An interview is a two-way communication process between a candidate and the interviewers. The objectives behind an interview are to assess the candidate’s personality competencies such as attitudes, morals, enthusiasm, respect for the others, friendliness, the level of acquired knowledge or information etc., which cannot be assessed through a written test. The rationale behind conducting an interview is to select the candidates with right attitude and values. The interviewers also to make sure that candidates with the negative attitude and those who lack desirable value are not recruited in banks.
How to prepare for an interview?
1. On receipt of call letter, carefully go through the call letter and have a check-list of testimonials to be carried with you for the interview.
2. Make note of time of interview and interview location. If you are not familiar with the interview location, make an advance inquiry with the people who know the place. If possible make a trip to the location before the day of the interview if you have not seen the place earlier. This will ensure that you don’t have to search the correct address on interview day.
3. Have a checklist of testimonials to be carried with you for the interview. Organize the testimonials to be carried with you while going for the interview. Don’t keep anything that requires on interview date pending to the last day. Hold your resume, extra copies, photographs or any other personal items.
4. On many occasions, the low quality carry bags of the candidates let them down by inadvertently spilling its contents in front of interviewers. By choosing a suitable carry bag for holding your testimonials, you can avoid such embarrassments. A tote bag (a carry bag which we normally see in the hands of businessmen) is preferable for the purpose. If you don’t have a tote bag, you may ideally carry a good quality folder or a small briefcase for the purpose. It is not appropriate to carry school backpack to interview. If the interview is taking place at your college campus you can leave behind it in the waiting room or with your friends.
Dress for the interview:
Sales Executives were taught by their experienced bosses about the importance of dressing well in selling their products. “Well-dressed is half the job done!” they say. This dictum is applicable to everyone, more so, to candidates who are appearing for the job interview.
We all know, nobody gets a job or promotion simply for dressing well. But, it should be the endeavor of the candidate to create an impression on the minds of the interviewers that he/she is the most suitable person to fill up the vacancy in the organization. He/she must give more importance on his/her attire on interview day. Wear a formal dress, no matter what the regular dress code is at the job. Pick your clothes for the interview well in advance and get them cleaned, pressed and keep them ready for wearing on the interview day. The white or blue shirt is preferred over a flashy with a brightly colored shirt for an interview. A straight collar in the shirt is more formal than a button down.
Strong scent is allergic to many interviewers and they may dislike the person who blowout smells. So it is safe to walk to the interview without spraying scent on your clothes or deodorant on your body.
A tie symbolizes professionalism in you. In the interview, it sends the message that you are an interested and involved candidate. Select good quality silk ties for the interview. A tie in dark traditional color or small patterned/ diagonal striped looks better.
For executive posts, a suit is an appropriate attire. A three button suit will look good on almost anyone. A suit of two buttons also acceptable. A blue or light or dark gray colored suit matches with shirts and ties of all colors.
If you are a woman, you need not worry what to wear; you should come in looking organized and well-dressed. If you wish to wear jewels, be conservative in exhibiting your jewels.
Avoid footwear that makes cracking noise while walking. It is also important to ensure that your shoes shined and the heels of the shoes are not worn down or slippery. Get socks that are long enough to cover your legs when you sit down in your suit. Select the socks which match the color of your trousers.
How the candidate’s competencies are determined in the interview?
A candidate seeking job or promotion in a bank has to work effectively under stressful circumstances and he/she has to interact with customers. So the job requirement is that he/she should be efficient in work and must be in a position to put across views clearly and precisely within the reach of customers, with their superiors and subordinates. These abilities are tested with the assessment of ‘competencies’ in individuals. While conducting interviews, the interviewers concentrate on finding various competency factors of the candidate such as candidate’s general demeanor, attitude, the ability of communication, confidence, and self-motivation, teamwork, customer service orientation, empathy and concern for the less privileged/rural poor etc.
What does it mean ‘general demeanor and attitude’?
General demeanor means gesture. It means overall mannerism like conduct, behavior, character, appearance of a person. Attitude is the approach of a person towards others. The candidate’s attitude to work and his/her attitude towards individuals like superiors, colleagues, subordinates and customers are important factors for the bank job.
Whether the candidate has to prepare for questions on banking subjects to face the interview?
If he/she is a serious candidate interested in the job he has to prepare for the interview. As discussed earlier, the interviewers’ job is to probe the candidate’s level of acquired knowledge or information along with personality competencies.Questions can be related to any subjects under the sky to assess the candidate.There is no hard and fast rule that questions on banking subjects should be asked to a candidate by the interviewers. However, a candidate who has completed his/her graduation is expected to acquire basic knowledge of banking services. Moreover, the candidates, who are applying for bank jobs, naturally must know what type of job he/she has to do if they get the job in the banks. Therefore questions, if asked on banking, will be for the purpose of checking the candidate’s basic knowledge about the services offered by the banks. For example, banking related questions can be like what are the alternative channels of services a bank customer can use without going to a bank? Since millions of bank customers are enjoying facilities like ATMs, net banking, phone banking, and Credit cards, debit cards, Point of Sales at shops, malls and hospitals, NEFT, RTGS e-commerce etc., the purpose of asking the question is to assess the knowledge of the candidate on alternative channels of banking. Similarly, questions can be on functions of RBI, cross-selling, marketing of bank products etc. There may be further questions to explain one of these services to check the awareness of the candidate. But nature of all these questions is basically to assess the general knowledge of the candidate rather than the banking knowledge of the candidates. Yet, if the candidate is from banking or accountancy stream of graduation or having working experience in those departments, the questions may be asked on those subjects.
What are the otheraspects a candidate has to remember?
1. Reach the venue at least half an hour before. After reaching the location, have a cup of coffee or tea at a nearby restaurant. If you do not drink tea or coffee, take something which helps you to refresh and take your mind off of the commute. However, take care that you are not entering the interview hall with chewing or smoke.
2. At least 10 minutes before your turn to face the interview, go to restroom unzip your fly and reach in to pull the front tail downwards, to align the packet with your trouser hitch and belt buckle. Make sure that shirt’s tails are long enough that they stay tucked in. Neatly comb your hairs and ensure that you are looking neat, tidy and well-dressed.
3. Turn off your Mobile: Before entering the interview room, turn off your mobile phone and don’t wear a watch that beeps. The sound of mobile phone ringing or beeps of the watch during interview process may ruin your chances to get selected, as the interviewers dislike such interruption during the interview process.
What are the mental blocks a candidate faces in the interview?
Many candidates who appear for the interview will generally have several mental blocks like anxiety, inhabitation about the process, fear of failure in an interview, inferiority complex, lack of exposure to interview process. These mental blocks may turn them into nervousness while walking into an interview.
Is there any remedy to overcome mental blocks?
Your body language may help you to overcome your mental blocks while walking into an interview. Walk straight; don’t get frozen up. Greet the interviewer when you reach closer to them with an energetic and cheerful gesture. Have a friendly expression when they in turn exchange pleasantries with you. This would eradicate or minimize your inhibition or anxiety and put you at ease. Ask courteously, for the permission of the interviewer to occupy your seat if they have not already communicated to you to sit. Stay calm and composed and keep your head straight which demonstrates that the candidate is secure and confident.
How to sit on the hot seat and where to keep the belongings?
Many candidates while facing the interviewers has much gullible on where to keep their belongings, how to sit on the hot seat etc. Let me give you some quick easy tips on how one can overcome from confusions. Once you have occupied the hot seat, find a suitable place to keep your belongings near your seat, preferably on the ground near your seat. Don’t put your briefcase or purse on your lap or on the table in front of the interviewers. Some interviewers may allow you to keep your belongings on the table, so as to ensure that you are feeling free and comfortable. Thank them for the permission before keeping your items on the table.
Sit upright and properly on the seat in a relaxed manner. Don’t sit rigidly on the edge of your chair. Avoid the toying and sagging in your seat. Lean slightly forward, which suggests that you have taken a position of seriously listening to them (interviewers).
Your Facial expressions are important
- Avoid tightening the lips, twisting them sideways or biting your lips during an interview. It is inappropriate and also suggests nervousness.
- Fiddling with hair, face or neck sends the message of anxiety and uncertainty. Touching the nose, lips or ears may signal that the candidate is deceitful. Hence avoid moving your hand towards your face or head.
Low profile movement of hands and arms
Using hands to explain some technical matters is alright, but it is professed that “the less a person moves his/her hands and arms the more powerful he or she is”. Folding arm across the chest is not suitable for an interview setting as it suggests that the candidate has taken a defensive position. Therefore the best thing you have to do in an interview is to rest your hands on your lap or cross the fingers of both the hands below the elbow level or resting your hands on the arms of the chair.
Hold your feet firmly on the ground
The resting of an ankle on the opposite knee in the interview seems that the candidate is arrogant and or too casual. Shaking and moving the legs shows the nervousness of the candidate and it is also an irritating distraction to interviewers. Therefore, powerful positions for your legs are to place both feet on the floor. This position conveys confidence in you.
The other powerful position is to place the full sole of one shoe firmly on the floor and taking behind the other shoe under your chair touching the toe of the shoe on the floor. This position of your legs is called athletic position, implying that you’re ready for action
Maintain direct eye contact
It is essential to keep direct eye contact with the interviewer. Maintaining eye contact indicates active listening and your interest in the job. Eyes that scurry around suggest dishonesty. Looking down at the time of conversation gives the impression of low self-esteem. But don’t overdo direct eye contact. The stiff and stern looking at the interviewer without break can make the interviewer extremely uncomfortable. Nod your head every now and then to show you are carefully listening to the interviewer.
What should not be done in an interview?
1. Making negative comments about the present employer or previous employer does not augur well to the interviewers. Interviewers like your openness and your positive attitude towards others.
2.Do not make excuses for earlier failures. Own up responsibility for your decisions and explain how they were managed by you.
3.Do not try to exaggerate or lie or misrepresent about you in either in your replies to interviewers or in your application for the job. Those who lack desirable value are not selected for the job. Even if you were able to influence the interviewer with false information during the interview, still there is a chance that you will be dismissed from the job, when your dishonesty gets discovered.
4.Answering to the interviewers in a casual manner is an insult to the interviewers as well as to the organization which called you for the interview. Your conduct should not give the impression that you are not serious about the job but casually appearing to the interview for practice.
5.Seldom give an impression that you have applied for the job only because of the geographic location of the organization. This gives an impression to the interviewers that you are interested only in a particular type of job in the organization, and you may not be useful to the organization in the long run.
6.Asking about salary and other benefits in the interview gives an impression that you are only interested in pay. Don’t ask the interviewers about salary and benefits unless the subject is brought up by the interviewers. Remember that interviewers are not your career guides.
7.Don’t take your relative or a friend to attend the interview. If you are not able to attend the interview alone, it indicates you are not grown up and independent for a job. If someone accompanied you to show the route, let them be away from the place of interview.
What are the likely questions to be asked in the interviews?
Every job interview is different and you may not be asked same typical questions in all the interviews. Normally candidate’s application/C.V becomes the launching pad to start with the interview. As mentioned earlier, the questions can be asked on any subjects, depending upon job requirement. There are no specific likely questions to be asked to all the candidates all the time. The likely questions are about what the candidate is doing at present if not working reason for the same or about the candidate’s knowledge about the organization where he/she is now seeking job or promotion. Questions may be related to general knowledge and awareness of what is happening around, their likely effect on day to day conduct of common man, any failure in student life and how they were managed by him/her. The question can be on subject liked, most liked- least liked with reasons or hobbies role model to imitate and reasons why, ambitions with long term and short term goals, expected career path, the reason for not getting selected in earlier interviews etc. As a candidate, you have to anticipate likely questions in the interview including questions on professional knowledge (subject knowledge) and are prepared for positive replies to those questions. You may fumble for words or sound unsure of yourself, if you do not prepare the reply and rehearse it well before the interview. The lack of preparation signals the interviewer that you are not serious about the job or promotion.
The following are most common questions asked in many job interviews; however, there is no guarantee that you will be asked these questions in the interview.
- Introduce yourself/Tell about yourself?
- You have a very good academic qualification. Don’t you think you’re overqualified for this job?
- You are a technical person, but you have applied for a job here which does not require technical qualification. How do you fit into this job?
- Why did you choose this organization?
- Tell me why should we give a job to you? / Why are you the best person for this position?
- Where do you see yourself in next ten years, if you get a job in this organization?
- What are your strength and weakness?.
While replying to questions like what are your strength and weakness, you must ensure that you’re relating your strength to the position you are seeking in the organization and those unrelated to the position as your weakness. For example, you have applied for an IT officer’s job in the bank which needs the computer skill and you possess a computer degree then you will have to project that computer skill is your strength and you have to explain the details of certificates held by you and experience in computer related work. Similarly, you can express ‘stage fear’ as your weakness if your job does not require you to address a gathering or the group. Note that while responding the questions, your answer should be simple, short and clear. Ask clarification if you don’t understand a question. Be concise about the words used by you. There may be further probing questions on your reply. Be honest in your reply. Once the interviewer concludes the interview, offer them a firm handshake with eye contact that is not too strong and not too weak and gracefully walk out.
Suggestions for the candidates who have studied in vernacular languages.
Most of the people find it difficult to be perfect at the start of the interview, but later on, they improve their confidence. However, the situation would move to worst if the candidate is throughout unable to convey his idea when the questions were asked in English. Honestly, I too do not have the perfect solution for the above problems of the candidates. I learned that many people were successful in the interview, although they were weak in English, by practicing below indicated confidence gaining exercise. So, if you are the candidate who is not confident of doing the interview well, due to above reason, you may also do that exercise and try your luck.
Stand or sit before a mirror and imagine that you are being interviewed. Ask probable questions you have imagined and also try to answer them all in English by yourself. Repeat the exercise guessing maximum questions and rehearsing the answer for them. Take the help of a person, who can clarify your doubts or get it clarified by referring the books. Do this exercise repeatedly which may, in turn, give you lot of confidence to face the interview. After all “Practice makes man perfect”.
If one is interested in bank job it is necessary that he/she has to meet the job requirement. If proficiency in local language and in English is the essentials of the job requirement, then he/she has to learn or improve proficiency in those languages. Many people have learned the art of speaking in the English language by practice. Listening to people who speak that language with rapt attention and trying to speak with them in that language. Watching English programs in TV or reading English newspapers are other sources of learning English.