Interviews – What do they look for

Interview, according to Collins Concise English Dictionary, is a formal discussion, especially one in which an employer assesses a job applicant. ‘A formal consultation usually to evaluate qualifications (as of a prospective student or employee)’, defines Webster’s Dictionary. It can be meeting with a candidate to ascertain, by questioning and discussion, letters suitability for a post.

The art of interviewing forms the very basis of the utmost input requirement, in the form of humans, of organisations. The process constitutes an important part of the recruitment procedure.

The interview Board, in the allotted time, has to bring out the best and the worst in the candidates and then arrive at conclusions, most subjectively, on a common-sense basis, since assessing a candidate on each and every attribute infallibly is neither possible nor feasible for the interviewers; rather there are chances of faltering.

To find the ideal candidate for any post is not possible, nor it is easy to define the concept completely in the context of the metamorphosing managerial and administrative values. The best course left to the Board is, therefore, to pick the best of the available candidates; to obviate repetition of the entire gamut of the selection procedure. This holds good, more often than not, in the case of selections for senior positions.

Often for the purpose, the Board evolves a check-list, an exhaustive but practical one, where-under ratings are accorded for different personality traits. Experience has shown that this strategy works quite satisfactorily in all types of interviews.

The undermentioned can be the tentative parameters for the Board to look for its picks; not necessarily in the same order or weightage, for they may vary from post to post and from organisation to organisation, depending upon their needs.

The candidate, prima facie, ought to have the needed potential and keenness for the purpose of being developed into a better one, in the near future, and on, to impart benefits to the organisation, for it spends its resources on the new incumbent with an eye for good returns.

Self-acceptance of the past failures, if any, by the candidate will prove an asset, a qualification. It will speak of his frankness and will inculcate value ethics in management – compelling need of the hour the world over.

The candidate should be able to ‘look within’ as Christ has said, in the face of taking decisions, especially when confronting with hard situations. He must have a clear vision of himself and of the assignments required to be accomplished. As a matter-of-fact, his performance itself is a perennial source of inspiration to him; a source of fulfillment and pleasure; and a robust antidote to (counter) the stress, both in his personal and official life.

To be receptive and considerate to the aspirations and expectation of colleagues is the need of the time. The Selection Board therefore, looks for such a possibility and potential in the prospective candidate. Not only that, the ability to inspire confidence among the staff, while inter-acting with them, is also a prerequisite to be searched and found out by the interviewers.

Another sought-after trait is candidate’s ability to communicate not only his ability to express, as is generally mixed up. For this purpose, the interviewers have to try for all the essential parameters of a good communicator viz; logical flow of thoughts, direction in the needed side for the needed purpose, maturity in expression and communication, ability to listen and the art of a rational persuasiveness in arriving at the right decisions and passing on the instructions germane thereto to achieve the results. The art of communication is the hub of successful and result-oriented human relations.

The candidate should evince an abiding interest in updating his knowledge to qualify for being selected by the Board. Especially, such a policy plank is more needed when the interview is for the selection of a specialist. Both depth and breadth of the candidate’s knowledge are indicators to his intellectual seasoning.

The candidate is expected, rather is required, to exercise self-check in all situations that he will face in his would- be organisation. He is to be assessed on his ability to shoulder both, praise and criticism, success and failure, authority and responsibility, with equanimity. Self-control, self-management, shedding of false egos are the time-tested recipes for successful managers, together with courage and conviction, backed-up, nevertheless, by firmness of action. A stiff and artificial stance will never be appreciated by the Board.

And over-zealousness in conduct may also jeopardise the chances of being selected. If not checked, temperament can always sway away one’s decisions to an unwanted level of human relations, which may turn out to be a point of no-return. On part of the candidate, the deepest mental posture, even if provoked during the course of interview by the Board members, is sure to carry the day. This will help him give balanced answers to the satisfaction of the interviewers.

The interviewers end up, with the best available of the lot: the near-ideal; but not the ideal.

Some Frequently asked Questions in Selection Interviews
Tell us about yourself.
Why do you want to do this course/job?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Who is your role model and why?] What do you think about the current economic/political situation?
What are your hobbies?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If you are not taken, what will you do?
Questions about your background and academic record.
Questions about your habits, likes and dislikes.

First Impressions
Prepare for the interview:
Do not leave preparation for the interview for the last stage, or hope to say anything that comes to your mind at the moment. Developing confidence is a long-term process. Make it a point to discuss issues with family and friends. Carry your certificates in a file. Make it a habit to read extensively. This will prepare you for the interview.

Dress formally: Be neat. Boys should make sure they are shaved while girls can apply a light make-up. Well groomed hair, cleanliness, polished shoes are some essentials. Avoid jewellery, trendy clothes and casuals such as jeans. Formal dress should be worn: keep a suit away for special occasions and do not wear your everyday clothes for the interview.

Be on time: Err on the side or caution. Take a bus to the destination a few days before the final day. If that is not possible, allow yourself adequate time to find the place or unforeseen circumstances such as traffic jams. If you are early, do not go directly to the office but to a nearby restaurant and have something to eat.

When you enter: Greet the interviewer by saying, “Good morning, sir”. Do not be over-friendly. Do not sit down until asked. Sit straight and do not fold your arms. Look in the interviewer’s eye while answering questions.

Avoid controversy: Always stick to the subject, without giving opinions. Do not be critical of your institute or past employer. If you do not know a particular question, say, “I don’t know, sir.”

Listen carefully: Pause before answering a question to gather your thoughts. Listening will help you realise what the interviewer wants. Do not ramble or use long-winded examples.

Be pleasant: Keep a cheerful disposition, do not contradict the interviewer even if he is wrong, keep a pleasant outlook. Do not be funny, though one can be witty.

Tricky situations: If you are nervous, admit it. Stay calm, even if provoked. Of course, one cannot anticipate all questions so be ready for some surprises, too.