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Interview Tips

Get the latest interview guidance from experts and develop your interview skills. Face your interview confidently and outshine among the crew.

A job interview gives you the opportunity to not only showcase your capabilities and credentials for the position applied for but also makes a compelling impression to stand out from the competing candidates.

But you need to take care of a lot of factors such as preparation, physical appearance and body language to create a favourable impression. Brinda Dasgupta brings you suggestions from experts on how to ace the interview.

Get the basics right
Keep the fundamentals in mind while going for a job interview. Dressing sharply and being punctual are of prime importance. “Ideally, reach the interview venue at least 15 minutes before time. Don’t show yourself as being nervous; be calm when you head in for the meeting,” says Swapnil Kamat, CEO, Work Better Training.

Focus on the handshake
The handshake is absolutely essential in cementing a positive first impression. “Shake hands firmly with your interviewer(s). Your grip should not be limp, neither should it be bone-crushing,” says Kamat. The ideal handshake should last at least two or three seconds and be accompanied by eye contact with the interviewer.

Pay attention to body language
Hiring managers form impressions about candidates by observing their body language, such as facial ex pressions and their style of sitting. “Maintain a posi tive, open position. Posture is important; candidates can sit at an angle from the interviewer rather than straight across, which will feel friendlier rather than confrontational,” says Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services.

Don’t jump to negotiations
Do be sure to enquire about the job -its challenges, projects you will work on and the expectations from you in the role. “Don’t jump to ask salary or designation. This will create a negative impression,” says Mishra. PNSV Narasimham, global head of human resources, Cyient, says, “Demonstrate your fitment and interest in the role confidently, respectfully and enthusiastically.



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Job interviews are sacrosanct. You do not want to goof up at them at any cost, be it fresher level or higher up. However, a good interview can turn bad because of the interviewee’s body language. Having good domain skills are not enough these days. The way you behave also matters. Here is a list (in descending order) of five body language blunders that turn off interviewers.

5. Looking lazy or too aggressive 
Do not lean back – you will look lazy. Do not lean forward- you will look aggressive. Just sit naturally – straight – you will look alert and comfortable. Also do not cross your arms. This shows defensiveness – like you are holding yourself back. HR people are good at reading people’s mind. Hence look comfortable, natural and confident.

4. Avoiding eye contact
Look calmly at the interviewer during the conversation. Do not stare or look away while speaking. Understand that you can say a lot through eyes too. A confident gaze will get him to believe that you are up for the task and challenges.

3. Constant nodding
Do not be in the habit of nodding and agreeing to everything the interviewer says. This shows you are more of a ‘yes’ person. At times, recruiters throw tricky questions to just gauge your yesman-ship. They don’t want a definitive answer but a probable and best one.

4. Weak handshakes 
There is nothing worse than a weak handshake to start off or end an interview. A firm handshake is a sign of authority and confidence. A close-fisted handshake is a sign of an aggressive and over confident personality. Just be calm. Also, if the interviewee is a lady and doesn’t offer her hand, don’t go about making the gesture.

5. Looking at the clock 
Some interviews can drag on for a long time. Still, if you want to have the job, avoid peeking at the wrist watch or the wall clock while you are in the middle of a conversation with the interviewer. Avoid giving them hints that you are short of time or unavailable.


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Ask any recruiter how much time he spends scanning a resume, the answer you get is always in terms of number of seconds. Yes, in seconds, not minutes. A recruiter receives and reviews hundreds of resumes every day and doesn’t have the time or inclination to spend more than a few seconds on our resume.

Given that we have only a few seconds to make a lasting impact, we would want to create a really compelling artifact. In an attempt to create a compelling profile, we all tend to make some mistakes.

A lot has been written and published on this topic already. If you search with the phrase “resume faux pas” or “common mistakes in resumes”, you will get a number of columns with amazingly useful tips. Here are the most commonly cited things that most of these articles written by career coaches or HR/business leaders would ask you to avoid:

• Typos/ errors of any kind – grammatical, spelling, formatting
• False/falsified information
• Verbosity
• Sharing too much of information
• Non-professional fonts, ineligible fonts

While these are absolute no-no’s for me, here are a few other missteps I wish candidates avoided:

Common gaffes –
Including generic, lengthy descriptions of your responsibilities, and even repeating similar responsibilities across organisations

What it tells me about you –

You are either not proud of your past experience, or are too lazy to share specifics. Job descriptions should have generic information, not resumes!

What you could do instead –

Focus on the impact you have created – how many dollars have you saved, how much of repeat business you have been able to generate, what standards of quality you have driven

Common gaffes –
Including logos of your current/previous employers; client names while describing projects

What it tells me about you –

You do not know how to handle confidential information

What you could do instead –

Do not ever include company logos on resumes. A logo is copyrighted information and including them on resumes is not legal. Similarly do not disclose client names, use powerful descriptions instead. Something like this – “A multi-billion dollar construction equipment manufacturer”

Common gaffes –
Not highlighting dates clearly

What it tells me about you –

You are probably trying to hide gaps in your employment or education

What you could do instead –

Dates should be highlighted next to your role in each company, and also each category of educational qualifications

Common gaffes –
Including hobbies like Watching Movies, Listening to Music

What it tells me about you –
You are lazy and don’t have hobbies where you play an active role. Most human beings listen to music and watch movies, there is nothing special about you

What you could do instead – 

If you are not actively pursuing any hobbies, it is ok not to mention any

These might seem obvious or insignificant but when you want to be the chosen one amongst hundreds, if not thousands, then avoid these errors and create positive impressions with your resumes. Good luck creating great resumes and building great careers!


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It takes just seconds to form a first impression, and a first impression at a job interview happens just as quickly. Since it’s so much easier when you start off strong, focus on making a good impression in those first few moments of the interview  while you’re waiting in the reception area, while you’re walking to the office or conference room, while you make small talk right before the first question. Here are five qualities you want to convey right from the start to make a good impression at a job interview:


Sit with good posture in the waiting area. Have your personal items (coat, bag, folder) neatly organized and easily accessible for a quick transition when you’re called in. When the interviewer comes out to greet you, you want to appear put-together. You want to move with ease, not in a disheveled, clumsy fashion.


Then you shake hands and greet your interviewer. Is your handshake firm? Do you make direct eye contact? You want to project confidence, even if you’re nervous.


You also want to smile and project enthusiasm. Your demeanor should suggest that you want to be there. You’re excited to meet this interviewer and discuss the role, the company, the future together. Positive energy goes a long way in establishing a positive impression.


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How To Easily Make Yourself The Most Obvious Fit For The Position

The other day, I was scanning through resumes for one of my open positions when a co-worker dropped by to recommend a friend of hers who had applied. “He’s amazing,” she said, “and would be perfect for this role.” I went back to the applications and realized I had put him in the “probably not” pile. “I’ll talk to him,” I said, thinking that I’d have one conversation and pass.


Turns out, he was perfect for the position and made it to late stages in the interview process. So why did his resume almost get tossed? Because he had a bit of a different background than I was initially looking for for the role, and his application didn’t connect those dots quite so clearly.


Or frankly, maybe they did—and I was just powering through resumes as fast as I could and focusing on the ones that clearly looked like the best fit.

Either way, this situation shows why it’s so important to make it abundantly clear to the hiring manager how your experience will translate into the role you’re applying for. Or, as one of my favorite career coaches Jenny Foss says, making sure you’re a “smack-in-the-forehead” obvious fit for the job.

How, exactly, do you do that? Assuming your experience actually does translate (and if it doesn’t, head here), here are a few quick little strategies you can try today.


Don’t Be Afraid To Add Context


If you have a pretty common job title at a well-known company—Content Manager at Marriott International, for example—and you’re applying for jobs similar to the one you have, it’s probably pretty clear what you’ve done.


For many of us, though, that’s not the case. Let’s say you were a Content Manager at a place called Winston Transportation United (fictional, but you get the picture). Most people would have no idea what that is—or what a Content Manager actually did for a company like that.


Or maybe you work for one of those employers that likes quirky job titles. You’re not a “Content Manager,” you’re a “Wordsmithing Wizard” or a “Language Guru.” That sounds fun, but again, not the most clear to hiring managers about what you actually do.


In either case, you’ll want to add some context of how your role relates to the one you’re applying for. And don’t wait for your bullet points to do that (sorry to say, many of them don’t get read); instead, do it right up front, when you’re listing your job title and company.

If it’s your job title that needs more context, you’ve got two options. One, you can change it to reflect something that’s more recognizable. No, this doesn’t mean swapping “Marketing Coordinator” with “Director of Sales and Marketing,” but updating a word to reflect a still-accurate but more common title is perfectly OK. (More on that here.)


The other option is to create a summary statement or headline on your resume, such as “Content manager with 6+ years experience in transportation and healthcare sectors.” Which brings me to:


If Your Resume Doesn’t Tell The Story, Tell It With A Summary


The resume summary is basically a few short statements with a headline that highlights your top qualifications and most relevant experiences for the role. It’s commonly used for senior-level candidates, who want to pull the highlight reel of their decades of experience closer to the top of the page, or for career changers, who want to tie together themes or transferrable skills.


But really, anyone can use it to show, right away, how your background fits the job at hand. Do note, though, for this to actually work, you must tailor it. I’ve seen resumes for editorial positions that include headlines and summary statements focusing on graphic design or public relations—and that’s a smack-in-the-forehead obvious sign that the candidate is not a fit.


Ideally, you’ll want to include the position title you’re applying for or something very closely related (maybe you haven’t been a “Sales Director” before; but that’s not to say that you couldn’t call yourself a “sales leader” in your summary statement), as well as key words and phrases used in the job description.


Lead With What Matters Most


I was recently looking at resumes for copywriters, and pulled up one that started with the candidate’s education section—the first line of which was a law degree.


Sure, lawyers do spend hours a day combing through documents, and most are detail-oriented folks with a strong grasp on language, and all of that’s relevant to a copywriting position. But what’s even more relevant? Actual writing and editing jobs, which the candidate had plenty of. So why not lead with that?


If you’re a new grad, maybe your educational background does matter most, but for most of the rest of us, it’s going to be our past work experience. Note, though, this doesn’t have to be your most recent experience. While the reverse-chronological resume is the most common format, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a section at the top of your resume with ‘Relevant Experience,’ followed by the remaining experience below. Muse career expert Lily Zhang walks through this in detail here.


Give It A Try Before You Submit It


In most cases, you’ll never know if you passed the smack-in-the-forehead test unless you’re called in for an interview. But why not give it a whirl before your resume gets in front of the hiring team?


Send your resume to a friend, and ask what roles he or she thinks you’re applying to, based on she sees. If she says something completely different, you know you have some work to do. And before you say “But wait—my friend knows nothing about my work!” remember that the first person reviewing your application might be a recruiter, an assistant or someone else who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your field. So a set of unbiased eyes might be even better than an industry insider.


Another option? Drop both your resume and the job description into a word cloud creator like Wordle. The same words and phrases should jump out to you in both.


Even if you know, through and through, that you can do this job, you’ll never get the chance if you don’t get past that first screening. Taking the time to make it smack-in-the-forehead obvious that your experience lines up with the job requirements is an extra step, but it’s very often worth it.



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