REMINISCENCES OF A SCINDIAN PARENT !

GET SELECTED

SUCCESS TIPS AND THE PREPARATION PROCESS FOR JOB INTERVIEWS

 

This article is intended to help those seeking or applying for jobs, for Management, or Management Trainee positions generally. This will help them to understand the selection process by the employers, so that they can systematically improve their chances of success by being better prepared, as compared to others! BE PREPARED is the motto of the Boy Scouts Association, and equally applies as an essential formula for success even for this vital objective, as for most others!

 

Most organisations carry out a Manpower planning exercise periodically to determine their personnel requirements. Many have written Job Descriptions or Specifications for various positions, and some lay down the minimum acceptable competencies, educational levels or experience needs required for each job. They usually maintain a database of all their employees, which helps in identifying suitability from within for vacancies, besides meeting various other needs. In the absence of any suitable internal employee, the organisation has to recruit externally, which requires time, effort and money - but good selection provides long term gains to the Organisation.

 

Besides the word of mouth, or the old boy network," - both of which have limited reach, most organizations either advertise their requirements, or utilize Head Hunting or Placement Consultants, who have the resources to provide lists of likely and suitable candidates amongst a larger population, besides providing for certain amount of short listing for suitability for the required vacancy. Alternatively, they approach Professional Institutes for campus selection, or for circulating requirements amongst their students. Sometimes the preliminary screening is done by the Headhunters, or various tests are arranged by them. There could be written tests as well or Group Discussions for this purpose.

 

There is no standard methodology followed by different employers for selecting their personnel requirements, but the interview is almost always the final decider for any position, imperfect that it may be. Phone interviews are often practiced by IT firms and others for preliminary or even pre-final selection. Therefore, this calls for giving a lot of attention to it in early stage. However, the big hurdle for the candidate is to reach the situation of being called to the interview in the first place. So, at the outset, let us look at the process of matching the aspirant's need for employment, and the employer's requirement for suitable personnel with the required qualities on the other. The communication process begins through the medium of the Biodata, Resume or CV - which therefore, is extremely important to any candidate. The employment process screens out those Biodata that do not meet the job requirements, and a poorly prepared Resume despite with requisite credentials is likely to be rejected before even giving an opportunity to the candidate!

 

The prospective candidate has to communicate in response with personal details, as the very first important step to meet this need, whether to the Placement agency in anticipation of any employment, or to the organization, or to both.


APPLICATION / RESUME / BIODATA:

 

Whether you’re a fresh entrant into the job market or an experienced person, a good resume is the first impression you will be making on a potential recruiter. When we talk about a resume or a CV, what comes to mind is the standard two-page word document that we print and carry around everywhere. However, the reach of job searches has widened to include the Internet, which means our resumes sometimes need to go digital too! This vital document must promote the suitability of the candidate, and create a positive image. Therefore, the use of good quality stationery, like bond or art paper, and well typed and formatted with carefully prepared contents - preferably by electronic typewriter or printer - is a must. Hand written applications are usually not favoured, even if one possesses excellent written script - which may be considered only suitable for clerical level positions! Be specific and brief, limit to a half page application with maximum two pages (preferably one) of Biodata - this is important, as a long drawn out CV generally gets a glance rather than be read, and is likely to be put aside! The recruiters receive a very large number of applications, and the managers can only devote limited time for a quick review to sort the applications into maybe and rejects. Often a junior is used for this purpose to first check that the qualifications, age etc. match the requirements specified, and only then the senior selector goes through the sorted applications for further short listing. Highlight strengths, capability and achievements objectively, without exaggerating. Attempts to create some special visual or content wise eye catching quality to set it as out of the ordinary can be rewarding, and efforts spent on this aspect pays good dividends. One should also ensure that all statements made are factually correct, and can be supported. A good strategy is to selectively miss mentioning average or below average qualities or results, but state and emphasize when they are excellent, this selective description cannot cause harm! Few important suggestions:

(1) Ensure that the contact details are stated clearly and correctly;
(2) Carefully check the spellings, font and format of the contents - which must be correct, without any over-writing etc. to give a good appearance;
(3) Use short sentences or bulleted telegraphic language to list points, rather than long drawn out sentences about irrelevant details;
(4) If you’re keen on going for the text-based resume, be sure to also save a digital copy that you can mail to potential employers. You can save your word document as a .pdf file so that the format is retained and it opens cleanly for the receiver. You may also consider including images & graphics in the document;
(5) If you wish to design a single page resume that is also concise, you may have to be ruthless about what you leave out. This includes leaving out all education information except your highest qualification, including your experience over the past decade only, or highlighting only those titles or projects that are relevant to the job you’re now applying to.


Beyond these tools, employers often also look at social media profiles of prospective hires. You may want to bring your LinkedIn profile up to date, along with information on the kind of opportunities you’re looking for.


As mentioned earlier, the one-page (max) Covering Letter should make the job application 'stand out' - some tips:

  • Customise your letter with expressions of interest and your suitability, by high-lighting your skills and qualifications.
  • Positivity by being genuine in what matters to the employer in order to create a great impression.
  • Review & Proof read your cover letter and attachments carefully.

 

It is a good plan to develop a general purpose Biodata, or Resume, well in advance when time is still available, with considerable thought and effort. However, when responding to a particular advertisement, ensure that it covers any specific requirements called for, for which some editing of the Biodata may be carefully done before sending it against any advertised position. With the increasing use of on-line submissions of c.v. these days, care must be exercised to ensure that the bio-data is well presented in excellent format/font to result in a good print-out.

 

Whilst for candidates with little or no experience, the educational compatibility emphasis in the Resume will be the major background, but for those with considerable and varied experience, the past achievements of results in concrete terms will add most value to the Biodata, since accomplishments indicate proven strengths, and capability. If well expressed, this can improve chances and make the vital difference during the initial sorting out of a large number of Resumes to a short-list. Job hopping & employment gaps are negative factors, & may be carefully de-emphasized or missed out in the Resume. For experienced individuals, a statement on the candidate's "Objective" is encouraged these days - where the applicant indicates as to what kind of challenge, position or organization he/she is seeking, or growth expectations in the future. Compensation expectations should generally not be emphasized in the biodata, or may be indicated discreetly.

 

 

INTERVIEW PREPARATION:

 

It is useful to find out the Company background before presenting yourself - this does not imply detailed knowledge, but a broad knowledge of the products or services of the organisation can be useful in support of the reasons for trying to join the Company, a question asked frequently. The Annual Balance Sheet or Corporate advertisements or website are a useful source. Other preparation could be studying business magazines & papers, or the major national or local issues or recent events, particularly those covered in the media, as this is often asked to check the general knowledge or reading habits of the candidate. An analysis of own strengths & weaknesses is sometimes asked, and being prepared can help in answering this very vital & tricky question more comfortable, and positively.

 

Please ensure that you present yourself well groomed, suitably dressed - but not overdressed, or too casually attired - and punctually, at the appointed time. It may also be polite to confirm the appointment by phone or letter in advance. If for any reason you are unable to attend, definitely request in good time for an alternative date and time, with very good reasons for the requested change. All relevant certificates, testimonial's etc, should be neatly carried in a file or a folder, and not haphazardly in various envelopes etc. - so that you are, and also look, well organized.

 

THE INTERVIEW:

 

Many Companies go through a preliminary interview stage before finalisation, and some require other tests, written or otherwise. The testing procedure varies widely - some rely on psuedo-scientific or objective selection methodologies, including profile or competency mapping tests, or written tests. These could be: Phrenology, Graphology etc., to Aptitude, Psychological, Personality or IQ Tests, Business Games or Case Studies etc. The candidates should be prepared for such tests.

 

Interviews may be carried out by individual managers in stages, or by a panel in one or more phases. Group discussion to prepare a short list is also done at times, mostly in campus interviews. However, the candidate must treat each stage as the "final interview," and put the best foot forward to create the best possible impression. The interview provides opportunity to the candidates in clarifying issues & doubts, and a few careful questions do indicate the candidate's interest, which often creates a positive impression.

 

Good behaviour, manners and politeness before, during & after the interview are just as important as the dress and appearance. Maintaining eye contact without staring creates an impression of candidness, and the body language should support the responses. A smile goes a long way in removing tensions, and is an excellent morale booster. Answers must be to the point without rambling or being vague and spoken clearly. When not sure, admission to the fact gives a far better impression than the attempts at bluffing. While visibility of confidence helps, over confidence or bragging tends to create a negative & poor impression, as does fidgeting etc. To avoid nervousness, taking a deep breath helps, as does thinking and clearing your mind before speaking!

 

PLUS FACTORS FOR SUCCESS:

 

However, for determining suitability, the most important consideration is the assessment of the general and job related competency judged by the employer, & is based on the professional and academic background and any experience, and the results obtained or achieved. The assessment will include the perceived personality traits, integrity, leadership qualities and suitability as a team member, besides agility and health. Any positive impressions regarding ability in communication skills, attitude and enthusiasm will always add value. Examples during school, college or work life can strengthen many of these quality judgments. Hobbies, sports and pastimes are considered positive traits. Other important PLUS FACTORS include: Impressions or noticing extrovert nature, sincerity or truthful attitude, analytical approach towards problem solving and ability to disagree pleasantly. Multiple language capability and computer literacy are definitely required for most jobs. Other issues like possession of own vehicle, own conveniently located accommodation or locational flexibility, good professional contacts, and organizational compatibility with family situation can also become useful pluses to some employers.

 

The strategy should be to bring out the strong points of the above vital plus factors during the course of the interview skillfully - even if not asked directly, for which advance preparation and planning will surely produce a better result than otherwise. Another important part of the interview is the carefully thought out questions by the candidate in advance when asked "any questions?" at the end of the interview - which is often done. This opportunity has to be understood as a part of the appraisal system, and careless questions can take away earlier good impressions. This is because asking interesting and relevant questions can help you in impressing the recruiter, as it symbolizes your interest towards the job. Such questions should relate to create positive interest about the organization or the job, and should not be indicative of a casual approach. Avoid asking easily known details of the Company as you are expected to have researched carefully, and also do not sound greedy by concentrating about benefits and terms of the job. This is best left for later after being selected, as then it may be turned down if not up to expectations. However, replies like "no questions" can also create an impression of disinterest!

 

So, good luck in your future efforts, and do have confidence in yourself. Remember, you must believe that you will be a 'WINNER', in order to succeed!

 

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Highlight & Main Points of the above SELECTION PROCESS article may be seen in a Flash Slide show below. It runs automatically after initial clicking on the opening slide



Nidhi Sharma has in her blog on June 21st, 2007 in SiliconIndia on "Redefining Career" listed
"Interview Tips - How to Avoid the Top 10 Interview Mistakes" - which is also well worth reading.