Preparing for an interview

Sirajuddin Aziz
September 13, 2021

Regardless of a stellar performance in the past, either at the university or in an earlier job, every interviewee develops goosebumps at worst or feels butterflies in the stomach in the least, whenever an interview for a job is looming on the horizon. It is but natural to feel the acidity of anxiety. Everyone wishes to put forward the best foot. This urge drives both motivation and anxiety.

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Regardless of a stellar performance in the past, either at the university or in an earlier job, every interviewee develops goosebumps at worst or feels butterflies in the stomach in the least, whenever an interview for a job is looming on the horizon. It is but natural to feel the acidity of anxiety. Everyone wishes to put forward the best foot. This urge drives both motivation and anxiety.

The situation exacerbates if the interviewee is in desperate need of a job for economic considerations. The responses of such candidates are sometimes diametrically opposite; either it will mean that he/she will agree to anything thrown at them by the interviewer, no matter even if it is a hopeless opinion/remark or the candidate will swing to speaking the most, to create with hope, a good impression about ownself - from being extremely quiet to being a loud mouth.

If any applies to multiple organisations, the choice of entity must be based on what skills, talent or experience is sought by them. Many prepare, at least I always did, for an interview. Going unprepared and unrehearsed means that you are going to commit the grave error of walking through landmines, with hope that none will explode in your face. Appearing ill-prepared for an interview is the basis of the first negative vote that will be cast against the candidate. Preparation will usher in the necessary confidence to engage with the interviewers, with soundness and maturity. In our cultural setting, no candidate is expected or is daring enough to ask the panel, how he/she can help fix a problem or alter an existing line of business, with their unique skills; but in the west, candidates doing so are not found being offending, nor do they stand any less chance of acceptance; contrarily they are mostly appreciated for their preemptive thought and approach. By and large, a candidate who is in ‘need’ of a job will react with docility. None ventures to ask the panelists, of what problems and challenges are faced by the institution.

If it is an interview for the first ever job, do not forget to read the day’s newspaper or listening to a news channel. For an entry level position, like graduate trainee programmes, general knowledge, current affairs, sports, wars, events of significance can become the subject of questions.

Let clothing not make a grudge. The clothes should fit you; and you should never fit into them. Some people are born with a sense of how to cloth themselves, others acquire it, while some look as if their clothes had been thrust upon them. Buttons on the shirt, shrieking to burst open, is not a pleasant sight. Dress ‘maturely’, ‘adequately’ and ‘appropriately’ for the interview: a dark suit and a white shirt, with a blended tie (for men) and for women whatever is culturally considered good must be worn. No sneakers or joggers, only well polished shoes.

Attitude, a positive one, always, must exude itself. This aura is positive only when you have nurtured by belief, thought and action that taking a non-negative view of issues and people helps in keeping and making the inner person, totally calm and composed. It is unlikely that a person who houses and nurses ill-will for others can manage to put up deceitful positivity about himself/herself. Face, as is said, is the index of mind. By way of inherent natural mechanism over which we have no control, the inner goodness or unseen ugliness of thought, will exhibit itself, not merely in words, but in actions and reactions. It will be foolish to underestimate the interviewers, that they may lack the talent and experience to identify a ‘bad fish’ from the shoal.

In conversation, let the naturally blessed quality of humility play its role: never sound pompous, ostentatious or arrogant. And should any have by way of misfortune the trait of arrogance, it will reflect. Humility is not to be confused with weakness nor with decimation of self-esteem. A person with no self esteem or self worth would be found to be an impostor, such will talk unceasingly.

A still tongue makes a wise head. During the course of the interview do not unnecessarily volunteer information, unless its knowledge is likely to impact upon the organisation’s reputation. In an interview, I was conducting, without my asking a question or even an alluding remark, the candidate informed me that he has ‘two wives’ and together they (his doting wives) were searching a third bride for him. My reaction, amongst the disgusting ones, was, “young man, you have achieved, where every man fears to tread, what exactly are you in quest for? A career or a mention in the Guinness book of world records”. Do not, and this is not merely for interviews, but for life generally, say whatever comes to your mind. Be discreet. Select to speak; you are not a broadcaster or a television newscaster - even they stick to the script of not ‘theirs’ but others.

If the names of the interviewers are known, then address them by their surnames, with the appropriate prefix of “mister” or “madam”; otherwise just ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ would do. The most common mistake in the local context is that both ‘mister’ (as a prefix) and ‘sahib’ (as a suffix) are used together. That’s an incorrect form of addressing.

Target to make a good impression, not by deceit or wily words, but with honesty. Never blabber. Precision in answers must always be adhered to. Listen to the interviewers with unalloyed attention, so that there would never be an occasion to say, “beg your pardon”. However equally significant is to ask for the question to be repeated, if the interviewer wasn’t clear in framing the question or had lowered the decibel level.

If the emoluments/perks for the job are part of disclosure by the organisation, then raise not any question. If there is a band of salary range given then negotiate with them a definite figure. Be accurate and not resort to with remarks of ‘nearabout’ or “as you please”. Most supervisors prefer straight answers; not a walk through a maze.

Sometimes out of a desire to prove that the interview panel understands human nature (fallacious!), psycho-analysis, psychological behavioral responses, etc; and an extremely proactive question may be fired at you. Hold your blazing guns; exercise patience, there should be no raising of voice and no demonstrations of anger.

In Bangladesh a civil service candidate entered the interview room and as soon as he entered, one of the interviewer said; “I see a dog before me”. The smart candidate replied, “If I am the mirror”. He was selected without any further question. Holding of an angry heart is the best of maturity and wisdom.

Wisdom can never be an inheritance or a legacy. It needs nurturing, where the follies of oneself and others are examined in the laboratory of experience - trouble brings experience; and experience brings wisdom.

Post interview, it is a good practice to do a complete dissection of the interview; in the postmortem exercise, all the errors, mishaps and incorrect responses must be reviewed by reducing them into writing. This enables and serves a good guidance for future interviews.

A sincere personality wins the most hostile of interviews; so be at peace with yourself , when you walk in for an interview.


The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist



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