JournalismPakistan.com November 24, 2014
So this is it. The next 20 minutes to a half hour will decide whether you make the cut or just get cut out.
The interviewer is looking at your CV and turning the pages of whatever paperwork you have given him. The silence is deafening and the seconds pass like minutes.
You don’t know what to do with yourself. Stare at the walls. Look at the paintings. Don’t wriggle, don’t squirm and don’t shake a leg, scratch your ear or play with your fingernails.
You may not know this but in high-powered interviews they are looking to see how you conduct yourself in an awkward silence zone because how you behave indicates what you would do in a tough situation. How’s that? Well, if you show calm and a certain aplomb and are comfortable even though the pressure is on you and you are not intimidated by the silence then you are making points. When he finally talks to you make sure you do not end up saying, yah or yep instead of ‘yes.’
You will again be surprised how many people are largely inarticulate when it comes to being in a one-on-one situation. They will use slang, confuse their diction, link their thoughts with ‘you know’ or ‘nah’ and suddenly come off as unimpressive.
No one expects you to speak Shakespeare but you cannot expect to make a good impression by saying, yo or cool or okay. No, it is not okay to say okay. Also, do not try to impress the interviewer with using words that mean the same. If you say, “to be frank, candid and honest.” You are not scoring points you are losing them. This is known as tautology and only detracts from your effort. Avoid redundancies like ‘actual experience’ ‘advance warning’ ‘each and every’ ‘rough estimate’ ‘free gift’ ‘completely flat.” Also simple words are better than big ones. Say ‘reason’ not ‘ratiocinate.’ Don’t say efficacious (effective) dissemination (spread) commencement (start) elucidate (explain) equitable (fair).
By the same token you might think you are impressing the heck out of the panel with your command of the language but there is one person on that board who hates buzzwords and your party is over.
Buzzwords are largely annoying and might be good as camouflage but they serve little purpose. Don’t thread in words like synergy, contingency planning, paradigm, thinking out of the box, generation X, core competency, mindshare, management visibility, monetize, there are dozens of others. Keep your language simple and have a clarity of thought. Believe me, if I was on a panel and someone said that the core competency of a department is interconnected in powerhouse mode with its paradigm shift in manpower allocation I would just show him the door. Gobbledygook won’t get you far.
Someone once asked what was the single most annoying feature in a person being interviewed. There was a tie between the guy who finishes the sentence for the panel and the guy who just interrupts the person interviewing him and runs away with the storyline.
Don’t do either but definitely one of the trick elements is the panelist who makes a deliberate error so glaring that you know he is wrong. He could be testing you so what you say is, “Actually, you said X but I think you meant Y because X won’t give us the result.”
Don’t say he is wrong, like you have caught him out; just say you feel there is a discrepancy. You’ll score on that.
Again, if you have a good argument and you do not agree with the flow of the thought you can certainly put your angle on the table, don’t be a wimp and agree with everything just as much as you shouldn’t be argumentative for the sake of argument purely because you want to be different.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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