Saturday, November 9, 2013

4 Steps to crack interviews

After my initial post, some of my readers and friends requested me to cover the interview preparation and tips in detail and the result is this post.

Here are the 4 most important steps to succeed in an interview:

1. Preparation

2. Things to do before going to the interview

3. Things to do during the interview

4. Closing the interview

Let us dive deep and see each of the above step in detail.

1. Preparation

  • You should gain thorough knowledge in the area of your skills.
  • Make notes with bullet points and this will be helpful for the quick review.
  • Be prepared for few common questions that are asked across interviews. Best way to improve your confidence is, write down your answers, practice by speaking out loudly in front of a mirror.
  • “What”, “How”, “Why” are few words that are used across many interviews. 
  • When “What” is used, interviewer is expecting you to describe your understanding on a topic/situation/problem. 
  • When “How” is used, you are expected to answer how did you solve a problem or do you solve a problem. 
  • When “Why” is used, you are expected to answer “Why” you have chosen that solution/that part of your solution, compare it with other solutions and describe the pros and cons of different possible approaches.

Interviewer may get in to further questions based on your answer and it may fall into one of the following categories:

Leading Questions: 

  • Interviewer might pick a word or term from your answer and ask questions about it. 
  • If you are lucky and get an interviewer who is asking questions in this way, you know what to be done. Don’t you think you can make interviewer ask the next question based on your answer? 
  • This type of questions are discouraged in interviewers point of view but some candidates might just get lucky to get that type interviewer.
Probing questions: 

  • Probing questions are used to understand if you have solved the problem or how do/did you go about solving a problem.
Hypothetical questions: 

  • These are as well to be avoided in interviewers point of view. But for fresh graduates, some times they would have to be asked due to the candidate’s less/no experience. 
  • These usually start with “Suppose” or “Given” or “If” etc.,. You will be given a hypothetical problem and asked for how do you go about solving it. 
  • Don’t just give up if you don’t know the complete solution. Interviewers might just look for your thought process and to see if you really trying or just giving up.

2. Things to do before going to the interview

Understanding the company profile:

  • Make sure you understand the company or organisation’s profile, when they started, what are they in to and their presence at present etc.,. 
  • This is needed in interviewer’s perspective if you are serious about joining them.
Understanding the job profile:
  • If you just jump in to the interviewing without going through the job profile, it means that you don’t know anything about that job and you are still interested. It really is not a good thing. 
  • Request the interview coordinator to share the job description before going to the interview and go through it and understand what are the expectations for that job position.

Few Other things:
  • Reach the venue before 30 minutes of the schedule. It is good than hurrying in on time or making interviewer wait.
  • Make sure you are in formal dress even if that organisation doesn’t have a dress code. It shows how serious you are about that job and at least a few interviewers appreciate it.
  • Make sure you don't smell bad and the same time avoid using perfumes with strong smell. Some people don't like strong fragrances and they tend to get headaches.

3. Things to do during the interview

  • Communication is key to success in any field. Make sure you are listening to the questions clearly and request the interviewer to repeat if you don’t understand. 
  • Don’t just assume until you are asked to. Wait for interviewer to complete talking even if you understood the question.
  • Be confident when you are answering.
  • Be honest with interviewer and let him/her know that you didn’t get a chance to look at that topic/area when you don’t know answer.
  • When you don’t know something that is required for that job and if you are confident in learning and performing, be assuring and give an example where you have learnt some thing new and performed well.
Face to Face:
  • Maintain a smile on your face all the time.
  • Be confident and don’t be nervous, there is nothing wrong in not knowing something.
  • Sit straight. Don’t lean forward or backward.
  • Don’t shake your legs, it shows that you are nervous.
  • Look into the eyes of the interviewer(s) while answering. Don't stare.
  • Your body language shows how you respond to a particular question. This is observed by many psychologists that if you don’t like a question or not interested about it, you tend to move/lean back. Many experienced interviewers can easily identify this. 
  • Similarly, when you are tensed, your shoulders get to be tight. The key to overcome these is to be confident and honest while talking to the interviewer.
While body language plays an important role in Face to Face interviews, telephonic interviews are little different.

  • Acknowledge the questions asked by the interviewer.
  • If you are thinking and need a few minutes, let the interviewer know that you are thinking about the solution and you need few minutes.
  • Repeat the question after the interviewer if you are not clear about it. Don’t hesitate to ask further questions to understand something.

4. Closing the interview

  • If you are interested about joining that organisation, show it to the interviewer and tell him/her the reasons why you like it. 
  • Some of the top reasons include, passion about that job, growth opportunities in that company and challenges involved in the job.
  • Don’t be desperate, you just need to show that you are interested if offered.

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