The job-seeking process, from application to interview, calls for special skills as you communicate with prospective employers. You not only have to present your abilities and background, you also need to make a good personal impression. The best qualifications won’t be enough unless you can present yourself as a competent, motivated, and a responsible person.
As you take up the job hunt, remain mentally alert that you are engaging in a two-way process. It is not just that a prospective employer is going to judge your suitability for the job; you need to seriously consider suitability of the employer and job profile from the perspective of your future career growth. Careers are made brick by brick and one wrong move can considerably jeopardize the future growth.
When you first learn of a vacancy that seems interesting, try to discover a little about the company. If it is large and well known, you probably will already be familiar with its product or service. If this is not the case, some preliminary research should tell you whether an application would be worthwhile or a waste of time for all concerned.
Making a positive first impression is a critical step in securing a job. A prospective employer’s first opinion of you will be shaped by your resume and the cover letter that accompanies it.
A resume serves two purposes. The more obvious one is to provide a chronological summary of your education, skills, work history, and other pertinent information. On a subtler level, it demonstrates your ability to present information in a clear and logical way. Since it will probably be one of many being considered, a resume should fit on one to maximum two sheets of paper, with the relevant facts so presented that they are easy to read and interpret. You need to be careful to delete every information that is junk from the point of view of the person who has been assigned the job to shortlist resumes for a personal interview. Some of the common examples of such undesirable information are: father’s name; passport number; details of the jobs taken up by your family members etc.
Your cover letter can also have two functions: As well as indicating which job you are applying for, use it to expand on the material in your resume, explaining how your qualifications and interests match the requirements of the job.
Research before you meet prospective employer
If your job application results in the offer of an interview, it might be a good idea to find out more about the company. You could read its annual report, or any catalogues, brochures, or newspaper stories explaining the firm's products or its structure. This will not only tell you more about the job you're interested in, it will also help you to ask informed questions about the company at your interview. What's more, such intelligent interest is bound to make a good impression on your interviewer.
Researching the company that may become your employer should also prepare you on the topics that might be covered in your interview.
What will they ask?
A large number of questions asked in any interview can be predicted with a fair degree of accuracy. Their answers can be rehearsed at home to be able to deal with them confidently during the interview. Some of the standard questions are provided below. Please take time to work out answers that relate to the job you want.
"Why do you want to leave your current job?"
Avoid dwelling on any problems you may have had. Focus instead on your desire to develop your skills and advance your career.
"What makes you think you’ll be successful in the job applied for?"
Emphasize your relevant work experience, but also mention personal qualities, such as a flair for communicating or a facility with figures.
"What do you feel are your greatest strength?"
Don’t be too lavish in praise of yourself, but leave no doubt or your abilities. Make sure the strengths you mention are relevant to the post. If possible, mention some of the strengths that are being displayed in the interview.
"What do you feel are your main weakness?"
Never deny having faults, but only mention one or two minor defects that don’t disqualify you for the job—and point out positive measures you have taken to compensate for them.
"Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?"
Make sure that your answer does not disqualify you for the job you have applied for.
"Why did you choose this particular line of work"?
Always present your choice as a positive selection from many promising options, rather than a move dictated by circumstances.
"Why do you want to work for our company"?
Here is an opportunity for detailed praise of the company. The prospective employer wants to know that you are hungry to join the firm.
"What position in our company would you like to work at"?
Tread carefully: Aim too high and you may seem overambitious, but aim too low and you could appear lacking in motivation.
"Is there anything you would like to know about our company"?
Always have two or three intelligent, pertinent questions ready.
Remember, if you are asked a question that you don’t understand, ask the interviewers to repeat or explain it. This is much better than giving an irrelevant answer.
Naturally, the more you practice interview techniques, the more skilled you will become.
The D Day
As with nearly all encounters, first impressions tend to have a major influence on the outcome of job interviews. Your interviewer is highly likely to make a judgment about your suitability for the job within a few minutes of meeting you.
Good grooming, of course, is essential. So are good manners. Always stand up and step forward to meet your interviewer as he or she approaches. Give a firm handshake, avoiding the extremes of the limp hand and the "bone-crusher." Look the interviewer directly in the eyes as you shake hands.
When the session begins, listen carefully to each question, trying, when possible, to establish why it is being asked. If, for example, you are applying for the position of ‘Sales Manager’, and you are asked how good you are with numbers, you know that as a sales manager, you need to understand targets, percentages, margins, reconciliations etc. Answer as positively as you can, but answer honestly. "I'm pretty good at arithmetic, but I don't have any bookkeeping experience" would create a good impression without landing you with responsibilities you could not handle.
Avoid focusing exclusively on your personal requirements; instead, attempt to see things from the employer's perspective. Comments such as "I don’t like working late hours" or "I do not take any major decision without consulting my wife" display a self-centered concern with matters unconnected with the work itself—whereas intelligent questions about the company and the section where you will be employed suggest a genuine interest in the position being offered.
Feel Good Factor
Interviewers suggest that those who communicate positive feelings—who show interest in the job and confidence in themselves—are hired more often than those who appear negative or uncertain. Successful applicants, convey confidence in the way they sit and move. Maintain appropriate eye contact, neither avoiding the interviewer's eyes nor staring into them.
Don't assume, however, that appearing confident means a total absence of nerves. A measure of nervousness is not only natural, it is probably essential for an interview, because it keys you up for the event. If you feel no nervousness, you may not be motivated enough to do yourself justice or to come across as interested in the job.
Finally, many interviews are taking place outside the formal confines of an office, sometimes with your prior knowledge and sometimes informally. Particularly for some of the senior positions, final meeting with the chairman of the company happens over lunch or at a cocktail lounge, to see how the prospective employee performs in an informal setting. While this practice may help to put you at ease, don't relax so completely that you lose sight of the purpose of the encounter. Remember that your only reason for being there is to present yourself in a favorable manner and to persuade the employer to give you the job.