January 18, 2011

How to Handle Interviews

You have gone through the written phase of your journey to a good B-School, i.e. CAT 2010. A good score in CAT  will lead to another phase of this journey to a bright future, which is Group Discussions and  Personal Interview and finally your performance in both of these will leads to an offer of admission. No doubt, you may be excited and enthusiastic for your interview, but worried that you'll mess something up. There's no need to fret - here are some tips that will make your interview a breeze! So, don't stress.
It is quiet possible that an interviewer may behave in an uninterested or hostile style to you. Don't be discouraged by this. Keep your enthusiasm up and don't show nervousness or discouragement in your tone of voice or facial expression.
An interviewer may not give eye contact, interrupt, turn his back, or ask questions in a demeaning or challenging style. Your mission, as an interviewee, is to maintain eye contact and respect towards your interviewer. Just because they may not show you respect, doesn't mean you should not be courteous or polite either. Always be polite. All the above signs are the sign of stress interview.
The basic mission of a stress interview is to intimidate the person being interviewed. An interviewer will try to keep you off-balance and always on your toes through a succession of questions. This might sound a bit harsh, but the main purpose of this is to see how well the candidate handles stress.
Questions about work overload, dealing with multiple projects and handling conflict may come up. Stress interviews will test your behavior in a stressful environment.
You should be honest, when an interviewer asks you probing questions. Don't be flustered and always be on your toes. Think before you speak and make sure that what you say, you can support with arguments or evidence. They may attempt to trigger an emotional, immature response in you - be don't be fooled. Always keep your cool. Know that this is simply psychological and that you are aware of what is going on.
The interviewer is acting in a social role - he or she is deliberately trying to "rattle the cage" and throw you off. You must realize that there is nothing personal against you - they are acting this way to all other candidates as well. After all, they do not know you. This is a test of your character and personality. Once you realize this, you will find it much easier to handle their questions.

Examples of interview questions:

A sticky situation / case interviews
"If you caught a student cheating on their test, what would you do?"

Putting you on the spot
"How do you feel this interview is going?"

Popping the balloon
(sighing) Okay, if that's the best answer you can give me. Then what about this question…?

Oddball question
Why are manhole covers round?

Doubting your veracity
"I don't really feel like your answering the question. Could you please clarify / could you please start again?"

Painful questions
"Why did you switch to political science? Is it because you couldn't handle engineering? Why did you do so poorly on this test?"

How to respond
Aggressive or passive aggressive interviewers can smell fear. They will try to put you on the defensive. This approach is a legitimate and appropriate way to predict a candidate's performance in their future studies and career. Here are some tips to help you out:
• Clarify any questions and respond thoughtfully
• If you're giving an example, make sure you get to the point and don't go off on tangents
• Be honest, open and direct - but don't let yourself be emotionally intimidated!
• Realize that these people may ask tough questions but do mean well.
• Learn to think on your toes and be prepared. Practice interview questions with friends and family.
• Breathe in and out. Relax. This is not the end-all and be-all of your life. You will get through the interview. Once it is done, make sure you can say to yourself that you did a good job and that you did your best.

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