Having participated in many interviews – both as an interviewee and an interviewer, I can confidently say that most candidates have been a disappointment when compared to their CV. The ability to excel when an opportunity presents itself is often overlooked. Job Interviews are no different.
I believe this is due to lack of preparations or focus on the right kind of offers. Even today, students as well as professionals have a ‘we will do whatever we get’ attitude. While this may get oneself a toe-in at the start of the career, it will definitely not help progress in years to come.
Below is a list of to-do actions one may like to touch upon while preparing for the next job interview:
Know yourself – This topic is the most frequent deal-breaker. A job seeker’s primary and best option is to offer a topic of discussion to the interviewer. It is highly disappointing when they are unable to induce interest in their own profile. Not knowing what to say when an interviewer asks you the simplest of questions like ‘Tell me something about yourself’ is blasphemous to say the least. As an interview is the only time one gets to present himself or herself in person, I would advise job seekers to practise the common questions. Practise your stories and know there significance in professional parlance. For example, you may have run 10 km at a stretch, but if you cannot justify the reason or the learning behind it, this brave achievement would lose its worth. Presentation: Please dress professionally for an interview. For an entry-level position, one can dress formally. While for an advanced requirement, interviewee can match the colour of their wear with the kind of profile they want to portray. Some colours against their indicators are as follows: White – Structured thinker, Brown – Reliable, Gray – Analytical thinker etc. Whatever the choice, aspirants should always feel comfortable in their clothes. If one has never wore a business suit before, my suggestion would be to wear the suit a couple of times before. Accept the beverage request: Do note that either an interview will be over in ten minutes – depending on the interviewer’s disappointment in a profile; or it will be an hour-long discussion. Since we are preparing for interviews of the latter kinds, it will be advisable to consider the beverage request. It shall not only keep oneself at ease but will help buy additional time (sip and think) when one has to gather their thoughts prior to framing a response. Know the interviewer – Please try not to equate this point with stalking one’s interviewer on Facebook or Instagram. You may actually manage to freak them out. Rather, a quick glance of their LinkedIn profile will convey their achievements, expertise or hobbies. This will help prepare an appropriate response to the questions during the interview. For example, a CXO will be interested in long-term or macro picture while a manager closer to daily operations will be content with technical expertise in resolving an everyday issue. One of the common mistakes I committed in my earliest interviews was to overlook this key aspect. Emphasise on your take-control attitude – Let’s face it, as new recruits one is expected to propose and implement problem resolutions. Most employers feel at ease with interviewees who can showcase examples when they were able to take control of a situation and bring about a positive outcome out of it. Having said this, it is also important to not go over the top blowing one’s trumpet as it may backfire. Express yourself well: In an interview cabin, one must get comfortable quickly. This will result in expressing oneself effectively. Do ensure that there is sufficient eye contact with the interviewer or the interviewing panel. This shows that the interviewee is confident, not lying and acknowledges the presence of every person in the room. An overuse of hand gestures is a big No, as it causes distraction for the listener. Follow-up: Do follow-up with a short thank-you email post the interview. It helps to refresh the interviewer’s memory. Ensure to put a quick mention in the email about your strengths, which shall help you perform exceptionally for the interviewed position. Ideally, you can send this email at the end of the day or within 24-hours of the interview. Ask questions, but not necessarily at the end: I often tell my students that an interview is but a conversation between two individuals. The key task of an interviewee is to express themselves well enough for the interviewer to make an informed decision on the candidature. Being able to ask relative questions not only at the end but also in between the interview expresses interest from the interviewee. This technique has been far helpful in becoming comfortable during the interview. Nilesh Gaikwad is Country Manager at EDHEC Business School.