Your job application was successful and you’ve been called for an interview. Congratulations! But suddenly your hands begin to get clammy, you find yourself starved of words, and you have no answers to questions you would ordinarily have answered without hesitation.

Being worried about how you will perform before an interview is absolutely normal. But the number of people I have seen who breeze through the job application process only to stumble at the last interview round leads to a worrying question. What is it about interviews that ties our tongues and catches us completely off-guard?

I used to be a person who hated interviews: you have too little time to make an impression and everything becomes like a desperate attempt to cobble together your strengths while hiding your flaws in the best way possible. I found myself unable to deal with the dreaded combination of ambiguous questions and the necessity to provide an answer that “had it all”. I still am nervous before interviews (and prone to the occasional rant about them) but what changed for me is that I now have a better understanding of what the interviewer is looking for.

The internet is full of ‘tips and tricks’ to deal with tough interview questions, but a lot of the answers only confuse you further. Should you really just ‘be yourself’? Is it better to ‘take charge’ of the interview or should you be more passive? Questions like these only raised more questions in my head about the “perfect approach to interviewing” and left me more disillusioned about my interview prospects. While there is no one-size-fits-all template for interview questions, it is still important to keep a few pointers in mind:

Here are a few tips to crack an interview:

  • Prepare as much as you can

Make an effort to understand the organization you’re applying for as well as you can, as only then can you understand what it is looking for and how well you will fit into the work culture. Look at possible job challenges should you take up the position. This will not only allow you to better understand the type of candidate the interviewer is looking for, but also what you need to do/say to demonstrate you are “that person”. Preparing for an interview is no less than preparing for an examination, so prepare as much as you can and ace the interview.

  • Don’t ‘be yourself’

There is a strong difference between “being yourself” and “being the best possible version of yourself”. This doesn’t mean that you have to hide your weaknesses or even lie about them. Having weaknesses is human after all. But don’t try to portray yourself as someone you’re clearly not as interviewers can generally sniff out people “pretending to be perfect”. And this can always open you to uncomfortable questions. If you say something about yourself, be prepared to verify it.

  • Be ready to be flexible

Even if you have prepared as much as you can, it is impossible to exactly predict how your interview will go. Creating a predetermined script for the interview, while useful, can create momentary panic (and hurt your chances) should you go “off-script”. Instead, spend time to create an approach that can adapt to the circumstances. Study the interviewer and try to gauge what they expect from a successful candidate. For example, if your interviewer seems like she is looking for someone with energy and enthusiasm, it is best to not speak in a dull monotone.

With these easy tips, we hope we have provided you with some valuable guidelines on how to prepare for an interview.

Good luck with your next interview!

Shubhayan Sengupta is Associate Specialist, Curriculum at Harappa Education.

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