Some tips for a job interview!

The interviews at Tekriti never ceases to stop. We keep having at least a few interviews every day. I will not mince words in saying that most of the candidates need to work on the way they present themselves during the interview process. And I am quite serious about it. In fact, to put it mildly, I will say that some of them are absolutely funny. Here is a compilation of things that one should keep in mind while appearing for an interview and, not suprisingly, most of them are common sense. I have also included some excuses / comments that I have heard in these interviews, which are worth mentioning in this post.

  • First impression is important: So, you made it past the resume screening, initial telephonic conversation and the written test (if applicable) and are waiting in the conference room for the interviewer. Great! Know that you have a very strong chance of making it through and the least you can do is to treat the interviewer with respect. Simple things like greeting the interviewer nicely is much more important than you would imagine. I have seen a few people who don't even stand up when the interviewer walks in the conference room. This is so basic and is not unique for interviews. If you are shaking hands with somebody who is standing, it is the general etiquette that you will also stand up. You are only giving the respect that is due to the person - no more and that doesn't make you look desperate, if that is the concern.
  • Do the homework on the company you are interviewing for: "Oh, I don't know much about the company. I was so busy and so could not go through the company website" - is, surprisingly, yet another common statement that I have come across. Damn - doesn't that show how interested are you in the company or anything that you aspire for? It doesn't take more than 15-20 minutes to go through the first few pages of any company website and know about the stuff that they focus on. Almost all good companies are particular about why you want to work for them and are not particularly impressed with people who want just another job. And, it's anyways a good idea to know about the organization to be able to ask relevant and interesting questions back to the interviewer. But, yes, don't expect the interviewer to tell you about the company if you haven't put any effort to know about it yourself.
  • Think aloud / Make it interactive: An interview is not a one-way question / answer session. And, it's certainly not about getting the right answer figured out. The idea is to let the interviewer know about your approach, thought process and analytical abilities. "Thinking aloud", even though you are not able to nail down the exact answer is a much better approach than keeping quiet for few minutes and then telling the answer. The interviewer need to know your approach - it's very unlikely that you will get the solutions to all the real-life business problems in few minutes but a right approach is very important to get to that eventually. If you are not used to it, practice it.
  • Switch off the cell-phone: Oh, please! The last thing I want is somebody to answer his / her phone call during the interview. There are very few calls that you can't avoid during the time and everybody knows it. This is just another common meeting etiquette and there is a reason behind it. If you absolutely must take some phone call during the interview, inform the interviewer in the beginning that you are expecting an important phone call and will need to take it, if that comes. Otherwise, it's a big put-off.
  • I know this problem but I can't do this now: Another common excuse. Fine - I get it. We all forget things and you are just being human when you do that. Have I emphasized enough on the importance of 'thinking aloud'? You can forget the solution but you don't forget the concepts and approach, if you ever understood it. You might have been very genuine when you make that statement but, more than often, it comes across as an excuse - which can be avoided if you put in a little bit of effort in solving the problem rather than saying that you can't do it then.
  • I had a fight with my management / seniors: If you are quitting your previous company because you had a fight with your management / seniors, it will flag a red alarm in any potential employer's mind. Solution - don't get into a situation where you need to fight with your management - most of the times it can be avoided or tackled in a better way. If you absolutely had valid reasons and want to mention it - then tell the true and complete story to the interviewer. Bits-n-pieces of information will only cause mis-understanding and portray you in a bad light.
  • Oh, this is so trivial but I haven't done this since my pre-final year of school: Yes, I know that the problem is trivial. But, again, the interviewer is not just interested to know the solution. They want to know how did you derive that solution and why do you think it's the best solution? Some questions look trivial but there are many questions around that which can only be asked after you solve the trivial question. Got it? Go back to point number 1 - show some respect.
  • The pressure is on the interviewer to select and not reject: Always know that every organization is in desperate need of a good talent. So, when an interviewer is talking to you, he / she really wants to recruit you unless you give reasons not to do so. So, be confident, cheerful and relaxed. There is no need to oversell yourself - any decently experienced interviewer will find out if you do so. But at the same time, don't be arrogant. There are times when you will be interviewed by your potential boss and times when you will be interviewed by your potential direct reports and everybody wants to work with somebody they like as person. It's much easier to talk to somebody you know wants to help you - most of us think otherwise and make mistakes.
The points above, by no means, form an exhaustive list but it should take care of the most obvious 'mistakes' that I have seen people making. And, not, it's not true just for my company. It's true for all the companies - irrespective of who they are or what their geographical location is. Please feel free to add your points in the comments and I will update this post with those, if I see sufficient response.

Summary: The interview process is not about showing who is smarter - the interviewer or the interviewee. It's about the genuine need for exploring if the company is fit for the candidate AND if the candiate is fit for the organization. Be honest. Apart from the fact that it shows up if you are not, it helps both the parties eventually. Both need each other equally. Nobody is doing any favor on the other - so don't seek one AND don't do one.