After months of hard work and labour, you succeed in getting a personal interview call. You wouldn’t want to ruin your chances of making it to the portals of your favourite B-school by doing something stupid. I am sure you have been given a checklist of what all you should do to ensure you glide through your interview successfully. But it’s equally important to know things you should guard yourself against to ensure a smooth sail. Here’s a basic list of things you should avoid like a plague in an interview:
1. Dress casually. The personal interview is the door leading to a great college or job. The way you dress up for it speaks volumes about your attitude towards it. It’s best to stick to formal clothes and wear something that suits your personality. If you wore the same dress for your under-graduate interview, it’s probably time to invest in a new one. Lint can be a give away so ensure that is taken care of. No matter how comfortable your dress, shoes etc are, its is extremely important to carry out a dress rehearsal in your interview attire. Walk around, sit down and give yourself a good look in the mirror to ensure you look and feel comfortable in your ensemble.
2. Project negative body language. You might dress up in your best clothes but slouching shoulders and fidgety fingers can spell doom for you. What your body speaks is as important as what you speak at the interview. So exude confidence through your body language. You are often told to maintain eye contact and sit straight during your interview since these are signs of confidence. But being aware of most common signs of nervousness can help you consciously mind them. Take care not to drum your fingers on the table or tap your feet while waiting for your turn. Don’t fidget with your pen or frequently scratch your face during the interview. Learn more about positive body language for an interview and practice it.
3. Use slang. Slang is the use of informal speech outside of standard language which usually sounds inappropriate for formal usage. We tend to use a lot of slang in our conversational English. Using words like guys, kinda, crap, shit, and stuff, cool, nuts sounds ok with friends and peers. Such language is highly inappropriate for a conversation on which a crucial decision of your life depends. If a sentence like – “The guys in my group were interested in cool stuff like that” – comes naturally to you, be sure to practise speaking in formal language lest such words slip into your sentences even during the interview.
4. Be late. A sure way of losing the opportunity. Plan your journey to the venue of the interview to ensure you make it in time. You could use Google Maps to estimate the distance and the time required for travel. You can add another 15 to 30 minutes to account for any unforeseen delays. You already have enough to be flustered about given the importance of the day. Reach in time, calm down, soothe your nerves after the travel so that you are ready to face the interview with a prepared mind.
5. Borrow facts for your resume. A lot of students and new professionals want to put in only impressive things in their application essays. The idea is to ensure that they get an interview call no matter what. But this is where things can get messy. Striking a balance between what your application portrays you to be and what you really are can give away the truth. Don’t write things in your application just to impress the admission committee. You will also have to live up to it in the interview. For instance, while a string of grand adjectives can make your application look attractive, it might not be possible for you to justify all of that. The internet has made it effortless to look up people and find out the truth. Social media trails that you leave of your daily life is more than enough ammunition to prove if your resume is right.
6. Contradict yourself or lie. Make sure you know your resume/application well. Writing it yourself will ensure that there are no gaps left for contradictions. Don’t write things in your resume that you think the selection committee would want to read. Write what you actually are and the honesty would be greatly appreciated. For instance, you might want to show your dynamism through your participation in extra-curricular activities which you were not involved in. The interview panel can very well distinguish a socially active student from the inactive one through the confidence and behaviour at the interview. So its best not to try and pull a fast one on the experienced panelists. And again, you have social media and online research about you that can reveal a lot about you.
7. Go unprepared: You have a basic idea of the questions that could get thrown at us depending on the purpose of the interview – admission or a job opening. You are generally inclined to believe that we know all the answers about our academics and experiences. But spending some time structuring our thoughts on aspects we would want to talk about can enhance the responses and portray the best we have to offer. For instance, you my want to use 2 different projects/activities to talk about different aspects of your personality. Planning these ideas in advance will help you extract the maximum out of the interview time with the panel.
8. Talk too much. You could sometimes face awkward pauses or moments of silence in an interview. These can turn out to be moments of self-doubt when you desperately try to fill the silences. You may blurt things out that can mar your chances of selection. Or there could be times when you get so carried away talking about a particular experience that you reveal a little too much. So it is best to keep your responses precise and to the point. This will also ensure that you don’t end up inadvertently throwing up issues that are best kept away for the moment.
9. Forget to switch off the ringer of your phone. Imagine a hit a hindi film song ringing stridently right in the middle of your interview and the source is your own cellphone! Following cellphone etiquette is extremely important in an interview. You might carry your cellphone to use it in case of an emergency, but ensure that you switch it off during the interview. You can also put it on silent mode but disable the vibrator mode as it can distract you during the interview. In fact, it’s a good habit to put your phone on silent for any formal event.
10. Lose patience. Appearing for an interview that is very important to you can be quite nerve-wrecking. To add to it, the interviewers might use stress tactics like criticising your answers to giving you blank, cold stares to put you on the edge. The very idea of stressing you out is to check if you stand stressful situations. Don’t lose your calm at any cost. As long as you know your answers are correct, just relax.
11. Argue with the interview panel. At times, the panel might create a hostile situation to check how you handle it. For instance, the panel might challenge your facts and figures and quote ridiculous points in their defence. Even though you know your facts are right and not theirs, never lock horns with the interviewers, ever. Handle the situation politely and try to move to neutral ground.
Interviews can be unnerving at any time. More so when you are a fresher. In a nutshell, preparation is the key – whether it is grooming yourself or polishing your answers. Running yourself through a few mock interviews can greatly boost your confidence. But also be warned that no matter how successful the mock drill, the actual event is bound to deviate from the script and throw up some surprises.