I am sure that most of you are well prepared to face the corporates head on; all the efforts that went into those gruelling late night hours (read: last minute Ctrl C & Ctrl V) for your assignments, projects and exams are about to pay off! And for those of you, who are fresh incumbents to the aforementioned beautiful & enriching life of an MBA Student, pull up your socks and get into the groove to experience the most challenging and rewarding two years of your life.
With your final placements & summers internships around the corner, I take this opportunity to help you put on your best foot forward. Competency and Calibre are critically evaluated by the Corporates, but more than your intellectual competency it is imperative for you all to portray an equally strong exhibit of people & social skills. What I mean to say is that your knowledge of and adherence to the appropriate corporate & social etiquette at all points of contact with your prospective employer is equally important in bagging that coveted job.
So to make your life a little simpler I have assembled a brief list of etiquette tips for you to create that perfect first impression, and considerable tip the scales in your favour in comparison to those lesser mortals who might not be privy to such valuable insights!
Interview Etiquette Tips:
1. Pre-Interview preparation:
a) Stack up on generic copies of your resume, but always consider if you need to customize the generic copy to suit the company’s expectations from you. E.g. if a telecom biggie is coming and you have relevant industry exposure in either your work experience or short term industry projects and have not highlighted it enough then it would be a wise thing to do so.
b) Keep a professional portfolio/ organizer ready with your resume (5 copies) and other supporting certifications
c) Prepare your outfit one day in advance to avoid last minute laundry crisis
d) Do your background reading on the current affairs of the said industry and an in-depth research on the prospective employer to field all the questions confidently
e) Always reach at least 10-15 minutes before time for your big Interview so have enough time to regain self composure after battling the crazy Mumbai commute!
2. Dressing up right!
a) For Men, a dark business suit and a crisp & clean white shirt with a statement yet conservative tie to set you apart from the herd. Avoid loud colours and print s on your tie, opt for self prints & slim stripes instead. A black leather belt is a must with black –polished- leather shoes. Please, please do not carry back packs to your interview, invest in a professional portfolio or a classic briefcase to add a touch of sophistication to your personality and emerge as a promising corporate professional amidst the sea of college pass-outs. Finally I need not emphasize why, but a watch is a must! Not only to be on time, but also to avoid sending signals to your interviewer that your life runs on the Mumbai railway’s timetable and you are too busy trying to be on time and in sync with them that you do not have the time to strap your time machine on!
b) For Women, A dark coloured business pant suit is a mandate; please try and avoid Indian formals for an Interview. Try and break the boring black and white palette and infuse some pastels and rich creams in your wardrobe. To exude feminine grace team up your suits with conservative high collared blouse with light frill details along the neckline and you are set to create a distinct and memorable first impression. Closed leather shoes in black are a must and do not trade them for any other colour or pattern at least for your interviews. It is always better to tie up your hair to avoid the nervous itch of playing with it during the interview. Use a classy and a professional handbag for your portfolio; try and pick a size that would accommodate your files in it to avoid managing too much of paraphernalia in your hands. And yes, even for the ladies, a watch is a must have accessory during your interviews. It portrays a positive image- saying that you not only respect your own time, but more importantly your interviewer’s time as well.
3. Speaking with your mind as well as your body:
a) I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of adopting English as your official language of communication as a professional. Ensure that you consciously attempt to stick to English as your medium of communication at all points of contact with your Interviewer.
b) Your second language of communication is inadvertently your personal body language. Ensure that you are not sending out mixed signals or to make it worse wrong signals to your audience. Always remember, your 90% communication is attributed to what your subconscious body if speaking and only 10% weightage is awarded to your words!
c) So walk upright, hold your chin up, have a smile on your lips and a twinkle in your eye to mask all the nervousness and stress. When you sit down, ensure that you sit and not sink in the chair, lean a bit forward to exhibit interest and alertness and always maintain eye contact when spoken to or when you are speaking, either ways.
d) It is corporate courtesy to offer a handshake to your Interviewer and is a very good omen of your self confidence; but avoid going and shaking hands with the entire party if there are more than 2 Interviewers present. In the latter case a sincere Hello & Good Morning does the needful.
e) To avoid nervous theatrical gestures with both hands place one hand on your file and keep it there and you may use the other hand to articulate if and when deemed appropriate. Also ensure that subconsciously your hands do not stray to any, any part of your body or clothing to fiddle with and exhibit your inner nervous wreck, and moreover belie your super-composed external facade. Of course, a 360 degree control on your conscious as well as sub-conscious body language is achieved only with practice and acute awareness of one’s self, but till then- if you can’t make it, at least you can fake it!