Preparing for job interviews - Part 3
We return with the third and final part of this blog series.
(Read to the end for a cheat sheet to ace your interview)
In our first part we spoke about the importance of grooming & appearance, and in the second part we discussed mental preparation for a job interview.
In this final part we will look at psychological preparation for that dream job interview. Don’t get confused. It does sound very similar to mental preparation, but there is a lot of difference.
There may be several situations or questions that may cause discomfort as you may not be prepared to answer. It is best to anticipate certain questions, and be prepared for the answers.
Here are a few topics that can confuse you, and it is best to have given these some thoughts before meeting the interviewer.
- Honesty is the best policy
We all try to make the best impression during our interview. We feel that it may be a disadvantage if we can’t answer a question. So, we try to pretend or guess answers. But dishonesty often shows up, and makes a bad impression. It is better to admit inability to answer a question. No one is expected to know everything; it is more important to know the sources of information. It is alright to admit lack of information on a topic. In fact, it is a strong point without loss of face.
- General knowledge is important
Being the top scorer may not be enough. It is important for an employer to know that you are a thinking individual, and not a robot. Inability to discuss a topic, especially if it is of national interest, makes a bad impression. Read up on the biggest headlines. If there is any other related topic that you are not very confident about, make sure to gather all the required information and talk about it objectively to a few friends for practice.
- Money matters
Salary is a topic that must, and will, be discussed at the interview. It is important to talk about the compensation package without appearing to be bargaining, or being driven or defeated. Information about salaries given for such jobs and one's qualifications, and a good self-assessment (we will talk about this in detail later in the blog) should give you the confidence to negotiate the compensation package.
- Future growth
You must have the clarity of purpose & determination to want to know your prospects in the organisation. Information about the nature of duties, future prospects, other benefits, and any other desired information must be got before concluding the interview. The information is necessary for taking a decision, especially if there are other job offers.
It is important to have a good self-assessment. Knowledge of your strong points and weaknesses is useful in gaining self-confidence. Self-assessment takes time and should be done carefully & patiently. Parents and close friends can help in pointing out faults and in correcting them, and also in finding out strong points and strengthening them. Coming to terms with yourself, knowing how to deal with your faults, and how to make good use of your talents & skills is excellent preparation for an interview.
- Making the right impression
You are under observation from the moment you show up at the door until you leave the office. This entire time can be divided into four parts - entry, answering questions, asking questions, and leaving - each of which is equally important.
- Entry: You should be quickly able to adjust to the size and appearance of the unfamiliar room. Your style of opening/ closing the door, walking, greeting, and taking the chair will show whether you are clumsy or graceful, nervous or confident.
- Answering questions: This takes the major part of the interview time. You should be composed and calm. Questions range from details of education and experience, special abilities, personal interests, family background and circumstances, to any problem faced & handled in the past. These are meant to test your information & knowledge as well as personal qualities, character, attitude to work & life, career goals, and motivation.
- Asking questions: At the end of the interview, you may be invited to ask questions. Your questions should arise out of clarity of purpose, motivation and career goals. The questions could be about working conditions, details about job description, prospects of career growth in the organisation, or working relationships. The questions must be asked politely, and with sincere desire to get information to assess the job offer.
- Leaving: Like the entry, leaving takes a very short time, but can be confusing and uncomfortable for you. Leave taking should be responsive to the interviewer. You should:
- Thank the interviewers
- Collect & pack all papers & files neatly
- Get up gracefully, without scraping the chair
- Wish them good day
- Not offer to shake hands, but be alert; if anyone offers to shake hands be quick to take it
- Shut the door carefully & noiselessly
- Stress interview
As the name suggests, a stress interview is a common trick to test your reaction to stress. This method is specially used for positions in which you must face difficult situations without getting upset. A stress interview tests your courage, tact, cool temper, and self-command, which are needed when working in a team or dealing with customer demands. Several methods are used during the process - rapid questions on several topics at once, questions asked by different members of the panel together, cross-questioning, disputing or ridiculing your answer, subjecting you to silence & inattention. Under such a situation, you need to be coolheaded & self-possessed.
And now for your cheat sheet! Here are some commonly asked questions to help you prepare:
- Tell us about yourself, about your personal life.
- In what school/ college activities did you take part?
- Do you think the extra-curricular activities were worth the time you spent on them? Why?
- What is your opinion of the education & training you have received?
- How do you spend your free time?
- Why did you choose your particular specialization/ this particular field of work?
- What qualities do you have that might make you successful in this field?
- Why do you think you would like to work for our company? What do you know about this company?
- Do you prefer any specific geographic location? Why? Are you willing to travel?
- Do you prefer working with others in a team or alone?
- What kind of work interests you?
- What are your career plans?
- Can you take criticism without getting upset? How do you know?
- Tell me about your family background. Which of your parents has had the greater influence on you?
- What has been the most painful experience of your life? What do you consider your most proud achievement?
- How long do you expect to work here?
- What does the name...mean to you? (Anyone currently in the news for any activity or achievement)
- What is your major weakness?
- What type of books do you read?
- What type of TV programs do you like best?
- How do you get on with persons whose background and interests are different from yours?
- What is your idea about the pressure under which the industry operates today?
- Do you think examination grades should be considered by employers? Why?
- What have you done so far, which shows your initiative & willingness to work?
- How would your best friend describe you? How would an enemy describe you?