Off to your first job interview? Here’s how to make a good impression
We spoke to recruiters about some of things that drive them nuts when it comes to freshers. Tip 1: Don’t be late, and don’t go MIA.education Updated: Jul 19, 2017 15:40 IST
There you are, freshly minted degree certificate in hand, waiting in line for your job interview. For most freshers, breaking into the corporate world is stressful. But employers and recruiters will tell you that hiring the newcomer is even harder. If you’re preparing for your first interview, here’s what you can do to stay ahead.
DON’T PLAY HIDE AND SEEK
Data from Kelly Services, an office staffing and workforce solutions company, shows that close to 50% of freshers simply don’t show up for scheduled interviews. A staggering 40% disappear later, when it comes to discussing or accepting an offer.
“This is common in technology, BPO and frontline sales,” says Francis Padamadan, country director at Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group – India, which advises companies on hiring. This leaves employers in a fix – are you serious about working? Did you find a better offer elsewhere? Did you merely apply for fun? All of this reflects poorly on you. You may want to consider working with that company in the future.
Being unprofessional at an early stage may close doors to later opportunities.
Instead: Politely and professionally back out from a job offer, so you don’t end up burning bridges. “Sounding authentic is critical,” says Snehal Shah, who chairs the Fellow Programme in Management and Head, Research Initiatives at SPJIMR. Here’s a good email template to opt out, she says: “Since the last few weeks (or days), I have given a serious thought to my career choices. Upon further reflection, it seems the current job opportunity with your company does not fit with my long-term career goals. Please accept my sincere apology as I will not be able to join your esteemed organisation at this time. However, I will surely get in touch with you if there is change in my decision.”
“When students have worked on a project and can’t communicate effectively about it, that’s a warning sign for interviewers. No firm wants skilled workers who cannot explain their work,” says Zarin Bhathena of transactional services company Worldline
DON’T ACT IMMATURE
Shailendra Minocha, head of human resources and administration at real-estate firm, Nirmal Lifestyle, sees a lack of professional attitude among fresh graduates.
“They face issues in networking with employees and have lack social and communication skills,” he says. It’s not always the freshers’ fault. Minocha sees many first-timers complain that they have not been taught how to draft emails and have a lower understanding of targets and deadlines.
Instead: Look online for resources on writing contemporary formal emails (forbes.com, coursera.com and bbc.co.uk), sample cover letters (templates.office.com) and templates for professional resumes (templates on livecareer.com or naukri.com). Create a professional email address with your full name instead of handles like bhairoxx, sexyladykiller or chelseafan123.
Drop emojis from your resume – remember this is not your Facebook profile page. Aim to be concise and professional in approach.
DON’T BE VAGUE ABOUT YOUR GOALS
Sure, you’re young and still not clear about what you want to do. There’s no reason to tell an interviewer that.
Dinesh Goel, co-founder and CEO, Aasaanjobs, an end-to-end recruitment marketplace, finds that today’s range of career choices often makes freshers confused or distracted about their aspirations. Many kids pick interviews in fields out of peer pressure or the promise of glamour. “The youth need to have a vision for themselves which is lacking in most cases,” says JM Nair, principal of VES Institute of Technology.
Applying for a position you’re not interested in, is a two-fold nightmare – you end up hating what you do and companies suffer. “If a mechanical engineer takes up take up a software job, companies then have to spend a lot of time and resources in making them eligible,” Goel says.
Instead: Learn from your B-school peers. Abbasali Gabula, deputy director of external relations and administration at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) says business school students (often mid-career professionals) tend to be clearer about their interests. “Career counselling, role-clarity sessions and selfawareness helps them to face the challenges at workplace with ease,” he says. So look at your resume objectively.
Ask yourself what makes you right for the job you are applying for, why this should be your first job, and why (if any) disparity exists between your skills and your aspirations. Prepare short, clear answers beforehand so you don’t end up fumbling.
DON’T FORGET PRESENTATION SKILLS
Zarin Bhathena, senior vice president and local head of human resources at Worldline, a payments and transactional services company says that freshers, especially from technical backgrounds, lack polish. Even when students have worked on a particular project, they can’t communicate it effectively when questioned about it.
This is a warning sign for interviewers – no firm wants skilled workers who cannot explain their work.
Instead: Do a mock interview over Skype or Whatsapp video with a friend. Time yourself, list your achievements clearly and explain them to the person across from you, and practice making eye contact as you speak. You should be sitting up straight. “While describing any project or internship experience, emphasise words such as ‘we’ and ‘team’, rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’,” adds Shah.
Piya Mukherjee, director at VES Leadership Academy and Research Centre, shares her tips for prep. “List the commonly asked interview questions and prepare answers for them, preferably on paper. Make mind-maps to remember your key points,” she says. Then, prepare two well-crafted answers (short and long) to this question: Tell me something about yourself. “Remember – there are no second chances to make a first impression,” Mukherjee cautions.