In today’s tough job market, job-seekers need to be even better prepared for interviews to make the cut.
It’s not just your answers during interviews that will determine whether you get a job. Your attitude and your appearance matters, too.
Recruiters share some common mistakes that candidates make, and tips on how to avoid them.
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Are you running late for your interview?
Don’t be clueless: Human resources managers say a lack of preparation ahead of the interview is the most common mistake candidates make.
Job-seekers either don’t read up enough about the position they are applying for, their company, or the industry. As a result, many lack industry perspective.
“You need to have a fair idea about the company, its local and global performance, the industry, its weak and strong points, the economy and the competition,” says Sanjay R. Shastry, regional vice president of Asia Pacific at executive search firm Stanton Chase International.
Ahead of the interview, make sure you do enough research by reading trade magazines and specialized websites.
Don’t exaggerate: A lot of candidates exaggerate their expertise, but interviewers can often catch your bluff and you could come across as untrustworthy.
“You have to be careful about what you say and should be able to back it up,” says Kris Lakshmikanth, founder of executive search firm The Head Hunters India Pvt.
In one instance, Mr. Lakshmikanth says a job candidate gave the impression he knew everybody at the Indian Space Research Organization. But when the interviewer named a few key people at the organization, he realized that the candidate didn’t know much.
Similarly, in technology-related jobs, you can be easily caught if you say you have a skill you don’t have.
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Prepare your answers: It’s not a bad idea to spend some time thinking about potential questions you may be asked at the interview and preparing answers for them. But don’t get too stuck on them.
“People come up with rehearsed answers and don’t understand what the panel is asking them,” says Runa Maitra, head of human resources at iProf Learning Solutions Pvt., an education firm in Noida.
Instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind, Ms. Maitra says it’s better to listen carefully to the question. Tailor your prepared answer accordingly, if possible.
Focus on achievements, not your role: When asked about significant career achievements, one common mistake candidates make is to describe their last job.
“If you did what you were supposed to do, then it doesn’t count as an achievement,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth. “It’s like getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth.”
So, in advance of the interview, think through two or three specific achievements. For instance, if you are a finance executive, you can talk about ways you helped save money for your company. Ideally, you should try to relate your key achievement to the role you’ve applied for.
Also, share what you’ve accomplished in the last three to five years. “I don’t want to know what they did 20 years back. Some people even go back to school or college time,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth.
Often, candidates are vague about their achievements, which is not helpful. Don’t just say you helped the business grow, but say by how much, says Mr. Shastry.
Making an impression: It’s good to appear enthusiastic about the job you’re applying for, but don’t overdo it.
“Overselling yourself can work against you,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth. He remembered interviewing someone for the position of HR head at a multi-national firm who started pulling out all his certificates to the interviewer, including some from his school and college days. He didn’t get the job.
On the other hand, don’t be too timid during the interview. If you speak in monosyllables and don’t elaborate when the interviewer is interested in knowing more about you, “you might come across as someone who lacks confidence,” says Ms. Maitra.
Your appearance matters: How you dress and present yourself makes a huge difference, no matter how senior you are.
If you are dressed too casually, or look unkempt, it “shows that you don’t respect your prospective employer,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth.
He relates the story of a candidate who had to be interviewed for the position of a chief executive. Since this candidate had just landed from an overseas trip, he came straight from the airport to the interview venue “in crumpled shirt and trousers, which obviously put off the interviewer,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth.
Young candidates, especially those applying for jobs at call centers, often tend to be poorly dressed. “I have seen people going for (call center) interviews in chappals,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth. This can turn off the interviewer.
Experts say you should dress formally, ideally wear a suit. Women also have the option of wearing salwar kameez and sarees, says Ms. Maitra.
Also, pay attention to your body language throughout the meeting.
“Employers look for dynamism and spark in the eyes of the person,” says Mr. Shastry. Don’t come across as too aggressive or over-confident. On the other hand, don’t slouch or recline.
“Be relaxed, confident and polite,” says Mr. Shastry. When you are exchanging business cards take the time to read it instead of just shoving it in your pocket, says Mr. Shastry.
Ringing phones and late arrivals: Recruiters say that job-seekers often leave their cellphones on during interviews, and then have to disconnect incoming calls. Bad idea.
“It is distracting and cuts off the flow of conversation,” says Mr. Lakshmikanth, adding that it could be one of the reasons for eliminating a candidate. The solution is simple: put your phone on silent or simply turn it off.
And don’t be late for your interview. Plan to reach the venue half an hour before the interview. “If you are running late, it’s important to call up the interviewee and tell in advance and apologize for it,” says Mr. Shastry.
Readers, what are some of the common interview mistakes that you’ve seen people make? Share your views in the Comments section.
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Via: India Real Time