Every six months, as the Institute announces the results, we see a fresh batch of excited and anxious young Chartered Accountants reach out to social media and seniors wanting to understand how they can ace the interviews that they will appear for at the campus or outside.
After all, getting a good job is of prime importance.
For many young people, this is the most crucial and dreaded phase. The word 'interview' can make even the best of communicators nervous and anxious.
It is to address this anxiety and fear that I have partnered with CA Club India to launch the Communication Skills Masterclass training program. This training program is a practical program that will empower all young CAs to learn the tools and tips that will help them succeed not just at the interviews but also beyond it in their careers. I will be publishing a series of articles to share my thoughts around becoming great at giving interviews, I hope many of you will find it useful.
But why are we so scared of interviews?
Because we don't like being judged.
In a way, that is what happens in an interview, we have to give a performance in front of a judge and expect the judge to like us enough to give us the reward that we seek.
Let me assure you though, that an interview is no different from any other usual business conversation. Just like you have to talk to your boss, colleague or a client; in an interview you have to talk to a person who needs to hire a good candidate. If you can find a way to be the 'good candidate' then you will ace the conversation.
In this first article, I will discuss several key aspects of an interview process starting from the time you get called for an interview to the time you actually get the job. We will attempt to break down the interview process in a manner so that it becomes simplified and you can overcome your fear by focusing on specific parts and skills rather than worrying about being judged.
Typically, any interview process has the following three key steps and we will cover the first step today:
• Before the Interview:
o Understand your goal and objective
o Research and Preparation
o How to dress
• During the Interview
o Building rapport and connection
o The dreaded question- Tell me about yourself
o The interview Mindset
o Ending with grace
• After the Interview
o Mistakes that people make
o The right way to follow up
What I am sharing with you here is based on my years of experience of appearing for interviews and having met many candidates who came to me to get interviewed. The methods and techniques I will share now will work for EVERYBODY. If you apply these methods and if you get better with practice, then you will ace any interview that you appear for.
Step 1: What is your goal with the interview?
• It's not about correct answers so don't worry about giving the perfect answer. If you know the content of the job well, you will be able to convince them if you answer with confidence and conviction
• It's not about you talking about your CV. They already have seen your CV, now they want to observe you. You have to use the interview time to make a positive and lasting impression
• It's about convincing them that you are right for their company, team and the job.
• They have to like you and feel good about you to offer you the job
Step 2: Research and Preparation
A majority of candidates in my own experience fail the interview process because they do not prepare. When you can spend thousands of hours preparing for your exams, why would you not spend a few hours preparing for the all-important interview meeting?
Typically, you can prepare for any interview within a few hours by following a few simple steps. A prepared candidate is highly more probable to land the job then a candidate who may have been academically brilliant but went unprepared for the interview.
Remember, the person interviewing is usually smart and intelligent and will be able to assess your readiness within a few minutes. In the first step, I mentioned that your job is to impress the interviewer- being prepared is a sure-shot way.
Here is how we should prepare:
• Insist on getting a detailed job description: Ask the HR or recruiter to share the detailed job description. Make sure you read it and understand the key success drivers of the job and also the key skills that a person will need in order to be successful in that job. For example: if collaboration is a key required skill, then you must go prepared to talk about your skills as a collaborator and be able to demonstrate it with real examples.
• Go through the website: These days, every company has an official website, make sure that go through the website to gather the following information: about the promoters/directors, types of business, recent press release, company's vision and mission
• Google is your best friend: Spend a few minutes to search for relevant information about the company on internet. You will get to know about the recent updates, events and developments related to the company. You may also find out about the company's competition and the challenges/opportunities that the company has.
• Use your networks to know more: Use your personal and professional network to find out more about the company or the person who will interview you.
Step 3: How to dress
• Find out the dress code of the company. This can be done by asking the recruiter, checking on internet or through anyone within your network who knows about the company
• In case you are unable to find out, it is best to dress slightly formal
• Don't stand out- safer to be slightly conservative. For example: do not wear bright, printed shirts or short dresses
• Let them focus on your message and not on your appearance
Remember, organizations do not just hire you for your degree, they want to hire you if they feel that you are smart, diligent and forward-looking- they hire for the future. Instead of sweating over what might go wrong in the interview, please spend a few hours preparing for the interview.
Here is an important tip:
Prepare a research note based on your preparation and study of job description, company website, current news and your own networks. Make it real and relevant for the company and you can either talk about it during the interview or even show it to the interviewer during the meeting. It will create a huge positive impact on the person interviewing you.
Always remember, for any job that you apply for there are often hundreds of other applicants too, it is your job to create a difference and show yourself apart. All of those other applicants are CAs too, think about how you can come across as someone who is smart and prepared.
As you read this article to prepare for your upcoming interview, do prepare the research note today. Soon, I will come up with my next article on what you need to do during the interview.
My best wishes are with you and I am sure you will do well!
To enroll "The Communication Skills Masterclass for Chartered Accountants" subject by the author: Click Here