Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Frankness pays in an  interview
I.M. Soni

AN interview is not a punching game. Nor is a match between two adversaries. It is a friendly exchange of views between a job-seeker and his prospective employer. It is not a combat, as many nervous candidates suppose it to be. It is an opportunity, like an actor’s screen test.

"Interview" means "sight between" or "view between." In the case of employment, an interview is a meeting between two people — the employer and the applicant.

It is a mutual exchange of information, ideas and impressions. The interchange that takes place in course of the conversation is thus not in one direction.

It is a golden opportunity for the candidate to display his mettle for the position, as his employer wants to find out whether the applicant is the best person for the job.

Hence, an interview is a final step towards employment. It is a matching of personal fitness with the needs of a particular employer.

An interviewer becomes familiar with the candidate’s academic achievements through the CV. Though the interview he wants to know the person, the human being who is to handle and deal with other human beings. He wants to peep into his personality.

He is also keen to know what he wants to achieve. He wants to know his ambition. The qualities and aptitudes the candidate possesses, how well he can get on with others; what motivates him, how he can cope with obstacles.

Questions merely serve to draw out the essential facts about a prospective employee. Questions are asked to check the data furnished, and get information on whether the candidate has a negative or positive personality. Whether he is going to be an asset or a liability to the organisation.

Questions are asked to test the communication skill of the candidate, not necessarily "knowledge" of a subject. The so-called nasty or provocative questions are meant to test how steady are his nerves. The purpose is not, as an immature candidate rushes to presume, to strip him of his self-respect.

Here are hints that can help to prepare you for a job interview:

Don’t lose nerves

Be free from nerves. You are going to have a friendly conversation. Be frank, honest, and truthful about your ambitions and aspirations.

‘I do not know’ is a better answer than a blatant bluff. Bring in focus the area of your interest and invite questions on it. This puts you on a familiar pitch. You also divert attention from any tricky area.

Bridle your tongue. Do not boast. It goes against you. An inflated balloon can be pricked and deflated. On the contrary, be modest, practical and realistic. But make it a point to show that you are a willing horse and possess the stamina to go an extra mile!

Show willingness to work

The employer is also interested in values and your attitude towards work. What are you seeking in a lifetime job? Are you highly ambitious or moderately so? What do you want to achieve? Money or full use of talents?

Your attitude to work plays a vital role. A shirker is kept at a distance. So is the constant clock-watcher. When questions on this sensitive subject are asked, answer them so that your willingness to yoke yourself shows.

Time ia valuable asset. Show that you are willing to invest it in your organisation because your own growth and prosperity are linked with it.

Explain your motivation in terms of specific goals. Define these in your own mind first so that you can talk about them intelligently when the time comes.

Fake modesty does not help. If you have any special talent such as creativity, imagination, analytical skill, leadership or executive traits, bring them up for notice or discussion.

Make a good first impression

First impressions endure. The most obvious of your personal traits are your physical appearance, manners and speech.

The starting points for an attractive physical appearance are cleanliness and neatness. Is your hair net and tidy? What about your dress? Wear clothes appropriate to the occasion. This is no occasion to dress to kill!

Mind your language

Avoid expressions and mannerisms that create a poor impression. For example, do not use too familiar expressions like "gee", "between you and me", "Oh my God!" "Yeah", "Nopes."

Do not toy with your tresses or clean your teeth with your tongue. Do not fish out an ornamental hankerchief to wipe your forehead.

Think before you speak. Avoid sharp remarks. Do not downgrade others to upgrade yourself. Do not speak ill of your former employer.

Learn what you can about the organisation. This will indicate to the interviews that you have a real interest in them. You will have better rapport with them.

Ask polite questions about the job function, the organisational structure. Or similar relevant matters.

Show interest and be zestful. If you display temper or boredom the interview can be suddenly cut short.

Be honest about money matters

If the interviewer asks you, "What salary do you expect?", shift the burden of the question back to him by stating that you expect the standard pay for a person with your experience working in the position. Know in advance the standard rate.

Be accurate when questioned about your present or recent salary. Do not inflate the last salary drawn.

Leave the place with proper salutations. Exit manners are as important and should be as impressive as entry manners.