How to face Campus Recruitment Interviews
1. For how long will a typical interview last?
Placement interviews last anywhere from 5-6 minutes to 30-40 minutes. However, you should not come to any conclusion about your chances based on the duration of the interview. A short interview is not necessarily bad. A long interview is not necessarily good.
2. What are the types of recruitment interviews?
While some companies conduct separate HR and Technical interviews (these could be individual elimination rounds or the candidate may be put through both the interviews) some companies combine both Tech and HR modes under a single interview.
3. What is the size and composition of the interview panel?
The size of the interview panel normally varies from one to three. With the top I.T companies drastically scaling up their intake, recruitment teams are under time pressure. Hence single panels are becoming increasingly popular. Recruitment teams comprise senior or middle management personnel from both HR and Technical functions in the company.
4. Should I carry all my certificates with me to the interview?
Carry all the original certificates (starting from 10th standard) with you when you go for an interview. Please also carry one set of attested photocopies of all the certificates (which you can give to the interview panel in case they ask for it).
You should also carry any certificates that you may have pertaining to your extra-curricular activities (indicating awards won, participation in various events/games/sports).
5. What is the appropriate dress code for an interview?
An interview is a formal occasion and you are expected to attend the same in formal wear. Casual wear like jeans, sneakers, etc. are ruled out. If you are a male, you should tuck your shirt in, use a tie and wear formal shoes. Shave on the morning of the interview do not go for the interview with stubble. If you are a female, you can wear a dress or a saree or skirt and shirt. If you have l ong hair, neatly plait it or tend to it in a manner that it does
not look unkempt. Before you go into the interview room, make sure that you take a couple of minutes to comb your hair.
6. How should we enter the interview room? What should we do after we enter the interview room?
Normally, when your turn comes, either one of the panel members or an assistant will come and call you into the room for your interview. Whether the door is open or net knock gently on the door. At the door, clearly and loudly say, “May I come in, sir” and walk in without any trepidation.
Once you reach the interviewers’ table, wish the panel members (by saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”), and wait for the interview panel to ask you to be seated.
7. Is there any good sitting posture?
There are no rules regarding sitting posture. You may read in some books that you should cross your legs at the knees, tuck your feet under the chair, put your hands in your lap, etc. as suggested ways of sitting in an interview. Just ignore all such advice – whatever posture you are comfortable with, adopt that posture. However, you have to ensure that you convey seriousness. So, any posture conveying casualness should be avoided – like sitting back in the chair and rocking the chair on its hind legs.
As far as your hands are concerned, you can keep them on the arm-rests of the chair you are sitting in or you can keep them in your lap.
8. Can I lean forward and keep my file and rest my elbows on the interviewers’ table?
No. The table belongs to the interviewers – it is their property. Do not lean on the table. Keep your file in your lap. However, you can use the table when the need arises – for example, if you need to write or draw something as a part of your reply to a question, then you can keep your paper or book (and the file) on the table, write whatever you have to and once it is over, take your file and paper back and keep them in your lap.
9. What type of language should we use in the interview?
As already discussed, an interview is a formal occasion. It requires formal language and that too, English. Do not switch to vernacular in the middle of your conversation in an interview. However, you need not worry about the fluency of your language. Go ahead and communicate your ideas in as simple a language as possible without worrying about any language errors you may make.
10. What role does body language have to play in an interview?
Use body language – movement of hands, head, etc. – in a manner that conveys confidence and has a positive impact on the interviewers. Do not overdo your hand movements, etc. Gesticulate only to the extent necessary.
11. What does the interview panel look for in a candidate in an interview?
The interviewers will look for a candidate who has an aptitude and skill required for the job and who can be moulded to take up higher levels of responsibility in future. The suitability is established by looking at the knowledge and behavioural dimensions. Knowledge, aptitude, willingness to learn, ability to adapt to situations, ability to be a part of a team, logical flow of ideas, balanced thought process and a very clear goal orientation are some of the parameters that interviewers will check on. The candidate should also be able to apply his skills in tune with the ethical and moral framework of the society.
12. How do the interviewers assess the candidate in this manner?
The interview panel members assess the candidate by asking him/her a variety of questions and looking at the candidate’s responses for these questions. Whatever be the questions asked, they look for certain qualities and attributes in the candidate. The main qualities that they look for in the candidates are:
Level of knowledge the candidates possesses
Conceptual understanding of issues
Clarity of thought
Planning of career
Reacting to a situation
Knowledge is the single most important attribute that the interviewers look for in the candidates.
The candidate should have a proper understanding of the issues involved. Whether it is the subjects that you studied in college or it is other areas that you claim to have knowledge in (like computers and software), the panel members will be interested not just in the marks scored in exams but also your basic conceptual understanding of various issues involved.
In addition to conceptual understanding, the interviewers will be interested in your ability to apply what you have learnt to other areas. This reflects in the clarity of thought that you are able to exhibit. Your thinking process is reflected in your answers to a variety of questions and hence, it is imperative that you think through the question before you hasten to give a reply to the question asked.
Your ability to express your ideas clearly and succinctly is an attribute that carries a lot of weight in the interview, and this is something that the interviewers will be looking for specifically. Communication skills play an important part, and you have to make a conscious effort to communicate properly what you have in mind.
The interviewers will also be interested in knowing how well you have thought about your career how you are planning for your career. They want to be assured that you are not generally drifting in the sea of life and have come to their port not by chance but you are there by design and prior planning.
You will also be evaluated on a number of personality related issues including, your value systems.
The interview panel members are likely to create situations to see how you will react to different situations. This is essential because, in real life, you will face a number of situations and you will have to react to them without any additional time to think about them.
In fact, if we have to describe what an interview is in one statement, it is all about how you think on your feet and react to situations.
13. What are the different types or categories of questions?
Different companies focus on different aspects. The nature and type of questions also vary from one candidate to the other for the same company.
Hence, a candidate should prepare on a range of areas/questions like.
Awareness about the domains/areas where the company is operating
Career related questions
Personality related questions
14. Since you are saying that certain questions or types of questions are likely to be asked in the interviews, is it advisable to prepare answers for these questions and go for the interviews?
While you should prepare for interviews, you should not be preparing a specific answer for any question. Let us understand the difference. Preparing for the interview or for a particular question will mean that you think through the question, what your approach will be in handling the question and what points you will consider in answering the question. Preparing an answer will necessarily entail working out your answer (in its entirety) and, probably, even committing it to memory. This will not help. Once you are clear as to what points you will cover in your answer, the answer itself should be framed in the interview – on the spot. Make sure that you never go with answers learnt by heart. It is very easy for an experienced interviewer to make out that the answer is not spontaneous and that it is coming from memory.
15. What should be the answer for the question “Tell us something about yourself?”
First of all, note that there is nothing like “the answer” or “the correct answer” for any question – except for questions which require a fact to be given as the answer.
“Tell us something about yourself” is the first question asked in a number of interviews. This question is asked for two different reasons. The first is that it puts you at ease, as it is a fairly easy question to deal with. The second reason is that the interviewers get to know some basic details about you, while at the same time, getting a little bit of time to go through your application/bio-data.
Nevertheless, it is an important question. This often lays the foundation for the entire interview – a number of subsequent questions can be based on what you say in response to this question.
You should cover your educational background very briefly and then emphasize on your technical skills and favourite subjects. Highlight your achievements be it academics or otherwise. Mention hobbies and extracurricular activities and a few details on the kind of person you are likes etc. Family background is not essential. In case you cover this, do so very briefly.
16. What is the level of questions in academics?
Subject knowledge is given significant weightage by interviewers. Such questions are aimed at testing your understanding of the basic concepts in the area of your graduation. Focus would be on areas of work of the company, electives, projects, favourite subjects etc. You should have an idea about new developments in your area of study. Unless you prepare thoroughly for academic related questions, you could get into serious trouble in the interview.
17. Most I.T companies recruit students from non-I.T branches. How should I prepare?
You should be comfortable in answering questions in your branch of study and should be able to indicate your interest in I.T. For example, if a mechanical engineer is going for an I.T job, he should still be clear about basic concepts in mechanical engineering. The interviewers may check this out to see how good your basic engineering skills and aptitude are. The candidate should also be clear about applications of I.T in his field of study and should highlight his proficiency/aptitude in programming/other areas in I.T to establish his interest in this field.
18. What are the typical questions that the interviewers ask in the area of “personality related questions?”
Personality related questions basically include two types of questions. The first type is about your "Strengths and Weaknesses." Strengths and weaknesses are asked very frequently and this is a fairly important question. It requires prior thinking and proper preparation.
The second type of questions on your personality relate to your value systems. The interviewers may ask you about the values you believe in. There can be questions on honesty and integrity. Very often, the interview panel members may create a situation involving compromise of values and ask you to react.
19. What are the strengths that we can talk of?
Do not look at a “standard list” of strengths from which you can pick up your strengths. You have to assess your own personality and come with your strengths. Typically, they may pertain to hard working nature, congeniality, convincing ability, discipline, punctuality, goal-oriented approach, analytical approach to problem solving, working well in a group, etc. Make it your list of strengths and not what somebody else has told you. Also, after you tell the interviewers about your strengths, be ready to face a follow-up question asking you to give a situation where your strengths helped you or to explain how you realised that you had these strengths. You should be prepared to give an example by narrating a short incident which highlights your strengths.
20. Can I say that I do not have any weaknesses? If I mention some weaknesses, will it not go against me?
There will hardly be any human being without any weaknesses at all. So, do not worry about mentioning your weaknesses in an interview. It will not go against you. What the interviewers will be interested in is how well you are able to assess yourself, and after identifying your weaknesses, what action you are taking to overcome such weaknesses.
If you give a reply like “I do not have any weaknesses,” it will reflect poorly on your self-assessment capabilities. Assess your weaknesses along with your strengths before you go for the interviews. Talk to your close friends and immediate family members. They are the best people to give you an idea about your weaknesses – what you are not good at. Be prepared to explain what steps you are taking to overcome your weaknesses.
Almost every one of us will have one or more of the weaknesses like lack of punctuality, impatience, impulsive decision-making, etc.
21. What are the typical questions that the interviewers ask in the area of ‘career related questions’
Typically the questions will focus on what you intend to do in life, how you envisage your career taking shape, why you chose your branch of study, how do you plan to use the knowledge acquired in work, why you want to choose a particular area/branch of work, alternate career plans, why you intend to join a particular company, which domain/area you wish to work in, how you will contribute to the organization, where do you see yourselves in 5/10 years from now etc.
Most interviewers expect you to have a goal or a career objective. You may not be in a position to spell out your plan in detail. Nevertheless, you should have a broad framework and alternate plans in mind. If you indicate that you have no idea about your future plan, it could mean that you are a drifter and this could work against you.
For questions on ‘where you see yourselves 5/10 years from now’ get details from seniors or friends working in the industry and from websites of leading companies in the industry. This will help you to understand how careers of people progress in organizations and to frame an answer.
22. How to tackle a question “why do you want to join us?”.
Before the interview, prepare specifically on the company by gathering information about them from magazines, seniors and friends working there and the company website. Check out basic like revenue, net profit, growth, spread across countries/states, take overs, domains/areas of specialisation, products, awards won, latest news, corporate governance etc. This will give you ample information to be prepared for this question.
23. How should we prepare for questions asked about my hobbies and interests?
Normally, the interviewers will ask you questions on your extra-curricular activities, hobbies and interests. In case you have none, tell them that you do not have any. But if you have any, then you should be ready to deal with them in some depth. For example, if cricket is one of your extra-curricular activities or hobbies, then you should be able to deal with past statistics, current happenings in cricket including the names of players in the teams of various countries.
If reading is one of your hobbies, potential questions include: the names of the authors whose books you read, the names of the books that you have read in the recent past, the main characters in those books, an analysis of the characters, etc.
If you indicate reading of magazines as one of your interests, then you should be ready with the following details for the magazines that you read regularly: the names of the publishers, the number of languages in which they are published, names of the editors, recent cover stories, etc.
For the newspapers that you read daily, you will need to know details like the places from where the newspapers are published, the names of the editors, etc.
You may also face a question on how your hobbies/interests have helped you mould your character or will help you in achieving your career goals.
24. How much time will we get to think before we start answering a question?
The general rule that you should observe is “Think before you answer any question.” Do not be in a tearing hurry to give a reply. You need not start your reply the moment the question is asked. You can take 2-3 seconds to answer the question. This valuable time helps you collect your thoughts before you answer the question. This is particularly useful if the question is slightly “uncomfortable.”
25. Should we give short and crisp answers to the questions asked or should we give elaborate answers?
You should avoid giving “Yes” or “No” as the responses to questions that you are asked in the interview. You should also avoid one-word answers. While you should not end up giving a very long answer to any question, give a long enough answer to communicate clearly your thinking on the issue that is under discussion. Remember, the interviewer would like to know your personality, clarity of thought, etc. Hence, you should look at every question as an opportunity to let the interviewer know more about you.
26. If we do not know answers to some questions, can we guess? Aren’t there chances that the interviewer himself may not know the answers?
Do not underestimate the calibre or the intelligence of the interviewers – normally they are very learned people. It is in your interest that you do not work on the premise that the interviewer may not know the answer. If you do not know the answer, say that you do not know. However, if you want to guess, do so by saying that you would like to guess the answer. You can say, “Sorry sir, I do not know the answer. However, can I make a guess?”
Your making a guess will work only for questions that are fact based and not opinion based. If the interviewers ask you for your opinion on an issue, you cannot obviously say that you do not know.
27. Should we always be completely honest in an interview?
In general, “honesty is the best policy” in an interview. Be your natural self as far as answering questions is concerned. However, in our day-to-day interaction with anybody, all of us wear a “mask” to show a different identity form what we are. The type and level of mask may vary from person to person. You should try to have a genuinely pleasant expression on your face. Smile often.
28. What should we do if the interviewers ask irrelevant questions?
Do not ever believe that the interviewers are asking you questions that are not relevant to the selection process. In an interview, there is nothing like an irrelevant question. Remember that the interviewer is trying to assess you based on how you react to situations. As discussed already, look at every question as an opportunity. Tackle it keeping in mind that your thought process is under scrutiny – the issue under discussion is not relevant.
29. What is a stress interview? Are stress interviews common in campus selection process?
In almost all the Campus selection interviews, the interviewers try to make the interviewee as comfortable as possible. Very seldom does one come across stress interviews in campus recruitments.
In stress interviews, the candidate is subjected to pressure.
Right from the word “go,” the interviewers shoot questions at rapid-fire speed. They will probably not give enough time to the interviewee for any question – before the interviewee can complete an answer, the next question is asked. Sometimes, the next question is asked even before the candidate starts the answer. The interviewers also tend to make fun of the candidate almost throughout the interview – making comments that the candidate does not know anything, etc. They can ask very personal questions in a stress interview which can make the candidate very uncomfortable.
While stress interviews do not form a significant proportion of the total number of interviews conducted for any institute, it is not uncommon to find a stress interview here or there. You should be mentally prepared to face a stress interview.
30. How should we tackle stress interviews?
On the basis of how the interview progresses, you can make out whether your interview is a stress interview in the first half a minute itself.
The most important thing in a stress interview is that you should keep your cool. Since the panel members are putting you under severe stress, they will give you the benefit of doubt in case you are not able to answer the questions at all or you give a wrong answer. They will not hold it against you as much as they would in a normal interview.
Do not react to their taunting remarks. If they make a caustic remarks, just smile and say, “I understand that that is your view, sir, but my view is …….” Do not sitting there cursing yourself for getting into that mess. Focus on the question that they are asking next.
Overall, a candidate who can keep his/her cool will come out in flying colours from a stress interview.
31. At the end of the interview, how will the interviewers indicate that the interview is over?
They will make a clear statement like, “Thank you, Mr. ---------. Wish you all the best.” Sometimes, the interviewers may ask you question like, “Would you like to ask us anything?” Such a question also indicates that they are through with their questions.
32. In such a case, can I ask them any questions?
You certainly can. However, ask questions that are relevant. Please do not ask questions like “How did I perform in my interview?” or “How did I do in my written test?” or “Will I get selected?”
You can use this opportunity to highlight your interest in the company. For example say, “you have been consistently growing at the rate of 30% annually. What helps you to maintain such a high growth?”
If you don’t have any specific questions just say “Thank you sirs. I don’t have any questions to ask’
33. What should I do before I leave the interview room?
Stand up, push your chair back a little, wish the interviewers by making statements like, “Thank you, sirs” or “Good day to you all, sirs, ” turn back and walk gracefully out of the room. If the door is closed when you are going out, you may again close the door behind you after you go out.