Employment Skills: Being Ready for Interview
The term interview refers to typical purposeful conversation between two entities, of which one is the person seeking a job and the other is the interviewer or a panel of interviewers. The interview method could be of a highly structured format or very creative or unstructured. The last type would be freewheeling conversations between the job aspirant and the hiring person(s).
The word interview has its origin in the French word ‘intrevue’ which means to see each other. Of course, in modern times, the sight between two persons can be through video conferencing or over telephone. The outcome of interviews can never be predicted as the course of an interview may change depending on the response of the interviewee.
The first step towards being job ready is creating a good resume on the basis of which one gets an interview call.
Aspirants need to be prepared for any type of interview- face-to-face, telephonic or video conferencing. Facing the interview becomes easier if you are well prepared.
Preparatory Steps for Job Interviews
During the interview be as systematic as possible and try to be your natural self. If you want this job, they are also on the lookout for an appropriate candidate. You should try your best to establish a rapport with the members of the interview panel in just half an hour.
Before facing the interview, do the following:
- Know about the organisation.
- Understand the requirements of the organisation.
- How your skill set matches with the need of the organisation.
- Research the latest trends in the market about the company’s market share, advertising strategies, etc.
- Know the interview format as to how many rounds will be conducted and who will be conducting those.
- Anticipate the interviewer’s question and keep your answers ready.
Apart from following the above mentioned guidelines, you should also work on the following tips:
- Start much before the interview time to reach the interview venue.
- Finalise the dress you are going to wear.
- Do brush up your technical knowledge as the core companies focus the most on it.
You must introspect what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are you able to achieve so far. Actually, we never give a thought about our accomplishments. So you must think that based on your accomplishments and strengths what value addition you can make by taking up this job.
- Analyse Your Background
If you analyse your background, it will prepare you for questions like “Tell about yourself”. So critically examine your educational and family background. “What have you learnt in the process of growing up?” “What was the influence of your friends and family on your life?” When you are asked to describe yourself in a few sentences, narrate the best of you to the interviewer. You may be well aware of your qualifications but keep in mind what the organisation is looking for. So match your background according to the need of the organisation. If you have a degree in civil engineering and you are sitting for a placement in computer science, then highlight your accolades in computer science, not in civil engineering; speak about the relevant course you have done in computer science; and how much you enjoyed it.
- Highlight Your Achievements/Accomplishments
Remember, achievements are different from accomplishments. Accomplishments reflect your different skills which you use for specific job while achievements refer to your academic or professional achievements. You must present your achievements and accomplishments in such a way that the prospective employer is convinced that you are the best fit for the job. Reminisce all certificates, awards, prizes, fellowships and praises you received for your achievements. When you are asked “What are your achievements?” you should enumerate them at one go. Accomplishments are those skills which you display while leading a project, organizing an event, conducting a cultural program, etc. Gather information about all your accomplishments. You can talk about them with past instances, maybe in school or college.
- Know Your Extracurricular Activities
Apart from your academics you must have participated in other activities. Recollect what have you mentioned in your resume. Do not write fake hobbies as it is embarrassing to be caught on the wrong foot. If you have mentioned you play basketball, it is expected of you to know how many players are there in a basketball team. Also, you may be asked about the dimensions of a basketball court. Your involvement in extracurricular activities show your overall development.
- Analyse Your Skills
The basic attributes that a company looks for in job aspirants are the skills and knowledge needed to carry out specific jobs of the company. Do analyse your skills and match them with the ones needed for the desired job before you set out for the interview. Use impressive adjectives to describe your skills. The interviewer may ask the following questions related to your skills.
- Why should we hire you?
- What makes you fit for the position?
- What is your greatest strength?
- Why only you and not others?
While narrating your skills, use adjectives such as creative, pleasant, amicable, reliable, sincere, enthusiastic, reasonable, tactful, resourceful, friendly, successful, zealous, etc. to describe yourself. These adjectives have positive connotations, so use them lavishly.
- Pre-interview Preparation
You must do your homework properly before facing the interview. One of the most common mistakes is to not know about the company you have applied. When you are asked the question “Tell about the company you have applied for?”, you will start on a bad note if you have not done enough research on the company. As mentioned earlier, you must research about the company properly. You must also know about the competitions of the company.
The following tips about the pre-interview stage preparation will make you confident:
- Do not forget to keep all your certificates handy.
- Plan appropriate attire.
- Scan newspaper headlines without fail.
- Prepare and review the main topics and areas.
- Show relaxed expression.
- Cultivate the right attitude.
Behaviour during the Interview – The following tips will help you inculcate appropriate behaviour during the interview:
- Control your nervousness.
- Seek permission to enter the room.
- Greet politely.
- Sit only when asked by the interviewer.
- Carry yourself smartly.
- Remain cool and calm while answering the questions.
- Listen attentively.
- Take time to think.
- Accept if you don’t know the answer.
- Don’t grin, you can smile.
- Sit smart, don’t slouch.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Reflect zeal and enthusiasm.
- Create good impression by your pleasant disposition.
- If given a chance to ask anything about the company, you may ask whatever you want politely.
- Structure your answer in 3-4 points.
- Explain your answers with personal experience.
- Use positive tone.
- Use active verbs and power verbs to describe yourself.
Interview Skills Tips
You must appear very positive and confident in the interview. Sometimes you become overzealous and overreact which makes you appear supercilious, leading to your rejection.
Some of the techniques, described in the following sections, will help you in improving your interview skills and present yourself as competent candidate.
- Body Language in the interview
You must be highly cautious about your body language during the interview. Your posture, gestures, eye contact and facial expressions communicate more than your words. If you are not truthful about what you are saying, it will be reflected through your non-verbal cues. Your first impression is created by the way you dress and behave. Through your dress and body language, you will be subconsciously making the interviewer form an opinion about you. To leave an indelible good impression on the interviewer, you must demonstrate the appropriate body language.
- Opt for the Best position
If the interview room is big and if you can choose a place to sit, then opt for the chair which enables you to see every member of the interview panel. They should also be able to see you clearly. Also see if the light is falling on the chair you have chosen.
- Respect Your Own Space
Do not be conscious of the fact that you are under scrutiny so that you have to manage sitting in an uncomfortable place. Relax a bit as it shows confidence. Do not be too tight with any posture.
- Right Posture
If you have a table in front of you do not sit very close to it. Do not bend too much on the table, but let your arms be on the table with elbow slightly outside the table. The ideal distance between the chest and the table should be around 4 inches. Your feet should be grounded properly on the floor. Bend slightly forward to reflect you are listening. Avoid slouching if you do not have a table in front of you. Then keep your hand on your lap.
- Control Your Hand and Arms Movements
Let your hand and arm movements be natural but too much of these movements can distract the attention of the interviewer. Be your natural self. Avoid fidgeting with your hands or break the knuckles. Never cross your arms as it reflects you are close to ideas.
No one likes a sullen-looking person. So, make it a point to smile after entering the interview room. Smile can put you and the interviewer in a respective mood. But if you have a nervous smile, the interviewers will know it. Unnecessary laugh must be avoided. It’s not acceptable that you crack a joke just because you have to smile.
- Eye Contact
Eye contact assures that the candidate is confident and lack of it shows evasiveness and insecurity. Do not stare at the interviewer as that can make him/her uneasy. If you are facing many people, maintain eye contact with all of them while answering questions as that involves everyone in the interaction.
Just be yourself. Don’t think too hard about anything. If you are answering well, you will automatically demonstrate appropriate body language. Your body language is a barometer of your confidence. So, if your preparation for the interview is good, all will go well and spontaneously.
Frequently Asked Questions during Interviews
Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs), which are common in any interview with tips on how to answer them. It is recommended to have answers to these questions prepared and rehearsed before the interview. But during the interview, answers should not sound like well-rehearsed answers.
- Tell me something about yourself?
This is one of the most common questions asked at the beginning of the interview. It is advised to keep the answer professional rather than making it personal. An effective way to start answering is by listing out your objectives in life and any work done till now to achieve them. Also, list out the internships and projects which have helped you in moving on the path towards the objective. This gives the interview panel an idea of your expectations from the job and helps in assessing whether you will be the right fit.
- Why would you like to work for our company? Or, why would you like a job in this field?
The answer to this question requires an extensive research beforehand on the company’s profile as well as the job description of the position offered. It is best to make requirements for the need of the job and prepare answers accordingly. It is important to make the panel believe that they are recruiting a candidate who will be adding value to the company.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Don’t you want to pursue a higher degree?
This question is asked to confirm whether the candidate will be staying in the company for an appropriate period of time. The company invests a lot of money and resources in the training of a new employee and the panel does not want to see the money going waste. This is a tricky question and the answer to it must be prepared carefully. Some safe answers to this question – “I have not yet planned for higher education”, “I see myself managing a team of my own in the next 4 years”, “My plan is to pursue MBA after getting a corporate experience of 4-5 years”.
- Tell me about an instance where you handled a difficult situation?
The answer expected for this question usually changes from company to company depending on what they are looking for. If the position in the company requires leadership skills, narrate a situation where you solved a group’s problem by effective communication and integrity. If the panel is looking for technical skills, give the instance of a difficult situation encountered in a project and how an innovative idea helped solve it.
Even if you know how to answer some questions beforehand, it depends on your handling of the interview how best you answer them. So, maintain your composure and answer with a cool mind. Try to make the best of your abilities.
After your interview is over, do not hang around. Say thank you to the interviewers and company recruiters and ask when you will be intimated of the results. Do not annoy the company recruitment’s staff by sending repeated messages. Be open to accept whatever results may be. Once you have put your best efforts, do not think too hard. Remember you may be very good but the company may be looking for someone just average. So, you may not fit in the company’s requirements. Do not let your spirits down.
“Emphasize your strengths on your resume, in your cover letters and in your interviews. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people simply list everything you’ve ever done. Convey your passion and link your strengths to measurable results. Employers and Interviewers love concrete data.”