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- Arrive on time: If you show up late for the interview, it’s a deal breaker AFAIAC. There are very few cases (genuine emergencies) where this can be overlooked. However, if you can’t plan to arrive on time on the first day, it reflects poorly on your planning skills.
- Be well-dressed and properly groomed: Dress for the job. But don’t overkill either.
- Have all your documents ready: Any working professional should have a decent idea of all required documents. Have them in one of those multi-pocket folders so that they can be easily tagged and retrieved. Having essential stuff like your scoresheets, letters of recommendation, proof of previous work experience, a few copies of your resume is a basic hygiene factor.
- Know the company and the job you are applying to: Go through the company website. Be thorough with their history, their strategy, current market positions, latest news coverage etc.
- During introductions, get the names of the panelists. Use them in conversation. Helps create a more personal touch.
- Listen, think, and then respond: Do not interrupt the panelists ever. Allow them ample time to finish their questions. Do not be in a hurry to answer, but think your responses through. If required, feel free to solicit additional information you believe would be essential for you to formulate a well-rounded response.
- Come across as honest, sincere, and affable: Arrogance is one of the biggest turn-off about people for me. And there is a thin line between arrogance and confidence. People who have a smug smile on their pace, a condescending touch to their voice, or an attitude that clearly reflects a highly inflated sense of self-worth, never make a good team player. And in any organization, teams are always more important than individuals.
- Be ready with a few questions for the panel for when they ask “do you have any question for us”.
- (extension to #8) Do not be scared to ask questions. The interview is a 2-way street and you have every right to know if the company is suitable for you. But at the same time, never interrupt others. Ask questions when you have the window, or when a relevant context is being discussed.
- Body language: Your posture speaks a lot about your personality. Sit straight. Make eye contact. Have a firm handshake. Smiling helps.
- Switch off your phone. Seriously. The world can do just fine without you for an hour. Unless there is something critical (like a sick family member, or a little son/daughter in school that needs to be picked up), it’s better to switch off the phone. Even switching to silent mode is not enough as the vibrations in modern smarthphones are pretty loud.
- Don’t be pretentious. It is fine to say, “I don’t know”. Do not try to have the best story/answer for every question.
- Do not compromise on your principles. Even if they offer you the job, or increased compensation to agree to immoral ways on the job later, do not do it. It is most likely another test. And even if it is not, it is not worth working for a company that has a flawed and compromised moral compass.
- No vulgar jokes, “-ist” remarks. Nothing says jerk more than someone entrenched deeply in stereotypes and having preset, often unchangeable opinions about people and things, based on no real knowledge or experience.
- Never tell or even hint that you are not really interested in the job and you are taking it just because you have to.
“You know, ah, my last start-up bombed. So I need a job desperately to get back on my feet.”
“I actually want to be in <another domain>. But I am not getting anything. So I’m applying here in the meantime. <Domain you are interviewing for> isn’t exactly my passion”
Although I would value his honesty in the above statements, they are a red flag that the employee would be just another cost center. They will leave at the earliest signs of another opportunity. They won’t give their 100% to the job.
- Never focus too much on the financial aspect
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t discuss your salary and other perks. But do that preferably at the end and in one go. This shows that while it is important, it is not the most critical factor (be sure to discuss factors like your responsibilities, expectations, growth trajectory – short term and long term).
People who discuss the salary first and then 10 minutes later inquire about the bonus and then interrupt once more after 5 mins to know about the annual increments are usually seen in a poorer light.
- Keep it professional. No personal questions.
When the interviewer asks, “Do you have any question?”, ensure that you do not ask anything personal. What do you do in your spare time? Where do you live? Do you have kids?
The interviewer is there to discuss a business opportunity and not to chit-chat over coffee.
- “I’m sorry. I need to take this call”.
A straight reject. Calls can wait.
- Never bitch about your previous employer.
Might be true. But that just shows you in a poor light. The one that you are interviewing with will also be an ex-employer after you leave.
- Over-pitching yourself.
One of the most dreaded questions in interviews is, “What are your weaknesses?”
Should you be blunt and tell them the truth or be a little diplomatic? Most people will tell you to say something which can be seen as both a weakness and/or a virtue or mention some actual drawback that isn’t very serious.
But most people take it too far. “My biggest weakness? Hmmm. I think I am over-dedicated/work harder than required/blah blah blah”.
You think you are impressing the person in front of you, but you are simply coming off as a narcissistic prick.
- “Can we make it quicker? I have another interview scheduled”
Shows not only that you have poor planning and management skills, but also that the current job is not your top priority.