What is a Personal Interview?
Get your tie ready, wear a crisp shirt, iron your blazer, get your resume ready, pop some breath mints and get ready because we are about to crack the code for a successful personal interview.
A Personal Interview can take two major forms. It can be conducted as a job interview or a college admissions Interview.
In a job interview, the HR panel conducts a one on one interview session with the candidates. The job candidate is asked questions on his/her skills, personal experiences, where they see themselves 5 years down the line, their idea about the company and its works and so on. This gives the company officials a clearer idea of the candidate’s work capacity, personality, and future goals. All these factors are crucial for the company in choosing the right candidate. Simply put, Interviewer meets with the candidate to evaluate their skills, capabilities, and level of experience.
In a college admissions interview, the student is interviewed by say, a diverse panel of Professors or college authority officials to test the student’s knowledge and view on the subject matter.
The hallmark of a Personal Interview is the one to one or direct interaction between the candidate and the interviewer.
Tips for a successful PI
- Look sharp - Wear formals. Iron your attire and look confident. Confidence is the secret ingredient to success.
- Positive body language – We know that you'll be nervous but don’t let it show. A firm handshake, eye to eye contact, a smile and positive responses can make the deal. Your body language is important. Sit in a comfortable posture and don't fidget. Don’t be a sweating mess. Remember, this isn’t the end of everything. So, give it your best shot and hope for the best.
- Prepare a strong resume – Your resume is a reflection of you. Interviewers also tend to pick questions based on the information that CV/Resume carries. Interviewers expect candidates to be fully prepared with minute details on any information that you provide in the resume or CV.
- Think before you speak – the key to answering correctly is understanding the question properly. If you’re not sure what the question is asking for or what it means, then politely ask the interviewer to either repeat the question or ask for a clarification.
- Take a short pause – before answering the question. Think about all the possible answers, take into account all the information given to you in the question.
- Do your research - Extensively research about the job profile you are being interviewed for, the company profile, history of the company, their achievements, their story of success, their products & services, their target market and so on. A thorough research will provide you with all the necessary information that you'll need to answer questions based on you on profile and the company. If you're a student sitting for a college PI say for an MBA institute then do a thorough research on the college, your chosen stream, and the future scope.
- Drive the interview towards your strength – Different questions will be asked to different candidates applying for different purposes. But the candidate should always aim at driving the interview towards his/her area of strength. Start inviting questions or open topics that you’re confident of getting right.
- Ask Questions – This isn’t mandatory but is always advised. If you're joining a new company then ask questions regarding the working hours, pay, incentives, holidays, the company culture and more. If you’re joining a new college then ask about the faculty, the infrastructure, the study hours, the degree, placements, scope of the stream and more.
- Be Honest – At times, the interviewer may ask certain personal questions. In that case, be frank, be honest about your intentions, your opinions and avoid being too diplomatic in answering the questions.
- Communication is key – Brush up your communication skills right from the beginning of your career. Lack of proper communication skills is one of the primary reasons why candidates fail to impress the interviewer. If you want to crack any interview, then make sure you focus on the development of proper communication and interpersonal skills.
- Avoid Arguments - try to avoid having any kind of argument with the interviewer because that can create a negative impact. An argument that you make with an interviewer would certainly lessen your chances to get selected.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice speaking to your interviewer. Do a few trial runs, prepare your questions and answers before the main interview?
- End on a positive note
Types of Questions in a PI and tips to answer them
Tell us about yourself
There is particular pattern or structure for answering this question. There is no right or wrong. Simply put here you just give a summary about yourself. Mention 2-3 achievements, something that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. Briefly mention your education history, your career plans, achievements, extra-curriculars, what drives you and so on.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This section plays a major role in the final hiring decision of the interviewer. The trick here is to mention relevant strengths and irrelevant weaknesses. Your strengths should be relevant to the job role and the industry, something the company can churn to boost profits. Mention weaknesses that do not make a lasting impact on the interviewer's mind and make sure you end it by saying that you’re working on improving them.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Be ambitious. Show that you're able to look and plan ahead. Take this as an opportunity to show that you’re planning on sticking to this company to help it reach greater heights. Try incorporating that you want to work for a company that values you, your skills, and your input. Also, chip in some humorous answers too.
How do you deal with stressful situations?
This is another crucial capability that the company is looking for in its candidates. You have portrayed yourself as being capable of handling stressful situations and making effective decisions. Mention some stress relieving activities that you adhere to. Bottom-line is that you need to make sure that the company knows that you can smoothly handle any stressful situation.
What are your income expectations?
Now this is a tricky one! Talking about monetory compensation can be an uncomfortable subject. But here’s how you can handle it smoothly. Instead of quoting your income expectations, turn the question around to the employer and ask them what they're expecting to pay to a candidate with your qualifications and skills for this particular job profile. Alternatively, you can research and get an idea of the income range. Once you have a range in mind, state the highest possible income value based on your skills and experience, but be sure to communicate that you are flexible. Make sure the interviewer knows that you want the job, that you’re sure that you’re the perfect candidate for it and you're willing to negotiate.
Do you have any questions for us?
Prepare 2-3 questions for this section. Stick to simple questions relating to the job profile, the company culture, how you grow and how the company can cater to your career expectations. avoid asking questions about salary or benefits.
In the end, remember that if your confidence is everything. Even if you get some of the answers wrong, if you speak and if your demeanor is confident then that’s a massive brownie point for you.
Last but not the least, if you don't get this job/college then just chill. It isn't the end of the road. Keep practicing, keep acquiring more skills, develop yourself and brush up your communication skills. And remember you’ll crack any interview if you put your mind to it. The tips and the prep are just part and parcel of the journey.