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Lessons to help in passing that interview

Last updated: 21 September, 2010
Vinay Nijhawan

Developing Persona

It is vital to make the first impression count, hence, the interviewee’s presentation is all the more important

Presenting oneself to an employer is truly an art one must master in order to succeed in an interview. Given the current gradual recovery after the recession, there are many individuals vying for the same position. In such a scenario, you have to use the limited capsule of time available to create an impact and make your presence felt.

Very often the decision whether to recruit an individual or not is made in the first five to ten minutes itself. It is therefore vital that you make the first impression count. Your presentation thus becomes very important.  You must be impeccably dressed to create the right effect. From hair neatly in place to clean, well polished shoes, every little bit counts. Your choice of attire will say a lot about you. Being suitably dressed, on time and enthusiastic, presents a positive image you would want to project at an interview.

However, dressing correctly alone cannot impress your interviewers. You will have to back this up with concrete content, about yourself, your background and your strengths and weaknesses.  One of the first questions that usually comes up in an interview is ‘tell me about yourself’. This is ideally your opportunity to sell yourself. It is advisable to be prepared with a few points as to how you will answer this question. Make sure you use this opportunity to talk about your strengths and direct the interview towards your strong areas. Also be prepared to talk about your academics, and remember some basic definitions may come up to gauge your foundations in the subject being discussed. So do spend some time brushing up your basics.

There may be questions directed at learning if you have a genuine interest in your field of study. You must be aware of developments in your field of interest, especially if there have been recent discoveries or government policy changes etc. A good grasp of current affairs in your field will display an understanding beyond the academic curriculum and indicate genuine passion for your field.

You may be questioned on activities that you have participated during school and college. Be prepared to discuss academic achievements, extra-curricular activities such as sports as well as social or literary activities. Anything you speak of as a hobby must be backed up with adequate knowledge. This signifies a holistically developed personality.  Pretense of any sort is avoidable at an interview. If there are questions you are unable to answer or skills you do not possess, be honest about it and subtly redirect the questions towards your stronger areas. Faking answers or bluffing just to cinch the role, if caught out can ruin the overall impression you have created. Remember, the interviewers often have far more experience than you and can see through pretense. Sometimes a genuine admission of lack of awareness and an interest in addressing it can work to your advantage. 

Interviewers would generally like to understand immediate and long term goals of the interviewee and if the long term goals are aligned in the same direction as the organisation. Every employee is an investment for the organisation and the employer would expect new talent to be a part of the organisation for a couple of years at the minimum. Displaying awareness about the organisation, the current role and future roles that you may grow into will display career focus and genuine interest in the role. Any added information that you can read up about the company will help display keenness and help you make a positive impact. This will require some preparation and being well-prepared indicates a genuine enthusiasm for the job.

In an interview it is vital that you have a clear stand or a point of view on any subject being addressed. However, you need to take care as to not appear as though you believe that yours is the only point of view. This will make you seem rigid. Be open to others’ ideas and points of view. Remember change is the key word of organisational dynamics nowadays and as there are no more compartmentalised or water-tight departments or roles, some amount of flexibility is looked upon positively. However, avoid appearing uncertain of yourself. If you seem to waver then you are unsure of yourself. Strike a balance to be seen as a person who has a clear point of view but are flexible enough to adapt to a situation if and when required.  Most interviews will typically pose questions around these eight areas, so do spend some time building your thoughts on these lines. 

1. What are you currently doing?
2. Why do you want this job?
3. Why do you want to work in this organisation?
4. What skills and experience do you have that fits our needs? 5. How would you tackle this job?
6. What kind of person are you? What stresses you, what delights you?
7. Do your personal circumstances fit with what we need?
8. What questions would you like to ask us?

Here is a quick list of the Do’s and Don’ts mentioned above: 

The Do’s

1. The first impression counts - dress impeccably; be on time
2. Be prepared -  talk about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses
3. Brush up your basics
4. Be enthusiastic
5. Read up on the organisation & industry trends

The Don’ts

1.Do not appear rigid or inflexible
2.Never bluff your way through
3.Avoid seeming confused or unsure of yourself

(The writer is the Director - HR and Placements in PurpleLeap)


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