they're acquiring such
skills through on-the-job experience. however, mr lee’s trainees do receive formal
instruction in management skills.

smith : thank you, mrs wood. let's have a short break now and afterwards we'll have the question-
and answer session.

announcer: that's the end of part 1. you'll now have five minutes to tidy up your answer.

(5 minutes pause)


part ii

in this part, you’ll hear a question-and-answer session. you'll now have three minutes to familiarize
yourself with the headings for part ii.

(3 minutes pause)


smith: all right everyone. perhaps we could see if there’re any questions from the audience. there's
a hand up at the back there. could you tell us who you are and what your question is?

i'm tommy tin, an engineering student from tai po university. it's a new university and i want
to ask, are the history and the reputation of the university important when applying? i've
heard that some universities are better thought of than others.

smith: thank you for that question. perhaps mr lee would like to answer it. the history and the
reputation of the university, are they important?

lee : i can assure you, you would be at a disadvantage if you went to a less well-known
university. but, could i ask you what department you’re in?
tin : i'm in the electrical engineering department.

lee : ah, well, your department is actually quite well known for its research activities. it's the
reputation of the department that matters most, not the university’s.

wood : in the case of banking, the same applies. instead of looking at which university, we look at
which department you’ve come from, but this isn’t the only criterion. we look at how well
previous graduates perform. this can be very important. if a particular university has a
record of producing graduates who perform very well, we’ll bear this in mind.

tin: my elder brother went to stamford university. last year, he was hired by someone who also
went to stamford, so i was wondering whether senior managers tend to favour graduates
from their own universities.

smith: mm. do managers favour applicants from their own university? that's an interesting
question. mrs wood?

wood: no, definitely not. we treat every applicant in the same way. our applicants are selected on
their own merit.

smith: thanks for that. we have another question from the front.

wong: i'm eric wong from the university of sha tin. you’ve talked a lot about the process of
selection-tests, interviews, presentations. which is the most important stage in the selection

wood; mm. i realize there're a lot of stages in the whole selection process, but i would say that the
individual interview is the most important part.

wong: why's that?

wood: well, because it's the time when the applicant can impress the interviewer with their

lee: i think for ntw the most important part of the process is an aptitude test which we do early
on. this aptitude test shows us whether the applicant is flexible and can think independently.
both of these qualities are extremely important in the computer industry.

chan: i'm ellen chan, a reporter for student news and i'd like to ask, is what you wear to the
interview important?

lee: well, we expect people to be neat and tidy, but we do not expect the height of fashion or the
most expensive clothes! in other words, a tidy appearance is what we're looking for.

chan: what else can applicants do to prepare for the interview?

lee: well, we expect the applicants to have done a bit of homework before the interview : by
homework i mean find out what the company does and also, very importantly, what their
products are. these two things are basic information that applicants must know. applicants
should also find out howbig the company is, and another very important piece of
information they'll need to know is who the company’s competitors are.

smith: mrs wood, have you got anything to add to what mr lee has said?

wood: yes, preparation before an interview is very important, though we expect candidates to know
about the services we offer, rather than the products. candidates will also impress us if they
show that they're familiar with the range of customers we have. customers are our important
asset, so some knowledge about this is very important.

smith : we have another question from the floor.

cobb: my name is alan cobb and i'm a major in business studies. i’d like to know how successful
you are in retaining your trainees. i'm sure most companies would hate to put in so much
time and effort only to see their trainees leave after training.
lee: i'd be interested in mrs wood's view on this, as our graduate drop-out rate at ntw is about

wood: yes, we’re not able to keep all our graduate trainees in the bank either, though our rate isn’t
as high as 25% , it's around 10% for us. most of the graduates that leave the scheme do so in
the first three months during the probation period. they leave because they get a better offer,
or they decide that they've chosen the wrong field. for example, some decide they want to go
to what they think are more exciting businesses such as stockbroking or investment houses.

lee: our graduates generally leave at the end of the training. they all stay in the computer
industry because there're a lot of opportunities for trained, experienced computer engineers.
they leave because they want to broaden their experience with different types of company.
they do not generally drop out because they get a better offer. however, another reason why
some enginners choose to leave is because they have the opportunity to specialize.

smith : so what are the things that you do to ensure that your trainees stay with you?

lee : well, at ntw we've considered putting a penalty clause in our engineers’ contract of
employment. the clause would state that they must stay with us for a certain length of time
after training or pay a heavy penalty. it's common practice in some industries. we decided
against this mainly because we felt it would discourage applicants we want from applying
for the scheme. also, we don’t want to affect overall staff morale by forcing someone who’s
unhappy working for us to stay.

smith: how about beijing bank?

wood: we ask our trainees to sign a contract for a minimum period of three years after their
probation. we know three years is a long time, but we do this for two reasons. firstly, such a
contract arrangement is standard banking practice. everyone else does it, so why shouldn't
we! also, we make them sign a contract in order to stop our competitors from recruiting
them at the end of the training.

smith: well. i think we have time for a couple more questions. over on the left.

tong: my name is sally tong and i'm an engineering student. i'd like to know how many female
graduates versus male graduates you recruit for your schemes.

lee: as we're an engineering company, perhaps i can answer that question first. we take on very
few females. we only had two this year and three the year before, which is about a tenth of
our trainees. the reason we hire so few female engineers is because not many apply. we'd
like more because they have several advantages over male engineers. for example, female
engineers are generally better at working with people. they're also good team players
because they're naturally cooperative. also, in our experience, the female engineers have
better language skills. however, there is a big problem that female engineers face - at first,
it’s very difficult to get the respect of the male engineers. male engineers tend to be
suspicious of their abilities.

wood : we try to get an even mix of male and female trainees. in our case about 40% of our trainees
are female. we need trainees who’re comfortable dealing with people, but we need both men
women who are able to do this. however, there are parts of our work which men are better at
because they’re more competitive. that said, one of the strengths women have is their ability
to negotiate successfully.

smith : does that answer your question miss tong?

tong: yes, but i'd also like to ask how many female directors the companies have on their boards?

smith : mr lee, perhaps you would like to answer this question first.

lee : we have several women in senior positions, but we have yet to see our first female director.

wood : well, we do have one, and she was actually one of our graduate trainees when she joined us.

smith : well, that's encouraging. and that’s all we have time for. thank you. mr lee and mrs wood for
coming here today. i'm sure your information will help many members of our audience
decide what they'd like to do in the future with regard to training.

announcer: that's the end of the seminar. you now have 10 minutes to tidy up your answers.