Interviews

If there was ever a good time to brag about yourself, the interview is the time to do it.  Don't be bashful! While you don't want to come across as pompous, you do want to project an image of self-confidence. Your attitude should be, "I have a lot to offer. Let me tell you about myself." Look the interviewer in the eyes as you speak. Smile with your whole face. If you get nervous make sure that you are taking slow, deep breaths.

You have looked hard for a job and got an appointment letter on your hands .. what is the next step ?? Getting through an interview. This is the gateway to a secure job. Preparation will help you relax. Be prepared with the following:

  • What unique qualities do you have that would bring value to the role?
  • What are your past accomplishments?
  • What skills and accomplishments make you uniquely qualified?
  • Identify key contributions you have made for your current employer.
  • What are your strongest attributes?
  • In what areas can you improve? And what have you done to work on improving?
  • If you are interviewing for a job share position be prepared to answer specific questions about how you plan to provide seamless coverage in your role, i.e. know how/when you will communicate, how you'll handle vacations
  • Be prepared with specific examples!

Many employers are now using Behavioral based interviewing. This interviewing technique works under the assumption that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. You will recognize an interviewer who is using this technique when he or she continuously asks for specific examples and presses for an action with an outcome. You will make a good impression if you are prepared and can give all the requested information without a lot of prodding. To be successful in this kind of interview do the following:

  • Prior to the interview think of specific work or educational experiences where you demonstrated skills (technical and interpersonal) that would be important to the position.
  • During the interview keep your cool and take your time. It's okay to tell the interviewer that you need a minute to think. Take deep breaths and concentrate. Get your thoughts in order before you begin to speak. It is not unusual for a candidate to take some time to think of specific examples. Many are not prepared for such specific questions.
  • Listen carefully to the question and give the whole answer. The interview will be looking for a STAR S/T = Situation or Task, A = the Action you took, R = the Results.

Here are some examples of behavioral based questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker. What was the situation, what did you do and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a project that you are particularly proud of. What was it, what was your role and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a strategy you have used to develop a stronger work team. What was the situation, what did you do, and what was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time when you missed an important deadline. What were the circumstances, how did you handle it, what was the outcome?

You get the picture. The truly experienced behavioral based interviewer won't let you get away with only answering part of the question either. So be ready !

You also want to know that the job is what you want, so be prepared to ask some questions about the position. You will be interviewing them. What kind of environment do you want to work in? What opportunities for promotion do you want? What role do you want to play in the organization as a whole?

As a Human Resource professional, I can tell you that the role that this department plays in the organization can be very different depending on the culture. It is a profession in transition. Whenever I went on an interview I asked what role HR played and what the perceptions of the department were within the organization. Was there HR representation on key leadership committees and did they have a voice. It was always important for me to work in an organization whose Human Resource department had evolved beyond being paper pushers. Other professions are going through similar transitions. So, determine what is important to and ask !!

Interviews Dos and Don'ts

Do:

  • Preparation for your interview is essential. Researching the company and having knowledge and an interest in the position will help you answer questions in a concise and relevant manner.
  • On arrival, present yourself in a professional and polite manner to everyone. State clearly and confidently who you are and who you are there to see. And remember, punctuality is critical.
  • Smile and appear cheerful. This is not a funeral; it could be the start of something big. Others will be more receptive as well.
  • Feel confident about yourself. If you have done your preparation, and you are looking your best, your confidence should be sky-high.
  • A firm, yet not overdone, handshake is essential. Good posture and eye contact are also important as they will make you exude confidence which, in turn, will make the interviewer feel comfortable with you.
  • Be positive and polite at all times; you may have to deal with a number of difficult situations eg. interruptions during the interview or questions which may be a little awkward.
  • Avoid appearing too formal or informal. It is important to gauge the "feel" of the interview, but even if your interviewer has a laid-back and informal style, remember that they are still assessing you for your suitability as a representative of their company.

Don'ts:

  • Arriving late (or too early) is a major no-no, as is presenting yourself in a panicked or untidy state.
  • Lack of preparation shows that you have very little interest in the company or the job.
  • The dreaded "dead-fish" handshake is the natural enemy of many employers. Failure to make eye contact, fidgeting, pulling faces...none of these will win you points.
  • Being negative about past or present employers, the company, its staff or the way they do things will not stand in your favor.
  • Rambling on about personal issues and inappropriate language should be avoided at all times.

Interview has a lot to do with communication and presentation skills. You have to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. That's it. The basic things which is a "must have" in order to be successful in interviews are:

  • Personality : A pleasing personality with a good sense of dressing. Dressing has to be subtle and understated yet elegant. Cleanliness is important.
  • Research : Research about back ground information about a company is important. You have to know about the company . Many a times a question is asked like ’’ What do you know about this company ?’’ If you are blank, maybe it will seem that you are not interested enough.
  • Diplomacy : You have got to cultivate this quality. When you don't know something, deviate diplomatically saying that you don't know this but you are an avid learner... don't hide your weaknesses and yet don't put your weaknesses glaringly upfront.
  • Initiative : This is what most interviewers look for. You are at liberty to ask question related to your job profile and the company. You might also let them know that you are not scared to take initiatives when it comes to learning new technology ... and taking new responsibilities.
  • Your experience : Your experience must be worth relating. I mean that you must have something concrete to talk about when it comes to your job profile. Even if you are faking your experience ( yes many do, specially in the software industry and get away with it... how ??), you must be very thorough with the knowledge of the faked experienced... I am not suggesting that you fake .. but if a situation occurs, be very detailed about what you have written. Faking is a big risk because if you get caught and you will ultimately you will not be able to work anywhere... Its worse than having a police record.
  • Control : Self control is very necessary. Don't let your nervousness show.. This will give the interviewer to harass you... be cool and well the best way to get over your nervousness is to ask questions and taking control of the interview.. this will hold good for experienced people... Do it very diplomatically... this will be done effectively if you have done your research well.
  • Market yourself : Don’t hesitate to bring forth your achievements in your professional field in the course of the interview e.g. you can talk about how you played an important role in clinching a deal, or how you were awarded for being the best programmer in your previous company, a little establishment of your character is allowed.
  • Ideas: You can put forth ideas as to what you could do for the company if they recruit you.. for example... You can tell that along with being a developer you are a Quality Management specialist. So the company will have double benefit in recruiting you.
  • Confidence : Don't show your desperation whatever be the circumstances.. this will result in a compromised salary and position... you are of equal worth as an individual as the employer of that company... I know that a jobless situation for some reflects on their attitude .. don't let that happen to you... confidence can carry you a long way... mind you not over confidence...
  • Jack of all trades ??: Don't try and portray that you are a Jack of all trades and then they will expect you to be master of every trade... Focus on what you know well and what you have hands on experience ... You might say that you have knowledge and you can work on it given the time , opportunity and the resources.

These are the basic points which you have to take care of. Sometimes the interviews are very short and sweet so you have to be crisp and clear and very convincing. Some other times you might have to go through a series of interviews like for example in a software industry in well known companies, there are three levels of interviews.

Aptitude, Technical and HR

For Aptitude you need a good general knowledge - senses of observations, problem solving, arithmetic, logic, reason and regularity. Sometimes you get technical aptitude tests for which you need to prepare. Usually going through the MBA entrance test books can get you through.

In the technical interview you have to concentrate on what you know. The interviews are extremely technical. Sometimes there may be panel which may ask you questions on your technical subject and for this you have to be very well prepared. You have to study and burn a little midnight oil as the questions they ask might be something very basic, the idea is to fluster you and confuse you. This makes one feel like one is back to college or something.

The final round is usually the HR interview. Which gauges your personal and communication skills.

 

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