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Preparation for the personal interview

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Prof. R.S.S. Mani, Vice-President- Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions offers invaluable suggestions and advice on how a candidate can maximise their chances of scoring well in a professional interview and subsequently increase their chances of being selected for the job

What are the major areas in which a management student appearing for a personal interview is scrutinised?
The interview process aims at assessing the overall personality of the candidate and his/ her fit for the role they have applied for. Please ensure that you read enough about the company and its activities .You need to also know enough about the role that you have applied for and the position .Do collect some information about the industry segment too. Brush up all the basics in your area of specialisation so that your domain knowledge is up to date. Prepare over a week so that you have enough time to collect and digest the information. Last-minute reading the night before in a great hurry will leave you more confused. Carry important relevant documents with you in a proper sequence to show them to the panel .
How much value do soft skills and a sharp demeanour hold over actual domain knowledge during a personal interaction?
Soft skills and a sharp demeanour are as important as domain knowledge. The interview is the process where we also look at the personality aspects of the applicant and check out his culture fit to the organisation. Hence it becomes critical for you to brush up your domain knowledge so that you can present it effectively. Go through a few mock interview sessions in order to build up your confidence .Your sloppy and casual approach in an interview can certainly go against you .The interviewer is keen to assess your attitude and personality as much as your knowledge and skills.
What are a few areas which students can focus on, in order to ensure an edge over their peers?
We must remember that the interview is a process wherein the candidate and company are actually evaluating each other in order to decide about selecting each other. Hence do focus on presenting your strengths during the interview and building a positive impression on the panel. Do not criticise your institution, faculty or peers in order to cover your faults and shortcomings. Research the company that you are applying to and ask pertinent questions if you are given the opportunity. Keep your project reports and such documents ready to present to the panel and engage in a meaningful discussion .
It is often speculated that those who are emphatic with their points gain maximum attention. How does one ensure that this is positive attention? What is the line between being enthusiastic and coming across as pushy or impertinent?
The best approach to developing positive attention is to listen effectively. The most important point to note is that you must listen to the question carefully and only then begin with your response. Do not   interrupt the interviewer and lose eye contact with the questioner. You may ensure maximum eye contact with the panelist who posed the question, but do also ensure some eye contact with the other panelists off and on. In case you don’t know the answer you may apologise for the same with a smile. Keep your responses concise and precise to the point being discussed. Do remember that very often your answer provides the basis for the next question. Keep a small writing pad and a pen handy and use to explain a point if necessary.

Does dressing have a role to play in the scheme of things? Please elaborate...
Yes, appropriate dressing is  a positive influencer during the interview .DO check out in advance about the dress code usually followed in the company and dress appropriately .This is important because it confirms your intention to  blend with the work culture right at the interview stage. Besides it also sets the tone for a formal interaction without being casual or over-dressed for the event .Do ensure that you reach the interview venue well in time . Being punctual ensures that you get time to settle down and don’t end up in the interview room looking hassled , out of breath or with a crumpled look. Keep your file or folder or portfolio on your lap and not on the table.

How long is an average interview? If your interview is quick and short, is that good news or bad?
There are no researched norms about the duration of an interview. However, we expect it to last around 15 minutes at least as this would provide an opportunity for some meaningful exchange of ideas. Frankly, the duration of the interview cannot determine if the news is good or bad. A panel at times takes longer to decide about a candidate and sometimes is able to decide in favor or against the selection very quickly too .Hence the quality of interaction would determine selection and not time sent with the panel. Hence not getting selected after an interview should not dishearten you. Do remember that the outcome of an interview is important, but what is more important is the healthy interaction. Such experiences contribute largely to enhancing your career over a period of time.
Any other important tips or pointers that one must keep in mind?
The importance of punctuality cannot be undermined;come what may don’t be late!  Arrive 15 minutes before, feel comfortable with the place , freshen up , have a sip of water and relax .Traffic jams , a sudden downpour , trains running late are all part of day to day life and are not  acceptable as excuses !! Settle down in the interview room, skim through some magazines or company literature if available and await your turn in a relaxed manner .This will positively help you feel more confident and comfortable before the interview. It is rightly said that if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.

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