Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Be smart, not cocky in an interview
I.M. Soni

Job-seekers of almost all categories have to face an interview. Many jump over the hurdle, others falter, fumble and fall. Some fail even on elementary issues and questions. Others handle these with ease but fail on troublesome, ticklish or difficult questions. Some even go to the length of saying that they were “trapped” into it. This is untrue.

However, it cannot be blinked away that difficult questions are asked and they land even bright candidates in a spot.

What should a candidate do when he feels, rightly or wrongly, that he has been “trapped?” The vital thing for him is to get out of it without bruising his chances of success.

Still better for him is to get out of it brilliantly. This means turning the tables on the interviewer. This needs an acute understanding of the situation, a ready wit, a sharp mind, an ability to turn a phrase around, and a sense of humour.

A dandy-looking young man was engaged by his interviewers on trifling matters. He did not realise that he was being taken up the garden path. Suddenly, one member asked, “Mr K. do you drink and smoke?” Mr K. shot back, “Sir, is it a question or an invitation?”

Such a reply usually puts a stop to other questions of this kind because the joviality created dispels tension.

A serious candidate carefully reads situations and notes the fitting replies given by people in any walk of life and moulds himself to wriggle out of tricky questions.

A young lady aspiring for the civil services was asked: “What will you do if it is raining, you cannot go out, you have no boyfriend and you are bored.”

With a naughty smile, she retorted: “Come what may, I will not say that I will read a book.”

There was laughter. She had frustrated the trap.

If a candidate is questioned on a tricky subject, there are two ways of getting out of the tight corner. Tell the truth.

Instead of mouthing a string of no’s, straightaway say, “Sir, this is not my area. You may ask me any number of questions about my subject.”

This is honest because the candidate does not hide his ignorance. It is tactful as he leads his interviewer into the area of his own interest.

Candidates get flustered when they are questioned repeatedly on a thorny issue. Some change their stand and begin to look like a weathervane.

This shows lack of conviction. You should know that if you are sure of yourself, correct in answer, it pays to stick to your guns.

It pays because the ability to hold on to your convictions is appreciated and wins the nod of the interviewers.

Do it when you are right. There is a difference between stubbornness and determination.

Bluffing, to get out of a difficult situation, lands you in deeper trouble. It creates a poor impression, because to bluff is to deceive by concealment of a weakness or show of a false self-confidence.

Second, you must realise that the people you are facing are better informed, experienced and also have a sharp eye to see through your deceit. Thus, you negate whatever good show you had earlier managed to put up.

Oversmartness leads you to blushes. You provide an opportunity to your prospective employer to puncture your inflated ego.

Be smart, which means alert, quick, witty, brisk, vivacious, trim, fine and fashionable. But do not try to be a ‘smarty’.