Monday, June 15, 2009

Interview Preparation (Job Seekers)

Scope

Scope of write-up here is to provide information on how to prepare to face the job interview. It is meant for the persons who are looking out for jobs for the first time or for those who wish to change the jobs. This write-up does not include any guidelines for the employers or their representatives who interview the candidates seeking the employment opportunities.

Introduction
  • Job interview is a process through which an employer or his representative body evaluates a potential employee for possibility of employing him in the organization.
  • The employer or employer’s representative is called interviewer and the candidate or job applicant is called interviewee.
  • The interview process is used after the initial processes of screening the candidates or applicants for the jobs have been administered on them. These may consist of resumes or bio-data or curriculum vitae, aptitude tests, IQ and EQ tests, group discussions etc.
  • Only the persons who successfully qualify the above-mentioned screening criteria are personally interviewed.
  • In such personal interviews, the interviewer and interviewee communicate with each other and exchange valuable information that is used by the interviewer to decide if the job applicant being interviewed is the most appropriate person for the organization. The interviewee, while on one hand tries to convince that he is the most appropriate person for the job, he also collects the information that helps him to decide if the organization and the job are the right ones for him or not. In case interviewer finds that candidate fills the bill, he uses interview process also to pass on such information to the interviewee that will convince him and persuade him to join the organization.
  • The personal interviews may start with telephonic interviews followed by one or more rounds of personal interviews by the employer organization. Interviews may be conducted by one person or by multiple persons in each round of interview.

Home Work Prior to Actual Interview

  • Study your resume thoroughly to remind yourself of the information that you had sent to the prospective employer at the time of application.
  • Study the job profile for which you applied. Work out as to what the job would expect from you in terms of knowledge, experience, technical skill sets, soft skill sets, past achievements, extra-curricular activities and your interests as well as the possible deliverables expected from the incumbent who would hold that job. In case the employer has not advertised or published the job description for public consumption, try to acquire a copy of the job description from the employer.
  • Now, try to match the job requirements as described above with your own profile and see for yourself as to how close you match with them. You will come to know as to where you are already in a pretty strong position and where there are gaps.
  • In the intervening period between the date of the first of the interviews and the date you come to know of the interview date, try to work towards bridging the gaps in your knowledge, technical skills and soft skills. Be a bit tough on yourself as you own self evaluator and be serious in acquiring the additional knowledge and skills required.
  • Collect information about the organization that is going to interview you. More you know about the organization, the better prepared you will be to discuss how you can meet its needs. You will also be in a better position to answer any questions the interviewers might ask you regarding their organization. You should know the profile of the organization in terms of its management/structure, its products, its financial standing, new developments in the organization etc.
  • Now comes the most important preparation i.e. formulating the questions that interviewer may ask and how you would like to answer them. Again be tough on yourself. Imagine yourself to be in interviewer’s position and think of all the possible questions you would have asked the interview candidates in order to make a good selection. For each of these questions, prepare the best possible answers that will influence the interviewers positively towards your candidature. You may take the help from others to know the types of questions the interviewers might ask. On the Internet also you may get this kind of information.
  • Make a decent looking file of all of your certificates and credential and other related papers/information that may be requited at the time of interview.
  • Keep the address and phone numbers of the venue of the interview handy with you. You should also have with you the names and designations of the persons and their telephone numbers who have been communicating with your from the interviewing organization.
  • Select the dress and other accessories that you will wear on the day of the interview and keep them ready. Always select the dress which gives you that additional confidence that you need in facing the interview situation. There are always some favorite clothes for such occasions, do use them for positive psychological support.
  • If the interview is not in your town/city and it involves travel, do the ticketing and reservations for travel and stay well in advance not to meet the last minute disappointments and rush. Try to reach the city of the interview latest by the evening of the earlier day of the interview day.
  • Keep the road map of the venue from the place of your residence. Find out how much time will it need for travel to the venue so that you can start from your residence accordingly. Always add at least 30 minutes to the travel time as an emergency allowance.

Telephonic Interview

  • Prior to your face to face interview, there may be a telephonic interview where you may be interviewed by a person or persons from the employer organization.
  • The purpose of telephone interview sometimes is to screen out the obvious mismatches to the job so that finally, only few shortlisted candidates are called for face to face interview. It saves the recruiting organization time and money.
  • They are conducted normally when the candidate is abroad or lives in a different state/city. Sometimes even in the same city too you can expect a telephone interview.
  • For this kind of interview your telephone etiquette and manners should be impressive.

Face to Face Interview: The Interview Day

  • First impressions, at times, can be the last impression. Your external personality counts in creating the first impression. Your clothes, hairstyle, gestures and anything else an interviewer sees before the interview starts make your first impression.
  • In dressing, err on a bit of conservative style. You can wear a formal dress, not an informal or casual one. As mentioned earlier, always select the dress which gives you that additional confidence that you need in facing the interview situation. It should be clean, well fit and properly pressed. Do a decent looking hair style- hair should be well in place. Shine the shoes and they should be intact. Do not wear casual types of shoes like slip-ons, loafers or sports shoes etc. Do take bath and look clean. Avoid the perfume (all you know that one of the interviewers may be allergic to perfumes). Use sophisticated and decent looking accessories. Men should not wear ear rings. Eye contact is important during an interview, so make sure your glasses are clean. Buy a new pen for the interview. Do not buy a cheap looking one.
  • Arrive early at the interview venue. You should keep some time up your sleeves to get through the official bureaucracies at the interview venue (security check, issues of admit pass etc), getting acclimatized with the environment at the venue, using the wash room etc. Do use the wash room to tidy you up.
  • As you enter the interview room, greet the interviewer(s) appropriately by saying “good morning” or “good evening”. Never say “good night” when you meet the interviewer(s) even if you meet them at night; say “good evening” even then. You should say “good night” while parting at night. During day time, say “good day” while parting. If the interviewer offers a hand shake, accept it with firm and confident handshake.
  • Keep up a happy countenance, smile as necessary. Enjoy the humorous part of conversation if any. Don’t ever look tired or keep a long face with constant frown, tension or sadness. Remain alert and look smart, interested and enthusiastic. Yet, be natural, be yourself- you don’t have to act artificially.
  • Be prepared to communicate with interviewers. When you have made a point clearly, do not overdo or stretch it by extending your talk further.
  • Do not react immediately to any question immediately. Listen the question carefully, think about it, quickly construct your reply and then, speak at a normal pace but surely. You can take your minute or two to respond but do not delay too much too. A measured response is more appreciated by the interviewer(s) than a hurried reaction.
  • Do not hesitate to get clarifications on the question being asked. But do not do it for every question. That shows that you are not attentive or your comprehension is poor.
  • Supplement your responses with examples when necessary and appropriate.
  • Be a sales person and convince through your answers and communication to make the interviewer(s) realize that you are the best person for the job.
  • If the interviewers offer you an opportunity to ask them questions, do ask them the questions you have in mind about the organization, the job requirement, place and department of posting, career growth opportunities etc. even if the interviewers do not offer such opportunity and you do have some genuine questions, take interviewer’s permission to ask the question.
  • Look out for the indications about the close of the interview and then do not hang on. Thank the interviewer(s) and greet as per the time of the day.

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