Taking an interview is an art and if you want that job, there is a list of strict dos and don’ts you need to follow. Candidates have been known to commit blunders in interviews, such as arriving late, chewing gum, answering their cellphone—and some quite outrageous ones such as pulling out a hairbrush from their handbag to comb their hair. We’ve compiled a list of the common mistakes so that the next time you are in the hot seat, you don’t make any of these blunders
‘The panel is in the other room, now I can be myself’
Don’t assume what you do in the lobby or in the waiting area doesn’t matter. Or that what you say to a receptionist or an assistant is not taken note of. Says Abdul Khan, head of marketing, Tata Teleservices, Mumbai, “I was once interviewing five people for a particular job in Ahmedabad. All five seemed very good and, for once, it was a tough call. On the way out of the office, I noticed an incident. The return flight to Mumbai was cancelled, four of them were huddling and discussing what to do. One walked up to our receptionist, called up the airline, organized hotel accommodation for all five , even asked for an allowance (which of course, he didn’t get), told the four to come with him and left. It was a very easy choice after that!”
‘It was ME who did it all’
A senior candidate once claimed “I built this plant”, says Marcel Parker, chairman of Ikya Human Capital Solutions, an HR solutions company headquartered in Bangalore. “A few key questions later, it emerged that his actual role was the EA (executive assistant) to the project director!” Exaggerated claims have a way of being found out by a panel or an interviewer who asks the right questions. So if you are a management student who’s done a project, make sure you give your project partners credit too. Even at a more senior level, it’s often better to say, “I was lucky to be a part of the team that worked on the project”, rather than take all the credit.
Don’t I vibe well with you guys?’
The words you use, the tone you take, all count. Desperately deferential is clearly not a great way to be. But neither is the use of slang or informal talk, which could end up prejudicing an interviewer. Suparna Mitra, global head, marketing, Titan Industries Ltd, Bangalore, recounts an interview with a girl for the position of a brand manager. “This girl talked fluently, yet every sentence was prefaced with a ‘yaar’. ‘You know ‘yaar’, how it is, ’ or ‘‘Yaar’ I tried my best at that’. I couldn’t believe how she kept using that word ‘yaar’ all the time, and addressed me as if we were friends from college.” The overfamiliar manner probably tipped the decision, and the girl did not get the job
My boss is bad’
Okay, your boss maybe “Hari Sadu”, the horrible boss in Naukri.com’s very popular commercial, but if you say so you’re in danger of being seen as a whiner, and as somebody who can’t get along with the people you work with. Besides, bad-mouthing a former boss is not the most endearing line to trot out to a potential boss. Mitra remembers interviewing a candidate who spent half the interview dissing her former boss. “This girl said her boss is a monster, and the next thing I thought of is, what will she be saying about me when she quits and moves out from here?”
I don’t really want this job’
It may sound like a modest statement. Or perhaps it’s an attempt to keep yourself from not looking too desperate. But being blasé about a job is hardly the best way to get it. And why waste the interview panel’s time if you are not looking to switch jobs? Ask yourself that question before you reach the venue because if the interviewers sense your disinterest, they sure will fire this salvo at you.
Purvi Sheth, CEO at Shilputsi Consultants, Mumbai, recalls a candidate who was interviewing for the position of India operations head of a multinational. The company in question had shortlisted two candidates. Imagine the amazement of the interviewing panel, when the first candidate said he didn’t want the job. The panel, whose members had put in considerable investment in terms of time and money to select these candidates, was horrified. “He went on to do a full-blown interview where he did very well, despite having dropped this bomb saying he was not actively looking for a change,” remembers Sheth. Towards the end of the interview, he explained that he did want the job, but was trying to say he wasn’t actively searching for one. Not surprisingly, he didn’t get the job.
‘Does my resume really say that? Oops, I forgot’
When it comes to judging abilities, or asking you the right questions, an interview panel leans heavily on one document —your resume. Yet many candidates forget to update details they may have included in a resume sent months ago. Sheth recalls a candidate at an interview who reeled off a list of companies he’d worked for. It was an impressive list, but with one problem—it didn’t match with what his resume stated. “I was confused. I thought I had the wrong resume even though the candidate’s name was the same,” she says. Turns out the candidate had put out his resume with false data. The candidate later claimed he wasn’t really interested in the job, and didn’t want his data out in the market, and had signed up for the interview because he just wanted to suss out the competition. Somewhere along the way he lost track. Parker believes that “Outright fibbing never pays. As Mark Twain said, ‘If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.’ Sooner or later the truth will be out and then it becomes a matter of a person’s credibility. And interviewers and headhunters have a long memory.”
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