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Views on the Interrview

"Hello CVsurgeon! You have been talking about the resume in every issue. I have no resume problem. Every week I am being called for some interview. This week I’m gonna hit half a century of unsuccessful interviews. Why does nobody select me?" This SOS call from one of our readers ( I will call him Mr. Disaster for obvious reasons) makes me write on interviews in this issue.

Having worked as a placement consultant for the last 9 years has given me valuable insights into this sector of interviews. Your selection in any company is not necessarily dependent upon your talent alone. Sometimes, exhibiting talent becomes a liability. It generates the BEWARE factor in the interviewer & he cannot afford to select you. RELATING is the most important factor that positively determines your success.

If you are able to relate well with the interviewer, all other skills & possibly talent or the lack of both become secondary & you get the job because your relating creates the COMFORT factor in the interviewer.

The Minus Factor

I sent two gentlemen for an interview in an Autopart company in Noida. One of the persons short-listed, a Malayali, was extremely intelligent and, he also had the gift of gab. He was very impressive. At 5 pm, I got a Thank you call from the other candidate that he has collected the offer letter. I was surprised. He was just an ordinary guy. How could he succeed? Maybe the Malayali fellow didn’t go. I checked up on the mobile of malayali. He told me that he has been rejected. Incidentally, the interviewer in this case, a materials manager, was in regular touch with me & had registered his resume with me as he was looking for a better opportunity elsewhere. I spoke to him that night.

"Gupte, You have selected the wrong man. Malayali was a much more suitable boy" I said. "You are right, Mr. Mahajane, Malayali is so intelligent & conversant with inventory management that I will lose my job in 3 months flat." This is the BEWARE factor. The hiring manager is not interested in suicide.

Another recent incident is of a candidate sitting idle for 17 months. Everytime he was attending an interview he was very positive. But — no offer letters. Last interviewed in the final round by a MD of a 200 crore company. Rejected as Usual! I took the verbatim details. Interviewer: "How much sales you were handling in your last company?" Interviewee: " xxx Lakhs (gives a figure)." Interviewer: "Well, I don’t think this company imports & sells so much of this item. Interviewer: "Sir! this is all number 2." Sir is shocked. He asks & gets the entire details as to how this entire importing & selling all in number 2 operation is carried out. Result?
This boy is not dependable at all. He is spilling the company beans everywhere.
This is another BEWARE factor. I hire him & probably next month I will have enforcement raids.

The Plus Factor

His resume was converted into a world class level with a GM level skills despite his having worked as ASM (The person definitely had a few GM level skills). The resume part over. Now his resume was blasted to all the consultants & companies.

A company called him for the interview. He met the HRD head. Sufficient research has been done on the company, its mission, MD & HRD head through net & other means. The HRD head starts talking & our man somehow steered the conversation to a friend who had done MBA from the same institute as the HRD head. He talks appreciatively about the institute. HRD fellow is happy & pleased & doesn’t disclose that he is from the same institute. Again, our man turned the discussion to spirituality & talked big about Satya Sai Baba. This is too much for the HRD head. He divulges now to our man about his bhakti icon & institute. Now he is a friend with common interest. No more interview. It is now a friendly discussion. Mentally, the HRD head has decided to hire this newly found brother (long lost 20 years back in Kumbh ka Mela as in a Bollywood tear jerker).

Next round with the MD. MD puts up the same old question about sales which our boy was answering wrongly everytime. Sir, I can’t tell you how this sales figure is correct & the process of operation, as I cannot divulge my company secrets even when I am no longer working there. My morals & unflinching loyalty don’t allow me to talk at all on this subject. MD is ga-ga.
Eureka! He has found a loyal trustworthy man. My boy gets the offer letter at RSM level. This is RELATING.

So let’s return to Mr. Disaster. He has a resume that creates a stellar first impression. I had to conduct a mock interview to assess him & lot of reasons popped out to reject him. Polished interview skills are required to be present in abundance to secure the job offer. Lengthy & fruitless job search with a great resume means it is time to sharpen the interview skills. Mr.Disaster came to my office 10 minutes late. Well, traffic problem is not my problem. Coming 30 minutes early is also not advisable. It simply shows you are desperate. Always arrive on time, but never more than ten minutes early. If you’re not sure where the company is located do a trial run so you will know exactly how to get to the office. Time the trip and if necessary, allow yourself extra of time to get there. Rushing can cause those pre-interview jitters! Don’t enter the building until 10 to 15 minutes before your interview.

I offered my hand for the shake when he came to my office. My God! He reciprocated with a limp handshake. If you are not interested in this interview, why should I be? Go to hell! I said to myself. A Limp handshake certainly speaks of disinterest. Arms pumping too is equally bad as also Shaking with just the tips of your fingers. A firm & full handshake is the in thing.

Mr.Disaster was wearing a crimson tie! Probably speaking of a trend in the hey-days of Rajesh Khanna. Who’s interested in this antique man (mis) taking the interview for a marriage party. At least, I’m not. No matter how casual the company, dress to impress & dressing up for the interview should be contemporary & not outlandish, wild and loud. It should be neutral. Be conservative in both attire and presentation. Make sure your hair-style, tie and belts etc., enhance your appearance rather than detract from it. Avoid perfume. Briefcases, purses and shoes should all be conservative in color and in good condition.

"Kindly sit down Mr. Disaster" The gentleman sits down & I start off the interview process. "Can I have a copy of your resume?" "Sir, I mailed you one." "Can you kindly check up if you have a spare copy?" I suggest again. He searches his briefcase & is able to bring out the 4 page resume. When I look at the resume I find it disgusting to see all pages as bad photocopies. How I can hire such a man? You must arrive with a business-like portfolio which includes 5- 8 crisp & clear copies of your resume, a pad and a pen. Bring a list of at least three references including name, job title, company, phone number and email address for each reference. Have these reference ready in case the interviewer requests them.

The man was not opening up despite my continuous prodding. "How many people report to you?" I asked. "14" he replies. A better reply would be "14 people report to me & we all get along well. We all work together as a great team to market our company products more aggressively to garner a larger market share." Too Little Leaves Interviewers annoyed.

I am shocked. The bugger is slouching.Your Posture matters. Stand and sit erect & show some energy and enthusiasm. A slouching posture looks tired and uncaring.

I start asking personal questions & lo! I feel I have pressed a never ending play button. He starts off like a rambler & mostly he is talking & I am forced to listen. I have decided again & again to reject him. Taking too long to answer direct questions. The impression: This candidate just can’t get to the point. I succeeded in interrupting him with great difficulty & ask him about his present & past companies & bosses. He is telling me his present company is shit & his less professionally qualified boss steals all the credit for all the work done by him & he is big bullshit. The company doesn’t promote him, doesn’t listen to him & that is why this company is going to dogs. The fastest way to talk yourself out of a new job is to say negative things about your current or past employers. Even if your last boss was Mogambo, the villain, NEVER state your ill feelings about him. No matter how reasonable your complaints, YOU will come out the loser if you show that you disrespect your boss. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, make sure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

..........More on this interview in the next issue

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