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Effective Interviewing Skills

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

A job interview is a course of action in which a potential employee is evaluated by an employer for future employment. During this process, the employer hopes to determine whether the applicant is suitable for the job. A job interview is different from a social conversation, a networking occasion and an information gathering meeting. All of them focus on an exchange of ideas and information, usually between two individuals, all involve verbal communication therefore an individual needs to be thoroughly prepared for interview.

Pre-Interview Preparations

To prepare for an interview it requires a lot of practice and patience. It is not something that can be crammed into the ten minutes before a person leaves to meet with a recruiter. It is also something that becomes easier with time, as a person begins to know what questions to expect and is able to decide what the best possible answers are. These are a few steps that should be taken even before a job application is submitted

Creation of Resume

When a person steps into any field of study at the university level, resume making becomes an important step in the beginning year because that helps a person get prepared for the job market in the future.

Job Advertisement / Applying for a Job

The next step before stepping into interviewing process is to find out the job advertisement that is related to your field, and then apply for job in order to get a call for an interview.

For Preparation

In order to prepare for an interview, a person needs to have ample information about himself and company. In order to prepare for an interview, one should ask oneself questions like:

  • How do you think you are relevant for this job?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to join our organization?
  • In order to be well-prepared, you need to know your interest and ample information about your personality in the light of the job that you have applied for. In the similar manner you need to know about the organization. 

    When a person is called for an interview, some pre-hand knowledge is required. Following are the points that an interviewer should work on before going for an interview:

  • Information gathering
  • Knowing yourself
  • Practice
  • Mock interview
  • Modification of the resume
  • Information Gathering
    In order to set yourself apart from rest of the candidates, the best way is to leave the interviewer with a positive impression, and the easiest way to do that is to know the company inside and out. There are a number of ways and tools a person can use to find information about the company. Some are as follows:

  • Do you know someone at the company?
  •  If yes take advantage of it to gain an inside perspective of the company.
  • Internet research, there are plenty of places online where you can get the needed information effectively. The best place is to start with the company's website.
  • Following are some of the questions that are prerequisite in order to prepare for an interview:

    Researching the Organization
    Questions to Research:
  • How does the organization operate?
  • What are their achievements?
  • What is their organizational structure and culture?
  • Where are the home offices and branches?
  • What is the organization’s history?
  • What are the plans for the future?
  • Knowing yourself

    It is necessary to know your interest in a job, as most of the people land into the wrong job which results in degeneration of their level of efficiency. You should be prepared to articulate the match between himself and the job, therefore a realistic self image is necessary.

    There are three sides to “Self Image”:
    1.    As you see yourself.
    2.    As others see you.
    3.    3. As you truly are.

    Above mentioned three points give you complete self-assessment to know about yourself. Ponder on the aspect that, where are the differences in your perceptions? Do you see areas for self-improvement? Following are some questions that will help you analyze yourself get prepared for an interview situation:

    Questions to Think About

  •  Why are you interested in this particular position and organization?◦How is your education relevant?
  • What relevant experiences have you had in work, internships, academic projects?
  • What skills have you acquired that are relevant to this position?
  • What are your current and long-range career goals?
  • What are your achievements/accomplishments?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses that might impact positively or negatively on your ability to do the job?
  • Practice

    In order to overcome fear, ‘practice’ is the best technique i.e., Practice with a friend or a family member or through gadgets (computer, mobile, mirror).The best way to prepare yourself is to practice some typical job interview questions. Prepare the job interview answers before you get there and it will make you well rehearsed and ready to impress the job interviewer.

    Mock Interview

    If you think about the answers carefully enough and practice through a mock interview with career counseling team or any experienced person, you are most likely to breeze through the first interview in a confident manner.

    Modification of Resume

    The most important step to prepare for an interview is to adjust your resume according to the job specifications. Mention the skills that are pertinent to the job position for which you are applying.

    Interview Process

    You have to consider that interviewing is a two-way process that involves both the employers and the person to be appointed. Therefore goals are to be achieved from both sides.

    There are two goals to be achieved:

    Your Goal

    Employer’s Goal

     Your Goal

  • You have to convince the employer that you have the potential, zeal and motivation that is relevant to the post for which they are interviewing you.
  • In order to achieve job you have to make sure that the post and job requirement matches your interest. You have to consider your interest first before plunging into an interviewing session.
  • Employer Goals

    Following are three questions that an employer is interested in, to evaluate the match between you and the job:

  • Can you do the job? – Skills, educational background, work experience.
  • Do you have the right motivation and work ethics for the job? – Personal characteristics, achievements, knowledge of the organization.
  • Can you fit in? – Personality matches between you and the organization’s goals.
  • In order to be prepared you need to know your interest and ample information about your personality in the light of the job that you have applied for. In the similar manner you need to know about the organization. When you are contacted by the organization for an interview jolt down certain points about the person who contacted you and who is going to take your interview. Along with this information a person should know there are different types of interviews, so before going into an interviewing situation a person must have information about different types of interviews. Interview has one major characteristic that sets it apart from the other kinds of career conversation; there is a job at stake. Interviewing involves a whole procedure and an interview varies from situation to situation it can be one-one interview or may be a panel interview.

    To find out more about the types and stages of an interview:Types of an InterviewThere are different types of interviewing techniques used in Pakistan. Usually the following types are common:

  • Panel interview
  • one-one interview
  • Video conference interview
  • Presentation/Demo interview
  • Case interview
  • In a Panel Interview, typically three to six members having different roles in the organization ask candidates questions to assess their knowledge, skills, ability to make decisions, etc.

    One-one interview

    In one-one interview, one person takes the interview; it is an interaction between the interviewer and interviewee.

    Telephone Interview

    Telephone Interviews are becoming more common. They save the employer time and indicate whether a face-to-face interview is warranted. Telephone Interviews are typically used to make a preliminary assessment of a candidate's qualifications.

    Presentation/demo interview

    This type of interview requires presentation of already selected /prepared topics by interviewer in front of randomly assembled panel. Questions are asked in between the presentation as well as after the presentation.

    Video-Conference Interview

    Video-conference Interviews are becoming more common. They expand the scope of searching for qualified candidates with less cost and time involvement.

    Case Interview

    The Case Interview is a special type of interview commonly used by management-consulting firms and is increasingly being used in many other organizations. It helps the interviewer analyze your critical-thinking skills. If you are not familiar, do not have experience, or you are not comfortable with case analysis, it can be one of the most difficult interviews to undergo. In a Case Interview a candidate is given a problem to see how he or she would work it out on the spot. The problems that are presented come in many forms, but the interviewer wants to assess the candidate's analytical skills, ability to think under pressure, logical thought process, business knowledge and acumen, creativity, communication, and quantitative analysis skills.

    Stages of An Interview

    To find a job in today’s competitive market is a difficult thing from previous decades. Nowadays the job search and interviewing is a long process. The job interview process depends on the post that you have applied for. 

    Here is a brief description of the four main job interview stages:

    Non-Verbal Communication

    When you enter the room in order to give interview, this is the “first impression” stage.. At this moment your non-verbal communication which includes your body language creates your first impression. So be very careful and show confidence through your body language, facial expressions and gestures. 

    Research has shown that many interviewers often make up their mind about a candidate in the first five minutes of an interview. 

    “First Impression” attributes

  • Firm handshake (No “dead fish”)
  • Good eye contact
  • Friendly, genuine smile
  • Good posture
  • Relaxed and confident introduction (Stay away from one word “YES” and “NO” answers)
  •  
    Question and Answer Session:
    The question and answer session takes up the bulk of the interview. If this part is a naturally flowing conversation rather than a strict question and answer, you can exhibit your personality in a better way. A person has to be prepared with explicit examples that represent his skills, past experiences, achievements and personal characteristics that show him to be suitable for the job.
    Highlight your positive points, your motivation and enthusiasm for the position.
    If you need time to think before answering a question, feel free to ask for a moment so you can give a thoughtful answer.
    Listening can be as important as speaking, so listen carefully to the questions being asked and feel free to ask for clarification. 
    In typical interview situations, it is normal to feel like you are at a disadvantage. After all, your interviewer has something that you want “a job”. Therefore some strategies must be followed.

    To get information about what strategies should be followed, tips and how to evaluate yourself:

    Five Key Strategies

    Following are the five key strategies in order to win an Interview. These strategies will help a person go through an interviewing phase in a smooth manner.

  • Know yourself and your professional attributes, and be able to describe how you can make contributions and add value.
  • Understand the interpersonal dynamics of interviewing.
  • Prepare carefully for each and every interview.
  • Be meticulous about follow-up activities, such as letters and phone calls.
  • Maintain an affirmative, constructive point of view during interviews – and their aftermath.
  • The Closing

    If you sense the interviewer is trying to close the interview and you are interested in the position, briefly highlight your relevant skills and reaffirm your interest in the position. Add a thank you note before leaving.

    Post Interview Self Evaluation

    Think about the interview and learn from the experience in order to evaluate yourself. Evaluate the success and failures by asking yourself these questions:

  •  What points did I make that seemed to interest the employer?
  • Did I present my qualifications well? Did I overlook qualifications that were important for the job?
  • Did I learn all I needed to know about the job?
  • Did I talk too much? Too little?
  • Did I dress up appropriately?
  • Did I effectively close the interview?
  • Additional Tips

  • Do not be a clock watcher.
  • Do not discuss illegal or discriminatory subjects such as race, religion, age, national origin, equal rights or gender.
  • Dress a step above what you would wear on the job.
  • Keep It in Perspective

  • Don’t take rejection personally
  • Maintain a balance between job search and everyday routine
  • Remind yourself of your skills and accomplishments
  • Use your resources
  • Be persistent - you will find employment.
  • The more you learn from the interview, the easier the next one will become. You will become more confident. Make a list of specific ways you can improve your next interview.

    Most people experience the interview as an all or nothing contest: if you are successful, you land into the job, and if not you go away empty handed. There’s no middle ground. So even before the event begins, you are likely to feel pressure to be persuasive and convincing enough to win what you have come for.

    Interviews are judgmental, as an individual is being scrutinized not only for his experience and job qualifications, but for manner, hospitality, appearance, confidence, and a host of other qualities that are never addressed but are inevitably noticed. Use the interview situation to form a vision of what your working life might look and feel like for a long time to come.