Education Plus

'Don'ts' at the interview

Be courteous to panel members. Photo: Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar  

It’s the time when campus placements are round the corner, you have shot off your CV to prospective employers directly, or through online employment sites. Lectures, training sessions and plenty of advice from family and friends tell you what you should do at interviews. But do you know what you should ‘not’ do? Here are some pointers.

Preparation

  • Do not ignore the interview call. Acknowledge straight away. If you have received an email, respond. If you have got a phone call, answer or call back. No employer is sitting idle twiddling their thumbs. If you are unable to attend, let the excuse be genuine. Do not lie, you will be caught if you happen to land an interview at a later date and goof up.
  • Do not arrive late at the interview. Do a test run to the venue of the interview or at least have an approximate time it would take to reach the venue in your mind. Give yourself 15 minutes headstart to factor in for unexpected delays. Call if you are running late and definitely apologise when you are being interviewed. Your employer may have slotted successive interviews and your delay can disturb that order.
  • Do not look dishevelled. It should not appear as if you got right out of bed. Nothing is more unappealing than having a candidate looking badly dressed — shirt half tucked in, women candidates with inappropriate or distractive clothing, unpolished and faded footwear, coming in with wet clothing because you forgot to carry an umbrella and my pet peeve — men with unkempt beard or sporting an unshaven look.
  • Do not walk in empty-handed . You are not attending an informal meeting. Recently at an interview, four out of six candidates had no documents or certificates with them; they produced their CVs, rather ‘waved’ it at the panel, all damp and poorly printed. Excuses, excuses, excuses! How do you expect the employer to believe your educational qualifications that you have mentioned in the CV?
  • Do not repeat CV contents; we can and have read them. I find this typical of Indian candidates when we ask them to say something about themselves. They start off with Myself ABC, I studied in school X, college Y, institute Z; my dad is this and my mother is that and I have X number of brothers and Y number of sisters, and on and on. Stop. Do you think the panel wants, and has the time, to listen to your full personal information ? And we know your name, address, educational qualifications — all from your CV.
  • Don’t meander. Be brief and to the point. Say 2-3 lines about your dream job and include some information about what your hobbies are or what you are passionate about.
  • Do not keep your phone switched on and keep looking at it all the time. Nothing is more disrespectful than your phone ringing while you are being interviewed. Worse still if you answer it. If you are expecting an important call because of an emergency, you should not be attending the interview in the first place. You will neither be focussed nor attentive; do not be surprised if you do not get the job.

During the interview

  • Do not speak badly about your ex-employer/institute/the place where you interned or any person you were associated with during your training period. Firstly, it tells badly on your behaviour, and secondly, you may not know if any of the panel members are friends or acquaintances of the person you are bad-mouthing or belittling.
  • Do not be rude or arrogant to the panel members. Interviewers may ask you to demonstrate your skill or experience in a role play. If you do not perform well because of lack of confidence, or you were put in a spot because your product knowledge was inadequate, then accept the panel members’ criticism constructively and graciously. Do not get on the defensive and start arguing.
  • Do not undervalue yourself. The lesser you value yourself, the lesser emolument you will get. Many employers will try and bargain with you with regards to salary and other terms. It pays to do some homework and find out what industry standards are there for that particular job role. Also, do not appear desperate to take any offer made or the conditions laid down. It is perfectly okay to ask for time to think it over as long as the time asked is reasonable.
  • Do not ask personal information about interviewers even if you have heard about them or you are attending the interview through a recommendation. For one, personal information is private; and familiarity in such a situation can create bias or prejudice in the minds of the other panel members which, in turn, can affect the selection process.

Reports suggest that despite having adequate academic skills for employment, candidates fail miserably when it comes to communication and other necessary soft skills. I am talking of basic skills as enumerated above.

The product in the packaging must be as good as it looks! So, if you are out to sell yourself in the employment market, package yourself better than the candidate behind you in the queue. After all, everyone can sell a steak, but you need to sell the sizzle too!

The writer is trainer and consultant, GalaxiStars Training Solutions.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 9:37:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/Donts-at-the-interview/article14479862.ece

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