You’re just beginning your final year of college. In less than a year, your student life will be over and you’ll be out in the real world, fighting the battles of daily routine as a grown-up. Scary, right? What’s probably scarier is that when you’re no longer a student, you need a job. And you don’t want to be one among the hoard of the unemployed graduates of India. You want to graduate with a job in your hands; a guarantee that you’ll now be able to stand on your own two feet rather than depending on your parents. You know that getting a job is not impossible with your college’s placement record, but the concept is scary, nonetheless.
“Everyone says final year is chill, and it’s true: there aren’t really many subjects or anything now. But if you’re sitting for placements, your final year won’t be chill until you get placed. The stress, waiting for the results, preparing for the apti, it’s all nail-biting, really”, a final year student from COEP said.
Squeezing your way through the eligibility criteria, clearing the dreaded apti, all this may be difficult, but it’s predictable. All you have to do is study enough to get you through it. You’re used to studying, you can get past the aptitude tests. But the scariest part is the interview, mostly because it’s so unpredictable. You never know what the recruiters will ask you, and you never know what kind of answers they expect. You’ve watched AIB’s “Honest Engineering Placements” videos more times than you can count, and exaggerated or not, they’re now making more sense than anything else. Well, there are some things you should remember in any interview, and if you follow these rules, your first interview may very well be your last.
- Be Prepared
This should be obvious, but somehow, it’s not. Studying day and night to clear the aptitude test has its perks, but preparing for your interview is not something to be taken lightly. Prepare a list of likely questions to be asked and craft answers to those questions. Press your clothes and keep an extra set ready, just in case of a mishap. Keep your company-specific resume ready, and have two copies handy just in case. These may all seem like minor details, but they’re as important as what you end up saying at the interview.
- Dress the Part
While your manner of dress may not decide whether you get the job, the first impression you make on your panel creates an image in their mind before you get the chance to say anything. Make sure to look professional, wearing formals rather than jeans and a tee. If you wear formals, it says, “I’m serious about this job”, a statement that casual clothing would never succeed in making.
- Show Discipline
Your punctuality and discipline reflects on your seriousness and dedication towards the job you’re interviewing for.
“If you’re late for your interview, what will stop you from being late for the job every day? That’s why we have such strict rules about punctuality in our college placements. If someone is late for an interview, we don’t let them sit for the next few companies at all. That makes them all come on time”, said a placement coordinator.
- Strengthen Your Basics
Exaggerated as it was, the “Honest Engineering Placements” video got one thing right. There are usually two phases in an interview process, and the technical round is where your entire life as a student will be put to question. The stuff they ask is usually very basic, but extremely application-based. Just memorizing a few formulae is never enough.
“The worst part is that they insult you. I was literally laughed out of my first placement interview. It was so embarrassing!” said a (now placed) final year student.
It’s not necessary to know all your subjects very well; in-depth study of even a single subject will do, because the interviewer is likely to ask you your favourite subject before proceeding to ask questions on it.
- Get to Know the Company
Often, your knowledge of the subject isn’t enough to get you a job with the company. They need to know that you’re serious about joining them. The best way to show them exactly how much you want the job is to research the company. What they do, their reputation, and maybe even something they can improve (and perhaps most importantly, how you can contribute). Some interviewers are direct, and ask you what you know about the company. But in some interviews, slipping in your knowledge will give you an edge over the other candidates.
- Confidence is Key (But don’t get cocky)
When you walk into the interview room, your posture and gait should never betray your emotions, however turbulent. Being nervous is all well and good, but sweaty hands and a usually-absent stutter immediately lowers the interviewer’s opinion of you. Make sure your handshake is firm, and you smile a little (but not creepily) when you walk in. There is, of course, only a thin line between confidence and arrogance, and it’s your job to stay well on the “confident” side.
- The HR Interview
The technical interview tests your knowledge, but in the HR interview, the company gets to know you. They test your body language, the way you speak, your behaviour, your expressions; things having nothing to do with your academics and everything to do with you as a person. The HR interviewers are often psychologists trained in reading you. Some of the questions they ask you might seem bizarre, but your answers help them put together an image of you in their heads. Make sure to be candid in your replies, and keep them interested throughout.
- Strengths and Weaknesses
This question is a favourite among interview panels. The biggest mistake you can make while answering this question is to frame a strength as one of your weaknesses. “I’m a workaholic”, or “I’m a perfectionist” are boring answers which your interviewer almost expects you to give. Instead of doing this, tell them an actual weakness, and talk about how you’re trying to overcome it.
- Any Questions?
The interview is just about done when the panel throws a wild card at you. They ask, “Any questions?” and you’re stuck! After all, they aresupposed to be asking the questions, not you. But the kind of questions you ask may well decide whether you get the job or not. Don’t be caught by surprise if you’re asked this question. Instead, be prepared with smart questions of your own.
- Make an Impression
The interview is all about making an impression in front of the panel. You may be a complete slob on the inside, but you can’t show that to your potential employers, especially before they actually become your employers! Give out-of-the-box answers to questions, and try to make sure your interview leaves a lasting impression (a good one; don’t make them remember you for something ridiculous you did during the interview).