Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

walk-the-thought : Learnings from Interviews I attended

My recent job hunt has culminated with a good offer from a MNC here in Bangalore. I am satisfied with the offer as the nature of the job aligns with the my career plan(yeah I do have one) and provides me a decent package.

Now that things have settled down..I guess it was time to review the way things turned out during the various interviews I happen to attend..This was the exact aim of taking a walk around mini-forest(a huge park near my place) today...contemplate on the the way I faced my interviews and major blunders which I committed. Surprisingly there were lots of here we go with a few key learning I had ..

1) Prepare for the interview, don't assume you know things.

I learnt this in my very first interview. This was with a Indian services company. They were looking for skills in Oracle technologies. I was so over confident about myself that I went without preparation. Results were on expected lines, I was shown the door in probably less than 15 mins and the interview was a total disaster. So the moral is be prepared or be ready to get "I am a dolt" tattooed on your face and become a out-of-the-box, ready to use object-of-fun for the interview panel.

2) No "I am the lord of universe, I know all" attitude

Again learnt this in my first interview, being confident in a interview discussion is one thing, but many times we stretch the meaning of "confident" to a totally new level..

Interviewer - how do you rate your skills in Oracle on scale of 10

Candidate - 11 out of 10

Interviewer - my lord, tell me how do I make a table read only?

Candidate - ah! well! ...I guess don't execute any DMLs

Interviewer - Nice meeting you, Our HR will get back to you.

Set realistic expectation about your skills. Lot of times person sitting opposite is smarter and knows things better than you.

3) Personal Appearance

Personally I have never been rejected because of appearance. I make sure I am in formals when I go for interviews. But I remember a incident which happened when I was taking up a interview with one of the MNC in Bangalore. While we were waiting for our turn, a person walks in, his trousers were so loose that we were afraid it would fall off any moment, he was wearing long over size T shirt and had long hair. Later we got to know that our hippie was aspiring business analyst. The focal for the interview process looked at him and then simply asked him to leave. Things did not even get to the stage, where he was asked for his resume. So personal appearance does matter.

4) Ask questions

I always feel that one of the most crucial part of the interview is when the interviewer asks "do you have any questions for me". Few good, relevant questions at this time will exponentially increase your chances of a positive result. If you are mum at this stage, many a times even though the interview has gone well, you can as well bid farewell to your job. So given a chance ask few good questions regarding your role, growth, opportunities to explore new technologies etc.. it really makes a good impression.

5) Get the reasons for leaving previous organisation right

This is one more crucial thing that can be a difference between making or breaking the interview. NEVER EVER CRITICISE YOUR PREVIOUS EMPLOYER. Period. NEVER EVER QUOTE REMUNERATION TO BE A REASON TO QUIT.Period. Get the reasons right even if you have to make them up.

6) Express yourself clearly

I have experienced this myself. If you can state things in a simple manner you have won half the interview. I happen to give a interview with another Indian product manufacturing company. I was given a simple task to write a procedure to generate Fibonacci sequence and what did I do, I scribbled the right solution all over the work sheet in a haphazard way. So even though the solution was right I was not able to put it a simple systematic manner and hence I did not make it to the next round.

7) Never over emphasis on remuneration package

Even though both tacitly acknowledge that remuneration is one of the main reason, never over emphasise on money, it builds a bad impression.

8) Get the Body Language right

This happened to me when I Was having a interview with a IT firm in Bangalore. During interview I was extremely nervous and was not looking at the interviewer when speaking. I guess he observed me for a min and then asked me to relax and take it easy. So your body language speaks more than what you do through your mouth. While in a interview, sit comfortably, don't cross legs, don't slouch, no leg movements, no leaning on the desk, look at the interviewer when speaking to him, no huge hand movements etc..

9) Don't be late to the interview

Its good idea to be there at the venue at least 10 mins before the scheduled time. In case if you are going to be late, its usually good idea to call up the concern person and inform him the reason and give a estimated time as to when you will be there.


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