A career in IT: Your first interview
The first interview is always a big deal. For most it is about getting into a job and earning, becoming independent and entering into a new phase of life.
Over the years I realized that giving the first interview is very different to giving interviews later in life,while switching jobs. The first interview is all about showcasing your attitude and aptitude, but not your skills.
In the first job interview skills take a back seat, as few interviewers would actually look at any such credentials, as there would be none to look for. Everyone looks at the candidate for their willingness to learn, aptitude and attitude. This holds true for every student, irrespective of the college they pass out from.
My own experience in my first few job interviews had been very enlightening. I was surprised that the first three interviews I attended in my college, I was selected in all three. It was only later in life I started thinking as to why this happened with me but not others. Fortunately, I was allowed up to three job offers at the most those times and one had to choose one of those companies very carefully. In my case, I choose the first three who came and all three ended up selecting very few. I was in all three.
Looking back I started interpreting what was so different in me and what others missed. One thing was for sure that I was not a very handsome person who could have appealed to the interview panel. Secondly the interviews were always multi staged. They started from a written test, followed by a group discussion and then the final interview. The filter was strong and at every stage the number of successful candidates reduced by more than fifty percent.
It was a different case for me for the rest of my life as I never appeared for an interview thereafter. I kept on getting pulled by in by someone or the other into a new and better job to a stage where I am Managing director of a mid size IT company now. We will get back on how that happened as well, but for now, I would like to tell you my assessment on how the first interview could be a great one with my experience.
The interviews were only the outcome of my efforts I had put in over the four years of college life. In all the cases, I did not prepare for any of the interviews exclusively, but in reality, I had spent four years planning and preparing for this stage without being aware about it.
a.Understanding my roots and background:
I was aware that my social upbringing and background had an impact on my English speaking skills. They were at best basic and accented. Moreover, our debates were mostly political and hardly had any intellectual essence. My new environment in the college gave a rude shock to me when I realized that being polished was a necessity to project myself as a serious contender for anything. Be it discussions with college professors, making friends beyond a few similar type of students and even making an impact to outsiders, being polished and good communication skills were a must. I always followed the most successful students and tried spending time with those who were more successful than others. Their mentoring taught me a lot more than what others could think off.
b.Balanced my studies and extra curricular activities:
Unlike most of the students who came there to “study” and were pushed hard by their parents to “Only study”, I was told by my mentors that balance is a must. I gave my time for studies and for sports along with activities like literature and debating, aero-modeling and yoga. Later, I was also appointed as secretary of the Literary and debating club and headed the aero-modeling club for full two years. This taught me the most important organizational, communication and negotiation skills. To add to the bonanza, I ended up doing even better at studies because of my focus.
c.Exposed myself to unknown territories:
It is very comforting to sit by in a comfortable and known environment in our lives. It is just like the ships, which can be safe in a harbor, but they are not made to be safe in the harbor, but to venture out in unknown blue waters. I was always welcoming to reach out to other colleges, my professors for areas like sports, cultural events and did not shy away in taking responsibilities. In the process, I became highly connected and my list of friends and mentors increased. With their help I started a club, which helped students to prepare for their interviews, creative writing, computer programming skills and even grooming skills. Meanwhile I was already playing hockey at my college and university level along with all these. This made me travel to other cities, face more hostile environments and learn at every step.
d.Learned to be unconditional:
Being away from home for several years, I was helped by my well wishers and mentors who helped me understand that being conditional never helps when one has to start afresh in life. I was open to every job; every place of posting and to integrate in any culture needed. In the process I became familiar to several languages and culture. This all helped me to improve my personality and confidence.
Probably it was the grooming and support of so many mentors that I was able to face the interviews better than others. I still feel that engaging with more and more people who can impart us some knowledge should be an integral part of our daily interaction. Ignoring a 360 degrees development and resorting only to books as part of our education is not a good idea.