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While applicants are comfortable with written tests, it is the personal interview that puts them off. A list of dos and don’ts to tackle the latter.
One of the most important tools of recruitment is the job interview that usually succeeds the written/aptitude tests. Many candidates abhor this process because of the direct impact that it has on his/her job prospect.
The rote-learning methodology followed in most higher education centres favours the written test more than the interview. The objective of a job interview is twofold — an assessment of the personality and the goodness of fit. With millions graduating every year from various tiers of institutions, this tool has taken on humongous proportions.
The government’s focus on soft skill training and development has also added to its importance. However, employers are still crying hoarse about the unavailability of the right candidates and the lack of communication skills. This short account outlines the dos and don’ts of professional job interviews.
Most interviews would start with a question on your profile; while employers are interested in basic information, anxious interviewees tend to go into elaborate history. To a question ‘Can you tell me something about yourself?’ applicants start from when and where they or their parents were raised and before they can complete they are stopped short for want of time. Focus on who you are as a person briefly with quick references to your family background. The duration of the interview is so short that you need to showcase your communication skills and background most succinctly. Do not repeat what is there in your resume or your campus brochure.
With a large pool of easily available applicant resource, employers are looking for sharp candidates who have done their homework about the company history. There is no scope for complacency and even if you are the class topper, this parameter can wear you down immediately. Details of the organisation’s turnover, diversification, future plans and economic positions are easily available today on their own as well as on other business websites. However it is important to quote authentic statistics when asked rather than hazarding guesses. While it is possible that you may not have all the information, being fairly conversant with the company you are being interviewed for is mandatory.
Some applicants are so anxious about the whole process that they give only monosyllabic or vaguely short answers. Getting an opportunity to be interviewed itself is an achievement in today’s competitive world, so one must use the time judiciously to display one’s knowledge and acumen. It is not only important to be heard but it is more important to engage in a fruitful and fulfilling interaction. Remember that employers are looking for a goodness of fit and are constantly evaluating you. However, if you do not know much, it is better to be honest.
Employers sometimes resort to stress interviews to gauge the levels of suitability of candidates. During this process they are looking to find out how keen are you about the said assignment.
To augment this you should make an attempt to interact with senior or middle-level employees of this organisation to help you steer the discussion on the lines suitable to you. Very often candidates get flustered and render themselves obsolete for such positions. For freshers, this takes on a more dangerous trend because they get rattled and disillusioned, affecting future prospects also. The best way to prepare for this is to keep abreast of all that is happening in and around the organisation. This is completely possible because you always have some time before an interview session.
In some interview sessions, candidates are asked to talk about one or more of their achievements in life. If it is specified, one needs to talk about professional or job related excellence. Here, they are not expecting you to open up your large dossier of certificates medals and prizes; rather, they are looking to evaluate your own perception of your abilities, skills and talent. Personal achievements and laurels could also be highlighted depending on the direction that the interview is taking.
It is important to be yourself at all times, but your enthusiasm and body language must portray your interest in the job through the interview. Diffidence, complacency, shallowness, anxiety are all very evident in an interview, and the candidate has to take measures to reduce these dampeners through punctuality, a professionally acceptable dress code, language and etiquette besides good behaviour. Courtesies and corporate etiquette are sure-shot winners. Follow the well known adage “Your attitude depicts your aptitude.” Technical interviews invariably assess risk-taking skills, crisis management, and problem-solving skills which require an out-of-the-box-thinking approach.
When asked specific theoretical questions, candidates must not give textbook like answers but should look to give innovative responses that are bound to be factually correct but will also showcase your creativity. A good academic track record will surely facilitate this process, but practical wisdom must also be applied. For students/applicants of professional job-oriented courses, the internship and summer assignments would certainly provide a realistic and practical solution. Needless to say, these practical exposures, of whatever duration or kind play an important part in the success at these interviews. Get a good set of references from your internship organisation mentors.
The Strength Weakness Opportunity Threats analysis is an important tool used by employers/interviewers. Depending on the question, it is perfectly fine to start with any one of the components of this tool provided that it is worded correctly. Both strengths and weaknesses must be portrayed very subtly and not over the board. “I am good at everything I take up,” is pompous, “while I am lazy,” is dangerous. Your own SWOT analysis should be in keeping with the generic requirements of the job that you are applying for. If the assignment requires you to be mobile, you must demonstrate your ability to take up such an assignment.
An interesting development is the updating of profiles on savvy professional job portals or media sites like LinkedIn. It is not only important to update regularly and network incessantly but also ensure integrity, good language and grammar along with the right references from senior members of the fraternity. Large multi-national and Indian companies are known to undertake background checks and verify such profiles before making offers. Employers also pick up points of discussion or reference from these sites for further analysis in the interview. Your job profile also must be professionally acceptable, so refrain from frivolous posts/videos/photographs.