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Interviewing Tips

Interviewing is always a very personal experience with different things working for different people.
The following are some general tips that may be useful in most interview situations. These have
definitely worked for me when I was in b-school.

1. Energy and Enthusiasm

It is extremely important to demonstrate Energy and Enthusiasm in any interview that you attend.
The company needs to be convinced that you are excited at the prospect of working for that
company. How can you do this?

a) Sitting Posture: When you sit at the interview table, sit forward with back upright and arms on the
table. Do not lean back or tilt to the side. The forward and upright posture communicates energy.

b) Body Language: Keep regular eye contact with the interview(s) and generously use hand gestures.
All of these communicate your greater presence in the current moment, allow you to concentrate
and be fully engaged.

c) Interest in Company and Role: At the earliest opportunity, tell them why you are interested in this
company and role. A good option is to say this right in the beginning when answering the "Tell me
about yourself" question. More on this below.

d) Greeting and Smiling: Smiling once in a while is a great way to show that you are enjoying the
interaction and are at ease. When you enter the room, you can greet the interviewer with a smile
and thank them for the opportunity to meet them. During the interview, smiling and using humour is
an excellent way to create rapport between yourself and the interviewer.

2. Tell me about yourself Question

The first question is almost always some variation of this. It is intended to give you a chance to
introduce yourself and get the conversation going. The interviewer may also cite a fact from your
background like "So, you did you engineering from xyz" or "You are from Gujarat" or "You seem to
have worked at HCL". All of these are an invitation for you to speak about yourself.

Most people just answer this by giving a chronological progression of their career starting from
where they are from, where they went to college, where they worked and then business school.
However, the fact is that the interviewer already has all of this information right in front of them in
your CV. So, this makes it repetitive and boring. My recommendation is to use this opportunity to
talk about the best and most important attributes about yourself supported by evidence and capture
the interest of the interviewer. This is when you should talk about your best achievements and bring
out whats unique about you. Then, you should relate this to the position at hand as much as
possible. A possible template that could be used to answer this could consist of the following
aspects.

a) I am a xxxxxx, currently pursuing my management program at Great Lakes. Xxxxx should be


your most relevant qualification to this interview. If you are a fresher, xxxxx could be
mechanical engineer or CS engineer. If you have worked in IT and are in an interview
where this is relevant, xxxx could IT professional. If you had worked in operations and this
role is an ops role, xxxx could be operations professional. If there is nothing relevant from
your past, you can directly link it to the profile you are interviewing for making xxxxx be
aspiring marketing professional for marketing interviews, aspiring consultant for
consulting interviews, etc. The idea is to make it relevant.
b) Then talk about 2 or max 3 qualities / attributes about yourself that are your biggest
strengths followed by an instance/example that substantiates it. In the example, you can
bring out the companies you worked at or the college you went to. For example, if you say
your strength is being a highly analytical person, give an example from your prior work
where your analysis made a difference. Do not give detailed backgrounds and scenarios.
Keep it crisp. For giving examples, you can follow the pattern indicated further below.
c) After the 2-3 of your key qualities, you can conclude this answer with the reason for your
interest in this company or profile saying I am here because I wish to build a career in
business development / digital marketing / product management / analytics and believe that
this position at ___ company would be a great starting point for me.
d) The entire answer should not be more than 2 to 2.5 minutes.

3. Structuring your Answers and Examples

It is important to always have structure to your answers so that they are easy to understand and are
impactful. If you are asked about anything where you have 2-3 points to give in your answer, always
structure them as points.
Q: What are your learnings from your xxx experience?
A: I have 2 important learnings from xxx. First, .. Second, ..

When you give any example or are answering a question about a specific project or specific
achievement, the following PSO structure is recommended

a) Problem: This is the problem I/we were solving. The Problem can include a one line
statement setting context.
b) Solution: This is how we solved the problem. Give a one line answer to how you solved the
problem. Do not describe the detailed process you followed just give a crisp solution.
c) Outcome: Outcome can be in terms of Achievement/Impact/Learning. We discovered that
/ learnt that / showed that ______ (or) As a result of this project, ____(good
outcome/impact) happened.

Do not get into detailed process descriptions right away. Give these three things, get their attention
and then ask if they would like to hear more details. If they do, then get into details.

4. Dream Job

If asked about what your dream job would be or something to that effect, never talk about another
company. No matter what name you give, no one likes to hear that your heart is somewhere else. A
neutral answer is one that shows that what you are looking for is the best learning environment you
can get so that you can build a solid foundation for your career. You can say that your dream job is
not a specific company, but one where you get lots of learning and mentorship opportunities. This
can be the same answer when asked about what you are looking for. At this stage in your career,
having exposure, learning and mentorship are the most important things.

5. Constraints

To the extent possible, do not put constraints on location, compensation, etc. These are trap
questions to see if you are a rigid or flexible person. Put a location constraint only if it is an absolute
must and you dont have a choice in that matter (such as unwell parents you need to take care of).
The simplest way to answer these is to take recourse to being focused on having a great platform for
learning (which truly is what matters).

Noises

Avoid making noises or using fillers when you have to think. It is perfectly okay to ask for a few
seconds to organize your thoughts. This is particularly important when you are solving a case
question. Its important to think through your answer, quickly put a structure to it and then and only
then deliver it crisply.

Asking the right question

Whether given a chance to ask a question, you should always ask a relevant and non-trivial question
about the company. If not prompted, you can always request at the end that you have a question to
ask. Then ask something that you cannot find on the companys website or that was not already
discussed in a pre-placement talk. Never ask something about compensation you dont have the
job offer yet. An example of a non-trivial relevant question is: What opportunities exist in the
company to network with and learn from peers and experts in the company that you do not directly
work with or What are the aspects of this company that you (the interviewer) like the best or I
read that ____ event happened for the company recently. What impact do you think it would have
on the companys growth, etc.

There is no substitute to being well prepared for any interview. This includes being able to speak
very articulately and crisply about yourself and about every line you put into your CV. It also includes
having done sufficient background research about the company and its latest happenings.

Do these and you will surely have successful interview outcomes. I wish you all the very best.

Mohan Lakhamraju
Vice Chairman
Great Lakes Institute of Management