Here are some tips and insights I will like to share to crack an interview. The tips are based on my experience of job-hunting for past 3 months or so. The journey was not so smooth. Initially I was rejected at the telephonic interview stage itself, then at intermediate and final interviews before I got couple of good and above expected offers. I have listed some tips from my experience and literature studied.
* Be positive, affirmative and confident. When asked a question about your weaknesses just do not start listing one weak quality after another or give a plain answer like “I do not have any weaknesses”. Both answers will prove detrimental for your interview outcome. Here are some answers I used for my interviews.
Q. What are your weaknesses?
English writing skills
“I thought my English writing skills were not at the expected level required in the professional world. However, over the time I think I have successfully conquered my weakness. I have more than three research publications in a span of one year of my graduate study here in United States. I am also an active blogger and some of my articles have appeared in the newsletters of some leading professional organizations”
Challenging and innovative environment
“After my undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering, I started working in a software industry primarily providing services. The mundane and unchallenging work started killing my research aspirations. I started to feel that I am no more innovative or novel. At that point, I took the decision to quit my job and pursue my graduate studies. Today I am proud to say that I have a patent and a rich experience of working in research and consulting environment with some publications and conferences under my belt.”
If you notice closely, I started with my weaknesses and effectively converted them to my strong points. This is what I mean by being positive.
* Ask questions. The Q&A session should not be unidirectional but an interactive session. This ensures that the interviewer is very much involved in the process and it also helps to reduce the number of questions. Ask questions about the job profile and show your curiosity in the organization structure, opportunities and business model. This will leave the interviewer with an impression that you have a genuine interest in working at his company. It will also demonstrate your communication skills and ability to question.
*There will be instances where you will not be able to answer some of the questions. Make sure you ask the answers to the questions at the end of the interview process. This will certainly leave the interviewer a positive interpretation about you and it will provide you a chance to add your thoughts/comments on the questions you were unable to answer earlier.
* Dress professionally with an appropriate appearance. It shows that you have respect and value for the person and the organization you are interviewing.
* It will be great if you can have your personal website listing your education, background, work experience and honors. Also, make sure you have listed the website URL on your resume.
* Please turn off your cell phones and other digital gadgets or at least turn them on the silent mode. This may sound a bit childish but I have personally being a victim of not taking proper steps in a haste.
* Make sure you understand the question before you start giving the answer. This is very necessary to keep the interview on track.
*Have a copy of your resume, publications, seminars, projects reports ready.
* Take notes, if appropriate. That means you should have a rough pad and a pen ready with you. It will also help you if you have to explain your point with help of a figures or a chart.
* Be punctual. Arrive some time before the interview and give yourself time to relax and be ready for the interview.
* One question I was asked during the interview was “How much salary are you expecting?” I was just not prepared for the question and after thinking a little bit, I gave some arbitrary answer. I made a terrible mistake.
Please have a range of salary and know your worth based on the job profile, company and location. Resources such as salary.com can be of a great help.
* A firm (not bone-crunching) handshake, smile on your face and a direct eye contact will leave a good impression.
* Notify your references about your interview with the specific company. This will keep them updates and assure you a positive feedback in case the company contacts them.
* Speak slowly but clearly. This is especially important if you are an international candidate having English as a second language. I know many of Indian friends who talk so fast that it is very difficult for a native English speaker to comprehend. Remember, clear communication is the key for success.
*Do not answer in air or try your luck in case you do not know the answer. It is always better to say, “I am sorry I am not aware of the answer at this point of time. But I will be more than happy to gain the required expertise and get back with you”.
* Avoid any strong perfume or scent usage, if any. The strong smell can some time annoy the interviewer. I have been involved in the reverse case when a woman interviewer used some strong perfume, which left me sneezing for initial ten minutes.
* Avoid any strong religious, national or personal beliefs or sentiments.
* Practice a mock interview with your friends, family relatives or coworkers. This will certainly increase your confidence.
* Do an in-depth research about the organization before the interview. Familiarize your self with the business, latest news, top management structure, products and other important facts.
* Send a thank you notification (hand written or email) appreciating time and effort for the interview. Also, make sure that you mention that you are very much interested in the job and the company and include your contact information.
Following the above tips certainly helped me to get the job. I wish you a very best luck for your job search.