Cracking an interview

Paul Maritz, President and C.E.O of the software firm, VMware, describes the criteria to be hired as,” First of all, you want to make sure that people have the necessary intellectual skills to do the job. Second, you want to see if people have a track record of actually getting stuff done. Then, third, you want to look for people who are thoughtful and that tie into learning and being self-aware”. It’s important to know the interviewer’s perspective as it is quintessential to land a job .The preparations made before the interview are focussed on what is required for the job. The real exploration begins with first round, where it is confirmed if the candidate is interested in the role or not. The trick to utilise this step is by probing. The information received may primarily be on the periphery. If any detailed information about the KRA is not shared. Suggestion including what the role would be , needs to be made. This leaves a room for correction by the interviewer, which would offer necessary information to the interviewee. Preparation taken before the interview is from an external perspective. Even though there are many sources to prepare for the probable question including internet, peer group, mentoring and etc. The answers would require to be altered to fit the role . Few areas to be covered during the interview are as discussed below:

Attention trap: Read the body language of the interviewer. If they are drawn to read the resume, its positive. If they are distracted with any other actions such as taking telephone calls during the interview or looking away. Remain humble and breathe. When they attend back to you, paraphrase what were the last few lines discussed before the distraction and then take it ahead. It will demonstrate that the interviewee is accommodating and not hostile.

Answers Trap: If the interviewer asks questions its imperative to answer it followed by a suggestion in that area. Often, they may not probe, but expect the interviewee to come up with more relevant data towards the role.

Acknowledgement: Paraphrasing the discussions shows attention. This needs to be coupled with data towards the strength of the candidate maintaining the focus on the role. For e.g.:  A detailed discussion on the technical questions measuring the depth of the interviewee’s knowledge requires to be  followed by the certain inputs,  made by the interviewee including,  few escalations handled in the area. This would establish the level of the knowledge for the interviewee.

Areas of concern: Often the interviewer may have a bias towards the role. They may look for an archetype such as aggressive for sales, people orientation for HR and process oriented for operation. It’s important to identify those biases early. In addition to that several questions would be asked towards the problem areas of the last employee working on the role or the current problem in the project. Such as, if an interviewer constantly questions on client communication or timely project completion, the interviewee needs to understand that this is a problem area. Hence offer solution based answers. Share what the interviewee had done or would do in similar situation and how it would help the current role.

Stress interview: Few interviews are built around creating stress on the interviewee to find the resilience and true nature. The best approach to it would be, the moment the interviewer starts building stress by constantly asking question with escalating complexities, gives non-verbal ques of being unsatisfied with the answer or keep cutting in between, worst make a derogatory remark. It’s quintessential to stay focussed. Do not get panicked even if the answer is not known. Use the structured answering approach by using the tree diagram and return to the point made by the interviewer. Keep the answers directed to the knowledge gained about the interview so far.

Finally end the interview by sharing the understanding about the role gained so far. Agreeableness is objective.  If an interviewee saves few questions for the end related to the future opportunity in the job and share certain training program planned towards it. It shows interest towards the role. Certain questions including hobbies are often asked unintentionally. Yet measured ,as the activities taken up during the free time , can add on to the personal effectiveness hence contribute to the role. The interviewer tends to predict the future behaviour of the employee through the discussion. Malcolm Gladwell, in Most likely to succeed wrote , “A prediction, in a field where prediction is not possible, is no more than a prejudice”.  Yet identifying the structure for the prediction can help cracking the interview.


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