In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 24, 11-17 September 2021

Interview Made Easy

 

Sangeeta Gadhok Magan

 

"Ihave an interview coming up soon." This thought alone can be frightening for many, but what exactly do you fear? It is obviously the fear of rejection that constantly kills your confidence. So, let us see how we can work on this. In this article, I will share few important tips on how to prepare well and sail through the interview process, rather than utter the saddest expression - "I wish I had!" Because,  if you prepare well, there is nothing to fear.

 The next question that comes to our mind is 'How to prepare?' It often happens that during all the years spent in schools and colleges, you were so absorbed in academics that you never had time to work on working on an equally important aspect - your soft skills. You were just worried about getting a good CGPA and make a great resume because you need to impress the recruiters with your resume and hence get shortlisted.

So your resume looks great and you feel you have done a good job of it. All those years of hard work are now going to pay off by getting shortlisted for your dream job. But, is that all? Is this sufficient? Unfortunately, NO.

 It actually renders me speechless that candidates will spend years in school and college and hours and hours on their resume and cover letter, polishing them to near perfection. But once they get shortlisted and subsequently get a call for an interview, they stop doing anything as if their job is confirmed.

Whereas, the call for the interview goes to all candidates who qualified the shortlisting criterion. It does not mean that they all have been given the job. In fact, the situation is even more competitive now. Now you have to prove your worth, prove that you bring to the table something, that the others do not, and that you are the most appropriate candidate for the profile.

Why should the employers hire you and not someone else? All candidates who have been shortlisted are eligible for the profile; their resume has fulfilled the basic criteria that the organization is looking for. Now what?

 

 What is that edge that you offer over the other candidates? That is most crucial and hence you are needed to put in the same hard work that you put into making the resume. Although the employers have responded to your application, it is your interview skills that will ensure that you pass the interview and get that dream job.

So, go that extra mile to enhance your interview skills because interview is not about just repeating what is there on your resume, it is much more. And many a times, candidates are not even able to justify things they have mentioned on that page. It is no surprise that candidates pick words from Google and put them on their resume, especially while writing their 'Career Objective'. And obviously this is a big mistake. You should read from everywhere but mention only something that truly defines you and that, what you can justify naturally. While writing your resume, you should concentrate on making the best first impression on the reader. Make sure that you understand the needs and requirements of the organization and the profile and that you are able to communicate the expected skills effectively. The trick is to create a quality resume that resonates with a prospective employer in order to take the first step towards getting your dream job.

Let us come back to our 'interview skills' and begin the preparation. Here are a few important tips that will help you work on ensuring your success.

Preparation before the interview

You should do a complete and thorough homework on what is the sector, the organization and the profile you have applied for. This is very crucial for you to understand what the employers are looking for, what kind of a candidate is going to be an asset and which candidate has an edge. To stand out in the crowd, you have to understand what skills are expected to be known to the candidate.

Study very carefully each word and each line on your resume; you should not put anything in this document that you cannot justify.

Do a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis on your own self and know everything about yourself; your strengths and weaknesses, your achievements and your interests. Everything and anything that can help you prove that you are the right fit for the profile.

Anticipate questions that the employers can ask you and prepare answers, write them down, edit them and customize the answers according to your audience. Audience analysis is the most crucial part here; we cannot have generalized answers to all questions for all organizations across sectors and all profiles, because every profile has specific skill sets that are required to be seen in the fitting candidate.

No preparation or incomplete preparation is an obvious killer and majority of the interviews fail because the candidate didn't anticipate or expect some of the questions asked and hence were not ready to answer them. I think all of you will agree with me when I say that within a few seconds it is possible to see whether a candidate has prepared or not.

A word of caution for all: Never be dishonest with your answers, do not fake; do not pretend. Your credibility is fundamental. And moreover if your own answers do not sound convincing to your ears, they will never convince any audience.

Selling is important and in an interview, you are selling yourself to the employer. You are trying to prove that you are the most appropriate candidate for the profile. So, you have no choice, other than to feel you are the right fit and prove to the employers that they need not look beyond you.

 

Importance of appearance

Another important aspect to work on is your grooming, your dress sense or your attire. Remember, your impression counts and the first impression is the last one. Let us understand how our grooming matters.

Your attire is very crucial, are you wearing an attire that is a mismatch with the surroundings? What I mean is, wearing jeans and a t-shirt to an interview is obviously a mistake. So you should wear something that makes you look professional.

Be sure that you are groomed well. For the ladies, western or Indian formals would do but for men, only western formals are correct.

Sweat can also be a hindrance to a pleasing personality, it is crucial to look fresh.

 

 

 

Have the right attitude and behavior

Equally important is your attitude and behaviour. Be enthusiastic and energetic and have a positive attitude, because lack of enthusiasm and negative attitude can kill your chances of success at the interview. Your passion for the profile is the key decisive factor.

If your verbal skills are important, then your non verbal cues are even more important. Your non verbal cues or your body language, your facial expressions, your eye contact, the tone, pitch and modulation of your words can make or break you.

My advice is to remain positive at all times. Remain confident but never go overboard; over confidence can kill your chances as well because you may sound arrogant. There is a very thin line between being confident and over confident. Be humble. Humility and confidence is a combination that people admire.

Tell them why they should be hiring you and not the others. Do not misunderstand my words, you don't need to criticize anyone one, just prove your worth. Show how you match the job requirements, how your education, training, experience and most importantly your skills make you a more and the most appropriate candidate.

Practice, practice and practice

Even the best of preparation would fail you if you do not practice. If possible, ask a family member or a friend to give you practice. If alone, to boost your confidence and train yourself better you could even stand in front of a mirror and conduct your own interview.

In both situations, video record your answers, listen and see what you spoke and how you have spoken.

Be your own critic, work on all the areas where you feel your performance should have and could have been better. Work on editing and re-editing your responses and anticipate what more questions may come up based on your responses. The more you practice, the higher will be your confidence and the better will be your performance.

 

During the interview

You could have prepared well, practiced much, yet there could be butterflies in your stomach on the big day. Let them flutter but don't let it be a zoo! It is natural to be a little nervous but never let the nervousness and the stress spoil your performance. Remind yourself that you have put in a lot of effort in the preparation and just stay calm. Tell yourself, 'You can do it'.

Meditate, sleep well, eat well a day before so that you are at peace and feeling fresh and positive. Control your nervousness. Sweaty palms and trembling voice will not take you anywhere. Most importantly, sound enthusiastic and passionate about the sector, the organization and the profile.

If you are good, be better; If you are better, be the best; If you are the best, keep bettering your best every moment of your life! Never stagnate because anything that is stagnating, stinks and we don't want to stink at all.

Always carry a smile, it makes you look beautiful. People admire a true smile. And as I always say to all, 'Carry your sunshine with you!' You are sure to win hearts and your hard work will pay off! Remember there is no magic wand, only your persistent hard work can be the key to your success. Good Luck!

 

(The author is Professor at New Delhi Institute of Management. )

 Views expressed are personal