Interview Techniques- An Obstacle Race that must be won!

You do NOT require a magic formula to get selected in an interview!Interview is really matchmaking process. If we go away from realities and somehow bring about a match, we will always remain tentative about future, as what is achieved on the basis of the unreal or of the made up or of the make believe, is never long lasting, durable or reliable.

So, the best thing is to be your own selves! The success in any kind of an interview can be durable only on the basis of a matching mutual reality.

Yes! The process is by no means simple-for both the Interviewers and for the Interviewees. Both have an aim to achieve, a task to be accomplished, and to serve respective mutual interests.

The prospective assignment for which you are being considered is a part of a larger system with peculiar culture, technology, policies, objectives etc. Each new entrant has to merge with such a reality to be effective. The problem is it is extremely difficult to acquire even an adequate knowledge of the organisational climate to be able to determine which of the candidates would, indeed, provide an “ideal fit”.

It if for such reasons that organisations device, with the help of social scientists, various tests to screen potential candidates and thereby select only the right candidates as far as possible.

We will know as we go on with the subject, the expectations of the employers, but let us begin with the stages of preparation for interview.

Application Stage:

  1. A rather crucial stage. It is better to respond to an advertisement OR to approach through a placement office or any other good soul. But an unsolicited application is usually resented by the employers, looked down upon and is not attended to with any great concern, besides, the candidate not only spends money but also suffers frustration when his efforts fail to fetch him even an interview call!
  2. Applications should be preferably word-processed, unless the organisation has insisted on an application in candidate’s own hand-writing. Normally one should keep a well prepared bio-data ready, add a covering/forwarding letter and use such combination effectively. But, the quality of paper, word processing, one’s preservation methods etc. all count.
  3. Never use a cyclostyled bio-data. If a bio-data is hand-written, then it must be ensured that it is readable, presentable, and systematically laid out.
  4. Some times an organisation will insist that candidates fill only the standard application blank provided by the organisation. This is crucial for those with bad handwriting. Extra care is indicated.

Remember this is your FIRST introduction to the organisation. If your bio-data is not impressive, the chances are that despite a good candidature, you may lose out the interview call.

Bad product-impressively packed does succeed in drawing attention of the customers. What happens later is another thing, but for the relevant time, the good product has LOST!

With all the care, let us presume that your bio-data has been short-listed for further screening. Depending upon the level of intended employment, nature of association and the type of work, the entire process may include many stages, like for students in professional institutions and other young working people, the process could include any or all of the following steps.

  1. Preliminary Interview
  2. Trade/Skill Tests
  3. Group Discussion
  4. Aptitude Tests
  5. Interview.

This paper will focus primarily on the Interview Process, the number of things stated below are applicable in most cases as these are hallmarks of good human beings anyway!

  • Punctuality: Since it takes neither intelligence nor great amount skill or training, it is easy to be punctual. There is NO EXCUSE to be not punctual. It is better to be available thirty minutes before time that to be late by just a couple of minutes. Even if people, who are otherwise competent, are not punctual, especially at important occasions, they are considered to be IRRESPONSIBLE! How can I justify a position of responsibility to be given to me if I can’t reach the venue for the interview in time? Even after reaching before time, one may have to wait, but is advisable to not react at all atleast this stage.
  • Presentability: Dress-wise, one must be always dressed normally, appropriate to the occasion, age, level, the organisational culture AND the climatic conditions. Of these, the things you do not know, you should make an effort to find out before hand!
  • As a general rule, for gents in a corporate organisation, the acceptable attire would be, dark trousers, light shirts, polished shoes, neck-tie (optional), clean shaven, well groomed, no perfumes at work place except just a hint of it (more suggestive of cultured taste) and for the ladies, well draped sarees, salwar-kameez and an amiable style are good enough. Other parts of grooming etc. are of-course applicable.
  • Not being a fashion show, we like to select people more for their intrinsic worth than their ability to dress virtually in competition with fashion models and the film stars. Whatever, your taste in presenting yourself, the interviewer must be suitably convinced of the worthiness of your candidature, and that’s the bottom line!What happens, ultimately, is that a candidate, who is perceived as sober, receptive, curious, confident, approachable, suitable eager, finds the interview a fairly open.
  • Protocol: This is a simple area where most candidates who fail in interviews find themselves. We find candidates who forget simple courtesies. Some are even deliberately rude and callous to others in any situation, as in their perceptions, others deserve this. May be others have not treated you well, you should not take this as license to ill-treat others, especially when your enlightened self-interests are stake anyway. Even if they were not, why should anyone misbehave at all?
  • Performance: This is the final test. Whether it is one person who is going to interview you or more are to interview, it does not matter even if you do not know this in advance. Just leave your worries and tensions outside, keep your wits about you, psyche yourself to confidence and move on! That’s the simple message. Some basic rules, however, are:
    • Answer promptly, but only after the question is asked completely.
    • Ask for clarification before beginning to answer the question, but only when you need for clarification is genuine.
    • State your assumptions that support your answer (when the occasion and do not wait for the interviewer to ask you about it)
    • Do NOT bluff. (If you do, don’t get caught. If you do get caught, don’t argue, move for a dignified patch up. The risks here are too high!)It is better to admit ignorance and be rejected than to attempt a bluff and get exposed.
    • Never argue! Well-not beyond a point and God help you decide that point.
    • Know about the organisation in advance at-least in an elementary way at-least to demonstrate your interests in working for the organisation.Maintain through out a pleasant disposition. Don’t be shaken by a rebuke, if it comes your way and do not take liberties just because the interviewers appear to be “nice”, “simple” and an accommodative lot. You are being watched anyway!
    • Do not forget to wish the time of the day to the interviewers and never forget to thank you for courtesy extended to you. If you were being interviewed for an organisation of conservative convictions, then it would not be in your interests to ask the interviewers their names. If they had stated in the beginning, why were you not attentive? And if they had not introduced themselves by name, may be, they did not wish to reveal their identity. Why embarrass them now and make things difficult for yourself?

In the final analysis, there ARE a couple of tricks of the trade but certainly there is NO MAGIC!

In a difficult situation, always “agree to disagree” without using these precise words.Resort when necessary, to “yes but no” approach.When weak on “facts” respond on “concepts” and vice-versa.Take psychological charge of the process of interview for better results.

Try these out. Report SUCCESS!!!

This article has been contributed by Samvedan, a Senior member to CiteHR. His contributions to the community, guided many members. He was the keynote speaker of the CiteHR Meet Pune’09. He is a senior management professional who has worked across different verticals in several leadership positions. He is the founder to Samvedan, a management consultancy firm and has been working as a sounding board to many CEOs. His passion lies in knowledge sharing and mentoring. He has been writing for noted Management Periodicals.

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