I feel that a great deal has been written about how candidates for an interview should prepare themselves, learn to make a good impression and even manage situations where they are unable to reply to some questions. But the point is whether anything has been written suggesting pointers to those who have to interview candidates. With this idea in mind the suggestions in this article are offered.
First of all, it is suggested that members of the interview committee should avoid the temptation of showing off their knowledge or frightening the candidates. I remember an occasion when a member of the committee asked the candidate what the population of Indonesia was. The youngster said he did not know (Perhaps he had learnt that when the answer is not known he should honestly say so). But the member persisted and asked,”You are a Mohammedan. Indonesia is a Muslim country. You should be able to give proper answer to my question?” The candidate said, “Sir it is true that I am a Mohammedan and that Indonesia is a Muslim country. But I am sorry I do not know the population. If you don’t mind kindly enlighten me on this matter.” Now, our member was not aware of the answer and so he quickly requested his colleague to continue the questioning.
Another point is to avoid personal remarks, however innocent or justified they appear to be on the face of it. I remember a member of the committee asked a candidate of short stature, “You are short. How can you manage the large department?”. The candidate said, “Sir it is true that I am short but Napoleon was slightly shorter than I am. If he could conquer the whole world can I not manage the department?” Needless to mention that the young fellow was selected. But I am not sure whether the episode left an unpleasant taste in his mind.
It is true that the purpose of the interview is to make an assessment of the personality of the candidate and to judge his presence of mind and the ability to face tough situations. But that does not mean that candidates should be frightened or intimidated. One can find many other interesting methods of assessing a candidate’s personality. A certain candidate was asked what he would do if his brother’s son quarrelled with his father and came to him at midnight. The candidate said, “It depends upon what sort of a person my brother is. If he is a drunkard or immoral person I would certainly support my nephew”.
Members of the committee should take their job seriously. I remember I was requested to serve on the interview committee of a university. I was present in time. But one of the other members was in a great hurry to finish the interviews and go to some other place. So he persuaded the other member to start the job. When I reached the place (On time, as mentioned earlier) they had already interviewed a couple of candidates. In fact when I entered the room they mistook me for a candidate and asked me questions as if I were a candidate! “Why do you want to take up business administration?” one member asked.For a very long period the concept of an interview meant committee members asking questions and that was that. But it appears now that candidates are encouraged or at least allowed to ask questions. This is a very healthy development. Candidates have a right to know at least some important matters.
When I was a member of the interview committee a candidate asked when he could expect our decision. We were slightly taken aback but we told him that the selected candidates would be informed within about a month. Wouldn’t it be a wise policy to give a couple of minutes to a candidate and let him or her ask information that may be required?
Members of an interview committee might try and see that they are not overworked and fatigued. When the members are very tired they are likely to make short cuts or give scant attention to the candidates appearing towards the end. It may be a good idea for the committee members to try and remember the interviews they had attended in their lives so that their attitude and their questions may be suitably tempered.