Job interviews provide the most fertile ground to discover you are human…by making mistakes (or ‘unforced errors’ as Sania Mirza would describe them). A job interview is also the best place to discover a highly evolved species called Bosses, who use it as an opportunity to demonstrate how lowly and insignificant the rest of us are.
If you’ve been preparing for an important job interview, here are a few do’s and don’ts so that the discovery process doesn’t push you on the road to extinction. Most of them have been thrashed to death, but it’s always good to keep a checklist handy when your memory isn’t exactly keeping pace with the demands of the cruel world.
Reach a few minutes before your scheduled interview time (but hopefully not before the security guys have arrived and opened the office) so that you have some time to calm yourself down and get settled.
Interviews are meant to be formal, so avoid narrating personal stories or incidents or discussing Vidya Balan’s dressing sense. Stay clear of getting too friendly or asking personal questions or trying your hand at humour.
You may have e-mailed your resume across however it’s always a good idea to carry additional copies so that you can produce your resume on request. Old-fashioned paper hasn’t been pushed out by iPad and Blackberry yet.
Be a patient listener, even if the bloke asking the questions sounds like a high-pitched dog whistle. You need to be attentive and answer to the point rather than giving inappropriate answers. Do not interrupt your interviewer (you can have your revenge after you join them). Rather wait for the right chance when you can narrate your achievements related to the topic being discussed.
Don’t oversell yourself. If you have been selling soap, don’t tell them you are on a secret mission to eliminate the evil, invisible bacteria that have been plotting to take over our world for centuries now. Your interviewer would arguably be smart enough to know if you are trying to present yourself as a super-achiever though you were not.
6) Too much Transparency
If your interviewer enquires about your long-term career goals, avoid confiding about your ambitious plans of coming up with your own start-up or vague plans you have in mind for the future (like time-travel). This would not be the right place to divulge information which would create a negative impression about your long-term commitment to the job.
You may be given an opportunity to ask questions. So do the necessary research about the company, their previous projects, and the job description of the role you’re applying for. Ask specific questions related to your role which would reflect your enthusiasm to take over the position applied for and be a part of the company. Enquiring about salary, vacations, bonuses can be kept for a later date if you get an offer.
Also be sensitive. Don’t ask how one of their Directors ended up in jail for fraud, while the rest are on the interview panel giving you the same third degree treatment that their buddy is getting behind bars.
Your interviewer would be curious to find out the reason for leaving the previous job. Maybe the output from the coffee vending machine really tasted like rodent pee, as you wrote in your last complaint letter to HR. But try to avoid any negative portrayal about your previous company, your former colleagues or boss. Instead talk about the work you did there and the new skill sets and learning potential that this new job holds in store and your excitement about acquiring the same.
9) Deer-in-the-headlight Syndrome
During the course of the interview, if you’re faced with a question about an area you’re not familiar with, don’t panic. Rather maintain your composure and express your desire to pick up new skills and work in new areas you’ve never worked before. And try not to laugh out loud when you say that.
Don’t forget to send a personalized ‘Thank you’ note to each person present during the interview. Let them know you’re still interested and waiting to hear back from them. Ensure there isn’t anything extra in that email that accidentally gets forwarded – like jokes, trade secrets or snippets from your porn collection.
P.S. This was about job interviews, not MBA interviews.