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Acing the interview

With an aim to give youngsters some important tips on answering an interview, first impressions, standard questions asked, besides other related topics, Planet J’s next workshop on interview facing skills slated for August 5, will be conducted by communication skills coach and proprietor of Speaking Studio, a persona and skill development centre; Runa Menezes. The half-day workshop is open to the age group of 15 to 23 years and will be held at Dempo House in Panaji from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. In conversation with NT KURIOCITY, Menezes tells us about the workshop, the importance of interview facing skills, tips on acing an interview and much more

Maria Fernandes | NT KURIOCITY

Recruiting done right is not about filling seats, it’s about building the future of a business. Over the past several years, companies across industries have evolved their approach to evaluating candidates. The same applies to colleges and universities who interview prospective students for the limited seats they have. They too want to ensure they get the best students and maintain the standards of their institutions.

“Learning the art of answering an interview effectively is not just an additional benefit but an essential life skill today. Whether you are a student, a working professional, or intending to start up your own business you need to be adept at this skill for the workplace, for college events or contests, for admissions to institutions and even for effective interactions with persons in authority or across the professional world,” says Menezes who is also a trainer for Trinity College London – grade and certificate exams and an active member of Toastmasters International, an organisation that endeavours to develop public speaking and leadership skills.

Elaborating on the objective of the workshop, she explains, “The aim of the workshop is to equip college and higher secondary students, as well as youth seeking employment, with the essential skills to answer an interview effectively and successfully – either for a job or for admissions to institutions of higher education. We will be talking about common but very important topics such as effective introductions, standard questions asked and how to prepare for them, first impressions, how to be memorable, body language, grooming and dress code for interviews, etc. These topics as you can see are very general, but are extremely important. I will be following a step by step approach and the take away will definitely be worthwhile.”

Menezes believes that academic qualifications and grooming alone do not guarantee an elite job as companies are looking for that something more, that confidence, which is equally important. “You can have the best qualifications and be dressed to perfection but lack the confidence to answer questions at an interview or appear nervous due to wrong body language which will definitely create a negative impression on a prospective employer. Learning how to portray yourself confidently especially in today’s competitive world is an asset,” she states.

Interviewers today are definitely looking at much more than the résumé. Often with the number of highly qualified persons applying for a single job, recruiters have to be very discerning. They have to choose the right candidate with a fine tooth comb and in the process come across as demanding, frightening and sometimes even downright rude! “Résumés are just a small component of a much larger picture. Besides looking for whether you fit the job profile, interviewers are looking for whether you are sincere, have the right attitude, if you’re an eager learner, a team player and whether your past work or academic experience reflects positively on your abilities and capabilities to fulfil the role in their organisation or institution,” says Menezes.

Speaking on the new assessment techniques recruiters are now using, she says: “Depending on the job-profile, recruiters may expect not just a straightforward résumé, but a portfolio of your past work or achievements. Sometimes candidates are asked to turn in a report or even give a presentation in front of the panel of interviewers or staff of the company. In the teaching profession, giving a demo lecture has been a common practice for decades. Nowadays, candidates should not be surprised if they are asked to get up and do a quick role-play on a situation provided by the interviewer. Interviewers also find it very effective to gauge the strengths, leadership skills and team spirit of candidates through group discussions. Another practice that is catching up in certain professions is the use of a visumé or video-résumé, which is usually a one to three-minute long video clip in which you highlight your strengths and aspirations and ‘pitch’ for the job or position.”

Highlighting the importance of the little things that matter in an interview, she says: “You cannot underestimate the little things that make a big difference in an interview: the expression on your face when you walk in, the quality of eye-contact you make with the interviewer or panellists, the earrings you’re wearing (for girls), your hair-cut or style and the position and role of your hands in an interview can play a part in deciding whether you get the job or not.”

Menezes is of the opinion that attending a few mock interviews especially those held by experts will help develop the required skills in techniques and eliminate mannerisms that may be or appear negative. “These interviews will help hone your skills, correct your errors, and prepare you to answer different types of questions. Do not miss an opportunity to attend mock interviews conducted in your college or as part of training programmes in your organisation. Consider every interview attended as a learning experience, even if you do not get the job at the first attempt. Focus on what went well and make efforts to work on areas where you may need improvement. You will get better with each interview and grow in confidence, as practice makes perfect,” she adds.

Learning and effectively applying interview facing skills will stand you in good stead all your life. Since these skills involve learning how to answer challenging questions effectively, projecting confidence, good body language, grooming and etiquette, they will come handy not just in interviews, but in everyday interactions on the personal as well as professional front.

If you are between 15 and 23 years of age and would like to attend the workshop, log on to and register yourself. The workshop is free and registrations end on Sunday, July 29.

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