Interviews: You Want to Crack it?
Are you a final year student? A fresh Graduate or Post-graduate or Doctoral? Pursuing Humanities, Commerce, or Science—the mainstream kind? Or an individual trying your hand at something unconventional, for instance Cyber Security or Actuarials? Do you feel confined by national borders of your country of origin, or feel like traversing the planet with your professional aspirations, as a global citizen? If your answer to any of the above questions is affirmative, then you need to read on for your own benefit.
With the global shock experienced by majority of the countries due to COVID-19, the placement and job landscape has transformed immensely. In the pre-pandemic era, students did their internships and professionals applied their skills at jobs in brick-and-mortar spaces. In fact, in Marketing, I highlight the importance of office location, interiors, furnishings, colour combination, logo display and other marks of ‘Physical Evidence’ which is one of the significant elements of the 7 P’s of Service Marketing. The point that I am trying to make is that things have changed drastically during the pandemic. The typical job market has been reshaped in a big way. Nonetheless, the unprecedented collapse in employment is thankfully being countered by conducting online interviews and providing support mechanisms for virtual workspaces.
Generally, you must have noticed that interviews are of different types: one to one interviews being the most commonly one used for recruitment. Panel interviews where two or more experts ask questions, are also organized with a view to get different selectors’ perspectives on the candidates. Telephonic interviews have gained momentum as a preliminary step in the selection process, since Coronavirus took the world by a storm. And finally, the live video interviews are here to stay during and after the pandemic too, for quite a considerable time.
So, the question arises that how must you prepare, in order to crack the online interviews and grab the job opportunities? At the outset, it is to be understood that every interviewer tries to find the candidate’s competencies and strengths while asking questions. Some may be informal, to put the interviewee at ease, while others enquire in a formal tone and demeanour. So, let me give you all a few tips, especially for video interviews, because prior preparation prevents poor performance!!!!!
· Start by applying for jobs, even if you meet 70% of their requirements—job description or person specification. I have interviewed many candidates during my two and a half decades of experience, and I can vouch for it that there is no ‘perfect match’ between a job profile and the candidate. Moreover, you gain experience from each interview that you face, and only lose fear.
· You must be proactive enough to check if the Zoom, Skype or Teams link is working, in advance. Sometimes, they send a wrong link since the IT department is overworked these days; or they send the link for another date or time rather than the one mentioned in your email. It is better to check the technical details, than to be sorry at the last moment.
· Ensure that your surroundings, more precisely your background (which will be visible to the interviewer behind you) is not cluttered, but neat and tidy. In many apps, you do have the option to choose from a wide array of backgrounds, but let it not be too distracting for the interviewer.
· Dress formally. An ironed shirt, with jacket and tie for the males. And a shirt with skirt or trouser, or salwar kameez, or kurtis, or sari for the females. With waist-up dressing, you do have the benefit of being comfortable in your trainers or lowers, below the belt.
· When greeting, introducing yourself, or answering questions, look in the camera and not at the computer screen. It is akin to maintaining eye contact, when in a face-to-face interview. When you do so, it is indicative of high self-confidence, which comes from knowledge, skill, and the right attitude.
· Do your homework well—about the company, department, and job position. You may work smart and visit their website, social media handles, company pages, reports, press releases—as a start.
· Think and write pointers to answer the frequently asked questions, like tell me something about yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses, how would you handle conflict at work? These pointers may be pinned up behind or on the side of your laptop, as cheat notes, so that you may communicate fluently and flawlessly, without many verbal pauses.
· Prepare to answer competency-based questions with personal examples. I would recommend using the STAR method, i.e., situation-task-action-result, to structure your answer. To illustrate, if a question is posed to find out about your problem-solving abilities, talk about a real-life challenge faced by you and what steps you took to overcome it. You must reflect on both the positives and negatives. The outcome, in terms of you emerging as more open-minded, or resilient, or strong professional—will need to be emphasized.
· You need to exercise caution when asked tricky questions. For example, ‘do you think Covid-19 is for real or more of propaganda?’ Try to get on the other side of the table and think why the interviewer asked that question? What do they want to know about your thought process or personality? Remember, snitches gets stitches. Hence, do not be disrespectful; do not blame others. Do answer with facts, not based on your whims and fancies.
To summarize, in case you follow the above advice as job-seekers, the silver lining in a shockingly tough scenario, may well make you shine. To crack an interview, remind yourself that employers want to hire result-oriented persons in their team. Give your 100% to every interview, and do not fret about ‘what will happen if…’? You always have more chances, because success is never final, failure is not fatal; you just need the courage and patience to continue trying till you get it right.
All the best!