(Avadhesh Dixit is Head HR (India Region) at Moody’s Corporation. He is a global HR leader who has led HR function at GE Capital, TCS and CMC Ltd both In India and outside India.)
‘’Good Conversations start with good listening’’
Preparing for Job Interviews
Thanks a lot for your positive response to career conversations with me! Your feedback should continue to and I will attempt to address your most pressing career concerns. In the last issue, we discussed about what corporates are looking for from fresh talent. In current conversation, I wanted to touch upon another important topic on preparing for job interviews. While this conversation is more focused for job interviews at campuses but most of this can be applied in any job interview situation. Let me talk about some important aspects that you need to keep in mind before appearing for job interviews. Some of this may sound obvious but many candidates seem to miss the obvious itself!
Here we go!
- Know about the Job: It’s extremely important that you know all dimensions of the job well for which you are being interviewed. This becomes even more important if you are applying for a job that requires prior work experience. Interviewers are going to make assessment about your abilities to do the job in question. Interviewing is all about matching job attributes with the skills and attributes of the candidate. If you do not have enough information about what is expected from the job for which you are appearing then ask for it. Most of the established organization will share well documented Job Description with you. Make sure you read the Job Description carefully and try to map your abilities and skills with the requirements as mentioned in JD. This process will help in being more precise in answering the questions during the face to face interview. If you have done a good research on the requirements of the job then you will be able to better anticipate the questions that may come your way.
- Know the Interviewer: One should make all attempts to know about the interviewer/s. Most of the times it is not a difficult task. If you know the company and the person who is going to be part of the interview process then you can look them up on Linked in and social platforms. If you do not know the names of the interviewer then it may be worth trying to get the name from the placement cell of your campus. In case of lateral interviews, your consultant or the hiring company will itself share the name of the person with whom you are expected to meet. Do some research on the interviewer like his/her educational background, his/her expertise, read his/her linked posts and articles if available. The idea is to have some background on the person who is going to meet you. If you find any common interests then the conversation can be splendid and may improve your chances of selection. There is natural liking for sameness and you can exploit it.
- Know the Organization: Researching about the organization that is going to be your potential employer is the most crucial aspect of the interview process. This may sound very obvious but I have found many candidates who do not do this or do this very casually. Demonstrating that you know about their company in way also demonstrate your interest in them. You will never know ins and out of the company but there are many things in public domain and they can be gathered soon. So what all can you know about the company? Visit the company website and read about their product and services. Read about their mission, vision and cultural values. Try to get some understanding about how they make money and what could be key business drivers. Some of this will reflect in their mode of questioning during the actual interviews. Go to their career section and that will also give you some idea on what kind of workplace they are trying to create. You can also google the news about the company to see how media is covering them. Some of this will also help you in determining if you want to work with them. Some of this research will also help you in making better decisions if caught between choosing from alternate offers.
- Dress for the occasion: My view on this is quite simple. You can never go wrong with being conservative in your dressing when it comes to interviews. People will discount you if you are on the conservative side rather than if you are outrageous with your attire. So friends, go with the formal/semi-formal dressing and you will never get this one wrong. Not to mention that you have to dress for the weather. Example: if you are in Delhi and getting interviewed in June, I would never expect you to wear those tiesJ. Do I need to mention that you need to look neat, tidy and well-groomed for the formal occasions like interviews?
- Be Prepared with some commonly asked questions: While I am a big advocate of not being over prepared for non-subject related questions but over the period of time have realized that some candidates actually come across more prepared and hence more confident on non-subject related questions. This has prompted me to conclude that some amount of basic preparedness is a good idea. But do not overdo it as your natural self will overtake you in actual interview scenario and cause nervousness if questions get twisted. There is nothing better than your true self. Having said this, some of the commonly asked questions for which some base preparedness is desirable are as follows. In one of the subsequent edition of our conversations, I will deal with the answers of the commonly asked question but for the time being here are some of the questions.
- Tell me something about yourself?
- Why do you want to pick up this role?
- What attracts you to our company?
- Why do you think you have skills to do this job?
- What are your key strengths and areas of improvement?
- Describe some situations where you have led teams/handled difficult people/led change etc.
Preparing for some of these questions will also make you think clearly about your own goals and will offer good opportunity for self-assessment. As I said, the trick is that you don’t overdo it and stick to truth as natural self is most effective self.
- Post Interview Follow-up: Irrespective of whether you have been selected or not, it’s always a good idea to send a thank you note to your interview panelist. They may have alternate jobs for you in future or if you are lucky the offered candidate may not accept the offer and you are their second best candidate. Always drop a note of thanks. It really helps!
In subsequent edition, we will go into details of how to answer very common interview questions.
Happy Career Building!