Q: Recently I was invited to interview for a company in financial services. I received some feedback after the interview that I seemed “unwilling to embrace technology.” I must admit that I get nervous with computers. How should I handle this in the future?
A: Technology touches most jobs now. I know of no role in financial services, which does not require some basic PC skills.
It is helpful to understand how a prospective employer perceived you. Not all employers are willing to share candid feedback. First, re-think your responses to questions which may have led an interviewer to have these concerns. Did you mention that you were uncomfortable with technology?
Did you become nervous in response to a question about your skills in this area? Many interviewers will ask about a candidate’s technological expertise and may even to share a rating on skills. Or, an interviewer may ask how a candidate used that skill. For example, “Describe for me a type of project or task, where you were required to use your advanced Excel skills?” This type of question is fairly common interview question. If you lacked confidence in these responses, how can you either 1. improve your confidence level and /or 2. build and practice your skills in this area?
If you need to improve your confidence in how you respond to these types of questions, practice sample responses. Give examples of when you have to use a specific technology in a past job. Also think about offering an example of when you have to learn a new software or system.
If you need to improve your skills, think about taking a course. You can explore classes and online tutorials or you could enroll in a class at a local technical school or college. There are also training companies which offer a variety of training courses. Online courses are often free and self-paced. Enrolling in a local college would be more expensive but many offer one or two day courses, which are a bit more cost-effective.
Once you learn the skill, try to use it a few times to continue practicing the skills. If you have just learned PowerPoint for example, develop a mock PowerPoint presentation on your job search, as an example.
Technology is here to stay. Those candidates who are willing to learn new technologies often have an edge.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.