An interview can be a nerve wracking experience especially if the interviewee has never faced an interview panel before. Most first-time interviewees lack the requisite resources to prepare well for interviews and hence, are often under-prepared.
A lot of times this results in lack of confidence which inevitably leads to a bad experience. The average candidate, including the ones with great scores in their examinations, spends very little relevant time in preparing for their job interview.
In the long run, career interviews depend not only on the grades students score in their examination, but also on how much clarity the candidate has regarding what they want to achieve in life. In short, relevant interview preparation can throw immense light on the chosen career stream and provide guidance on how to proceed to mold and shape your career.
The good news is that things don't necessarily need to be this way. Your path to a great career begins with awareness regarding what you want to do in life.
This brings us to the 'Top five challenges faced by candidates', as listed by Nikhil Chainani, founder at Perspectico:
A. Inadequate preparation
An interview is very different from college or university examination because it does not have any set pattern or curriculum. While a student might prepare for several months for their university examinations, most candidates do not take spend enough time on focused interview preparation.
Our current campus placement support infrastructure is woefully lacking in this regard. Students need access to the right resources and mentors to pick their chosen careers and prepare for them adequately.
B. Lack of awareness
Awareness about what one wants to do in one's life is critical to making the right career decisions. Interviewers are trained to seek out candidates who are genuinely passionate about the role as companies spend significant time and energy training young recruits. They do not want to be saddled with candidates who are likely to leave quickly if they realize this is not their calling. To make this decision, candidates need to be aware of the choices available to them. The following questions are often asked:
1. Why do you want to apply for this role? The answer needs to map your personality and training so far with the skill sets the role requires.
2. Why do you want to apply to this company? Be abreast of how this company differentiates itself from others in the same field.
3. Where do you see yourself 2/5/10 years from now? Chalk out a path for yourself in the long run. Companies prefer ambitious candidates who have thought this through!
Only the best candidates are prepared to handle such questions. Most perform poorly. Companies want to take students who are interested in pursuing the career they are offering and not just student. Remember, it is a big investment for them to take time out from their busy schedules to take interviews. They are, therefore, looking for candidates who understand what they are getting into.
C. The HR Round
The HR round can be quite tricky as students don't understand how they are being evaluated for their answers. Unlike examinations, there are no right or wrong answers. The HR round is made to assess whether the candidate will fit into the culture of the company. Consider there tricky questions:
1. What are your three biggest weaknesses? Avoid listing pseudo weaknesses like "I work too hard". Be genuine and reiterate that you are aware of these and working on them.
2. What will your friends say about you if we ask them? Again, don't go for praise by proxy here. List authentic strengths or even quirks!
3. What is your biggest failure? Talk about a real setback and reiterate how you used this as a learning opportunity.
4. What will you do on the first day of your job? Make this one interesting!
D. Etiquette and being proper Interview etiquette is extremely important. This is especially challenging for candidates who don't have prior experience working for companies. It is important to know:
1. How to dress for an interview? Formals and modest attire!
2. What sort of body language to have during the interview? Alert body posture, don't slouch or appear fidgety.
3. How to address your interview panel? Be respectful, at least till you are asked to drop the formalities.
With ever increasing competition, it is the small things that count. Even after doing well on the above points, several candidates slip up and say something which they should avoid. While giving an interview avoid the following:
1. Don't show that you are smarter than you are: If you don't know an answer don't try to make up answers as this shows that you are not honest.
2. Avoid giving views on controversial topics: Favorite politician, controversial issues etc. You never know what the interviewer feels about these things.
3. Getting stressed: The interviewer might be checking how you handle stress rather than whether you know answers to all his question. Be calm and try to approach questions with the rational mind.
E. Relevant technical preparation
Even if you majored in a particular subject, the interviewer often seeks practical understanding and your ability to apply concepts learnt to real life situations.
For instance, it is one thing to know how banks a valued and completely another thing to comment on if the banking sector in India is overvalued or undervalued. This is where keeping abreast with regular current affairs comes in handy.