Preparing for Your Dream Job and Acing the Interview

We all wish to end up in a job which we are passionate about and love. To be the candidate for the company of one’s choice, one needs to prepare objectively and earnestly. One needs to put one’s best foot forward in an interview, be at the politest and most sober self. Here are some areas we need to polish while acing the job search process.

Make a spectacular CV:

  • Your CV is your admit card to the interview. Specify your percentage in academics because most of the time it is a screening feature. Do not fudge your marks, if caught you will be blacklisted forever.
  • Mention your career progression chronologically and quantify your achievements. Mention positions of responsibility, co-curricular activities, prizes won and characteristics which compliment the job profile you are looking for.
  • For example, if you are looking for a career in sales, mention traveling as a passion. Most employees look for a well-rounded personality; so good academics plus participation in co-curricular activities/sports will help single you out and get you the interview call.
  • Be thorough about your spellings and spell check your CV. It should be brief and to the point – avoid jargon.

Scout for job openings:

  • Register your name with job portals or enroll in a good employment agency.
  • Keep a lookout for employment vacancies in newspapers and magazines.
  • Also, keep a ‘Google alert’ for jobs you wish to pursue.
  • Follow the LinkedIn job portals of companies you would like to work in.

Sharpen your LinkedIn profile: 
Put a smart and professional profile picture and highlight your academic and co-curricular achievements. Mention your job positions and the nature of work handled very clearly; also highlight milestones. Post good recommendations from colleagues at work.

Whenever you send a CV, please send a covering letter with it: 
It is professional and the concerned person gets to know your communication skills.  It is a basic etiquette. Never send a CV which has been re-forwarded multiple times from one company to another. This shows you are incapable of putting in an effort and are lazy.

Always give your mobile number as a contact number because the initial screening takes place in the call itself. A landline number will not make you available while on the go and you may miss out on crucial interview calls.

When you get the interview phone call, be at your professional best:
If you are working in your current office, excuse yourself and go outside or go to a place where you can have privacy and then take the call. If you are outside or traveling, say so and call back at a promised time convenient to both you and your interviewer.

Try to schedule your interview in the morning rather than in the afternoon when the interviewer’s energy level is the lowest.

Research the company: 
Research the company you are going to for the interview – its products, its history, and its competitors. Check up for employee reviews and previous interview questions asked. Follow their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages to get an idea about the company and what it stands for. Research the person who is going to interview you and their accomplishments – most professionals have a LinkedIn profile (but do it in invisible mode).

Plan the transit route to your interview venue in advance and be at least half an hour early. Being late for an interview is shoddy and inexcusable and heralds a non-serious nature.

Attire for interview:
Dress in sober and formal attire. Do not wear jeans or a T-shirt /sneakers for an interview. Avoid loud patterns. Clothes should be clean and ironed. Men should opt for formal trousers and a plain shirt with/without a tie. Ladies can opt for a nice salwar kurta, saree or formal trousers and a shirt. Go easy on fragrances and do not smoke prior to an interview. Do not wear too much jewelry and avoid bling.

Turn off your mobile during the interview.

Keep a portfolio file ready:
Keep a portfolio file of copies of your CV, your academic certificates (including originals), certificates of prizes won, courses attended, samples of your work recommendations and promotions. This will help showcase your talent at one go.

The following are some of the most common interview questions asked:
Make it a point to rehearse them with someone and have ready-to-relate stories depicting your ‘leadership’, ‘organizing’, ‘creative’, ‘ethical’ skills, etc.

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. What are your hobbies?
  4. Why are you interested in working for us?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  6. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  7. Why was there a gap in your employment?
  8. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  9. What were your job responsibilities like in your previous company?
  10. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  11. What is your dream job?
  12. Would you work on holidays/weekends?
  13. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  14. Speak about a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  15. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  16. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
  17. What was the last book you read?
  18. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  19. Do you have any questions for us?

The internet is full of many such questions and also gives some ready-made answers. You can also check out a very helpful book Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions, 8th Edition at this link

Look through them and select the answers you can honestly relate to and which illustrate your core values. An original answer will help you slay the interview any day. You are your best judge!

The interview:

Interview 2

  • When going inside the interview room, walk smartly and be confident. Make eye contact, do not fumble or slouch. Do not keep your arms crossed over your chest in a defensive position – it shows nervousness. Refrain from fidgeting with your legs, playing with your pen or touching your face continuously.
  • Show your portfolio file to make a positive first impression.
  • Answer all the questions clearly. Know your CV inside out. People will want to see your communication skills and persuasion skills.
  • Keep stories of examples of your ‘initiative’ and ‘leadership’ ready through real-life experiences.
  • Explain gaps in the CV in a way that shows you were making optimum use of this free time by taking a course, etc. and being productive.
  • Never badmouth your previous employer though you can mention areas of improvement if needed.
  • There will be questions which will test your ethical bent of mind such as asking you to take a position where you might need to take devious shortcuts. Answer them frankly and show that integrity is your cup of tea and you would not compromise on it. Nobody wants a manipulative person in their organization.
  • Understand the recruitment needs of the company and answer your questions in such a way that show you are the perfect fit for the job by mapping your strengths to the company.
  • Quantify your answers and do not ramble or be vague. When an interviewer asks if you have any questions, always take the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the company and the job profile.
  • Do not be overeager to negotiate your salary structure and the number of holidays in the first meeting.
  • Show them that you are dependable and sincere and will go to great lengths to finish deadlines.
  • Bring enthusiasm into your conversation and portray yourself as a person with an initiative by giving solutions to problems instead of cribbing about them or passing on the buck.

The written test:
Some interviews have a written test also. Write legibly, finish all the easy questions first and then try to tackle the hard ones. Keep within the time/ word limit and follow instructions exactly.
Your grammar and writing skills are very important. Sometimes one may have aced the interview but totally failed in the written test. Always look out for spelling mistakes.

Mandatory follow-up:

  • Follow up on the interview/written test with a thank you email within the first 48 hours and reiterate your enthusiasm to join such a great company, mapping its requirements with the achievements you have to offer.
  • Find out the tentative time when the result will be announced and check back with a call to confirm.
  • Sometimes you may be called for a final round of interview after the first round. Give it your best shot and ace this round too.

We wish you success in your job hunt and hope that these tips help you in your endeavour to land the perfect job

Here are a few more books on interview skills:

Ultimate Interview, 3/e

Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions, 8/e

Management Briefs: Be Interview-Wise


Sangeeta Datta is AGM – Marketing at Viva Books. She conducts screening interviews for her team and is an incorrigible bibliomaniac. She professes to have one of the best crews in the publishing industry.

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