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Importance Of Soft Skills: First Interview Conundrum

Here are some useful tips on how to face your first interview and avoid the mistake many people end up making during interviews

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The soft skills are a vital element of communication and their importance cannot be undermined. Take the case of a new candidate whose first crack at a job interview will play an important role in shaping his / her years to come. The candidate is often nervous, sometimes starry eyed and most times unsure of what to expect.

It is here, that the candidate can fall back on what I call as "internal reassurance", if he / she has impeccable soft skills, which will certainly play a key role in the final outcome.

So, what is the first thing that an interviewer notices in you?
What is the first thing that makes an impression?
You have already sent your CV for an interview, then why does the interviewer ask you to talk about yourself? Has the interviewer read your CV?

These are some of the questions that need an answer for every candidate who wishes to make a mark.

The truth is, sometimes the interviewer reads your CV, marks out certain pertinent points and keeps himself/herself ready for the candidate coming in. It is also true that there are times when the CV has not been read by the interviewer, and it landed on the desk as a part of a shortlisting process, generally based on criteria set for the position in question and as advertised. There are chances that the person shortlisting the CV is but just a part of a long list of interviewers scheduled to meet you at several levels in the hierarchy. What then are the chances of you making an impression at the right time at the right place with the right people?

Many a candidate has failed and fallen at the first hurdle itself, without making any impression to forge the way through to the next level. Remember there are seasoned professionals sitting there, trying to find the best fit and every little gesture, every little signal matters and may decide the "go - no go" outcome.

It is here, that the soft-skills take over.

Appearance

Make sure that you are dressed for the occasion. Formals are the order of the day. A crisp shirt with a formal tie for the male, while a formal suit for the girls should be a great option. Make sure that your definition of "formals" matches what is normally expected. No jazzy shirts, a formal white or light blue normally should carry the day. Couple this with a formal trouser set and a tie and you are good to go. Girls have options between Indian formal suits or business suits to fall back on. A blazer as an additional accessory becomes vital, when you are approaching higher profiles.

Shoes and socks need to be matched with the trousers, normally black or tan leather shoes do, but where you are unsure of socks, the neutral color - black in this case, is good to go! Make sure your shoes are polished and shining! This is the first step towards exuding your own confidence or "Internal reassurance".

Groom your hair well. If you have one of those fancy haircuts, you may wish to reconsider a more formal cut and keep your hair in place, rather than flying all over. Hair gel is optional.

Know the job description and the company
The job description and company information is normally known to you ahead of time. You must learn as much as possible about both the key elements before the day of reckoning.

Taking a seat
Normally you will be asked to take the assigned seat by the interviewer. Occupy the full seat. Do not sit on the edge of it, as if you are ready to run away. Sit with both feet firmly on the ground and not crossed over. Hands may then easily rest in your own lap.

Answering questions
Make sure your tone is measured, voice is confident and the language precise. It is ok to make normal hand gestures as our speech and hand movements are hardwired with each other. Of course, excessive movements must be avoided.

Taking that first question
Remember, if the interviewer wanted to know what is there on the CV, he / she would have read it! Give out your name, qualifications, experience and achievements in that order. Avoid superfluous details such as family etc., unless specifically asked for.

Often, the interviewer is guided through the course of the interview by the answers you provide, so make sure you have done sufficient homework and are ready.

The process will now move to what you have written on the CV and questions will be based on that. Next follows the stage of matching your skill sets and qualifications with the job description. If you have done a reasonable job with these, chances of being shortlisted / selected get a boost!

Finishing off

When you are done with the interview, be polite and thank the interviewer/s for the opportunity granted to you and look forward to hearing from the company again. If you have taken care of the soft skills to go hand in hand with your qualifications and experience, you have taken the essential steps towards being successful!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Shivakant Upadhyaya

Shivakant Upadhyaya is director, academics, Fazlani Altius Business School

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