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What to wear, what to say, whom to impress. If you’re looking to land a cool first job, you’ve come to the right place

brunch Updated: Jul 20, 2013 17:46 IST
Bernadine D’lima Bernadine D’lima
Bernadine D’lima Bernadine D’lima
Hindustan Times

So beta, it seems you’ve graduated. Time to enter the workforce and stop asking dad for a handout on Friday night. You need a job. But you’re too cool to tuck your pinstripe into your pants and look like a “determined, dynamic go-getter” to score a desk in an office. You just can’t.

Not while the world is full of cool vacancies in new fields. Some jobs let you party, go to gigs, or play games all day long; others let you stare into space. But such
companies are pretty cagey about whom they hire, how and why.

So how do you prepare for them? You read on...


TV is a complicated beast. You can work at a channel that airs shows, a production house that conceptualises and shoots shows, or be part of something else entirely. An average production house has a creative and a production teams. For either, you have to be as sharp as a whistle.

Kreeti Gogia who works in production with UTV, says shy types don’t make the cut. “You’ll need to call in favours and meet ridiculous deadlines. If anyone senses they can bully you, they will.” But don’t go around screaming your head off.

Do not, under any circumstances, ask your interviewers about the hours you need to keep. If they snap your head off, it’s probably because they haven’t slept in a week. “Organised people are highly valued,” Gogia adds. Remya Phillip, who’s worked as a producer with Endemol, says your starting point has to be a willingness to learn. “This is a round-the-clock job, and even that’s not enough,” warns Gogia. Also, don’t wear a suit.”


How great is it to live in 2013! You don’t need to leave home to shop. Just buy stuff online and wait for it to arrive at your doorstep. A job in online retail means you’re part of the revolution. And what does every revolutionary need? “Passion, and not necessarily for retail,” confirms Praveen Sinha, the
co-founder of Jabong. When Sinha, interviews candidates for entry-level positions, he wants to know if they’ve done anything that they’ve truly enjoyed. “A degree in supply-chain management is good, but it is by no means everything,” he adds. “An entrepreneurial spirit, a customer-centric approach and a go-getter attitude is a must.”

Since the industry is relatively new, ask for clarifications every time you don’t understand something at the interview. Be frank and open, not deferential. “People who are strong believers in office hierarchy will probably not do well in this industry,” Sinha explains. “You shouldn’t be afraid to challenge your senior, or give him your opinion. What you need is an analytical bent of mind, and the ability to implement strategies.”


If you’ve spent most of your childhood holed up in a sunless corner, playing every single video game you’ve been able to, then this is the job for you. Gaming companies look for code writers, graphic designers and software programmers. But if you’re, above all, a gamer, that’s half the battle won. Ria Kudukar, CEO and founder of V Foundx Digital, says she doesn’t care about your education as long as you’ve played enough video games to know what’s out there and what people like.

This doesn’t mean you can coast through the interview just on experience and by showing them your callused thumbs and high scores. “Gaming is a very new career choice in India, but we still work according to international standards,” says Kudukar. “If I design a game for the iPad, it is checked by Apple.” There’s no room for sloppiness.

Except when it comes to the dress code. Gaming firms let you come in your shorts or PJs. And girls needn’t worry about entering what’s mostly a boys club. “I play better Counterstrike than anyone in my office,” says Kudukar. So wear your high scores with pride.


This stream demands that you use Facebook, Twitter (and whatever new network comes up) to create online buzz for brands. What do you say at your interview? “Stay up-to-date with current affairs and the industry you’re trying to land a job in,” says Neha Paralkar, group account director at LBI, which has worked on online promotion campaigns for brands like Tata Motors and Kotak credit cards.

Model: Rashmi Buntwaal, Top: Vizyon, Jeans: Only, Pumps: Zara & Model: Saurabh Saple, Shirt and shoes: Zara, Blazer and Pants: Bhane, Stylist: Gul Garg

Don’t show off. “Sometimes kids lie about working on projects but get caught when you ask them about it,” she says. Ouch! Dress smart, be on time and make sure you

convince your interviewer that you’re eager to learn new things. “Someone from the company has to invest a lot of time in grooming new recruits. Show that you will be worth the investment.”


Event management is not for the faint of heart. You’ll be on your feet for hours. Most events are in the evening or on weekends, so you might have to kiss your social life goodbye. “Still, the high you get when you see all aspects of an event come through is unbelievable,” says Sameksha Sanas Seth,

co-founder of Pune-based event management firm, 7mm.

Don’t head to the interview armed only with enthusiasm. Employers are looking for savvy workers. They’ll ask questions like: “Pretend I’m a vendor and convince me to give you R20,000 off whatever I’m selling.” So be as persuasive.

It really doesn’t matter what you wear – just make sure you carry it off. The best way to piss away the interview? “Don’t imply you’re not ready to put in the hours,” says Seth.


There’s nothing ad guys like better than an intern who gets their groove. So read up on the firm’s campaigns, awards and how the public reacted to their work. Whether you’re interested in art or copy, carrying your portfolio is a good idea, even if you think it’s terrible.

Hang your Mad Men dreams at the door. “The first ones we weed out are the glamour hunters,” says Arvind Menon, a copywriter at Digital Driftwood, a creative agency. “We’re not looking for the next James Joyce, just someone who is good with words.” Remember that a copywriter wears several hats. “We’re looking for people intelligent enough to adapt to what the brand needs you to be,” says R Venkatraman, creative director at advertising firm BBH.

What should you wear? Something casual, but not too outlandish. At the end of most interviews, you will be handed a copy test. “It’s not important to crack all of them. Just have one brilliant idea and you’re golden,” confirms Menon. Lastly, stay away from clichés and SMS language.


You know every Dylan song. You know nu-punk from ska. You know all the codenames Vampire Weekend uses for secret gigs. You want to kill Beliebers.

Power to you, but that’s precisely NOT what you should bring up if you want to write for a music magazine. “It’s not important that you listen to obscure bands,” says Shomi Gupta, editor of The Rock Street Journal. “What matters is that like writing and have written before.”

Editors look for journalists who know what ‘being on the beat’ means. “It’s not all about writing album reviews. You also have to be able to pick up on stories,” adds Gupta. “You have to think of music as beyond black and white without being quick to judge or dismiss.”

“Also, when people who interview for a writer’s position tell me they don’t read, I think it’s the oddest thing,” Gupta adds.


You know that dimpled guy at Hard Rock Café who passes a wisecrack while serving Long Island Iced Teas? Yeah that’s a ‘Rocker’ not a ‘Waiter’.

We just gave you your first tip for interviewing at the only place where “dance on table” is part of the job description.

“For the Rocker position, we look for confidence, humour and great communication skills,” says Gordon D’Souza, director of operations at Hard Rock India. “The job is to be a part of the Hard Rock experience, not just hand out drinks and food.”

Before the interview, familiarise yourself with kind of brand Hard Rock is. Make sure that you can carry off what you wear to your first meeting. Casuals are okay.

Obviously, you need to have listened to a bunch of rock albums. “We look for people who are familiar with music,” confirms D’Souza. Impress your interviewer with trivia about Slash’s guitar solo in November Rain.

Model: Saurabh Saple, Shirt: Bhane, Jeans: Jack & Jones, Sling bag: Zara, Gladiators: Estd 1977

And smile. It’s that, rather than a background in Food & Beverage or Hospitality, that will have you dancing to YMCA and getting paid for it too.


At places like Only Much Louder (OML), the company behind the NH7 music festival, all they’re looking for is spark. Don’t say ‘Great’ and roll your eyes. Folks like Shreyas Shrinivasan, who co-founded OML’s digital business, is impressed when a person shows dedication and a willingness to learn. “We don’t have a template of what questions to ask or how to interview interns,” he says. “If you’ve helped organise a college festival, have the ability to consume and retain a lot of media and know what’s happening around you, we’re more likely to consider you.”

Organising music festivals involves a lot of work, from ticketing to artist management, and you don’t have to know all that from the outset. “At an interview, say that you just want to experience what happens behind the scenes, and that’s fine,” he says. “Just be yourself.”


When Tripti Bhatia Gandhi, a partner at De Tales Marketing and Communication, interviewed 35 college graduates last month, she found that more than half of them had not even Googled her company. In a profession that’s all about image-building, that’s probably the stupidest thing any intern can do. Know which clients the company has and do some background research.

Once at the interview, make sure you speak confidently and clearly. Good communication skills means you’ll be worth your weight in gold. But be precise and articulate – no one wants to hear 70 words when you can do it in 17. And shut up long enough to listen attentively when the interviewer is talking. “When candidates don’t listen and keep interrupting, it is an alarm bell for me,” says Elisha Saigal, the founder of El Sol Strategic Consultants. “In PR, you have to listen, mentally evaluate options and then act.”

All PR companies are not created equal. Corporate PR means you need to iron your formal shirt and trousers. Lifestyle PR means you can accessorise or give your outfit a fashionable twist. “Show your interviewer that you’ve taken care with your appearance,” advises Bhatia Gandhi. Saigal advises women to go easy on makeup. “Basic eyeliner and lip colour or gloss is all you need.”

Most companies offer a basic stipend to freshers. Still, make sure you convince your employer that you’re there to learn, not earn. “And please don’t quote a figure,” says Bhatia Gandhi.

From HT Brunch, July 21

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First Published: Jul 20, 2013 15:51 IST