So what really is a good way to get through “the interview process”?

It is a common fact on any social and professional network, that whenever you post a “Job Discussion” suddenly all focus comes towards that post. It sometime feel really strange that people in the groups or the general audiences in the network, who are never seen on any discussion board, suddenly started to pop out and clicking “likes” and making queries.

Very recently, we have posted a few vacancies over the network(s) and had received good responses. The following is what I have learnt from that experience of “Short listing” and then “Interviewing” the candidates. I shall try to guide people here of what Employers look for on the CVs and how questions should be answered (regardless of their technical and non-technical nature).

Part 1 - The CV and the Online Profile:

Your CV and the online profile are that actual doorway through which anyone could get to you. So these really matters. Making them look good shall make you look good!

Now, for online profile, the things are pretty manageable by the site itself. I mean there are tools, apps and pre formatted structures that keeps it update and in good form. Then, there is some extra which you can do by joining groups, contributions and hitting “Like” wherever and whenever you can.

What really turns the table around is your CV. Here is something which is once emailed or posted shall become “Hard Coded” facts about yourself and where the real game begins. So what can you do to play it better?

Here are some handy guideline…

  1. The Covering Letter: Don’t attach a covering letter with your CV unless you are asked to do so. Instead, write a short but to the point message in the email you are sending with the CV. The message should highlight your current job post, years of experience and your expertise.

2. Photograph: It seems strange that for a passport and visa processing people are not hesitant to have their picture taken but they would not paste one on their CV. Remember, your photograph is really necessary, and not putting a one means that either you are really ugly or you don’t know how to past a picture :-). It is also a good identification and impression creator.

3. CV Header: Put your name, email address and contact number. The next line (if necessary) shall be your professional network profile link, Certified? Blog address and personal web site.

Then comes the sections;

4. Section 1: (Experience) – Employers, shall not perceive what education you have taken until later, but first of all we would like to know the “Years of Experience” you have. So go like this;

 

Company Name, Title of Job, From, To, and Number of years

5. Section 2: Projects – (MOST IMPORTANT!) Follow the sequence on section 1, and write down;

Company Name, Project Title, Role, Duration, Tool, and DB (If any)

(You can list separate Technical and Non-Technical projects)

6. Section 3: Other Areas of Expertise – This is where your niche comes in. So you need to elaborate “True” expertise other than the above mentioned. What makes you grow in the company, what makes you stand out in the university, who are you? How good are you? things like that…for example, “I am a management techy!”, (now, how you write and proves it depends on you)

7. Section 4. Trainings – List all training (Conducted and participated) according to the company chronology as depicted in section 1.

8. Section 5. Education – Divide this into two. Certifications and Academic. Also, if you are certified then tell this in the heading of your CV.

And that’s about it…If you could pull it out in one page then good, otherwise, keep it as short as possible.

Part 2 – The Interview:

1. The Call:

Interview does not happen unless you get the call. So whenever you apply, you should kept yourself aware that a call may came through. People often behaving as “Surprised” on getting interview calls creates a bad impression, and even worse is when they don’t pick up the phone, or does not return the call.

IMPORTANT: Once you receive the call always, ask for a confirmation email from the caller. This shall make things official in nature. From the company perspective and its good image, email should come from its own domain rather than a private address. Reply for confirmation even you are interested or not. (Try not to reschedule after confirmation unless it is something beyond your control)
2. Punctuality:

Be on time – actually No – Be a little earlier, let’s say, 15 minutes earlier. This will do two things, one you can suck in the company environment while waiting and two, you can lay off any city tensions which you carried while coming to the interview. Being in 11th hour shall put unnecessary pressures on you and your brain.

3. Dressing:

Clean, pressed, formal, not too flashy, practical, and yours!

4. Hello and Hi

Be loud so people can hear you, not shouting. Firm Hand Shake, Smile, and respond. If ask for refreshments, then go ahead, but do ask for water if you really need it. Remember the name of the person whom you shall meet.
5. Tests:

Well if that happens then be prepared and good luck!

6. Questions:

About yourself (Career and Personal):

You should have small speech like introduction to yourself and your career line rehearsed at your end. You should be smooth enough to just speak and let it go in one flow. Precise, Chronological, Short and complete. For example:

I am a Software Quality Assurance and Quality Management Systems professional, having more than 10 years of wide exposure in every sect of industry since 1999, I am a <Qualification> and is also a certified <–>. Currently I am working at <–> on <these projects> and is posted on <this designation>. I am a change oriented and loyal team member and have always provided resourceful support to my fellow members and my superiors. My work exposure ranges from Software Houses, IT Support Services, Training Institutions, Textile, Pharmaceuticals, and Quality Management consultancies. (This shall depend on your own exposure).

 

About your projects / Experience and your role in that area:

Introduce the project (one liner) and then your role in it. Be specific and technical about what you say. Don’t be a Philosopher or Generalized.
About your Previous Organizations and Experiences:

Do same as projects but be specific about the work areas and the expertise you have gained with that experience. Do not show any regrets – if asked then be truthful.
About something you don’t know about:

If you don’t know anything, you should say that you don’t. Do not try to attempt it in desperation. Don’t get hasty or nervous, that can bring out negative attitude in no time. So be polite and careful.
About Mind Boggling (Brain Teasers) scenarios:

You need to be really open minded here. If you pass these questions this means that you cannot think other than what you know. For example “How many pair of socks were sold in New York last year?” Now, everyone knows that this cannot be answered precisely, but statistically “Yes”. So be open minded and answer according to your common sense.
About your Hobbies and extracurricular activities:

This is really important because it reflects about your life other than work. Hobbies are good to have. So whatever you do (other than work say about it). Don’t say that you use Facebook as a hobby, this means that you will do it in the office also. So it should be something which is other than your normal work routine. (And, ironically, everyone uses Facebook)
7. Ask Questions:

It is now not a one way process. It is a two way process where you can also ask questions. People don’t do this – often. It is really important that you should ask questions about the company, work environment, Team Structure and their Product Strength.

 

Do your homework well. You should know about the company and its products/Projects on your fingertips. So ask…
7. Other Factors:

Take care of these things as well while you are at it:
Pose good Eye Contact

Sitting Position – do not lie down, sit straight, hands off the table.

Do not Fidget, shake legs or correct hair after every moment or so.

Speak clearly – but only after the question is finished.

And send a thank you email after the interview.
I hope this comes in handy for people and professionals, especially in my country. If I have left something here then you can always correct me.

 

Arslan Ali is a Software Testing and Training professional; he serves his passion at OuttaBox (www.outtabox.co) as a Training Consultant for various software testing workshops, and also works as a Senior Consultant Information Solutions at Sidat Hyder Morshed Associates – a renowned software solution provided in Pakistan.

Arslan has been around ICT industry past 15 years and have diverse experience in Software Development, Quality Assurance and Business Process implementation.

You can reach him out on twitter @arslan0644.

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