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I am Heading for an Interview. Is my “First impression, the LAST”?
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A phrase that we have been using time and again. The fact is, it is a profound truth. And it gets at play the most when one heads for the ultimate nerve-juggling task. A Job Interview!

Your first interview for a job unarguably is that decisive moment which has the tendency to influence your entire life, be it personal or be it professional. Have you ever imagined that this moment, if it turns in your favor, will determine the type of outfits you will wear to work, the sort of friends you are going to keep, the kinds of associations you will have to build, the lifestyle you will be leading, to the extent of the rank of schools your children are going to attend? And this makes me wonder, how can we just get away by taking it for a joke?

Showing up late every time, and at times not showing up at all. Devoid of any sense of propriety or common courtesy, we don’t feel the obligation to call our interviewers in advance and letting them know we won’t be able to make it. We are becoming lamer in our excuses even. Can’t we be just a little more creative?

And at times turning up in those dodgy slacks and at others in flip-flops! Will we ever understand the gravity of “any” situation at all?
A job interview is nothing more than a game of impressions; it commences and concludes with the full impact of one word “impression”. Hence it asks for your preparedness for each phase as it unfolds from the beginning to the end, but before that some quick tips:

Do’s and Don’t

Make prior arrangements for transportation and other pitfalls ahead of time. It’s advisable to reach at your venue 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time. This displays punctuality and due diligence. While waiting for the interview try keeping your communication around minimal, as you don’t want to be influenced by anyone’s negativity or suffer “He is better than me” complex. It’s your time to outshine everyone, hence stay focused. Switch off the cell phone. And yes putting it on vibration mode is not silencing it.

Once the do’s and don’ts are taken care of, vaguely, divide this event into the following phases:

Phase#1

Pre-event Prep

    * Do some research, gain background knowledge of the company you will be visiting. Google it! Ask friends or family, neighbors! Ask anyone around you who works or has worked for this organization.
    * Also try finding some information on the JD (Job Description) of the position you are going to be interviewed for. JDs are available in the advert and some general research can provide you with the requisite insight. The JD enlists major tasks and responsibilities that are expected from the person being considered for the position
    * If possible, find out who your interviewer is. You may hit a common ground with them e.g. backgrounds, schooling, neighborhoods, interests, hobbies etc. It’s natural for someone going through your CV to stop if they come across a commonality. Most employers deliberately try to ease up the situation through general chitchat at the beginning of the interview. But don’t get carried away by this. Always remember you can win them only through manners, talent and professionalism. Try using it to your benefit and kill hostility towards and against you but don’t derail.
    * Then comes the time to work on your physical appearance. Personal grooming is an important factor.  Keep a keen eye on your personal hygiene: clean nails, properly kept hair nicely ironed clothes and polished shoes. Choose something formal yet comfortable. If you are uncomfortable with what you are wearing it may manifest your feeling in ways like fidgeting nervously with the sleeves and shoulders of the outfit. And this holds true for men and women alike. You may seek advice from someone whom you and others trust with a dress sense.
    * Once you have assured yourself on the most befitting outfit and organized yourself for the occasion, don’t forget the last finishing touches. Adorn that genuine air of pleasantness and positivity about yourself. Remember! The interviewers are more interested in YOU, than your clothes. So, wear a smile! And stay calm & composed but pleasant!
    * You may take with you a pen, a small notepad and an extra copy of your resume. If you normally use business cards on meetings take a stack along but don’t put them somewhere you have to fumble through to retrieve. Keep it where you can find them conveniently, yet promptly.

Phase #2

During The Interview

    * Be gentle and courteous. Show mannerism; remember your evaluation started the moment you stepped inside. Seek permission before entering the room, wait for the employer to offer you a seat. Extend a warm hand if offered a handshake, otherwise take your seat.
    * Remember, communication is the essential weaponry. And you are the person who is expected to do most of the talking, so for most part this is one-way. Normally the first question asked is to introduce yourself. Do so!  Listen very carefully to your evaluator’s following questions. Pay utmost attention to avoid rephrases or repeats. Answer clearly and precisely. Keep your composure, sit straight and look sharp attentive. It’s time to match with their wave length. Express your interest in the job and the company using information you gathered earlier.
    * Undue passion while answering makes you seem desperate, can intimidate your interviewer(s), moreover it can cause unnecessary palpitation and nervousness in you.
    * While answering the questions be very clear and to the point. Keep the replies in a positive mode. Speaking positively of former employers would reflect well on you. Cribbing about your ex-bosses or company makes the interviewer wonder if you are the “high-maintenance” type.

Keep in mind that you are hired to share the work-load not being a liability. Explain to the interviewer how your experience and training is going to make you a productive part of the organization in the shortest-possible time with minimal supervision required. No matter what, never lie about your experience or qualifications.

Phase#3

Concluding The Interview

When the interviewer is done with the questions and you are asked “if there is a question you need to ask” then don’t hesitate. But don’t let yourself be swept away by this to straight away jump to the salary question, if you may have it. Begin by saying “Just a couple of quick questions”.

    * If you have the salary question in mind start by asking about the career-path first. Ask them where you should see yourself 2-3 years down the road. This leaves a positive impression on the employer that you are considering a long-term employment.
    * You may follow the career-path question with the salary question. The precedence of these questions matter a lot. If followed in the above-mentioned order you are implying that for you career matters more than the salary, which is a very forward-looking attitude.
    * If there is no reference to whether or not you should have any hopes to get the job, you can inquire when you may call to find out about the decision.
    * In case you are asked by the interviewer to call or return for another interview, make a written note of the time, date and venue so you don’t forget later on.

Phase # 4

After The Interview

Thank the interviewer(s). Don’t forget to return all salutations with a smile at all times. Bid farewell with an even confident and reassuring smile without regard to what the outcome of the interview will be.

By following the above procedure to the best of your abilities, you can assure yourself that you are completely prepared to leave behind a lasting impression on the interviewer and you have improved chances to bag this job. Your lucky stars have started shining brighter.

Be confident, be yourself and nail it well.
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