Heading for a job interview? Experts list out a few dos and don’ts that will give you an edge over others

Pratap Kumar, who heads a television production company, was interviewing someone for a senior position. The CV was flawless, and the candidate seemed confident. But then, things began to unravel. “It was a one-way conversation; he spoke without listening to us, he was merely pretending to listen. That was not a good sign. We rejected him,” he says.

Another time, he nterviewed a very accomplished candidate, but he came across as a Mr. Please All. “I wanted a manager, not a doormat.” The interview went nowhere.

Test of character

Self-help books and crash courses on interview etiquette have ensured most candidates turn out well and answer with confidence. But, once the questions start, their true character surfaces, say recruiters.

Mahendra Ramdass, managing director of Mahendra Pumps, has been interviewing candidates for 35 years now. The biggest put-off for him is a Jumping Jack; someone who routinely changes jobs, sometimes, even thrice a year. “I know that he/she will use my company as just a training centre. I prefer candidates who hold on to a job for at least three to four years,” he says.

Another no-no is a candidate who speaks ill of his former company. “It’s a dead giveaway that he’ll do the same about your company. No point hiring someone without loyalty,” he says.

Companies also insist on a relieving letter these days because white collar crimes are on the rise, and they need to know if the candidate has pending dues in his previous office.

Background check

Many hire firms that check out candidates’ personality and behaviour. Daytime drinking and those with a bloated sense of self are often caught this way. “They will not deliver and will never be team players,” says Ramdass.

G.S. Badri Narayanan, Mumbai-based regional sales executive with a pharmaceutical major, says that often candidates try to hide their flaws with carefully-worded statements. “The basic recruitment process takes care of the routine checks. My job is to engage the candidate in conversation and get him to back his claims. That will weed out most non-performers.”

Badri, who has been in a recruitment position for the past 12 years, says fresh graduates are the hardest to gauge.

“They are strong in theory and gung-ho. But, you never know how they will turn out after recruitment. I once recruited four really bright college students, and had great dreams for them. They did not last two months. All their interpersonal skills flew out of the window once they hit the streets!”

When sales staff are being recruited, employers usually look for chinks in their carefully put together armour. “The man who’ll submit fake travel bills, the ones who will inflate numbers… they are waiting to be caught,” says Ramdass. Most of all, he says, trust your gut instinct. “Whenever I’ve gone against that, I’ve been proven wrong.”

Prime focus

Bio Data

The first thing an employer sees is the bio data. The essential information has to be in the first page and, if possible, in the first half of the page. Recruiters are not likely to spend more than 15 seconds on each one. If it is an applicant’s first job, he/she must put down details such as involvement with sports, academic achievements, whether they were prefects in school and college, details of summer projects if any, etc. They must mention the city they live in, their mobile numbers and email ids. And, definitely no sms language.

Grooming

Candidates have to be well turned out. This does not mean wearing expensive clothes, but it means wearing appropriate clothes. No chappals, jeans or T Shirts. They must look clean and presentable. Male candidates should have shaved.

Communication skills

Group discussions (GD) are a way of shortlisting candidates. So, it is important to make an impression immediately, as interviewers are likely to make up their minds in the first 20 seconds.

In the GD, candidates should display restraint, not raise their voice, and must speak with conviction and logic.

Sitting quietly will get them negative points. Candidates should be prepared to answer questions about family. If asked about non-performance in a particular subject, they should not launch into long winded excuses or complaints.

Etiquette

On entering the interview room, candidates should not sit down unless invited to do so.

Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder CEO& MD, The Head Hunters India Private Ltd.

Industry speak

Your CV has to be absolutely true. Don’t be ambiguous or dishonest.

Do your homework on the company you have applied to.

Be clear about the job description before going for the interview.

Be punctual. Be well groomed and display courtesy and good manners.

Communication skills are important. So is the right attitude. Don’t shoot your mouth off, but do show some enthusiasm

R.S. Ramaswamy, former vice president of an airline