A friend recently walked into the office of a homeopathy chain which plugs its ads in the city’s leading newspaper. She had applied for a job as an assistant manager. Usual process, an emailed resume, acknowledged and shortly thereafter, the all-important call.
So here she was, nearly an hour before the appointed time. The receptionist seemed frazzled with so many candidates clamoring for attention. A huge stack of application forms on the desk.
45 minutes later. Her scheduled time passed by and she was still waiting for her name to be called. Two and a half hours later she was informed that she will have to return later in the evening since they had more candidates than anticipated, and needed to re-arrange the schedule.
Points to note:
- They took two and a half hours to inform her about the change in schedule
- The front office was ill-equipped for the deluge; HR was no where in sight
- She was at the scheduled venue an hour before schedule
- She actually had the patience to WAIT
I am sure that All of us must have faced an instance like this, whether it was for a job interview, a sales call, or hospital. Whatever be the reason, going ahead presented my friend an opportunity to observe the company and its practices at close quarters.
What did the chaos have to say about the company?
It was unprepared, there was a lack of planning, basic arrangements were not made, HR was completely absent from the scene and the front office was ill-equipped to face the situation.
Brownie points for the friend: She came before time for the appointment
I shall not get into the management angle of this whole scenario. BUT from a job seeker’s perspective enough cannot be said about the importance of being AHEAD of time for an interview.
To illustrate the point further, here is another example. I remember my first job interview at one of the best media houses at that time. The newspaper still has its loyal fan following but its Express lost steam. Anyways, there I was ready to face my first job interview armed with a one-page resume and copies of my educational certificates (Yes, go ahead and laugh, we used to follow this practice then J). It was August and Bangalore was at its climatic best. Non-stop rains and winds that turned any decent umbrella on its head. Auto-drivers were a lot more helpful than now, and one kind gentleman actually found out the address and saw to it that I safely reached the paper’s office.
I was a good deal early and walked in nervously. I was made to sit in the lobby and noticed three other candidates ahead of me. All girls, if you must know. Journalism, it seemed was more popular with the fairer sex.
I had read the advert which asked for someone with good writing and communication skills. Now all I knew about journalism was what I had seen on TV, a Crime Reporter canoodling with the cops and meeting criminal types in dark alleys. And all I knew about the paper was Express represented good journalism. The paper which had advertised the opening was The Financial Express, which till that morning was, in my mind, the business supplement of the main paper.
Imagine my surprise when the girl next to me opened The Financial Express, which I hastily borrowed from her. Hadn’t I arrived early my ignorance would have ensured I never thread the adventure I started on. REMEMBER it is never enough to be ON TIME, but AHEAD of time.
Getting to a job venue ahead of time gives you
- The opportunity to pace yourself for the Interview
- Observe the company – its people and practices at close hand
- Talk to other candidates, if the opportunity presents, about their perception
- Perhaps, you may bump into someone you know who already works for the company
- Sometimes you may hear snippets of conversation between people working for the company that may prove invaluable when it comes to decision making time
Also, remember NOT TO:
- Turn that lead time you have into a gossiping session with your friend/acquaintance or that candidate
- Come sloppily dressed. Even if you are applying to job that is not people facing, DRESS NEAT and SMART. It shows you care.
- Have bad breath and bad smelly armpits BUT do not smell like a walking distillery either. That’s what happens when you spray too much of your favourite Deo, after-shave, perfume, get 😉
- Speak slang and the watchimdoing phrases like LIKE, YOU KNOW, WHAT, etc
- Speak fast like you are in a hurry to catch the next IPL match nor TALK too slow like your interviewer is a retard
- SHARE your personal history like the first time you discovered Linda Goodman’s sun-signs. And yes, interviews too can get personal when they start asking your marital status and your weekend activities. Find out why this information is Important and related to the job you have applied for. If you feel it is not relevant, be firm but tactful in letting them know this is personal information you are not comfortable sharing
- Act smart and being a wise guy
- Inject too much of humor into the proceeding especially if your sense of humor is the toilet variety or the intellectual one
- Guffaw with laughter when there is no need of it
- Be discourteous, disrespectful and dishonest
Take the opportunity during the interview to showcase what you bring to the table. Use examples to show how you dealt with situations. Even if this is your first job, there would be plenty of instances in college or university where you had to be innovative, solve problems, collaborate with peers, handle crisis, raise funds, etc.
Use the interview to understand further what the company expects from your defined role & yourself; Growth prospects; corporate & HR policy
Ask the interview a question or two – possibly about their services or medium-term plans — this will give you a chance to show you have done your research on the company and you genuinely care about being a part of the team
Keep the pay part of it to the very end. It is always better for the interviewer to ask about your expectations instead of You jumping the gun and talking money. Here again, be firm and reasonable about the package. Bargain but remember you are not in a fish market. Don’t raise a stink.
Have a pleasant demeanour even if it is for a sales opening. Being assertive is better than being offensively aggressive.
If you are unable to agree with the interviewer on a certain point, try to move the conversation to another topic. Else, go with the tried and tested, “I think we can agree to disagree. And I’m sure you have other important points to discuss too” peppered with a smile 😉
And a firm handshake, if the occasion arises
A brief thank you for your time and nice meeting you should suffice unless you have been given a strong positive response which could mean you are saying, “I hope we get to work together”