Practical tips for the job interviews

by Dr. Syed Masroor Hussain Shah

I have appeared in a number of interviews during my 22+ years professional life. As HR lead, I took interviews of hundreds of job candidates in the banks, telecom companies (Bangladesh and Pakistan) and United Nations. Following are the important takes derived from my personal experience as an interviewer:

Few experience-based tips for the job candidates:

Elevator speech: Prepare 2-3 minutes of initial response or brief talk. It should cover your strengths, main skills, degree/education and how these are relevant and beneficial for the company. Before drafting this speech, you must review business of the organization and the job description (JD), so that you can ensure that the speech is relevant. There is no need to mention about your name, university name, or any general information that is available in your resume/CV. A brief, to the point and focused intro will create a positive impact.

Know about the employer: The candidate should know and understand in advance the company’s business. It will help relate such information to your answers. Potential sources are the company’s website, professional blogs, linked-in, Facebook or personal referrals.

Understand the role, functions, responsibilities: JD is a main source information about your expected role, functions and responsibilities in the organization. As a candidate, you must read the JD carefully, draw a minimum of 10 potential questions and prepare the answers. Practicing the answers will help the candidate in the interviews.

Use of data, figures and references: To make the answers powerful and convincing, use of data, figures and references from your experience and achievements is strongly recommended. Data and references will make your credible and impactful. This substantiates your answers and reflects your keen and focused approach with your job and profession.

Do not use fillers in your responses: Most of the candidates use catch phrases or extra sentences to fill the gaps to ensure continuity of communication. The interviewers can easily detect such redundancies and can infer that  the candidate is having no substantive information. Speak simple, to the point and in a slow and steady manner.

Dress for the interview: Neat, clean and presentable dress is important for any interview. Private or corporate sector prefers use of more formal dress whereas development or not for profit organizations are not much conscious about it. My advice is to work on this aspect before you go to an interview.

Face to face, positive communication: When answering a question, talk face to face with the interviewer and maintain positive posture. Any gesture indicating over confidence or use of language reflecting self-boasting will generate negative impact. Listen very carefully each and every word of question and/or comment. Don’t interrupt the interviewer at any stage. Keep a smile and do not get offended for any question that you don’t like. Manage your emotions and feelings while responding to the interview questions.

Do not discuss salary or benefits: Normally salary or benefits are not discussed in the interviews. Do not discuss it pro-actively unless it is asked by the interviewer.

Display your passion: While responding to the interview questions, though in a natural way, you should show your passion with what you have done or you are doing. It will generate positive energy and elevate interest of the interviewer.

Connect to the interviewer’s conversation: Listen to the conversation of the interviewer carefully and relate your discussion to the interviewer’s interest. This will be helpful in making your interview more interactive and interesting.

Say thank you: Saying thank you to the interview panel in a couple of sentences before leaving the room will create positive effect.

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