Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interview Pointers for Summer Placements in B-Schools...

Hi friends,

Over a period of two days, we had a workshop by one of our alumnus who gave us some pointers for the Summer Placements. Here are extracts from it:

Speaker: Nidhi Kapoor, HR Head, BIO-RAD Labs, IIML Batch of 2004

There are two things that should be clearly visible in your profile – 1) What is your USP i.e. Academics, Extra-curricular activities, diversity etc. and 2) What are you most passionate about?

The CV should reflect the fact that “You are my top priority company”. You should reflect the fact that “You are my dream organization. I know all about you.”

Some clear tips for an interview:

1) DO NOT BLUFF: Be clear about what you want to tell them and make your CV accordingly.
Work-Ex People: You already have a fair idea about the internal working of any company, so they will focus more on you and your achievements at the work-place. Highlight points in your CV.
Freshers: They will like to know more about your academics and extra-curricular activities. They will focus on you and your life. Highlight points as usual.

1) Research-Based: “Know thy company” is the main mantra here. Try and sort out 4-5 companies that you really want to target and prepare you CV accordingly. Try to learn as much as possible about your company and be serious about the preparation. Try to know what is its main business, their main strategies, their position in the industry, the duration they have been in India etc. The IIM tag helps you upto your next job change at the most. Beyond that, its you and your job that counts.

2) If you have a strong industry preference, mention it in your CV or apply for different companies with various modifications in your CV. If you do not have a strong industry preference, then try to get a fair idea of the general industrial climate of India. They look at your “Business Understanding.”.If you are already knowledgeable about what they do in the company and on how they do it, they would be more than pleased.

3) Try and capitalize on your favorite subject – it may be in Term 1 or Term 2. Prepare an answer for this one and be thorough in that subject. Also, a fresher may be grilled on his core subjects. It’s highly likely that students from Mechanical, Electrical and Civil engineering can be asked on their subjects as many of the recruiters usually come from similar backgrounds.

4) Try to find out the position that company holds in various surveys and mention it when appropriate. That holds you in good stead.

5) Know Thyself: NEVER ever tell the interviewer that you do not know yourself – that would be disastrous. You must know what your skills and strong points are. Highlight them even if they do not match with the actual requirements of the company. You must also understand your limitations. A person must have a good mix of Cap-ambition (Capability + Ambition). They are not different, but they are also not too different from each other.

Interviewing Styles:

One main interviewing style followed by HR professionals generally is called the STAR model. The model has 4 main components:
  • Situation
  • Trials done
  • Action
  • Result

They may ask you questions pertaining to a particular situation a few examples are as follows:
· Tell me about any point in your life when you were the leader of so-and-so company or team and about what you did then.
· Tell me of one time when you faced a set-back in your life and how you handled it.

No can be sure of what they may ask, but after filling up so many forms, you will have a fair idea of what to answer. As it was mentioned already - “Know Thyself”. They will like to know the situation in brief, what you tried to do, how did you take action and what was the result of that action taken.

“Tell me about yourself” may be the best ever question and is usually the one that guides the interview. It is also one of the most ill-prepared questions ever. Try to highlight your best extra-curricular activity in that – Your best point may be the win in a debate competition in 3rd grade, but surely highlight that!

Standard Questions:

Some of the standard questions are as follows:

Ø What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Students often regard this question as a trick question, but it is one of the easiest ones ever. Weaknesses are not usually asked as that is what the interviewer is trying to perceive. Try to have 3-4 points with well substantiated examples.

Ø What would you change about our company if you were the CEO of our company?

This is a question that tests your knowledge of the company, knowledge of the general trend of the successful companies of the industry and your analytical skills – all at the same time. One needs to have a fair bit of idea on what one can change about the company. Don’t be too brazen, but try and tell give general pointers.

Ø Why should I hire you?

Another trick question as perceived by many, this proves to be the toughest possible questions one can be asked. When an interviewer asks this question, it means that he still has doubts in his mind and wants you to clear them for him. You can highlight your capabilities, vision for the future and highlight them to be in tune with those of the company itself.

Ø What do you think about so-and-so issue?

Do not try to give the ready-made answers as provided by TOI and the Hindu. They want to know what you think and your analysis procedure is reflected in your answer.

Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Be prepared in advance. The company should be at the back of your mind. You should know about it as much as they do.

Dos and Don’ts:

Many of the points you already know, but still to reinforce them:

Ø Think before you speak. You may take even two minutes for a trick question, but do not give an answer that will reduce your prospects completely
Ø Be presentable. This shows your interest in that company
Ø Have a hair-cut and a shave/trim before the interview
Ø Be enthusiastic at all times. Some of these interviews may take place at bizarre times in the night. So be ready to entertain him if needed
Ø Never slouch in an interview. Show them that you are the “best possible candidate” that they can hire for your company.
Ø All your clothes must be pressed in advance. Make sure have 2-3 pairs of outfits and multiple shirts
Ø Look fresh and confident at all times, no matter what the situation. Do not twiddle your thumbs, crack your knuckles, play pen-games, adjust your hair periodically. Avoid all these things as they make you look too nervous
Ø Please take some mock interviews before your actual interview so that you are ready for the real stuff
Ø Shoes are a MUST and they must be black or dark brown only
Ø Wear clothes that are formal and make you look professional and coordinated. They must just “feel-right” for you
Ø Girls can wear a business suit or a saree – no compulsions to wear a saree only. If you are planning to wear heels/stilettos, make sure they are noiseless. Jewelry must be very simple and as minimal as possible
Ø Tie and Coat are must for boys. Rings and bracelets are better avoided
Ø Learn about CARBON CREDITS. Many companies are using this as a tool to prove their “environmental friendly” status now-a-days and hence they may ask you your opinion on their usage
Ø Also try and have a fair idea of various charitable foundations like the one by Bill Gates, CRY etc.

Why summers:

What is their profit? Why do they want to hire you?

Ø They may actually have a project for you and you cost them less than what the general industry averages are for the same project when they recruit full-time professionals for it – usually industries with this motto select their trainees accordingly
Ø They believe it is a good way to hire people. They will be able to assess and evaluate you for two months. If you are hired, it would save them induction and other initiation costs – TAS hires summer trainees this way. They are usually very serious about it
Ø They may just want to keep their relationship with the college alive. Summers are better than hiring full-time employees. They may become serious about the PPO if the student is exceptional enough
Ø Not every has the money to hire full-time professionals from top B-Schools and summers are the best ways to get their work done by the cream

Structure of the interviews:

Interviews are all about your ability, your willingness to work for them and your fit in the company. Interviews are structured according to the needed competency. It can be one of the following:

Ø Cognitive competency: The interview has an analytical and structured approach to it. It will include caselets and analytical questions
Ø Task Orientation: They will test whether you have the ability to handle a task according to the deadline provided. It may be in the form of the various incidents that happened to you in your life and through rapid-fire questions
Ø People Orientation: They will test whether you are a leader, a team-player or a loner

Try to have stories around the skills mentioned. Never say that you do not have any weakness when you are asked about it. When you show them that you know yourself, half the battle is already won.

When you enter

When you enter the room, wish all of them, starting with the lady. Shake hands only when offered. Ask them if you can sit down and then sit. Put the file on your lap (ideally). Do not encroach on the personal space of the interviewers.

Fiddling, fumbling, pulling ones ears – they are all signs of nervousness on the part of your sub-conscious even though you are trying to put a positive image in front of them. So be relaxed internally and stay focused.

It’s ok if you take time to answer the questions. This however depends on the complexity of the question asked. For instance, you should not think 2 minutes when asked about your strengths and weaknesses.

Do not GLOBE around. It gives an impression that you are trying to prove that the interviewer is an idiot and a dunce. In fact, it makes you look arrogant and hampers your chances drastically.

It’s ok to use humor but make sure you pop it at the right time. Hopefully it should not be racist and sexist.

IIM placement interviews focus more on the real world and not on your academics. You must be able to put your point across to them in a clear fashion. They see how well you articulate your thoughts. Be assertive and not aggressive.

Group Discussions:

In the GDs, they are looking more on how you are able to interact with your fellow peers in a group. Your points may/may not be valid, but they should not be inappropriate and showy. Avoid taking extreme steps like banging the table and shouting at the top of your voice. You can call them by their names if you want to. Please AVOID FISHMARKETS.

One final word of consolation: The Company you did your summers in will matter only till the point of getting selected for your final interviews. After that, everyone is on the same level. It will not get you the job if your interview is lousy.

All the very best!!!


saptarshi adhikari said...

nice collection

Varun Reddy Sevva said...

@saptarshi: Thanks a lot dude!!!