Preparing for Interviews:Some Useful Tips [Archives:2003/671/Education]

September 25 2003

Dr. Ramakanta Sahu
Associate Professor
College of Education, Mahweet
[email protected]

Many of us need to face interviews of one kind or another. Students, in particular, prepare themselves for job interviews. It is therefore important to know a few practical techniques which may help them to give a good account about themselves to the interviewers.
The word 'interview' is derived from the French word ” entrevoir” meaning “glimpse” or “sight between” or “view between”. An interview in its widest sense may be defined as “a formalized conversation usually conducted for some specific purpose, i.e. to get answers from someone who has them, to probe for the reasons behind a situation, to brief someone in preparation for a task or to measure a person's qualification for a job opening. A job interview however indicates an occasion when a person is asked questions by one or more other people to decide whether he or she is a suitable person to be given the job.

(A) Preparation for an interview
Success in an interview largely depends on the candidate's ability to respond adequately, appropriately, and convincingly to the questions posed by the members of the interview board. An intelligent preparation is therefore necessary to give an impressive performance. The following points may be borne in mind, which may stand the candidate in good stead.

1-Learn about the organization
It is useful to gather some useful information about the prospective organization, such as its brief history, its performance, and the nature of the job. Such information can be obtained from various sources like the company's annual reports, brochures, etc. It gives the candidate confidence and helps him/her to establish a better rapport with the interviewers.

2- Background information about the candidate
The applicant should go well prepared about his/her educational background, professional training and experience including hobbies and interests which make the candidate particularly suitable for the job. All these details should be convincingly presented to win the selectors' appreciation.

3- Awareness of current affairs
In an interview one is more often asked questions relating to current national and international affairs, besides questions concerning the candidate's areas of specialization. So, it is advisable to be well informed about the important happenings and have a definite perspective about them.

4- Possible questions:
The candidate should intelligently guess question likely to be asked in an interview. Often, one is asked open-ended questions which one is required to answer in some detail. Examples of some of these questions are the following:
-How would you benefit the organization if selected?
-Why do you want to leave your present job?
-Why do you consider yourself suitable for this job?
-What are your expectations?
-What are your hobbies and interests?
– What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Suppose you are faced with a problem like 'x', how would you go about solving it?
One should go equipped with well-thought out answers to such questions and confidently answer them.
Before proceeding to the venue of the interview check whether all the certificates, testimonials and other documents are in order. These should be serially arranged and kept in a nice folder. Dress up in a smart, presentable manner. Avoid looking gorgeous. Proceed to the venue well before the scheduled time and remain seated there until your turn comes.

(B) Points to remember during the interview

1-Project a pleasing personality
Remember that you are being very closely observed by a group of experts. However, don't feel nervous. Have a positive attitude and reflect charm and poise as a natural part of your personality. This cannot be achieved overnight. You should know the essentials of good manners and carefully practise them. To cultivate a pleasing personality, study people around you who have a pleasing personality.

2- Avoid mannerisms
Some candidates become very nervous and lose self-control in an interview. In such unguarded moments they display certain mannerisms which prove to be their undoing. Some people bite nails or scratch side burns or constantly look down or at the ceiling while answering questions. Such mannerisms betray a lack of self-confidence and are reckoned as negative points. So avoid them.

3- Entry points
When you are called in, just before entering the interview hall, adjust your dress, give a gentle knock on the door and enter, not, of course, forgetting to shut the door behind you. On entering, mark the distance between you and the interviewers. In case there is a reasonably good distance go upto half way of the hall and, with a slight bow and a smiling face wish according to the time of the day. However, if the distance is not much, wish at the entry point, walk upto the interview table, stand behind the chair meant for you and wait till the chairperson or an interviewer motions you to the chair. If you are not offered chair for a while, politely ask permission to sit: “May I sit down please?” While wishing the members, first look at the chairperson and then at other members.

4- Sitting posture
Sit comfortably, confidently and straight. Don't look tense, don't rest your arms and hands on the table. Don't sit cross-armed or cross-legged. Wear a natural smile and make eye contact with the members while answering their questions.

5- Be attentive
You should understand the question clearly and correctly before answering. Don't begin to answer abruptly. Don't interrupt the interviewer. Don't bluff. Give a clear and precise answer. If, however, you couldn't hear the question clearly, you may ask, “Excuse me, Sir, could you repeat the question, please?”

6- Mind your expression
Choose simple and straightforward expression. Avoid complex sentences and relative clauses as far as possible. Don't use slangs or cliches or colloquial expressions. Your simple language should reflect the clarity of your thoughts and ideas.

7- Avoid negative comments
Interviewers appreciate honesty, frankness, and a positive attitude. So, desist from unnecessarily criticizing others or your former employer, for that matter. If, however, criticism becomes inevitable, try and be unbiased and objective.

8- Be judicious
Sometimes interviewers want to put you under stress to see your calmness, poise and emotional equilibrium. Don't be provoked even if an interviewer makes an unsavory comment. Show your tolerance, prudence and take the comment with a stride without ever being agitated.

9- Be tactful
Sometimes the candidate is bombarded by a barrage of questions. In such a situation, keep cool and be tactful. Take the questions one by one and answer briefly in a focussed manner.

(C) Ending an interview
After the interview is over, thank all the members of the board. Say something like: “I'm indeed grateful to you for a very lively interaction. I have benefited a lot from this experience. Thank you very much”. Stand up gently, put the chair back, but don't push it violently. With a slight bow turn back and proceed straight to the door. Don't look back to see their reaction.
Taking interview is both an art and a science. It is a skill, which can be practised and cultivated. Yet it has certain defined steps and procedures which, if scrupulously followed, can certainly pave the way to success.

Good luck!