Category Archives: Immigration

Typical interview questions in New Zealand

Previously, I’ve discussed the “STAR” technique used in most interviews in New Zealand and it is the best way to structure your response to interview questions:

Situation – briefly describe the background to the situation
Task – specifically describe your responsibility
Action – specifically describe what you did
Result –  describe the outcome of your actions

Typical motivational questions

  • Tell me something about yourself
  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • Why have you chosen this particular vocation?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals or what is your career objective?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What do you know about the company and what it does?
  • Why would you like to work for our organisation?
  • What do you think will be your main contributions to this position/organisation?
  • What does team work mean to you?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • What style of management gets the best from you?

Behavioural or Competency Based Questions
Behavioural based questions require candidates to give an example from their past work experience in response to questions aligned with a specific behaviour or competency. This methodology is based on the notion that past behaviour is the best reflector of future behaviour.

Typical Competencies and Questions

Competency – Planning and Organising

Can you tell us about a time when you had competing deadlines and you had to prioritise?
Can you tell us about an event or project you have planned?

Competency – Relationship Management

Can you tell us about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult stakeholder?
Can you tell us about a time you have had to build a relationship with someone at work?
Competency – Communication Skills
Can you tell us about a time when you had to communicate the same message to a variety of people and how
you ensured understanding?
Can you tell us about a time you were misunderstood and how you managed that?

Possible Questions for you to ask the interviewer/s

  • Why the position has become available?
  • What training and induction is available?
  • How would you describe the culture in the team?
  • What is the make-up of the team?
  • The future expectations of this position?
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Never take job rejections personally

For those already in New Zealand, you probably noticed that the job market here is intensely competitive.

Aside from those permanently residing here looking for jobs, NZ’s net arrivals per year hover around 70,000 people. A huge percentage of those are returning Kiwis from Australia as the economy across the ditch is no longer as lucrative as before.

Here, there is no such thing as “entry level” job. Even jobs that maybe easy to get in the Philippines like “cashier” or “barrista” require some sort of qualification or 2- year minimum experience.

For regular office jobs, it is very common to receive anywhere between 50-200 applications. For specialised areas, that number is significantly cut for obvious reasons. Nowadays, securing a work visa is pretty much dependent on an offer. No job means no visa.

The Skilled Migrant Category which used to be the common pathway for many Filipino professionals offshore is no longer a viable option.  This is primarily due to the Philippines being taken off the comparative labour market list. Before you might get 50 points for Philippine work experience – now, it amounts to zero points unless you have worked for a company domiciled in a country that is on that list. What it means going forward is that Filipinos would need a skilled job offer more than ever and it would take a couple of years of onshore experience before even thinking of residency.

You can find tons of resources online on how to make a good first impression, write the perfect CV, the best way to answer behavioural questions in an interview and so on. But the truth of the matter is, hiring is never a rational decision.

A lot of things goes on and sometimes it is something beyond yourself. The company can be looking at how you will fit or complement the rest of the team. It can also look on how you fit with the overall culture of the company. It can also be likely that you ticked all the boxes but someone is better than you. Or it can be as superficial as having a “look” that impressed the bosses.

Accepting this reality prevents hurt feelings in the job hunt. Instead, focus on the things YOU CAN CONTROL. You may expand your skill set or even look at a different industry altogether where your skills might be transferable.

If you do get the “decline” phone call after an interview, thank them for their time, ask for feedback and tell them to consider you in future vacancies. That is two or three people (who interviewed you) already in your network list. Jot down their names so you don’t forget. It might come handy should you make another application in the future.

Bottomline, it is a numbers game. Set a target of jobs you want to apply per week and put it on a spreadsheet. Each failed interview have lessons to learn. Keep smashing it and somehow, somewhere there will be someone looking for what you have to offer.

Why learning how to drive in NZ is important

One of the most important skills you must learn before coming to New Zealand is knowing how to drive. Even if you’ve been driving for several years in the Philippines, it is almost guaranteed you’ve picked up a lot of bad habits.

Here in New Zealand, it is imperative you must know how to properly position your car inside the lanes, follow right-of-way and give-way rules, signal when turning (called here as “indicating”), sufficient spacing between cars, among other things.

I would strongly advise that you get a non-professional or professional card (not paper) license in the Philippines before arriving as you can use this to temporarily drive for one year while you learn your way on driving on the other side of the road and complete the conversion to full license. After one year of living here, you need to get your New Zealand license.

Public transportation is bad (and expensive!) in most places in NZ and there is sometimes a long wait for bus or train services outside of rush hours. If you are working nights or early mornings, or off the beaten path, it is almost required by some employers that you have a valid license and a reliable vehicle. If you are a newcomer, having the ability to drive makes it easier for you to come to interviews, view houses to rent, find schools for your kids and even simple tasks like carrying bulk groceries.

Cars are relatively cheap here. For around $3000-5000, you can buy a decent car on Trade Me to start. Not only are you saving on public transport, but you are saving precious time that can be used in improving your CV, learning new skills or networking with the locals. Cars also serve as protection to rain, wind or snow. New Zealand is a cold and damp country for most of the year and braving the extreme outdoor elements can put a strain on your health and well-being.

When I was new here, I was living in South Auckland but found a part time job in West Auckland which was a 15 minute drive then. Taking the bus, this would translate to about an hour changing between 2 buses and spending around $30 a day. Doing the math, I found that buying a cheap car and paying for petrol was far more economical and efficient, not to mention being home early to rest for the following working day.

One thing of caution is do not drive under the influence of alcohol as this is considered a serious offence in New Zealand and might disqualify you from gaining a work/residence visa or even citizenship down the line. There are many cases of Filipinos caught drunk while driving and this led to their deportation. Learn from their hard lessons.

 

 

Why soft skills are more important than hard skills in the NZ job market

Kapag naghahanap tayo ng trabaho sa Pilipinas, kadalasan natin binabandera ang mga kakayahan natin teknikal.

Maaaring ito ay ang bilis nating mag type sa computer, magkumpuni ng sirang sasakyan, o kaya mag turok ng karayom para kumuha ng dugo sa isang pasyente.

Sa kabilang banda, mayroon din tayong mga tinatawag na “soft skills” tulad ng pakikipag kapwa tao, pakikipag negosasyon, malikhaing paghahanap ng solusyon sa mga problema, team work, adaptability o kaya sense of humour. Hindi tulad ng “hard skills” o kakayahang teknikal, mahirap itong sukatin, at kadalasang hinuhusgahan base sa kultura ng isang bansa.

Sa New Zealand, ang pilosopiya ng karamihan ng negosyo sa paghahanap ng staff ay naka ankla sa tinatawag na “soft skills”. Ang katwiran nila ay madali ituro o matutunan ang technical skills, at base sa pabago bago ng technolohiya, madalas ding nagbabago ang hard skills na kinakailangan. Marami na ring teknikal na trabaho ngayon ang unti-unti pinapalitan ng automation o mga robot.

Ang soft skills naman ay hindi madali matutunan at nade develop sa life experience ng isang tao. Malaking bahagi ang “team fit” sa Kiwi workplace at maaring masira ang team chemistry ng isang organisasyon kung maghi hire ng isang tao na hindi marunong makisama sa iba. Importanteng maintindihan na maliliit ang mga kumpanya dito at mahirap alisin ang isang tao kapag nagkamali ng hiring decision.

Ayon sa isang survey na ginawa ng Careers NZ, isang government organization na tumutulong sa mga taong humanap ng trabaho, ito ang pitong pangunahing katangian na hinahanap ng mga Kiwi employer:

1. Positive Attitude
2. Communication
3. Teamwork
4. Self-management
5. Willingness to learn
6. Thinking skills (Problem Solving)
7. Resilience

Madalas isisi ng mga bagong dating ang kahirapang maghanap ng trabaho dito sa di umano’y diskriminasyon o racism. Hindi ko sinasabing hindi nangyayari ito ngunit kadalasan, ang kakulangan sa “soft skills” ng mga bagong migrante ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit nade decline ang application. Ikaw ba ang tao na gugustuhin ko makasama araw-araw sa opisina? Would this person complement ang mga taong naririto na? Can you express yourself well and articulate ideas effectively? Would this person fit our company culture and overall brand? Ito ang ilang katanungan na makakatulong sa iyo. Tumingin sa salamin.

Tandaan na mas mataas na posisyon o sueldo, mas mataas na soft skills din ang kinakailangan.

Naging minsan na rin akong hiring manager at sa sampu hanggang isandaan na CV na natatanggap ko para sa isang vacancy, expected na agad na makikita ang pare parehong hard skills mula sa mga aplikante. Magkakatalo ang pilian sa kung sino ang may higit na soft skills.

Para ma develop ang soft skills mo, malaki ang maitutulong ng pag volunteer o di kaya pagsali sa mga professional organizations tulad ng mga sumusunod:

Volunteerwellington.nz

Volunteeringauckland.org.nz

Toastermasters New Zealand

Maraming Pilipino ang mahilig makisalamuha sa kapwa Pilipino lamang kapag nandito na. Mas mainam kung maki bonding ka rin sa mga Kiwi at iba pang lahi. Malaki ang  magagawa nito para palaguin ang inyong “soft skills.”

 

 

Joining a Kiwi partner in New Zealand

kiwiAs it is Valentines day today, I will be discussing “partnership” in the context of New Zealand.

For you to be able to gain a visa based on partnership, first let us define what this means to Immigration as it is largely different from what we are used to as Filipinos.

A “partner” in Kiwi speak does not mean “boyfriend-girlfriend” in pinoy speak. It is also NOT a requirement that the two of you need to be married or even of the opposite sex.

When you lodge a visa to join a Kiwi partner in New Zealand, Immigration will be looking if you live together in a “genuine and stable relationship” even if you are both men or both women. It could be a lot of different factors including:

  • how long you’ve been together
  • how long you’ve been living together as a couple
  • your living arrangements
  • whether you support each other financially
  • how you share financial responsibilities
  • how committed you are to a life together
  • whether you own property together and/or share your property
  • any children you have together, including your arrangements for their care
  • whether you share common household tasks
  • whether other people recognise your relationship.

This means they should be an on-going relationship ideally 12 months or more. There is no “fiance visa” in NZ nor is a marriage certificate enough to prove a relationship.

Instead, the best documents to produce are the following:

  • birth certificates for any children you share
  • cards, letters, emails and social media conversations
  • photos together
  • a joint rental agreement or home loan
  • mail addressed to you together at the same place and time
  • joint bank accounts with significant movement
  • evidence you own assets together
  • joint credit cards or loan agreements
  • joint utilities accounts, like power or phone bills

This is the reason “Marriage of convenience” or “anchor babies” rarely happen in New Zealand because of the substantial evidences you need to present.

If you have been living apart but in a relationship, you need to provide information about the reasons for this. For example, husband was working in the Middle East while the wife was busy looking after the property and children in the Philippines.

A common strategy among Filipinos is they let one person go ahead to New Zealand to look for work while the partner stays in the Philippines. The tips above are important to keep in mind and collate evidences as early as possible to allow for a smooth transition for a reunion down the line.

 

How to spot a dodgy immigration adviser

I’ve discussed the business of immigration advisers in the past and have stated my reasons to be wary of their services.

Nowadays I see a lot of them peddling on social media and even the licensed ones are spewing myths, half truths and outright lies just to get people to sign up.

Here are some sure-fire ways to identify which ones you should stay away from:

  1. Recommends study as pathway to residency. This is a no-brainer. Even the NZ Government itself have stated this is not the case and our very own Philippine Ambassador have warned against doing this to avoid huge financial loss. 
  2. Describes New Zealand as “an easy place to find a job” without knowing your skills.
  3. Uses buzzwords like “free healthcare” or “bring your family” when this is not automatically the case for everyone.
  4. Claims you don’t need IELTS. If residency is your end goal there is no way of dodging an English test now unless you grew up and educated in the United States or other countries where English is the first language.
  5. Claims even WITHOUT experience you can get a job in New Zealand. The current job market is flooded with unemployed people with heaps of qualifications and experience. What more a person with no experience and coming from overseas?
  6. They claim you can earn while studying. Sure you can earn but with a 20 hour-a-week legal limit to work while on a student visa, it is nearly impossible to recoup the living and immigration-related costs. Here it is called beer money.

 

 

 

Full speech of Ms. June Ranson talking to international students

Fifteen point summary of her talk:

  1. Don’t study business or management.
  2. If you are keen on studying, review your course if it meets New Zealand’s skill shortages.
  3. Don’t waste your time and just take any odd job, find an employer that will utilise your best skills that will lead to residency.
  4. Consider joining Toastmasters to improve your communication skills.
  5. Move out of the Filipino community. Mingle with other cultures.
  6. Identify actual companies that actually interest you. Do your background research on that employer.
  7. Don’t be passive in interviews, ask questions which gives good signals to employers.
  8. Learn how to write a kiwi-style CV and modify your CV to the job you’re applying for so it covers the issues that the employer is looking for.
  9. Remember that not all jobs are advertised – networking is a good way of finding this hidden job market.
  10. If you use Trade Me or Seek, expect hundreds of applications, make your CV stand out and worth looking at.
  11. Talk to your Kiwi tutors or friends and ask them for recommendations on who to talk to with regard to employment opportunities.
  12. Leverage the idea that a New Zealand employer can “try you out” whereas hiring a Kiwi would be difficult to fire if they don’t become a good fit.
  13. Steer clear of employers who don’t pay the minimum wage or practice dodgy stuff like “pay for a job”.
  14. New Zealand employers are keen on helping you at immigration paperwork if they can see the value you are adding.
  15. When you receive a job offer, look carefully at the job description if it matches the ANZSCO.

 

Paano magtrabaho ang mga Kiwi

NZ V PHILS2

Isa sa mga pinakamahalagang adjustment na kailangang gawin ng isang migrante ay maintindihan ang pagkakaiba ng work culture sa New Zealand kumpara sa Pilipinas. Kahit wala ka pang trabaho dito, makakatulong ito kung paano sumagot at kumilos sa isang job interview.

May isang pagaaral na ginawa ang isang Dutch social psychologist na si Geert Hofstede tungkol sa pagkakaiba ng mga kultura pagdating sa trabaho. Tinawag niya itong “Cultural Dimensions Theory” na maaring gamitin para ipaliwanag ang limang natatanging kaibahan ng isang Filipino worker at isang New Zealander.

1. POWER DISTANCE INDEX 

Sa Pilipinas, dahil kadalasan malaki ang mga organisasyon, malaki ang distansya ng mga manager sa kanilang mga tauhan. Tanggap sa ating lipunan ang inequality dahil na rin sa malaking agwat ng mayaman or mahirap. Sa New Zealand, dine describe ang kanilang lipunan as “egalitarian” o likas ng pagkapantay pantay ng mga tao. Dito, pwede mo tawagin ang boss mo by their first name. Sa isang organisasyon, ang mga desisyon ng mga nakakataas ay maaring kwestyunin, at kahit ang mga nasa mababang posisyon ay pwedeng magbigay ng suhestyon. Malaki ang pagpapahalaga natin sa status ng mga titulo tulad ng “Senior Manager” or “Executive”, samantalang sa New Zealand siya ay tatawagin lamang na “Team Leader”.

2.  UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE

Para sa mga Kiwi, mahalaga ang pagsunod sa mga batas at alintuntunin. Direkta sila kung magsalita at hindi sinasangayunan ang malabong usapan. Sa Pilipinas naman, ang mga batas ay naroroon, ngunit may flexibility tulad na lang halimbawa sa pagkuha ng driver’s license – pwede “mapagusapan” o maglagay. Sa pagpasok sa trabaho, kung ang nakatakdang oras ay 7:00am halimbawa, pinagbibigyan ang dumarating ng 10-20 minutes late. Sa pakikipagusap, kadalasan ang pagiging prangka para sa Pilipino ay senyales ng kayabangan. Sa paghi-hire naman ng mga empleyado ang Kiwi ay maingat sa pagpili samantalang ang Pilipino ay maaring sumugal sa isang “unknown” – dahil na rin pwede tanggalin kung kinakailangan. Mahalaga ang health and safety policies ng mga kumpanya dito dahil malaki ang penalty kapag may naaksidente o namatay sa trabaho.

3.  LONG TERM VS SHORT TERM ORIENTATION

Ang approach ng Kiwi sa mga problema ay praktikal at outcome-based. Kapag gumawa sila ng desisyon, nagiisip sila ng epekto nito five to ten years down the line. Sa Pilipino naman, mas mahalaga ang agarang solusyon at dumikit sa mga kilos na nakagawian na. Kaya ang isang third world na bansa tulad ng Pilipinas ay mabagal ang economic development, samantalang ang mga mauunlad na bansa tulad ng New Zealand ay focused sa continuous development.

4. MASCULINE VS FEMININE SOCIETY

Kung ihahalintulad ang kultura ng isang bansa sa kasarian ng tao, masasabing ang Pilipinas ay “masculine” – binibigyang halaga ang mga katangian tulad ng strength, dominance at assertiveness samantalang ang lipunan ng New Zealand ay maituturing na “feminine” – binibigyang diin ang kooperasyon, modesty at pagpapahalaga sa mga mahihina. Kung kaya’t hindi umuubra ang masyado pabibo sa interview dito sa New Zealand. Ikaw ang makikita bilang “Tall Poppy” at siguradong kaiinisan. Kahit ikaw pa ang “Michael Jordan” ng industriya mo, dapat ang hangarin mo ay mag “fit in”. Parang laro ng rugby na ang bawa’t isa ay may kanya kanyang papel.

5. INDULGENCE VS RESTRAINT

Pangkaraniwang tawagin ang Kiwi workplace na “laid back” o “petiks” sa salitang kanto. Importante sa kanila ang oras para sa rest and recreation kaya dito sa New Zealand mahaba ang paid vacation leaves (mandatory 4 weeks sa kasalukyang batas). Dito rin sa New Zealand makikita ang pagjo-jogging sa gitna ng lunch break. Sa Pilipinas, kahit mahilig rin tayo magsaya ang kultura natin ay likas na matiisin at hindi alintana ang paghihigpit ng sinturon. Mahilig ang mga pinoy sa overtime kahit umabot ng 70 hours per week magtrabaho samantalang ang kiwi ay bihira magtrabaho ng higit sa 40 hours kada linggo. Ang normal dito ay anywhere between 32-38 hours.

Sa pagiging aware sa limang pangunahing pagkakaiba ng work place culture, mas madali kang makaka assimilate sa lipunan ng mga Kiwi. Handa ka ba para kalimutan ang nakagawian at tanggapin ang mga ito?

5 ways to survive the New Zealand Winter

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On the month of June each year, the winter season in New Zealand begins. It will last until September 1st when spring officially kicks in. For most Filipinos and other nationalities that come from tropical climates, it can be a hard adjustment. But here are some tips I would recommend to make it easier:

1.GET THE RIGHT CLOTHING

The first time I arrived in New Zealand was actually winter season and my mistake during that time was to bring “ukay ukay” jackets to use. Wrong move. Most of them were useless against the Kiwi cold. What you need are “fleece” jackets as what they call them here. I would recommend going for the Merino wool variety which are soft, thin and lightweight but packs in the warmth.

If you are heading for places in the South Island, it is imperative to layer your clothes – perhaps starting with a thermal underwear, your regular clothes as a second layer, a soft shell jacket as the third layer, and perhaps a duck down jacket or a gore-tex jacket (for rain) as your outer layer. If you are walking regularly through snow, it would be ideal to get heavy thermal socks and waterproof boots.

Take note even if you are indoors, you might need long sleeve jerseys and jogging pants to let you sleep properly at night.

These winter clothing do not come cheap. However, I do not suggest you scrimp on them as bad gear might get you sick which would be more costly in the long run. One way to find cheaper options is by going to a local hospice shop (the NZ version of the ukay ukay) or buying online though Trade Me. If you are buying brand new, some of the Kiwi stores I recommend are Kathmandu, Macpac, or Ice Breaker. Just wait for their occasional sales, usually near New Zealand public holidays and NEVER buy full price.

2.GET A FLU VACCINE AND STAY HEALTHY

When the cold months kick in, your chances of getting the infamous New Zealand “bug” (the kiwi term for virus) increases ten fold. If you get stricken, you can be shut down from work for up to 2 weeks and spread misery to the rest of your household. So in order to prevent this, it is advised to get a flu shot from your GP (General Practitioner – the term for family doctor here) or local “chemist” (pharmacy). Cost would be minimal or free in certain situations. Getting enough sleep, eating fruits and vegetables or perhaps taking a multivitamin would be other ways of strengthening your immune system.

3.CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOUSE

Although living in a house you choose might be difficult in certain places particularly in Auckland, your overall health and well-being can be decided by your place of shelter. Steer clear of a “leaky home” if possible. The NZ Ministry of Business lists down the tell-tale signs of one. If you are already living in one, using a dehumidifier might be your best friend to somewhat remedy it. Not only is this cheaper to run, but it is healthier option than using conventional heaters. To save electricity, heat or dehumidify yourself in a single room instead of the whole house.

4.STAY ACTIVE

On winter days, most of us tend to lock ourselves indoors and be a couch potato. This will probably set you up for depression or “winter blues” as they call them. It is recommended that you get sunshine as much as you can. You have options of going skiing, running or even brisk walking provided you follow number one as above. You can also sign up for a local gym if doing outdoor activities are unbearable. Exercise will help inject endorphins to your brain, sending positive vibes to the whole body.

5.TAKE A VACATION

Why not take a break? This is what I usually do. During winter months in my experience it is usually cheap to get airfares to go to the other side of the world. USA, Canada and most of Europe are experiencing summer. Other options are nearby pacific islands like Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu or Rarotonga. The warm weather will certainly help you relax even if it’s only a couple of weeks.