A question of your future

May 27, 2012, 10:38 IST | Saaniya Zaveri

The conclusion of the board exams marks the commencement of anxiety about applications. Forms are filled and results are awaited. But have you stopped to consider how to ace that interview or do you just plan to 'wing it'?

Interviews are almost always disliked by most applicants. The idea of being put on the spot by people who can influence your professional and academic careers worries us. Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re unavoidable. The only way to crack them is by knowing what to expect and what is expected of you.

Madhuri Raijada, head of department, BMM, St Xavier’s college, feels that your general knowledge needs to be sound and that it is important to be well-dressed for an interview. Pic/Bipin kokate

“Interviews matter a lot. A good institution always looks for quality people to keep the standard of education high,” says Anavi Chakravoti, a 19 year-old student of BA at Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru. “I always assumed they were just a formality and didn’t matter as long as my grades were good, but after I messed up my interview for BBM in 2011 at Jai Hind College at Churchgate, I realised I was wrong.” If you don’t want to go through a smiliar experience, here’s a guide to what you should and should not do at your next interview.

Be prepared, not sorry
Being prepared is the most important thing for an interview, according to Madhuri Raijada, head of department, BMM, St Xavier’s college, Dhobi Talao. She says, “If you’re going for an interview, no matter what the course, you need to have a basic knowledge of what it’s about. You also need to work on your general knowledge and be aware of what’s going on in
the world.”

So know your stuff and know it well. It can save you from having to face the most embarrassing 15 minutes of your life. There are certain questions you have to know the answers to regardless of the course you are applying for, she adds. Be prepared with a list of your hobbies, your strengths and weaknesses, are and most importantly, why you chose that particular course.

Or you could end up with a humliating story. “For an interview, I asked a girl who Anna Hazare was and the answer I got was ‘a guy from UP’. When I asked her what ‘that guy’ does, she said ‘I don’t know, he’s been coming on the news lately,’” laughs Raijada.

Look the part
Put away that torn, lucky T-shirt and those unwashed boxers and invest in a deodorant that doesn’t suffocate the life out of your interviewer. As much as you don’t care about what you look like, the interviewer does.

According to Kshama Shah, vice principal of Mithibai College at Vile Parle, “Appearance matters. You need to be academically bright but it also has to come across in the right way.” Raijada agrees. “If you’re well dressed at the interview, it sends out a message that you’re taking the interview seriously. How you look also reveals a lot about your personality and when you’re picking students for your college, it all adds up,” she explains.

Nerve vs nervousness
“Nervousness shows almost 90 per cent of the time. It reflects how well-prepared you are and can affect your performance at the interview. If you’re lucky and if the interviewer has time, he / she might ask you to relax and come back when you’re less nervous,” says Shah.

“The key to a successful interview is confidence,” feels Sidharth Kamat, a second-year Law student at Symbiosis College, Pune. “I think the reason I got through my interviews is because I don’t have a problem answering questions on the spot. I can stay calm and think straight and for any field, it’s important to know how to do that.” So man up, fist those shaking hands and cross those
trembling legs.

Real really works
In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.’ Anish Nadh, a BMS student from Loyola College, Chennai, recalls a time when exaggerating at an interview cost him the spot. “When the interviewer asked me whether I read, the most obvious right answer that came to mind was ‘yes’. When he followed that up by asking what I read, I ended up saying Maxim (magazine).”  Sahana Das, head of department, communication studies, Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, too admits that she hates it when interviewees give answers they think she wants to hear. “Most times they end up sounding preachy and hypocritical.”  So be real and keep it simple. They already think you’re worth the spot; you only have to prove them right.

Strength and sensibility
Know your strengths and play by them. If you can’t lie, don’t. Raijada says, “Between a bad honest answer and a good lie I would usually pick the former. We’ve been in this field for so long that we can tell when people are being genuine and when they’re not.” Be sensible when you answer, is her advice. “The craziest thing a student has ever said to me during an interview is that she wishes to study Communication Studies because she loves to expose herself,” adds Das. There are numerous people with humorous stories about badly done interviews. But to what extent can a tanked interview pose as just a funny story? Varun Narayanan, a student from Christ College, Bengaluru recalls, “I never thought interviews were too important. I appeared late for one and that changed the entire course of my academic career. I wanted to do BMS but I ended up doing BCom because I didn’t get through to the college of my choice,” he rues.  At the end of the day, an interview takes up hardly 20 minutes of your life. Play your cards right and you’ll most likely have nothing to worry about. 

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