All of us at some time or the other have to appear for an interview. It is almost an essential condition for being evaluated for a job opportunity. Bulk of graduates are required to appear for interviews in multiple companies before they get selected. Now a days in campus interviews are very common, and are eagerly awaited by young hopeful graduates.

Yet hardly any student is made aware of how to face or take interviews. There are some coaching institutes which charge a hefty sum and train students in group discussions and how to face interviews. It is worth going through such an exposure as it instills   confidence in the raw graduates. However the coaching Institutes reputation should be checked , because otherwise learning the wrong techniques may become a lifelong habit.

A standard interview in entry level jobs may last for ten to twenty minutes depending on the number of candidates and the response of the candidate. Many times the interview committee members may also stretch an interview for right or wrong reasons. Thus these few minutes are only available to the candidate for making a favourable impression on the committee members. The importance of learning how to prepare for an interview becomes apparent. Interviews at mid and higher level jobs are generally more informal and structured. They may not be so much to know about candidates knowledge but to assess their suitability to fit in the company's internal culture and finalise the emoluments package. There may be more than one interview. However the techniques of giving a good interview are essentially the same irrespective of the level applied for.

Pre-Interview Preparation:

Having got a call for an interview for an entry level job opportunity there are certain activities  that the candidate should perform to help his preparation and increase his confidence levels.

The first activity should be to brush one's knowledge about the company. These days all companies have their websites and one can visit it and get essential knowledge about the company, especially what is its line of business. Coming to know the  brief history of the company will be helpful to form an opinion about it and its background. The financial parameters like last years turn over and net profit and growth over previous year should be taken note of. If the company is multi locational and makes multi products, these can be remembered. Other information like company's vision  or mission statement can be understood. Any other information can be cursorily gone through.

The second activity should be to brush up one's own knowledge about one's field of specialization especially common definitions, key terms and try and identify ones that will be fitting the company's activities. For example if it is a chemical manufacturing company and you are a chemical engineer, then questions on energy conservation, basic heat transfer equations, pollution control techniques, corrosion abatement methods can be asked. If one is a mechanical engineer then pump efficiency, maintenance of pumps and other equipment, fabrication technologies can be asked. If one is an MBA then questions on marketing techniques, financial reporting, HRD motivational methods, impact and dealing with competition and competitors, increasing or protecting market share etc can be asked.

Generally the questions will be of general  basic type and depending on candidate's quality of answers in depth questions can also be asked, which is in favour of the candidate.

Another important activity should be to try and simulate likely questions based on the company's activities and formulate answers. These should be practiced a few times daily if possible by  sitting in front of a mirror. This will give one confidence and a flow of words. One can moderate and modulate one's responses.

The mode of going to the interview location should be decided. One should reach at least fifteen to twenty minutes before the interview time. If it is indicated that some formalities have to be performed like checking of certificates, filling of forms etc,. then accordingly one should reach that much earlier. This is important as it avoids last minute rush  and associated hassles.

Reaching early enables the candidate to become familiar with the surroundings and feel some what at home. He/she can also have a  look at other candidates and strike a conversation with a few of them. It helps to lower the internal tension that builds up before an interview.

The dress to be worn for the interview should be sober, clean and well ironed. These days a tie is not necessary and may invite comment especially if it is for entry level interviews. Tie is now out of fashion for interviews. Gaudy and bright colour shirts should be avoided. Shoes should be well polished as they are generally noted. One should be well groomed and properly shaved as the case may be.

The portfolio of certificates and testimonials should be kept properly in a file which can e placed in one's front on the table across which interview is being taken. If these are in a brief case then the file should be taken out and briefcase should be kept on the floor by the side of the candidates chair.

One should take light breakfast or light food before appearing for the interview. Foods that will give belching or are smelly should be avoided. A few minutes before one's turn a glass of water should be sipped slowly.

The Interview

When one's name is called the candidate should gently knock on the door and open it and ask for permission to enter. After a couple of steps he should wish either Good Morning or Good Afternoon or Good Evening as the case may be. When asked to sit he should occupy the chair and sit in an upright but relaxed manner.

The candidate  should maintain eye contact while interacting with whosoever asks him questions and other interview panel members. This is a gesture of confidence and also attracts the questioner to listen to the answers attentively.

initially preliminary questions are asked like what is full name, place of residence, name of college/ institute, to build a rapport and put the candidate at ease. This may take one or two minutes. The answers should be to the point with no backgrounds or explanations. Usually the senior most or Chairman will ask such questions and then request another member to ask further questions.

This is generally the first question of the make or break interview as far as the candidate is concerned.

When this question is asked usually the candidates over answer. That is they tell everything they know. This is a mistake which usually can land them in trouble. They go from a state of ’I know’ to ‘I don’t know’. How does this happen?

This happens because the candidate by over answering has now left the follow up question to be asked from the candidates “I don’t know” domain. The interviewer is in a way  provoked to search for a new question which he himself may not have been prepared for. In entry level interviews usually, they are basically interested to know the candidates confidence, manner of speech, style of presentation, sharpness of response rather than their depth of knowledge. So when the candidate exhausts all his knowledge the interviewer wants to put him in his place and asks him a tougher follow up question or even an unrelated question which the candidate usually finds it tough to answer. In the process the candidate leaves behind a lesser impression not commensurate with his level of knowledge exhibited by him.

We can illustrate by an example. Let us say the question asked is “who is your favourite actor”. The candidate replies ‘It is Shah Rukh Khan’ and then proceeds to give details of the list of movies of his he has seen, the roles he has performed and why he liked them and goes on and on. Ideally he should have just answered ‘it is Shah Rukh Khan’. Probably the next question could be ‘which is the last movie of his you have seen’ or ‘why is he your favourite actor’. To the point answers would mean the next question would be an extension and not an unrelated one. When the question is over answered the interviewer may ask a  conflict question like ‘ Don’t you think he apes Dilip Kumar’s style’ and it may put the candidate off track forcing him to come up with an unconvincing reply with his body language faltering.

It is important to note that by giving short and to the point answers it is the candidate who is leading the interviewer to ask the type of questions which he can confidentially answer and leave a good impression behind. In a way it is the candidate who is controlling the interview process. 

Smart candidates do not argue with the interviewers. Also it is a good policy to answer I don;t know if one genuinely does not have or is not sure of a right response. It is much better and sincere approach than trying to pull a fast one which can be seen through by the interviewers. Also one should respond and not react. Every question should be heard patiently, reflected upon and then responded properly. 

In case the candidate wants to know anything about the company or the job specifications, then he can do so by first taking permission to do so. Most of the time this gesture is appreciated and also gives opportunity to the candidate to exhibit some background knowledge he has gathered about the company. Such interest shown also helps to form a good opinion about the candidate.

The candidate should thank the interviewers politely at the end of the interview and calmly make exit.

Post Interview

Many waiting candidates waiting outside may approach for knowing the questions, trends etc of the just concluded interview. The candidate should not avoid but politely answer. It will help him to gradually wind down after the tension / excitement of his own interview. He should then leave the result to his fate and proceed with life.

Conclusion

These days young persons move from job to job, staying for short periods in one job. Also the recruitment process is outsourced by many companies. There are now tele interviews also increasingly taking place. Speed is the new mantra. Therefore candidates have very short time , a few minutes to make a good impression on the interviewers.

Practicing facing interviews will go a long way to develop confidence to face variery of interviews and land with a right company in a right position with right type of emoluments.

 

 


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Comments (2)

  1. RAMAKRISHNAN. A

Very useful tips; practical and informative!

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  1. vijay

Thank you for your observations.

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