10 Commandments to Ace Interviews by Deepa Kapoor

Deepa Kapoor is the director of Center for Leadership at The NorthCap University. She is the Program Director for a 1-year PGD in Management and Leadership in Gurugram. The course enables students to make career shifts through career coaching, customized placements while offering a world-class curricula including Wharton Certifications in Business Foundations and Analytics, and a world-class faculty. With the B-school interviews right around the corner, Deepa shares her 25 years of experience in hiring people, to help ace the interviews.

1) Listen. Think. Speak.

We all remember how the tortoise, despite being slow, won against the hare in a race. Why? The tortoise took its time to understand how to win. In the same manner, there is no hurry to answer a question asked by the interviewer. Listen to the question carefully and think about what should be your answer. Take a few seconds to prepare your answer in your head and then speak. This will not only help you to understand the question better but also answer in a more structured manner without rambling.

2) Ask For Clarification

Despite spending time thinking of your answer, it is possible you will ramble. If you feel your answer is stretching on and you are not making a specific point, it is always a good idea to ask for clarification. Ask if you are, in fact answering the question. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Take a pause to understand where you are in the answer.

3) Be Honest

If you do not know the answer to a certain question, be honest and admit it. Honesty is always a better way to go than making up an answer and not getting it right. However, it is a good idea to suggest that you try and guess the answer through some logical deduction, whenever possible. Or if you know the answer to a related topic, tell the interviewer that this is what you know. Bottom-line: don’t give up an opportunity to showcase what you know.

4) Engaged Body Language

Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer, a little hand movement and organization, sitting slightly forward all constitute as engaged body language. These gestures show that you are interested in the conversation and would like to take it forward. This is also a sign of confidence and comfort. Sitting stiff with arms crossed and leaning back are a big no-no.

5) Ask Questions

When the interviewer offers information about the organization, always try and have a follow up question. It shows your interest in their organization. It is also a good idea to remember that an interview is first and foremost a conversation with two people talking. So if you can engage in a back and forth with the interviewer it means things are going well.

6) Be ready to talk about the past

There will be questions about your past role or gap year, if you have one. Be willing to discuss it, why you took it and what you learned from it. Similarly know what you want to say about your past roles, what did you learn and what did you achieve. Quantify your achievements, keep the figures ready on your finger tips and use them wherever possible. Highlight some people aspect even if you did not lead people.

7) Be Human

When talking about your strengths also mention one weakness. It makes you seem more human as well as honest. Make your weakness seem real and indicate how you are working towards it. This also helps build a relationship with the interviewer because he/she can relate to it.

8) Talk about the Role

At the end of the interview, summarize your understanding of the role that you are applying for as well as your understanding of the organization. This helps keep communication clear and answers questions which might not have been asked before.

9) Smile & Be Positive

Smiling through an interview shows you are a positive and easy person to be around. It also shows your attitude which is even more important than what you know. You can also try and make your communication more positive by using words which portray positivity. e.g. instead of saying I do not understand numbers, try saying numbers are not my strength but I am working on it and have tried to take on roles that will help me get over my barrier.

10) Prepare, prepare, prepare

All the above points are most effective when you have researched the organization and the industry well. Have more than enough knowledge about the organization as well as the role. It is a good idea to speak to the employees/alumni beforehand. By preparing in advance you feel more confident, comfortable and in control. And it allows you to focus on having a meaningful conversation with the interviewer thereby increasing your chances of success.

The Center for Leadership offers a 1 year PGD in Management and Leadership. The second round applications have started. GMAT, CAT and XAT scores are not mandatory but preferred. Two plus years of work experience is ideal. To know more, please v

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