The Subtle Art of Cracking an HR Interview

Interviewers primarily evaluate the following:

1. Does this candidate have the knowledge and experience required for producing results as per the job requirement? (This is the reason why they probe into the projects completed by you.)

2. Can this candidate consistently produce the expected results if selected? (This is the reason why many organizations say they want consistent 60+ in at least 6 or 7 out of 8 semesters.)

3. Is this candidate the best fit out of the candidates shortlisted for the position?

4. Will this candidate gel well with the team and the organization after he/she joins? (They also try to gauge if you are a loner / solo performer or a team player.)

5. Does this candidate possess the type of communication & leadership skillsrequired for the job to be done? (This can be gauged through group discussions as well as interviews.)

6. Does this candidate have a potential for further growth in our organization or will he/she not be able to grow in our organization because of his/her limited capabilities/potential?

You should go well prepared for any interview if you want to get selected. A casual approach to interviews will not help.

Many good candidates are rejected because they don’t handle interviewers & their questions well. Sometimes they blurt out something they should not say.

There are some Dos & Don’ts to follow when you appear for an interview. The same are listed below. Also, some frequently asked questions with suggested answers are stated below.

Make sure that you have eaten reasonably well before any interview. Also, have a soft drink or tea before an interview. (It is observed that candidates perform well if they have eaten well before an interview. If they are hungry or thirsty, then they don’t sound very confident/forceful during their interviews.)

1. Don’t try to do anything unusual to impress the interviewers. (If you try to do something unusual, then it may look a bit odd and may work against you.)

2. As the first impression definitely counts, dress well for all your interviews. Don’t take dressing casually for any of the interviews. Not even for the 2nd,3rd or … th interview in a company.

3. Recommended dress code: Well ironed full sleeve shirt (preferably plain white or light), dark trousers, shoes. Short, trimmed hair. For women, any conservative formal dress like Punjabi Dress is okay. (Dress for the job for which you are going to be interviewed. If you are a software engineer and you are going for a marketing job, then dress like a marketing person.)

4. Give respect & importance to all panel members even if some of them are silent. Remember that all panel members give their rating. Sometimes, the most silent or unimpressive person in a panel is the most important person. Only those people are selected who are liked by the panel members. (Remember, out of many technically equal candidates, only those who are liked by panel members are selected.)

>> You should show your ‘I can do it’ / ‘I will do it’ attitude throughout your interview. You should not say things like ‘I am not sure’/ ‘I will try’ as these indicate that you are not likely to take responsibility for your on-the-job performance. If you indicate that you are not sure and you are not confident about producing results, then why should an interviewer select you?

5. PREPARE YOUR ANSWERS IN ADVANCE to these typical questions:

a. ‘Tell us something about yourself’:

Tell only positive things about yourself in 10-20 sentences. Your education, experience, something that you are good at… Make sure that whatever you say highlights those skills which are required for the job for which you are being interviewed. Rehearse 5-10 times at home.

b. ‘Tell us about key projects that you have executed’:

Make sure that you can explain 4-5 good projects well, including (1) What the project was about,(2) Application (like Inventory control, Financial accounting, Device driver…),(3) Client name, (4) Industry, (5) Technology, (6) Team size, (7) Your role,(8) YOUR contribution, (9) Challenges, (10) Highlights…(THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART in any interview. So, prepare yourself well for this part.) Rehearse 5-10 times at home.

c. ‘Why would you like to join our company?’:

Before going for an interview, Study the company’s website well. Try to understand what they do, How they are different, Read some latest press releases which are normally available on company websites. Based on these, you will know what you find interesting about the company… You should know the following if you are going for a technical interview (1) Company’s exact name (as many companies in the same business group have similar sounding names) (2)What are its products & services? (3) Which products/services are of interest to you?

IF you are going for a marketing/finance… interview, then you should know (4) CEOs name (5) Names of prominent individuals, if any, on the board of directors (6) Total Revenue (7) Profitability (8) Information stated in the latest press releases which are typically available on company website (9)Competing companies………

Why should we select you?

Before any interview, you should go through the company’s website to know the technologies, applications, sectors, types of services/products the company is engaged in. You should also preferably know who are the top 1-2 people of the company, its sales turnover, number of employees……

During your interview, you would know the type of skills they are looking for.

During the interview, you should show that you have a good amount of knowledge about the company and say ‘With these …………. skills of mine and my interest in working on your kind of products/services, I am sure that I will be able to contribute well in the growth of your company.’

d. ‘Why do you want to leave your current company?’: Have a logical answer for this. Don’t say ‘For better prospects’ or ‘For a higher salary’. Talk more about the work content that you are looking for.

e. For each job-switch in the past, you should be able to give a ‘logical reason for leaving and joining’. But, Don’t criticize your past/present company or boss.

f. For each gap in your education and job, you should have a justification.

g. ‘On which technologies you would like to work?’: You may like to ask them about the kind of technologies being used by the company and then talk about which technologies would interest you and why?

h. ‘What kind of role are you looking for?’: You may like to ask them about the kind of roles available and then talk about which roles would interest you and why?

i. ‘What are your strengths?’: Indicate your strengths keeping in mind the job for which you are being interviewed. You should state only one or two strengths. (Examples: “I focus on doing quality work”, “I am good at working in a team as a team member or a team leader. I feel, team work is very important for completing any project with good results”, “I prioritize my work to make sure that the most important and urgent activities are completed first”……. Please note that you are likely to be asked to give an example to prove that you really have this strength. So, give a close to reality answer and make sure that you can give a real life example of a task(s) where this strength has helped you.)

j. ‘What are your weaknesses?’: Indicate a weakness which will not come in the way of the job for which you are being interviewed. (Like: “I am a bit emotional/sensitive compared to my friends.”, “Sometimes, I focus on doing a great job but miss deadlines. My professors/seniors have told me that I am a good performer but I should try to do the best possible job keeping in mind the deadlines. I am now trying to follow their advice as it does make sense.”)

k. Don’t say anything negative about yourself in the interview.

-Dinesh Varma