It is that time of the year again, the MNC‘s and the not-MNC‘s will be coming to the MIT Manipal campus is about a weeks time and the tense and worried student will be preparing for the most important interview of their lives so far!
NOW is the time to prepare. If you’ve had a field training experiences (internships) the transition from student to employee can be an easier attempt.
Going on a job interview can be a difficult experience. I believe it can be easier if you know what is expected. A personal job interview is really a learning experience for both the employer and applicant. A company looks for the best person to fill the position by conducting job interviews with many candidates.
Placement counselors agree that an applicant’s dress and overall appearance directly affect the final outcome of the interview. It is never wise to dress in “ultra-high style.” When dressing for business, men make a better impression in a suit. Navy blue or gray are good colors, and should be worn with a coordinating shirt and tie. Hair should be neatly trimmed and face clean. Most interviewers frown upon beards, long hair, and, to a lesser degree, mustaches. And of course, multiple ear piercings are still considered a “no-no” by many for both men and women.
During a job interview, the applicant should let the interviewer set the pace of the meeting and follow his or her cues about where to sit and whether or not to shake hands. Arriving a few minutes before the arranged time shows that the applicant is prompt about important meetings. It is also very important to keep up eye contact as much as possible, to speak slowly and to communicate clearly. This does not mean the conversation needs to be dragged out, but it is important to take time to think before speaking.
I recommend students who are new at the interview game to be careful of the “trick” questions. For example, if the interviewer mentions that he looks forward to his weekend so he can sleep late, should the applicant agree and give the impression that he or she does the same? Certainly not! The fact is that the interviewer may not sleep late, but may be trying to see how the applicant spends his or her free time. Employers enjoy self-motivated people, who enjoy constructive leisure time pursuits such as jogging, swimming, working out and other productive activities. They are not impressed by lack of ambition, even if it is your own time.
One major firm uses the following question when they are seeking sales staff: If you are shipwrecked on a deserted island what three things would you want to take with you? What would you answer? Your answer might include a bible, food, water, clothes, a knife, a gun, etc. But the three best choices would be an ax (to cut down trees), rope (to tie a raft together) and compass (to find your way back to civilization).
You have to be ready for the unexpected. Sometimes there will be two people in the room with you. One will be friendly and very likeable, the other will act nasty, curt, even hostile toward you for no clear reason. This is a form of “stress” interview designed to see how you react under pressure.
Another favorite is the “cigarette test.” Here the interviewer invites you to join him outsider for a smoke while you chat. Should you accept the offer? No! It is a test. Your chance of getting the job may just “go up in smoke.” Never accept an offer to eat, drink (except water), or chew gum during an interview either. And never bring a cell phone, iPod or BlackBerry to an interview.
You should be able to back up what you put on your résumé and a job application. For example, if you only worked a few weeks during the summer vacation, what did you do the rest of the time? You should avoid showing long gaps of time between work and school schedules. It is helpful to get or devise a blank application form to practice filling in the information before you have to fill in the real form. This helps you check the accuracy of dates and will be a handy reference to have when you fill out a job application form.
It is a good idea to know enough about the company to discuss it intelligently with the interviewer. You will be asked why you want to work for the particular company. Show interest, ask questions, and be enthusiastic about working for that company. Do not make excuses for what you lack. Concentrate on your positive assets and your ability to do the job (or learn it fast). Don’t be afraid to ask when a decision will be made. It indicates to the employer that you value your time and wish to join the organization as soon as possible.
One last comment about what not to talk about during your first interview with a potential employer: Never talk of salary, never talk of politics, never talk of religion, and never offer to tell your favorite joke!
Follow up the interview with a thank-you note, email, or telephone call. Use the opportunity to again express your interest in the firm. In conclusion, consider the interview process a game. You must prove yourself both “on the field” and “off the field” by your record of accomplishment. You can’t always succeed at every tryout, but you can always give your best effort. Good luck!