Interview Skills

Does an interview take the life out of YOU?
Or, Just the thought of it makes YOU go blue?

In fact, if you perceive it well, it may not be anything more than a conversation, though a structured one with a stranger...

Hence, I believe cracking an Interview is not like cracking the code of the Human genome... In fact, what I mean is that it is not that difficult as we think.

I believe it is much simpler, attainable and enjoyable, if we try to own the conversation and make it clear, personal and interesting. When we understand our own self, our gifts and talents, it becomes easier to interact with our surroundings, I mean with others.

One can easily get interview-ready by knowing the interview process with clarity, predict the expectations of the interviewer by analyzing the expected situations/scenarios /questions.
In fact, Interview is more than a Question-Answer session. More than bothering about the dread of the questions, one must look at the opportunities that such questions will offer in projecting ones personality, skills, knowledge and attitude. In reality, questions carry the needs, intention and attitude of the interviewer. Hence, it is not at all advisable only to focus on questions alone while making preparation. More than an answer, it is the response (more than how you react to a given situation) that is more significant. In fact, the primary purpose of any Personal Interview is to find out how a candidate manages/conducts himself in an interaction or in a given scenarios/situations, including how he/she handles the stress.
So, it is essential that candidates analyze the expected as well as unexpected scenarios and develop clarity. Then, it becomes easier to communicate ideas clearly, confidently and imaginatively in an impactful style.
Points to remember:
1.   Interview is not just a Question-answer session. In reality, it just an interaction/conversation to find out how suitable/fit a candidate is for an offered job/role.
2.      Since it is no more than a conversation, one must enjoy making any conversation with others.
3 As the interview is all about the candidate and his knowledge, skills, attitude and his personality, he/she is naturally the central actor in the interview process. Hence, it is important that the candidate makes it personalized and unique by focusing on his achievements, activities, roles & responsibilities, strengths etc. Once the resume sets the agenda of the discussion, he/she must seize the opportunity and steer the conversation towards his strengths, achievements and his overall suitability.
A candidate must act and react as per the demands of the situation. Though some prior preparation is required, one must answer using words and expressions in a natural and real time manner. So, his/her actions and behaviour must look natural, rather than being looked as that of a Programmed Robot. Memorized answers may give you comfort and ease while answering the expected questions, but, could create a bad impression on the interviewer. Do you know, it is humanly impossible to predict all questions in any interview? Because, all interviewers do not think the same way. They are so different.  In case, any unexpected question is asked, then what? So, it is better that we avoid memorizing answers verbatim and focus on analyzing issues/situations/scenarios/expectations and develop clarity of understanding.
Hence, I suggest that any idea/technique/suggestion you receive from others, including the ones given out here must used just as inputs, not answers. YOU must create your own answers.
Remember, there is no answer that is the best or worst.
Answer on your own after analyzing the question and keeping in view the expectation of the Interviewer.
Showcase that little ‘Extra thing’ that makes you different from others.
Your responses must reflect the uniqueness, personal beliefs, focus, passion, values; hence, avoid giving stereotyped answers, like others.
It must focus on showcasing your Skills, demonstrating your Strengths and displaying your Attitude. When these 3 aspects combine, you win the interviewer’s heart & mind.

 Below, we have analyzed a few questions, in other words, scenarios for helping you think, organize and communicate better.

1Tell me about yourself/introduce yourself
·        Always begin with your name and present status/designation ( It should be your name and present year and place of your study)
·         In case, the Interviewer already has addressed by your name, then skip your name.
·         Then, talk about your academic credentials, including your achievements (Your marks/grades/courses/activities/certification)
·         Then, mention your co-curricular and extra- curricular accomplishments (Projects/paper presentations or publications/Internship etc.)
·         Then, talk about your strengths, followed by hobbies/interests
·         Mention your goals (Keep it restricted to Software sector, if you are appearing for a company like TCS)
·         And, finally close by saying that with the above skillset and accomplishments, you think that you are a suitable candidate for the Job.
Points to remember:
·         Don’t mention your weaknesses unless you are specifically asked.
·         Do not mention too much about personal details (family, parents, siblings etc.). Keep them to the minimum.
·         Again, the golden rule: make it different from others.
2.   Your favourite subject     (Expected in TR /HR)
·         Always answer this question spontaneously, without any delay.
·         Name a subject of your interest and say why it is relevant or its’ significance in your Engineering discipline or in general.
·         Be analytical while answering this one.
Also mention what have you done/ are doing to master this subject ( like papers, presentations or courses etc.)
·         You could refer to its interesting nature or scope for further studies/ research/application or any other reason that may demonstrate your ability to analyze, see future opportunities and your research interest/aptitude etc.
3. Why IT/software Industry?
Mention reasons such as huge opportunities, challenging jobs, fast growing sector
·         Say that, it is the largest employer in the service sector
·         Say that, it offers a wide range of technology platforms to work on,
·        Mention that it offers platforms having growth potential like cloud or IOT or Machine learning or robotics etc.
·         That, it does not make any distinction between an IT graduate and a non-IT graduate
·         That you have the required skillsets to match the expectations, starting with Programming (such as C or Java)
·         For Non IT/CSE students, say that your specialisation in your respective engineering disciplines could add value, specifically in related projects/consultancy services/ industries.
    An ECE student may say that his knowledge of digital systems, VLSI or embedded systems or microprocessors and communication systems could be useful while working on new age technologies like IOT or automation etc.

4. Are u ready to work anywhere or any specific place?
·         Give a categorically positive answer that you have no specific place in mind, any place will do...
·          Rather,  say that right now, your focus is on getting an opportunity to work in reputed company like the one you are attending( TCS if you are attending its interview).
·         If the Interviewer insists that you name any place of work, do so by choosing a place away from your present place or your state or your comfort zone. Choose a place outside your state. By doing so, you may be able showcase your risk-taking ability, that you love facing challenges, that you would like to work with people from unfamiliar cultures, languages and habits.
5. Your plans for Higher studies?
·         Say that you are open to higher studies so that you get better as a software professional, but quickly add that only if the company permits to do so while still working.
·         This will demonstrate your willingness to learn...
·         Say that you would like to go for higher study to gain knowledge about newer technologies, any challenging course, related to software field...
·         Don’t say that you would like to a course in fashion design or Law or music as such courses could be interpreted as they are not technology-oriented and are viewed as odd courses for an engineering graduate.

6. Tell me about your project?
·         You could start with the title of the project; mention the broad area and most importantly, why did you choose this project/topic.
·         Then, mention the platform /technology used
·         Mention the objective/purpose
·         You could then talk about the results/findings or intended applications (preferably in realtime)
·         May also include your experiences including challenges, hurdles, or learning opportunities
7. What are your future plans?( Long term & Short term goals)
·         Always say that you want to be a software professional, strictly not any other job.
Say that your short term goal is to be a part of this company and stick to this by showing how your current interests, passion or skills have a direct link with the jobs offered by the company.
Also, your long term goals can at best be an extension of your short term goal.( Not any other thing, however big or fancied it might be)
Resist the temptation to bare your heart before the interviewer.
·         Mention any specific area of interest/ technology platform on which you want to work (choose an area that might be relevant/available @ the company)
·         Say that you would like to go for positions within the organization with independent responsibilities or, Leadership roles.
·         Anything that sounds achievable and credible (Don’t announce grandiose plans)
·         Be tactful, not truthful
·         You may have your real plans for the future, But it is not the right time to discuss that.
·         Even if the Interviewer insists that you are good and suggests that you must look beyond software, say a polite thanks for complimenting you, but say firmly that it’s only that company that you are looking at.

 8.      Why do you want to join our company?
·         Say that it’s respectable employer, good portfolio of service areas, exciting projects, world-wide presence,
·         That it provides opportunities for aspirants from all places, urban or rural
·         Mention the sectors or one or two new technology platforms they are present in.
·         That it rewards meritocracy and allows employees equal opportunities for growth.
·         Most importantly, mention any project /Technology /sector that you are interested to work in and why? (It could be IOT, AI or Cloud etc in case of TCS)
Do not answer in random generalizations, say specifically that you are interested in their products, platforms or technologies in real time.
9.      What is the most challenging thing you achieved till today?
·         Sound credible, believable.
·         Mention a real life incident that is related to your professional area that is in fact a learning experience.
·         Say why it was challenging and how did you face it. (Here you need to analyze and find out skills/qualities that you might have used in tackling the situation)
10. Where can we see you in 5 years?
·         Say that you would preferably be in a more professionally challenging assignment, such as a Team lead or a Project leader or on an abroad assignment within the company. You can mention a technology platform of your choice or may say working in multicultural teams or on abroad assignments, But all within the same company.
(You can’t be the CEO of a company like TCS in 5 years time. So, avoid such exaggerated answers)
·         Say one that is achievable, measurable and credible.
·         Never exaggerate or mention unrealistic goals
11. Are u aware of the bond? (Don’t worry, not all companies have it)
·         Say yes. That you have no objection to it.
·         If they ask you why you sign this, say that an opportunity to be a part of their reputed company is good enough a reason for signing the bond.
·         And that you believe that the company is going to provide you the best possible professional growth opportunities.                                                                                                                      
 12.      What about salary?            
·         Say that you have knowledge of the fact that you are entitled to a fixed, pre-determined pay and one that you find acceptable and attractive.
·         Quote the exact figure as is indicated in the notification from Placement cell.
·         In addition, say that right now your focus is on the job and to get an opportunity to be a part of the company.
13. Would you like to be manager or  a Leader
·         May say that you would like to be both. Because, as a manager you will get opportunity to control a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal while as a Leader you can influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute towards organizational success.
·          Say that managers can display leadership qualities. Conversely, leaders can be good managers.

14. Would you prefer to be a Team player or a Leader ?
·         Always say both. But one after the other.
·         It means, say that you want to be a team player first, learn to know the team and their expectations know the required interpersonal skills and then readily accept leadership position as and when offered.
·          Say that you believe that a good team player will always make a better leader.

15. Qualities you like or dislike in others.
·         Always focus on qualities or traits, not individuals. Avoid criticising others.
·         You may mention general dislikes such as lethargy, cunningness, being untrustworthy, betrayal,, lack of mannerisms, lack of team play etc. in others,
·         In case of likes, mention qualities that reflect your honest expectation from others such as simplicity, helping nature, friendliness, time management, sincerity, empathy etc.
16. What is the best thing/compliment you have received or, the worst criticism?
·         Regarding best thing/compliment, say anything from a real life situation, preferably about a quality you demonstrated. 
·         Be modest while speaking about it, don't sound pompous (don't brag/boast) 
·         About criticism, do not sound cynical. Do not express any negative emotion. Mention how you handled the criticism in a positive way or as a learning opportunity.

17. Tell me about the biggest mistake you have made in your life?
·         Admit a mistake , say that you have made one
·         Admit something as a mistake from a real life incident, mostly from a professional point of view(may be related to a skill/ certification/ activity)
·         never say that the mistake relates to your choice of course(In your case, Engineering or your Branch)Take some specific situation and analyze and bring out the mistakes.
·         The Interviewer is trying to find out if you have learnt from your past mistakes or not and if so, how have you corrected them .so give out steps you have taken to rectify the mistake as well as not repeating those.
·         Simply, they want to assess your ability /willingness to learn
18. The biggest challenge you have ever faced so far?
·         This question is intended to test your ability face situations with confidence and strength of character and conviction (belief)
·         Describe a specific technical/interpersonal challenge you faced and how did you overcame it
·         Don't make generalized statements, but choose specific activity/area/issue.
·         Don't make direct reference to anybody and don't sound negative. Just raise an issue that was challenging and not easy handling. Say nevertheless you tried and handled it positively ,without any ill feelings.
·         Always use practical and believable steps while justifying how you handled the challenge
19. About your weakness?
·         Always admit that you have one. But try to put a positive spin onto the weakness by picking up ones that are actually somewhat positive qualities.
·         I am so particular about details that during an activity/function that I organize along with my friends, I end up demanding a lot from them, that puts lots of pressure on my friends.
·         That I am too straight forward ,that puts me in awkward situations during group interactions. I must learn to diplomatic.
·         While organizing functions /any event, I get so much involved that I neglect other activities including food,rest and family .
·         That I am so much involved in my work that I neglect my friends and family.

However, the above examples are indicative of positive things being branded and projected skillfully as weaknesses, allowing the candidate the chance of not revealing too much about his weak areas.

What is your dream job?
·          Stick to the area for which you have applied (in your case, Software or IT or core)
·         Say with some degree of passion that it is your dream job. That you want to be part of a reputed company such as the company we are being interviewed for.
·         But do not go overboard or sound flattering. Simply say that you are honest. Then be a little analytical and find out reasons to support your preference.
·         You may say growth opportunities- to be in leadership position where you can make a lot of change to others lives,
·         You may want to work in a challenging work environment with more responsibilities
·         Be very clear about your long term thinking before answering this question
21. Do you want to ask the Interviewer a question?     
  Sample questions:
·         Sir, what about opportunities for higher education while in the company ?
·            What does the company actually expects from the freshers?
·          What actually happens during the training? and after the training?
·          How about overseas assignments?
·          About career progress and growth

Whatever be your question, it must reflect a genuine interest for the company and  you are sincere and eager to be a part of it. 
Also, you must demonstrate your willingness to learn new things.

 22. You are from Mechanical/ECE/EEE/EIE/CIVIL/Aerospace. Why should we take you in our company that is an IT company?

·         Always say that you deserve to be there as you fulfil the desirable skills-both technical and Interpersonal.
·         Say that you have basic programming skills, logical thinking, analytical skills, problem solving skills etc. to prove your point.
·        Say that some packages like Catia, Ansys, Autocad, Labview or Matlab and other software tools or packages have given you understanding of the software field. You have working experience.
·         Then, say that because of your core background, you will bring added value to your work in areas like manufacturing, electronics, telecom, power etc.
·         Again, if you know that the company is involved in any project or area or platform (from your core branch) you may mention so and justify. (Like IOT, Robotics, Automation etc.)

DisclaimerAll the above ideas are just for helping you analyze and prepare better and must not be used directly.
You must use your own sentences.