Remember that the real test is about convincing yourself and not the the interviewer, says Achin Bhattacharyya.
Appearing for an interview can be a very unnerving experience, as it involves interacting with strangers who have the right to decide your fate.
Hiring decisions (specially eliminations) are often taken quickly.
Even before you settle down and open up, the interview is over and you are asked to leave with a polite, open-ended yet non-committal 'we will let you know.'
Then starts an endless wait for that coveted phone call, which can get quite frustrating.
So, how do you take charge and optimise your own chances?
Here are some pointers that could help:
Do your research
Your interview process actually begins days, or even weeks, before you face your interviewer.
It is very important that you thoroughly research the company and try to find out about:
- Macro factors like opportunity and challenges in the industry that its part of,
- Its vision and the values it stands for,
- Promoter’s background,
- Work culture,
- Media presence (latest news and any major achievements or controversy etc).
Also find out the micro factors like financial numbers, scale of operations, short and medium-term expansion plans, etc.
It is equally important to know more about your interviewer, if you have prior information about the interviewer.
Try to find out her or his alma mater, professional track record, other areas of interest, etc. These will help you strike a chord from the word go.
Find out more about the position, including the job role, skills required,experience and salary levels to neutrally assess your suitability both in terms of skill sets as well as in terms of cultural fitment.
Please remember that the real test is about convincing yourself and not the the interviewer. The world will place its trust in you, only when you believe in yourself.
Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer -- list out what she or he is looking for.
Start visualising the ideal candidate and jot down the skills and personality traits that you would look for.
Now arrange them in an order of priority to decide the order in which you would want to unfold your candidature like a screenplay, as the interview progresses.
Drive the conversation
Interview is a two-way interaction, and just like any other conversation, one answer leads to the next question.
It would help to start steering the conversation into your areas of interest -- things that you are passionate about -- which gets the interview squarely into your comfort zone.
More often than not, you will be able to avoid an initial cold interrogation if you mention common areas of interest when you introduce yourself.
This will set you apart from scores of identical profiles with very little variation to choose from.
At all times, though, make the interviewer feel that she or he is in charge. The key to drive the discussion is by telling engaging stories about real life instances in those common areas of interest.
When most hiring decisions are taken within the first minute (specially at entry level) this is very important.
Be eager, but not desperate, as this is not the last job in the world.
Please remember that it is a mutual need.
Just as you are looking for a job, the interviewer is looking for a good hire.
If you have invested your time in putting up your best show, she or he has also set aside other commitments to look at you.
So be courteous and professional, and not subservient and lacking in self-confidence. If there is more than one person interviewing you, please make eye contact with every one as all of them may have a say in the final decision.
Also, very often the interviewer may want to test your endurance by taking stress interviews or asking you unpleasant questions.
Hold fort and do not show any signs of losing the plot by being impatient or nervous. Be calm, professional, factual and positive.
Be positive. Nobody wants a negative person with drooping shoulders.
Always remember that any interview is a mind game.
Don’t show insecurity -- demonstrate your capabilities and then let him hard sell the job to you.
Be real and human
Any real human being will have his own shares of success and failures, so there is no harm in talking about an occasional failure and your takeaways from it.
You should not conceal facts but be selective about how you serve the information, by looking at things from the other side of the table.
Don’t get stressed. Stress on the positives and display a keenness to improve in other areas, and you should sail through comfortably.
You have not been called to read your CV aloud, so ask some smart questions, taking cues from the discussion.
This puts you across as somebody who is analytical and interested.
Negotiate for yourself
It's a common trick to test your confidence and negotiation skills by cornering you about your expected remuneration or job role.
Don’t be rude or aggressive, but be logical and firm.
This may be a part of the evaluation process as your job may need you to negotiate on the company’s behalf in future.
Take it positively, as this is a sign that you are being considered seriously for the role.
Sign off on a positive note
Please do not corner the interviewer for an immediate decision.
Thank her or him for taking the time, wish the individual and the company a great journey ahead, and sign off with a warm professional handshake.
Achin Bhattacharyya is founder and CEO, Notebook, an edtech company.
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