After the series on public speaking tips, I started another series on placement interviews to help students prepare better for this phase of their life. The tips cover a wide range of topics like resume writing, the importance of a cover letter, right responses to the commonly asked questions and other do’s and don’ts. If you missed the series, here’s all of it for you:
Tip #1: WHY THE HELL WONT YOU WRITE THAT COVER LETTER?!
Don’t mind my language but I couldn’t think of another way to get your attention! I have lost count of the number of times, students send me just their resume as an attachment – just the resume!
But if you are serious about getting a job, you must include a cover letter. A cover letter is important since:
1. It is a precursor to your resume
2. It is a quick pitch, on why your resume should be considered
3. Reminds the reader of how you know each other
You can read more tips on writing a cover letter on my Linkedin post
Tip #2: IF YOUR RESUME LOOKS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE’S, WHY SHOULD YOU GET THE JOB?
Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds per resume. And unless words literally jump out of the page, there is a big chance that you’ll end up in the “rejected” pile! Some of the things to keep in mind are:
1. If 6 seconds is the benchmark, what exactly do you want the recruiter to see in 6 seconds? Make it easy for him to find that information.
2. Use words that jump out of the page. For instance, Instead of “awarded the best project of the year” would it sound better to start with “Won the best project of the year award”.
3. Watch the length: Nothing kills a resume worse than long winding bullet points about your projects. Keep your resume a page and a half at the most.
You can read more tips on writing a great resume here
Here is an entire post on how to write a powerful cover letter and resume
Tip #3: HOW CAN YOU STAND OUT IN YOUR CAMPUS INTERVIEW?
Thousands of students apply for campus placements each year. For companies, this means being spoilt for choice. For you, it means a huge competition you need to beat to land that job.
So how does one stand out in a placement/internship interview?
1. Passion: Unless you can show how much you love to do what you’ve applied for, it is not going to work. I have come across many students who love their subjects but fail to convey the passion.
2. Self-knowledge: Go all out and write a general essay about yourself. The good, the bad and the ugly – let it all come out! I mean in terms of your personality, likes and dislikes, qualities and quirks, passions and pet peeves, dreams and goals.
3. Pick out your uniqueness. Use the essay to cull out answers to questions like – what are your strengths and weaknesses? What is so interesting about you? Why should we hire you? This will also help you field curve balls during the interview.
Would you like me to help you with answers that you feel stuck at? Comment below or write to me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to help you.
Read more: 13 ways to ace a placement interview
Tip #4: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF. BUT WHAT EXACTLY?
“Hi! My name is… and I am a graduate from…
Imagine the hapless interviewer who sits through countless introductions that begin like this! And how great would it be if they heard something different! Preparing a good response to this question well will ensure that you get a confident start to your interview.
Here are some tips to do that:
1. Don’t talk about everything on your resume – hobbies, strengths, career goals. Leave somethings out for subsequent answers. For starters, don’t say the first thing that comes to mind. That is the most cliche thing we say about ourselves.
2. Bring in some interesting elements from your resume into the introduction. This can also open up leads for the next question
3. How you say it is as important as what you say. If you aren’t excited about talking about yourself, why would anyone else be. So practice to not sound as if you’ve parroted the responses.
Tip #5: BE CONFIDENT ABOUT YOUR WEAKNESSES
This question is more about how you answer it rather than what you answer. Mostly! This question seeks to bring out the human side of you. It tests your self-awareness – how well do you know yourself and honesty – don’t lie.
1. Remember that there is nothing wrong in having flaws. So there is no need to panic. Just pick something that wouldn’t go against your application for the intended job.
2. Have an explanation – and not defense – about how you cope with it. This shows that you are not just aware of your weaknesses but are also in control of them
3. Don’t try to turn a strength into a weakness. For instance, I can read only 300* words per minute and I wish I could be faster.
Not sure how to answer your weakness question? I can help you frame one that doesn’t go against you. feel free to comment below or drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org with “weakness” in the subject line.
Here’s a post on how to answer the most common interview questions
Tip #6: WHY SHOULD ANYONE HIRE YOU?
Honestly, WHY should anyone hire you? The reason behind this question is to understand how well you comprehend what well suited you are to the job.
Here’s how you can figure it out:
1. Understand what the role entails, what are the responsibilities and skills that the incumbent is required to have. Merge your skills/qualities with the ones that the job requires.
2. If you are changing streams, work your response around your transferable skills
3. Use examples and past experience to support the skills/qualities you include in your answer
Are you unclear about how to justify your candidature? Would you like me to help you with it? Comment below or write to me with “hire me” in the subject line.
Tip #7: WHAT’S YOUR 5 YEAR PLAN?
With the unprecedented rate at which the world is changing, we can only guess what the world would be like in the next 5 years. But despite the volatile nature of the world, this is a valid question in the interview.
The idea behind the question is to test your foresight – do you look at the current job as just a job or does it fit into your long term plans. So here’s how you can crack it:
1. If you have a good idea about the general direction of your career, I think that should suffice. You don’t need every detail planned.
2. Things to say: You can say something like – I am looking forward to working on exciting projects as the manager in your company. I hope to put my college degree to practical use and hopefully grow along with the organisation.
3. Things not to say: Very specific goals – “I’ll be in your chair” (sounds arrogant too) or “I’ll be running this place” (again arrogant) or I’ll be the head of the department and probably be ready for the next promotion.
Tip #8: SOUND SUPER CONFIDENT IN THE INTERVIEW
There is a reason why each of the common questions are so common in interviews. You are a stranger to the interviewer and it is important for you to put your best foot forward.
Here are some general tips that apply to all your responses:
– Rehearse your answers
– Don’t sound rehearsed (ironic but true)
– Work on your expressions
Read more tips on doing well in your interview here
Tip #9: THINGS TO DO IN AN INTERVIEW
Here are a few things I feel are usually neglected but very important in an interview:
1. Enunciate: Speak clearly. A lot of people mumble right at the beginning of the interview and this isn’t helping your chances.
2. Chew a mint: You have no idea how much this can help. Bite into a tic tac just before you head into the room. Fresh breathe makes us feel fresh and hence boosts our confidence.
3. Do a dress rehearsal: You might wear brand new clothes or what you already posses. But wear the whole ensemble again and to double check that it fits well and looks appropriate for the important event.
4. It’s okay to say I don’t know: Unless, it is something from your course curriculum or the name of the country’s president, it is okay to say you don’t know if you don’t know something. And if you handle it confidently, not knowing one answer will not greatly affect your chances.
Do you have any questions about preparing fro interviews. Drop me a line on email@example.com with “interview questions” in the subject line and I’ll be happy to help you.
Here is a post on do’s and don’ts in an interview
Tip #10: THINGS NOT TO DO IN AN INTERVIEW
1. Write abbreviations: Of societies, departments etc. You might be familiar with this jargon but the interviewer is not. Write the full form in the resume. And when you mention college specific jargon, ensure that you enunciate it clearly.
2. Skip the research: Never skip this under any circumstances. The job profile, the company and the panelists, if you know who they are going to be. This can be a huge help in showing how you fit into the profile and company.
3. Talk too much: Knowing when to stop is a great skill to have even in life. But especially so in an interview. The more you talk, the more areas you open up for questioning. So don’t meander without a point.
You can view this tip on Linkedin
I am going to start my next series on Linkedin focussed on women since it is Women’s Day next month. Whether you are looking for a second career or already work in a corporate – these tips will help you create a stronger brand and project the confidence that can get you ahead in your career. You can connect with me on Linkedin here.