Notes YOU need to crack an Interview
Shaadi ho naa ho ; Interview hoga hi ! Honi ko kaun taal saktaa hai
This blog post shall talk about a few magic mantras which 1) normally people do not know about Interviews and 2) which if prepared well about; can help you crack every interview that you sit for.
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This is a long post. Read it v patiently. This is ALL – you need. Read it THRICE and go & crack it !
Copyright © 2012, Akash Gautam. All Rights Reserved
MAKE SURE YOU PREPARE THE FIRST QUESTION WELL:-
90% of the times the first question will be “Introduce Yourself” or “Tell me something about yourself”?. There is a reason for this. Whatever might happen; the candidate will end up saying something in the answer to this question. When he says that ‘whatever something’ ; he will feel 1) comfortably arrived & 2) belonging to that situation and 3) a sense of adequacy shall have happened. This means that you will become comfortable after speaking those first few lines. This is what the interviewer wants. He wants to meet the comfortable you. Your best would not show up; unless you are comfortable. He wishes to meet the best in you. The reason – why 90% of the times; this becomes the first question.
This question is your best (could be the last) chance to sell yourself. It is like your free hit in a cricket match- you will not get out; however – you get a chance to score any many runs of your volition.
How do you best prepare for this Question?
1) Understand that an ‘Interview’ is a sales process. You are your salesman. Ask yourself – ‘How do you sell anything?’. You sell something – by talking about its positives.
Make a small table – the way I ask you to, next. This is the most valid exercise that you can do; while you prepare for any interview.
Areas that I am very good at ; I can comfortably talk at length about
Areas that I would not want to discuss in my interview
(Over the years; I’ve seen serious students making very extensive tables. They delve deep till the tertiary level of any point on the LHS. This gives them the dexterity in answering the questions on that particular point. )
You need to think very deep about your areas on the LHS. They should be the areas where you are a James Bond. I mean, those areas / aspects of your life – where in, if you are quizzed upon – you will be able to happily talk about. The areas on the LHS could be anything. Anything means anything. It could be your career aspirations, plans, a subject in your graduation, your hobbies, your role model, your home town etc.
Code / magic mantra:-
An interviewer ( in any interview) is checking you on your commitment levels in life.
By commitment, I am not meaning the Sunny Deol kind of commitment (where he fought against the entire Pakistan to get his family back in the movie Gaddar). I mean, have you remained committed to the choices you have made for your own self in life? Have you remained committed to the things that you choose to happily do / pursue? Because, if you have not remained committed here – how will you remain committed to something that may not be of your liking e.g. the work areas in your job that you are applying to or the subjects in the B-School ; which you may not like.
Most questions of the Interview which students construe to be questions of GK or academics are actually not. They happen to be questions from the areas that you claim that you are good at / have remained associated with. Understand that:- 95% of the knowledge based questions in any interview will be from the areas on your LHS and the remaining 5% would be such ; that the interviewer is just seeing – ‘how you react to something that you are not expected to know?’.
So, your entire intention in the answer to ‘Tell me something about yourself’ should be to divert the attention to the LHS. You do not talk about the negatives. However, if the interviewer somehow asks you about your negative areas (RHS)– you accept them & do not deny them. Further, you creatively / intelligently shift the attention of the interviewer from the negatives to the positives.
e.g. if you are a B.Com. student & Accounts as a subject is not on your LHS, but Micro-economics is on your LHS & if you are asked a question from Accounts – you very humbly say this – “Sir, I am very sorry, I do not know the answer to this question. Actually in my graduation; my interest area happened to be Economics and not accounts. Even in Economics- I was particularly interested in Micro-economics”.
Now what happens next is that the interviewer is likely to ask you the next set of questions from Micro-Economics (to check you on your commitment). These questions; if you answer right – you will be able to prove your commitment. And this is the code.
Imagine, if you are able to keep your Interview maximum towards the areas on the LHS, by laying them smartly to the interviewer in the question –‘Tell me something about yourself’. Imagine, if it happens like this. Would you not have ensured that you are proving your commitment? Yes!! You would. Also, imagine – if you are not able to sell your LHS & you just give the control of the interview freely to the interviewer. He would then get the freedom to ask you anything from anywhere. Imagine- if from RHS – scary situation naa?
Next, what do you include in the answer to “Introduce yourself?”.
Answer:- You simply pack your LHS in a very humble and intelligent manner.
Copyright © 2012, Akash Gautam. All Rights Reserved
TIP:- Do not give dead biographical details. Ask yourself this question – ‘Can i let these small points add some extra value about self?’
- Sir, I come from a joint family. I understand thus, that adaptability is the biggest skill set in today’s world.
- Sir, coming from a defence background- i have become more adjusting to people & places because, my schooling happened from a lot of places.
- Sir, my name is Arti – arising out of my name is my interest in religious scriptures. Sir, I have read the commentary on Bhagwad Geeta twice.(If Bhagwad Geeta is on your LHS – you’ve very smartly diverted the interviewer there).
- Sir, I belong to Dharamshala in Himachal. It is famous for 1) being the exile capital of His Holliness, The Dalai Lama and 2) It is the second most rainiest place in India because of a geographical reason.
Now here – you are saying two things – 1) Ask me about Dalai Lama or China –Tibet problem and 2) I am good at Geography.
- Sir, my name is Prashant. Quite like my name – I am calm & composed. But very unlike my name – I am determined.
- Sir, my name is Akash but my friends fondly call me Beckham , because of my intense interest in European Soccer.
So, you can let the smallest of the points add value to your profile answer by speaking them smartly.
Two important points worth re-iterating:-
1) Make humble submissions. Speak with a lot of humility.
2) End the answer on a positively provocative note. This would increase the probability of the next question to come from; where/ how you are ending the answer.
SHOW; DO NOT TELL:-
Most of the times; candidates commit damage to their ease of success in an interview by just telling and not showing. E.g. :-
- My biggest strength is that I am a Team Player
- My weakness is that at times, I am short tempered.
- My role model is my father
- My hobby is reading & music
Now, for heaven’s sake – do not say it like this. You will allow the interviewer to open a Pandora’s box if you only tell and do not show. Let me elaborate :-
e.g. if you say e.g. my hobby is reading ;you are giving him a chance to ask you from my genre of reading. It will be embarrassing if you tell him later that you like reading a particular thing only. Why not tell him upfront?
e.g. if you do not give an example of a situation , when and where you acted as a team player ; the interviewer’s next question will be that only. So, show – do not tell.
e.g. If you say ‘my role model is my father’; the interviewer’s next question will be ‘WHY?’. So, show at the first place only , before he gets irritated and asks you the same thing.
Copyright © 2012, Akash Gautam. All Rights Reserved
Understand – that in an interview – you need to look sharp ; not cute.
You have to understand – why is the interviewer interested to know my Hobbies / Interests?
Answer :- To ask you questions out of the same.
Reason:- If you cannot answer questions out of your choicest hobby / interest; it seriously puts a question mark on your commitment levels in life and would for sure jeopardise your candidature.
So, what do you do ?
If you have a hobby – get deep into it and learn the aspects about it , which are likely to come to the mind of a normal guy’. Make sure – you are well read about the contemporary relevance / application of what is your hobby. E.g. if your hobby is say- ‘Stock Markets’; you should be in a position to talk about the present situations etc.
What if you do not have a Hobby?
Simple – make one but do tell it to the interviewer honestly that you got into this hobby very recently. There is no substitute for honesty in an interview. You may do everything correct in an interview but if you get caught at even a v small point for being dis-honest- ‘You are gone’.
It will not take you more than a day to become good at a particular hobby – if researched from / at the right places. This is not dishonesty but slight smartness.
e.g. a hobby like *knowing about the tallest buildings in the world or * bonsai cultivation or * India’s missile program or * Cooking Italian food — all it would take you is 5/6 readings of those 10/15 pages of print outs which you should take after very smartly googling google.
Why this Job/ MBA ?:-
Critical Mistakes here:- Making that Job/ seat in a B-School look like the most important thing in the world for you.
Understand here that the B-School / Job applied to is not the end, but a means to an end. Let me illustrate with an example:-
Suppose you are to travel from New Delhi to Mumbai via a Rajdhani Express and you have a confirmed seat. If for reasons as Delhi traffic , you miss your train; would you not go to Mumbai now? Yes, you would. You will take another train / a flight or do something ; but would ensure that you reach Mumbai. Your commitment is to Mumbai and not to Rajdhani.
Here, Mumbai is symbolic of what you are planning to do after your MBA. It also represents what aspect of your long term career plan – that particular job is falling in. Rajdhani is just the MBA / that Job. So, it doesn’t matter how you reach your destination; your destination is more important than the medium to reach that.
I would recommend you to take a print out of the course curriculum of the B-School that you are applying to. Juxtapose this against your interests and long term career plans. This would make you sound savvy and cogent. If you are applying for a job – try and remember the exact KRA –Key responsibility areas of the Job and use them to demonstrate the career pyramid (if an MBA happens).
Some pointer here; which could come to help:-
- Hobby e.g. Stock Market..
- Management was a subject in Graduation – Interest- Extension of Knowledge….
- Good Fund manager- Managed events / funds / People….
- Fathers business
- India is growing; want to be a part of it…
- Read some Autobiography
I do not wish to be prescriptive here; but you need to choose for yourself – what shall be the most pertinent reason for you to do an MBA / take up this job. This should be something – 1) which you should be logically be able to defend out & 2) also show / prove your commitment about.
STRENGTH & WEAKNESS
A question as this; gets asked for two reasons:-
1) Can you introspect your own-self? Because if you cannot introspect self – how will you critique the balance sheets or norms in the organisation – you will be working for.
2) The interviewer is looking at character points ; on which the B-School / organisation can build upon. Again here – the big mistake would be – ‘telling & not showing’.
I am meaning – that be ready with instances & examples.
Strength is that aspect of your personality; which other things remaining equal- has helped you achieve more than the other people around. Conversely, weakness is that aspect of your personality; which other things remaining equal- has reduced your achievements more than the other people around.
All of us have many a strength & weakness. Think about it.
Also the strengths & weaknesses; they keep on changing / evolving / morphing – as we grow in life e.g. for a girl in a girls school – feeling shy while talking to the opposite gender could have been a weakness; which just went away – when she joined college.
The biggest mistake that people do here is – when they sugar coat strength as a weakness e.g. ‘Sir, at times- I am so hard working that, i loose focus’. I am sure – you are laughing now. But people do it. Please understand that a weakness is a weakness and should be presented as a weakness. All of us have weaknesses. ‘To err is human’. No particular weakness will disqualify you; unless it appears as blatantly outlandish.
However, a suggestion:- ‘When you talk about a particular weakness- add a qualifier to it –e.g. ‘I realise this to be something which is hindering my performance & I am doing this…this…this… to become better about it’. This shall keep care.
Final words of wisdom:-
- Please have a good impression about yourself …
- Take time to answer questions. Do not jump on questions which you were expecting / know the answer to.
- Avoid School boy Syndrome : Every Q needs to be answered
- In Career Goals : Do not talk about Designation & Salary
- Alternative Career Goal : Be a little hesitant to talk ; but then talk firmly
- Speak Loudly
- Darna Mana hai….
Lastly; even if you get rejected at a few interviews – Just Chill! A favorite shayar wrote:-
Nigaho mein manzil thi,
gire aur gir kar sambhalte rahe,
hawao ne bahut koshish ki,
magar chirag aandhiyo mein bhi jalte rahe.
God is gracious! In the last 12 years; I got a chance to do one of my favorite events – ‘How to crack every Interview that you sit for’; at some of India’s top Colleges e.g. IITs, IIITs, NITs, St Stephens etc. You can INVITE me to your College at a FEST / otherwise by dropping an email at email@example.com . I will ensure that you ‘ROAR’; in your confidence.
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