Preparing for an interview? Part – II

Continuing with my last post on the interview fundamentals, here are a few more that you need to take into account as you prepare that next, most important jump in your career.

  • Focus on your soft skills

Recently, I was in an interview panel for MBA graduates and the one thing that stood out was the total lack of eye contact with the students. My co-panelist and I struggled to understand why such bright management graduates were not cognizant of the importance of non-verbal cues…For all the knowledge that you might bring, you may just kill the interview if you lack the ability to look at the interviewers when you respond. Act with poise and confidence to win the job that you seek.

  • Experience is passé

Sure, your experience counts. Do not get me wrong. But more than your experience it will be your agility and willingness to take risks that will matter more. Interviewers search for diverse learning experiences. Have you taken up new areas of work within the organisation? What was your role and contribution? This is what the focus of interview will be. 

  • Stability loses out to agility

There was a period when number of years in the same organisation was a big tick. It showcased stability. It said you were loyal to the organisation. Today, stability has lost big time to agility. You only have to ask the millennials and they will share the mantra with you – focus on acquiring new skills, move on, be agile…If you really wish to grow in your career, do not let the stability factor keep you tied to one single organisation. Even HR and head hunters have changed their perspective. When it comes to choosing between stability and agility, it will always be your agility that will be given preference.

  • Anticipate questions

Mentally go through the whole interview process – prepare your question bank and write down the answers. Anticipate questions. What you say and how you say it will lead to the next question. An interview is always a mix of natural flow and planned questions. As part of your preparation, try to highlight experiences that will lead the interviewer to ask the next natural question – a question that you already have the answer prepared for! 

  • Understand the ecosystem

When you connect the dots, it is not difficult to visualise the interplay between the work ecosystem and business communications. I once interviewed a candidate who during his graduation was very active in the intellectual property (IP) club where the focus was patents for new innovations by students. However, when asked to share his views on the current IP regime and rule, he was totally clueless! Let’s take another example. For instance, if you are a communicator in the automobile industry, only by understanding the relationship between the business and the socio-politico environment will you be able to identify the right stakeholders and draw up appropriate messages for them. However, understanding the ecosystem is not easy. It is hard work and calls for reading, talking to leaders and learning how policies are developed and it can impact your organisation’s business.

  • Know the trends

It always pays to equip yourself with sound knowledge in what is the latest trends in your area of interest and expertise. Communicators today grapple with the fast growth of fake news across social media – invest in social listening tools to gain in-depth perspective of who speaks what of your organisation or the one that you aspire to join. 

  • Ask that final question!

Equally important to the very first question of – ‘Tell me about yourself’ is the most likely last question – ‘Do you have any question/s for us?’ How many of us have really come prepared with the answer to this question? When you ask a question, it shows your preparedness. It indicates your seriousness about the new organisation. So, go prepared with your questions. It could be about culture. It could even be what makes the employees stay with that company…Ask!

An interview is a great opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise. Do not waste it by going unprepared. 

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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