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How to prepare for a job interview
Rohit Daga
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February 02, 2009

With the global financial crises having a cascading impact on the global economy, the job market too has been gloomy. In such an environment, it is even more important for aspirants to do well in campus interviews to grab the jobs they desire.

And being mentally fit and alert is important to be able to do well in interviews. It will also mean that you will be mentally prepared to handle interviews that have very short notice periods.

A few things to remember

1. Ensure that the resume has been checked for typos and is structured in a way that makes it easy to read. Highlight your skills and experience relevant to the job.

2. Interviews are used as a tool of judging whether you fit the job as well as the company.

3. Know yourself, inside out. Only when you understand yourself completely can you make the panel understand you.

4. Take time to understand how you want to project yourself during the interview.

5. Everything you say or do makes an impression whether positive or negative. Be it the way you sit, the way you talk or your choice of clothing. Everything matters!

6. Remember, an Interview is like a sales pitch in many ways. So ensure that you present yourself well.

Preparing for the unexpected

In some interviews you may be asked to solve a case-study. You can be asked to give an impromptu presentation or recite a poem. Or, you may get the silent treatment from the panel or a stress interview may come your way. You can even be asked to leave the room.

Whatever happens, be mentally prepared for any eventuality. These situations give the panel an opportunity to assess how you behave in stressful or unexpected situations. They just want to get to know the real You. They want to find out if you can handle the job, if you are interested in the company and if you are the person they want to have during tough and stressful times.

Stay calm, remain positive and think logically.

Before the interview

Research the company

Being well informed about the company and industry provides you with a competitive edge. It also conveys a clear message to the interviewer and that is:

1. You are career oriented and want to build a career within the industry

2. You understand the intricacies of the industry

3. You are wholeheartedly interested in working for the company

Read up as much as possible about the company and the industry. You can also talk to people who work in the company or the industry to get a first hand feel about what drives the company and the industry.

Appearance

First impressions are made within the first few minutes and are very important for a successful interview. Most employers prefer candidates wearing formal attire (Indian or western). Dress soberly and neatly. It is better to be conservative in the choice of clothes. Avoid flashy clothes or strong perfumes. Jewellery should be at a bare minimum.

Have your clothes ironed and keep it ready in advance, so that you do not waste time in selecting a dress on the day of the interview. This also avoids last minute problems like a stained shirt, wrinkled tie, missing buttons or unpolished shoes.

Looks matter! Pay a visit to the salon, to get an appropriate haircut. Trim your nails. Remember, a professional look is the first step to making the great the first impression.

The interview tool-kit

The day before the interview, collect all your material and keep them in a file. Keep extra copies of your resume. Carry letters of reference, reference list, transcripts, certificates, other supporting documents, passport size photos, a writing pad, pen and a calculator.

Relax

Ensure that you sleep well the day before the interview. Stay calm and relax; only when you are relaxed will you do well.

During the Interview

1. Stay focused; put away any worries

2. Switch off your cell phone before an interview starts

3. Eye contact conveys confidence

4. Introduce yourself clearly with your first and last name

5. Smile at appropriate times

6. Take time to understand the question and then answer it. It is not a question of how fast you answer but how well you answer

7. Be expressive, talk crisply and slowly. Do not mumble, stammer or use a monotone

8. Keep the answers to the point. Avoid rambling

9. Be forthright and direct. Do not be evasive or beat around the bush

10. Never lie in an interview

11. Never blame or badmouth anyone during an interview

12. Never argue, always give polite responses

13. If you do not know the answer be frank, admit it

At the end of the interview

Generally, the panel will indicate the end of the interview by asking: Do you have any questions for us? Use this opportunity to ask intelligent and relevant questions, to summarize your skills & experience related to the job and indicate your interest in the job.

Conclusion

It is essential to be confident in an interview. If you have practiced your answers and done your homework, most of the questions can be answered without difficulty. Ensure that you take the time to understand what they are looking for by asking the question. Remember to study the relevant topics before the interview. If you have an interview for an equity research position, know what has been driving the markets, who are the major players, etc. If you have an interview for a marketing position in a FMCG company know what has been the recent trend, what new products have been launched recently, etc.

Keep in mind why you want to go into the industry (Telecom, Banking, Auto, etc.), why you are interested in the job and the company. Make sure you have a good grasp of the basic concepts and convince your interviewer that you have the capability and interest to learn the more complex aspects of the job.

Finally, ensure that you dress and act professionally. Show up on time and make eye contact throughout the interview. All the Best!

GetAhead reader Rohit Daga has done his MBA in Finance from Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai [Images] and has an active interest in writing. With over four years of experience, he has also headed a successful startup in the past.


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