The Job Interview: A Two-way Discussion, Interview the Employer too
Though the interview/chat is supposed to appear informal, it is very important for the candidate to take it seriously, and go well prepared for it.
Before the interview, a candidate should collect all known public information about the employing company/organization _ its main core business, financial health, who is who, organization tree, its future plans, work culture and possibly its immediate macro-level concerns. Asking questions regarding these, or pleading ignorance if asked, during the interview, conveys an impression of indifference and disinterest in the job. A candidate should also try to anticipate the job requirements, and fortify himself to justify and prove his suitability for the job. He should also formulate a few key questions about the company with a dual aim to evaluate the employer and the post being offered, and to further convince them of his suitability.
In the pre-interview phase, the employer, based on the analysis of the curriculum vitae received, partially fills-in the decision matrix for the selection, and may perhaps short-list and prioritize the candidates for the order to be called-in for interview. The employer may also create a bank of questions to be asked to establish suitability and to relatively grade the candidates.
During the interview, the interviewer first tries to make the candidate comfortable. Initially, the questions asked are general in nature before firing the job-specific ones. A typical interview generally begins by asking a simple question, ‘Tell us something about yourself?’ Here, the idea is to establish the confidence and verbal communication skill levels of the candidate. These are important attributes, particularly for jobs requiring public dealings, such as in hospitality industry. This question may also cross check the information given in the Curriculum Vitae of the candidate. The other general personal questions may be about lodging, dependents, family commitments/plans and commuting means. These questions may extend to reasons for changing the present job, and the likely dates of availability to join the new assignment.
For the job-specific part, a typical question is, “Why do you think that you are suitable for this job?” Sometimes, candidates are given a job-specific role to play. Say for example, a candidate goes for an interview for the post of ‘Reservation Executive’ in a 5-star hotel. A Reservation Executive in a hotel has to deal with room/hall reservations, involving tasks like checking availability of rooms/halls, informing clients of the same on phone/in person, booking cancellations, and forwarding reservation details to related departments of the hotel. He has to be highly amenable, cool and customer-friendly. A situation could be painted, of an important but ‘difficult’ foreign customer having language problem, to the candidate to check his ability to handle such situations and cases.
Being properly dressed, punctual, well mannered with a pleasing demeanour are essential pre-requisites before walking in for an interview. The candidate during the interview must sit comfortably without being fidgety, and be at ease. He should listen carefully to the questions being asked, and be logical, honest and truthful in his to-the-point answers. He should display clarity of thought, and above all wear a confidant smile. He should not interrupt the interviewer while he is talking.
The candidate is usually given an opportunity to ask questions towards the end of the interview. He must ask intelligent key questions at this stage to further fortify his claim to the job, and to get to know more about the company and the job that he is aspiring to. Not asking any question may again show indifference. The questions may relate to his likely profile/role in the company, results and achievements expected from him, scope of resources likely to be put at his disposal and limitations if any, prospects of career growth etc. He may also probe about the Company’s growth plans, efforts towards diversification, benefits or welfare packages etc. It is not advisable to talk about salary, perks or compensation at this stage. Negotiations for these, though important, are usually deferred towards the end of the interview, and that too preferably at the initiative of the interviewer, if he considers the candidate to be within the selectable range.
Once the discussion is over, the suspense of result starts. Frankly speaking, one can assess the result by the manner and flow of the entire conversation during the interview. The Interviewer completes the decision-matrix, and compiles the order of merit for approval of the senior management. The candidates are subsequently offered the job according to the merit list. Sometimes, in case of clear-cut unsuitability, the candidates are informed on the spot.
Having received the letter offering appointment, the game is not over yet. A crucial decision has to be taken by the candidate. He still has the choice to accept or reject the offer. He has to ask and satisfy himself some questions like “Will he fit into the job?” “Will he be happy in the role?”, and “Will the assignment help him to attain his career goals and other aspirations?”
Thus, a Job Interview is essentially a two-way discussion in which both the employer and the prospective employee, with their respective specific goals in mind, meet to talk and decide if they can synergize and be of mutual benefit to each other. Background Searches!