Tips for effective personal interview

Interviews play a very important role in the selection and recruitment process of all companies. Most companies take into consideration our performance in the written test, GD, interview, academics, enter-curricular activities and work experience (if any) before selecting us. As a personal interview is the last stage in the selection process, we cannot afford to leave anything to chance.

What is an interview? 

An interview reveals among other things, how we “react” to various situations as it involves thinking on our own. An interview provides an opportunity to the interviewer to peep into our mind and understand our thought process. An interview primarily tests the attitude of the students towards various situations as it is “attitude” that determines the level of success a person can achieve-be it in personal life or in professional life.

Interview panel 

The persons who interview us, collectively form the Interview panel. Normally, the interview panel consists of two interviewers. However there could be more than two interviewers. The duration of an interview may vary between 5 and 45 minutes. The duration of an interview has no bearing on the final outcome. Simply put, a 5 minute interview does not mean that we have not done well. Similarly, a 40 minute interview does not indicate that we have done well. What matters is the ‘quality of interaction’ that we have with the panel, irrespective of the duration of the interview.

Interview etiquette 

There are some aspects that we need to keep in mind and prepare for, before taking the interview.

(a) Dress code: As interview is a formal occasion, we are expected to be dressed for the occasion. Men should wear a freshly ironed formal full sleeve shirt and trousers, polished shoes (black or brown), belt and a tie (knotted properly). We should not forget to sport a ‘clean look’ on the day of the interview. A mild deodorant can be used.

Women can wear salwar-kameez /saree /skirt & shirt. If one has long hair, it should be neatly plaint or tend to it in a manner that it does not look unkempt. The bit about formal shoes applies to women too. Of course, sandals meant for formal occasions are fine.

(b) Enter into the interview room:- We may be asked by one of the panel members or by their assistant to enter the room. At the door we must ask for permission to enter “May I come in, sir/madam?” We should be relaxed and cool. We should not rush to the table in a hurry. We must greet the panel with a smile. On being asked to sit down, we should thank them.

(c) Sitting posture:- We should sit comfortably in the chair. We may cross our legs if we wish to. Our arms may rest on the arm-rest of the chair or on our lap. The folder that contains our certificates and other documents should be kept on our lap, and not on the table, because the table belongs to the panel. We should avoid postures that reflect a casual attitude. For instance, we should avoid rocking the chair or placing one leg horizontally over the other leg

(d) Body language:- While a lot has been written & documented on body language, it will suffice and will actually help us if we can be our natural self. While we might feel that we need to ‘project’ our self to the panel, the ‘real we’ will end up showing itself by way of our body language. Members of interview panel are experts and can easily spot the inconsistency between what we are saying and what our body language conveys.

(e) Language to be used:- We should use formal language and speak in English only. We should not use slang. We should use short sentences that convey the meaning of what we wish to say. We should avoid using complicated sentences and long drawn out explanations.

(f) Conduct inside the interview room:- We should listen carefully and attentively to the questions asked. It we are unable to comprehend the meaning we should request the panel member to classify/repeat the question. We should speak in a slow, measured tone in a manner that everyone in the panel is clearly able to hear and understand what we are trying to say. We should maintain eye contact with the panel at all time and convey a pleasant disposition to the interviewers.

What interviewers look for?

Some of the key attributes that we are expected to possess are:-

  • Good level of Job knowledge.
  • Clear understanding of core concepts of various issues.
  • Clarity of thought.
  • Communication skill.
  • Personality, attitude and the way you react to situations.
  • Thought process in terms of career

Types of question asked in an interview:-

  • Tell us something about yourself.
  • Question related to personal background.
  • Question related to one’s personality (strength/weakness)
  • Questions on academics.
  • Questions on career planning.
  • Questions on G.K & current affair.
  • Questions on hobbies and extra-curricular activities.
  • Questions on job profiles (for those with work experience) planning.
  • Salary.

In a nutshell, interviews are as important as any other component in the selection process of a job, and possibly the most decisive. We have to be thoroughly prepared the interview as our future depends on this.