An interviewer asked me a very simple question: “What is the significance of the year 1066 in the history of English literature?” But I was totally blank and failed to grasp the question and my agitated mind could not give a clue. Then, I was told that I should check and be informed about its significance. No doubt, I was made to look so ignorant, if not stupid.
The year 1066 was one of the most important dates in the history of the western world. That year, William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings and changed England and the English forever. You could have forgiven me if I was a college student still grasping with the details of history. But, for a college teacher, it should be a question that can be answered hands down. Why is it I could not recollect what I have known already?
Sometimes, our mind does not work in a normal manner. Particularly, when we encounter questions from people whom we think have “some absolute power” to make a decision which would determine “life” or “death” for us ! Even very familiar facts and figures are forgotten. Is this out of fear? Not always. It is more likely due to the pressing process of thinking about the person interacting with us and unfamiliar contexts rather than the question that has been posed.
Now, people say that we need to have enough training and exposure to the challenging interviews. It could be true sometimes, but not always. The interviews for which you have prepared well, you can’t be spontaneous. The rehearsed response that you give to the questions will be least likely to impress the questioner. Then, what to do? Here are five simple tips one can use to handle such situations of challenges.
Be prepared with all the details that you will share with the interviewer. Be organised and state clearly your strengths and arouse an interest in the interviewer so that the questions that you expect are all from your areas of interest. Sometimes, when the interviewer asks questions from other than your area, there is nothing wrong in admitting your limitations.
Never expect to impress the interviewer always. This attempt may result in failures. But, focus on your responses. All your answers should be relevant to the questions and avoid any answer that would create a negative impact on you.
When you are corrected in the process of interview, offer a pleasant smile and be thankful for being corrected. There is nothing wrong in learning at any point in our life. And don’t feel too much about that experience of being corrected as a mark of your ignorance. No one is perfect and no one knows everything. Even the interviewer knows that when we turn the table, things will be different.
Don’t give answers longer than required or shorter than needed. Always measure your words and express yourself with confidence and clarity. At the end, your confidence and your attitude are going to impress the interviewer, not just the right answers.
Before the interview gets over, try to get a chance to ask some questions which might show your interest in the organisation or your passion for the work. This kind of question will be a trigger in titling the balance on your favour. Many a time, when I myself was an interviewer, I rewrote the negative decision that I made about the candidate in the last minute. So every moment in an interview is extremely important.