Monday, October 29, 2012

I don't want that job! Common job interview mistakes

Have you ever drawn blank at an important exam? Spilled a drink at your first date? Faltered at an important presentation at work? At one point or another, tension and nervousness has gotten the best of all of us.

One of life's most infamously panicky events, the job interview, is perfect for these sorts of foot-in-mouth moments. The combination of enthusiasm, excitement and pressure can cloud our judgement and lead us to make blunders, conclusions and remarks that we wouldn't usually make.

Committing mistakes is part of being human, and most interviewers will let the occasional blank stare or groped sentence slide during an interview. But there are some errors that you just can't recuperate from; blunders so absurd that they'll completely obscure any potential you may have in the mind of your interviewer. As the famous American Author and Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said ‘Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude’, it’s essential to have the right attitude to face that one crucial moment of your professional life!

During my stint with Mastek, I was appointed on an interview panel which interviewed and selected the candidates for operational roles. I particularly recall an incident when one of the candidates kept referring to his resume for answers related to his career. I rejected him outright without spending a minute more. He had just one chance to be able to express in a clear and concise manner what he did, his knowledge, skills, experience and accomplishments without having to refer to the resume. If you do not have adequate memory to store the important milestones and facts of your life you’re just not worth it.

Rahul Deshpande, a young marketing professional from Mumbai went for an interview with a MNC for the post of Sr. Marketing Executive. The interview went off quite desirable until the interviewer asked him whether he had any questions. In a bid to impress the panel, Rahul asked him several insignificant questions including who their competitors are. As expected, he never heard back from the company. As Marketing specialized, he was expected to do his home-work before attending the interview. If he had visited their website and done some basic research, he could have easily figured out the answers to most of the questions he asked. There is no justification in today’s hi-tech world to attend an interview without doing the basic research on the company, the management, products and more importantly the competitors. In addition, anticipate and prepare well for what the hiring managers might ask you: your strengths, weaknesses, why you left the previous job, where do you see yourself in next 5 years, how you will add value to their company, if selected, and so on.

Interviews are always two-sided business conversations. While the interviewer wants to know about you and how appropriate you are for the position and the company, he also expects you to know whether the job and the company are fit for you. Hence, there’s no harm in carrying a note pad with significant and related questions that you may have. This might also impress the hiring manager to see your seriousness and preparedness towards the position.

Passion + Energy = Good Impression. Managers want to see a sense of enthusiasm in their people. It really doesn't matter how boring your last job was, you can still be passionate about your work and you need to get that across to the hiring manager adeptly. Don’t speak negative about your former boss, company or the responsibilities you held. Try and put a positive twist to your situation and the job search. Besides, this is a small world; who knows your ex-boss may be friends or in relation with the interviewer.

Most of the times, we expect our next job to make up for all the inadequacies of the previous one: salary, benefits, career prospects…..but be realistic in your approach. Please remember that no new prospects can undo all the wrong that might have happened to you in your career. Be realistic about your demands. Prioritise your expectations and present them in a way you don’t sound too demanding or unreasonable. Similarly, remember that negotiation is a great tact; only if used wisely and diplomatically.

You are all poised to face that moment confidently and you arrive late at the venue. Voilà!  All gone for a toss! It’s extremely important to honour the time assigned to you for the interview. Make sure you reach the venue at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled appointment. This will give you some time to catch a breadth, freshen up, complete any paper-work and be ready. Needless to say, respecting the time will leave a good impression about you.

Nandita Mehta, a young techie from Bangalore was called for an interview on her anniversary. Nandita and her husband had already planned for the grand first anniversary dinner. As her interview slot was towards the evening, she chose to attend the same in her party attire thinking she wouldn't have enough time left for a change-over. Although, her resume was quite impressive and the interview went on well, she never heard back from the company. The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most significant one. The first judgement an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That's why, it is imperative to dress professionally for a job interview, regardless of the work environment. Along with bright coloured attire, you also don’t want to exhibit pierced body parts and spiked hair. You have already lost your chances of getting that job if you chewed gum or showed up in bedraggled clothes. In general, the candidate dressed in a suit and tie is going to make a much better impression than someone like Nandita, in a bright magenta saree heavily embossed with sequins and opulent brocade work.

Sandra D’Mello, experienced personnel in secretarial practice from Goa wasn't a graduate but desperately wanted to switch over to a better paying job. This desperation steered to fake about her qualifications. The interviewers were highly impressed with her attitude, resume and experience and offered her a job. Sandra was over the moon but that didn't last long. In a background screening, carried out by the company on all new hires as a standard policy, the genuineness of her credentials was questioned and she was sacked on the spot. Had she mentioned the fact during the interview, there was a remote possibility that the company could have considered her if she had an edge over other graduate candidates. Hence, it’s always prudent to mention the particulars that are true and verifiable.

At last but not the least, it’s always a descent gesture to send a small ‘thank you’ note to the interviewers for the consideration of your candidature and the time they spent on you. They will appreciate it. The gesture will also demonstrate your willingness to follow-up on tasks assigned.

 Image Courtesy: Google Images
Special Thanks: Sushmita Sen (My fav actress)

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