An interview is a brief interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee through which the interviewer gets the opportunity to evaluate the interviewee on skills that are difficult and often impossible to assess through a written examination. However, the interview itself poses a challenge to both the interviewer and the interviewee because it is in within a very short period that one has to prove oneself and the other has to come to a decision based on the performance.
Mistakenly, one often thinks that it is just the interviewee’s knowledge of the questions asked that decides the result. Unlike a written test, where knowledge is the main success factor, in an interview there are various other factors that come to play. The interviewer is taking in the candidate’s body language, communication skills, presence of mind, clarity of thought etc and the first impression of the interviewee also makes a lot of difference.
As an interviewer my strong point will be to 1) Ability to ask the right questions and 2) Be very observant.
The first point I mentioned is very important. Since time is limited it plays a very important role in an interview. The questions should be such that they span across a candidate’s knowledge of the subject, analytical skills, and presentation skills. The questions should also be able to gauge the honesty, integrity, confidence and aspirations of the interviewee. It is important that too much time is not spent on a particular question or answer.
Secondly, it is very important to be observant. Just listening to what the candidate is saying is not enough. One has to pay attention to every detail. The person’s body language speaks volumes about the person. For this, it helps a lot if the interviewer is aware of the basic aspects of body language. The dress the person is wearing, the loudness of his or her speech, the speed at which he speaks also can tell a lot to the interviewer that just the content of the answers cannot.
Similarly two weak points of an interviewer are 1) Lack of flexibility and 2) Inability to Listen.
Sometimes it so happens that the interviewer is so rigid about the questions he wants to ask and the answers he expects that he is unable to customize the interview to fit the needs of the candidates. In such cases often, the interviewer may be unable to see a good candidate for what he is. So it is important to be very flexible in the interview.
The second hindrance is the interviewer’s inability to listen to what the candidate is hearing. The interviewer often knows or decided from before what he wants the candidate to say. When the candidate speaks about something else, which may also be pertinent to the question, the interviewer may just not be able to listen with an open mind. It is very important for the interviewer to see each candidate uniquely and not be biased from before due to his own expectations.
Personal preferences or bias often spoils the quality of an interview, so it is of utmost importance to be unbiased and impartial in an interview. Also, it is important to keep in mind what is the requirement that the candidate is applying for. For example, I may have a personal preference for soft spoken people, but a loud and clear voice can actually be a positive quality for the job opening. I should not let my personal preferences drive my evaluation in such a case.
As an interviewee, I thing my strong point is my level of confidence. By nature I am a person who does not get nervous in any situation. Even when I am not aware of the answer to a question, I am able to keep a calm and collected mind and not panic. My presence of mind and ability to keep my mind in the present moment is one of my best assets as an interviewee.
The other strong point that I possess as an interviewee is my candid and honest nature. I never bluff and always say just what I am confident of and what I have really worked on, and this is always appreciated by my interviewers in any interview. My frankness never puts me in a difficult situation and I am always able to substantiate what I say,
As an area of improvement, I would like to say it is my lack of patience. Sometimes an interview is a long drawn process, with various stages and unending waits between each stage. I tend to lost patience and become irritable. I feel patience is one of the biggest strengths that one can have, I would definitely love to work on improving my patience.
The other weakness that I have as an interviewee that I often speak more than what is necessary. This not only opens up room for a lot of extra questions but also, often it is not appreciated in an interview. Listening should be increased and talking reduced.
Four positive things that I did as an interviewer are as follows.
1) Did my homework properly.
I always look through the CVs and pen profiles of the candidates I am going to interview. That helps me have an awareness of the background and the skills of the candidate from before so I can have an ides o what to test the candidate for.
2) Make the interviewee feel comfortable and relaxed.
I believe my core strength as an interviewer is to be able to help a candidate come out of his nervousness and inhibitions, so that he can perform to his maximum potential. A smile, a friendly attitude helps me achieve that.
3) Observe the candidate astutely.
I happen to have very good observation skills and I use them to the maximum in an interview. I take in the candidate’s full personality in the short period of an interview. The gestures, the body language, the dress, neatness, speech, diction all speak volumes to me regarding the appropriateness of the candidate for the position.
4) Evaluate in an unbiased manner.
I am able to leave my personal biases aside and do an objective assessment of the candidate and come to an unbiased inference.
Four negative things that I did as an interviewer are as follows.
1) Form a quick opinion.
Time limitation sometimes makes me jump to an opinion which I feel is unfair since I feel I have not been able to give adequate chance to the candidate to prove himself.
2) Not listen attentively.
Sometimes a candidate has to speak a lot and I have to do passive listening. I find my mind wandering off at such times and I have to make an attempt to bring it back to pay attention to what the candidate is saying.
3) Ineffective time management.
Sometimes there are a number of interviews to be completed and I find myself unable to do effective time management.
4) Have a gender bias.
There are some job openings that are physically demanding and strenuous. I find myself with a preference for male candidates for such positions. However, I am aware that women are equally or even more capable of performing at such positions so I believe my bias is a drawback.
Four positive things that I did as an interviewee are as follows.
1) Eloquent expression
I feel I am able to express what I know in a precise and articulate manner.
2) Frank and honest answers
I always answer from my past experience and knowledge and say only what is true.
3) Well versed on the topic.
I go prepared for an interview, to the best of my capability.
4) Appropriate and smart dressing.
I believe dress makes a lot of difference. So I dress in light colours, in a subtle manner, but smartly and neatly with attention to details and accessories.
Four negative things that I did as an interviewee are as follows.
1) Did not arrive on time.
I get delayed at times. I think I need to improve on it as punctuality is very important and can cost one one’s job.
2) Be too honest, not tactful enough.
I feel I am not tactful enough. While honestly is good I should earn to mix it with tact.
3) Deviate from the topic.
4) Sometimes, I have deviated from the question in front, as I have got carried away while peaking on a topic.
5) In a hurry to impress.
When I know I am aware of the answer to the question I get into a hurry to impress. This affects the quality of the answer and affects my performance.
http://www.studentbmj.com/back_issues/0402/careers/108.html, Sarah Burnett