Interview: Skills to win the final war
Interview is a process of assessing a student and his/her compatibility for the role. If you are therefore invited for an interview, you should learn the art of showing off your skills as well as to emphasise on the skills which are more relevant to the role in hand.
So near, and yet so far!
This is a statement, any student who puts in long hours practicing questions and questions, often for more than a year and then qualifies the written test but fails in the final hurdle – the interview, would understand.
All for nothing!
This is the season of interviews. Recruitment season for campus jobs is underway – core companies are lining up to recruit too. Students aspiring to do their MBA are awaiting CAT results and the subsequent interviews. And with banking season entering the final phase – it is the interview time for them too.
For many, preparing for an interview is a daunting task. For one – not many understand what to study – for they believe, anything under the sun can be asked. Many others, believe that interview is simply a show -off of their confidence and language skills. Both are right to some extent, but interviews throw up challenges greater than these.
What is an interview?
Interview is a process of assessing a student and her compatibility for the role. If you are therefore invited for an interview, you should learn the art of showing off your skills as well as to emphasise on skills which are more relevant to the role in hand.
Recently, I was interviewing a student who had qualified for the RRB interview. This student had come the hard way
– spending his childhood in his village, studying in a local vernacular school, and working alongside his parents on their small agricultural land. However, all through the interview, he did not highlight this background. He spoke about skills he possessed in general and his life in a city college. By doing so, he failed to highlight his greatest advantage – the rural emphasis that a bank like RRB (which for those who do not know, stands for Regional Rural Bank) looks for!
Similarly, he failed to answer questions which he should have surely prepared for. Why do you wish to move to the banking sector after doing your graduation in Mathematics? What is the application of Mathematics in banking? Why did you not plan for higher education? Given his background, these were questions he should have expected to be asked of him in the interview.
Not preparing for such “expected” questions, shows you in poor light. Further, even if you answer them, but give generic answers on same lines as what anybody else would have answered, you would not win many marks. You should learn the art of Personalisation, and that is how you make these answers personal, real, and winnable!
So, what should you do?
- Understand the job profile, the skills required, and what the interviewer would describe as a “perfect candidate”.
- Introspect and see what takes you close to be a “perfect candidate”, and remember to highlight these traits during your interview. Important traits should be reinforced by mentioning them at least twice. Make sure you can quote previous situations/examples where you displayed these traits.
- Be prepared for “uncomfortable” questions. Yes, you would try to hide those points which weaken your chances, but do not assume the interviewer would not notice them. Be prepared for questions like – Why have your marks fallen in graduation? Why do you have a break in your academic career? Why did you leave your previous job? And remember – while answering these, do see that they do not come across like excuses. No one likes people who blame everyone but themselves for their failings!
- Be prepared for the technical side of the interview too. While for IT companies it would mean the latest in technology; for banking it means concepts related to banking & economy; and for MBA, issues related to management. Lack of knowledge in the particular area where you wish to see your future shows you as a person disinterested or non-serious.
Finally – practice. Do not hesitate getting hold of a friend (or even sit in front of a mirror) and have mock interviews. Take up a question randomly and see how you deliver. You would notice initially your fluency is not good, your body language is poor (especially the eye contact which we tend to break while thinking), and your answer too is not strong enough in content. However, after a few practice sessions, you sure would end up improving. Start preparing for questions that might come up basis your answers – at the end of the day, interview is a conversation after all!
There are times in one’s life where one should simply not cut any corners. This is one such time. Getting a job or getting admitted in to a school of repute is now a matter of overcoming great competition. So, if you are right now look at facing an interview – pat yourself on the back that you have overcome the challenges so far. However, remind yourself – the battles have been won, but the war is still raging; and to win the war – you need to win the final battle – the interview. And so – go – prepare.
This article - authored by Mr Mohamed Abdullah, was originally published in Telangana Today on 11th December 2017.