By Kenneth Beare. English as 2nd Language Expert
Kenneth is an ESL teacher, trainer, and content developer. He provides consulting services for English language learning projects through Englishfeed. You can follow Kenneth on Twitter. on his Google profile: Kenneth Beare. or on Facebook to stay up to date on his latest English learning materials.
Students in ESL classes (and some EFL classes) will eventually need to take job interviews as they integrate into society. It can be a touchy subject for many students as they societies they have come from may have very different employment environments. Also, students may be under pressure to find a job financially. In any case, job interviewing can make the best students nervous for a variety of reasons.
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One of the best ways to deal with this is to explain that job interviewing is a game, although an incredibly important game. It's important to pragmatically understand the rules and not get up in the difficulties of the job market. At the end of this lesson, you will find a number of links that students can visit to help understand job interviewing and improve their skills written especially for English learners .
Aim: Improve job interviewing skills
Activity: Simulated job interviews
Level: intermediate to advanced
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Practice your job interviewing skills in English using this exercise:
Job Interviewing: Directions
Excellent example answers for interviews. Have convincing interview answers ready for frequently asked job interview questions.
The job market has never been more competitive and your interview performance will be key to your success in landing the job. Know the type of interview questions to expect in your next job interview, prepare good answers using the example interview answers provided here and be confident of your ability to handle the job interview.
Follow our expert advice on how to answer frequently asked interview questions. Prepare a good answer for the interview question that explores your suitability and motivation for the job.
Tell me something about yourself that I don't know from going through your resume.
This is a variation of the common interview question "Tell me about yourself" and is a little more tricky to answer. Focus on a skill or talent that does not fit into your work experience but that indicates a strength that would add value to the job. Here are some examples:
"I managed a band in high school. I was responsible for advertising the band and organizing gigs. I did all the admin including making sure the band got paid. It was a way to earn some extra money and taught me useful principles about marketing and management."
"I have a younger sister who needed a lot of extra help with her academics. I spent many hours tutoring her and helping her with homework. I found it rewarding when her marks improved significantly and it taught me about patience and perseverance."
"I am a keen collector of sports memorabilia. I love to search online for bargains. I also visit yard sales to find interesting items. I have built up a good collection, learned how to value items and my negotiating skills have really improved!"
Find sample interview answers to the question Tell me about yourself
Example answers for interviews include answers to questions that explore your knowledge of the company.
Why do you want to work here?
Using your background research find two or three specific reasons why you are interested in the company. Possible aspects that attract you to the company include the reputation the company enjoys, the type of people employed by the company, the future direction the company is taking, the opportunities in the company and the products and services offered by the company.
Example answers for interviews include:
"Your company has the best service record of all its competitors. The reviews I read from customers were outstanding. Your approach to customer management is innovative and the results are excellent. I also learned from your website that you have some exciting future projects in the pipeline including XYZ project which really interests me."
"I have always admired your company products and know that your company is an industry leader. When I researched your company I was impressed by the future work you have planned. The backgrounds of your management team indicate how committed the company is to excellence."
"Apart from your reputation as a top service provider I was struck by your commitment to the community. Your involvement in the XYZ project is admirable and really adds value. I identified the same commitment to your employees in the company staff development programs that I read about. Your company value systems are closely aligned with mine."
There are no right or wrong answers to this question. Your answer should reflect your knowledge of the company and your understanding of how you fit with the company.
Related interview questions you are likely to be asked include:
What interests you about this position?
Where else are you interviewing?
View sample interview answers for these challenging interview questions.
Interviewers like to know that the job candidate adopts a professional approach to the job, works hard and takes responsibility. Expect interview questions that explore your diligence and professionalism.
Tell me about a work-related skill you developed recently.
Focus on a skill that you have worked on to improve your job performance. Typical example answers for interviews might include learning a new software application, attending a training program, learning how to operate certain equipment or follow a procedure. Select a specific skill that would add value to the job and company you are interviewing for.
"I worked hard to develop my computer skills in my last job. I learned XYZ package and this helped me to process the customer management data more efficiently. I asked the company to send me on a training program to master this software and it really paid off."
"I wanted to improve my time management skills as I had to juggle a number of demanding priorities in my previous position. I signed up for an online course that I could do in my spare time. It taught me a number of useful techniques for planning and organizing my work tasks."
The Top 10 Interview Questions Guide with sample interview answers will ensure that you are well prepared for frequently asked interview questions.
Don't get stuck. How to answer hard interview questions with confidence.
Prepare for behavioral interview questions that explore the competencies or behaviors required for successful performance in the job. Behavioral Example Answers for Interviews
For a complete guide to answering interview questions successfully go to these Sample Job Interview Questions.
Use the search function to find example answers for interviews. Just type in the interview question you want to prepare for.
By lindsaynash Comments are closed3 Practical and Printable ESL Lesson Plans to Teach Adults Survival English
Teaching adults can be a great privilege.
Let them know you care with outstanding, informative lesson plans!
Adult students are eager to learn.
They often provide a wonderful snapshot of their own culture. so both teachers and students can learn in the classroom.
But adults are also more demanding. They want to know how to function in their new language as fast as possible. and they prize practicality above all else.
They’ll challenge your knowledge and methods of instruction. pushing you until they get the best information you can give.
When teaching adults the English language, it’s very important to provide practical, useful language —such as key vocabulary and phrases for survival in English speaking countries—that can help them in their everyday lives and advance them toward their lofty goals of English fluency.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)What’s Different About Teaching English to Adult Students?
When adults are learning English, they often need very practical English. Functional survival English. How to shop for groceries. How to greet friends, neighbors and colleagues. Language necessary for everyday interactions and professional success.
Maybe your students are preparing for a family vacation or business trip abroad. Maybe they’re preparing for an interview where they’ll need to speak and understand English fluently. Or maybe they’ll be moving to an English-speaking country and they’ll need to know everything from how to turn on their washing machine to how to send a letter in the mail.
When organizing your lesson plans for adults, always keep practicality at the forefront. Will your students be able to use their new vocabulary on a regular basis? What will they be able to take away from your lesson?
Since they’re the grown-ups in their respective households, never forget that they’re taking time from their busy schedules to study, and they’re likely paying for lessons by themselves. This often means that they want to extract as much value from their lessons as possible.Tips for Teaching English to Adult Students
For the previously given reasons and more, adults can be very different English students than children.
It seems a bit contradictory, since we know that most adult learners have big goals and a desire to succeed, but they’re actually often more reserved in trying new words or being bold in the classroom. The desire for success often leads to a fear of failure.
Here are some tips to get your adult students speaking and participating like free, uninhibited children.
As businesses around the world are becoming more globally-minded, English is becoming more important than ever. English language proficiency is an important skill to list on any resume. Many adult ESL students need to practice or learn English to keep their current jobs or to apply for new ones.
This lesson plan aims to help with just that.
Aim: To prepare adult students for a job interview
Skills: Speaking, listening, comprehension
Materials. Blackboard, worksheet for students
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Part 1: Introduction (10 minutes)
Introduce the topic to the students. Talk about job interviews and why they’re important. Ask the students the following questions to spark general conversation about the topic:
1. Have you ever had a job interview before? What was it like?
2. What’s important during a job interview?
3. How did you dress for your job interview?
4. Do your skills and personality matter for job interviews?
3. What questions do employers ask during an interview?
Part 2: Activity (20 minutes)
Hand out the worksheet given above. Explain the differences between the employer and the applicant.
Go over the first two questions in each section for practice. Write a sample answer on the blackboard for the students to see and copy down. Then, have the students finish the worksheet, working in pairs.
Part 3: Role Play (20 minutes)
Once the class finishes the worksheet in pairs, have each pair split up.
One student from each pair will be an employer and the other will be an applicant. Have all the employers remain seated and have them create their own company names (one company per person seated).
The applicants should all stand up. Once all the company names have been created, have the students go around to each employer to find out more information about their companies. The company will then ask each applicant questions as well.
Which one was the students’ favorite company? Who had the best interview? Have the applicants and students share some of their interview highlights.
Further practice suggestions
For homework, have your students create or update their resumes in English. Have them bring these resumes into class, share some highlights and edit them using their peers’ feedback.Lesson Plan #2: At the Grocery Store
Download the Grocery Store Worksheet here.
Going to the grocery store or supermarket is a regular task in any country or language. Whether your students will be traveling or living abroad, this lesson is great for teaching food and shopping vocabulary.
Aim: To teach students about the supermarket and shopping
Skills: Speaking, listening, comprehension
Materials: Blackboard, handout for students
Level: Easy to intermediate
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Part 1: Introduction (10 minutes)
Introduce the topic to the students. Talk about unusual things you can buy in your grocery store. Have students think and discuss scenarios when they must speak or read in the grocery store in their native language. Discuss how students can do the following in English:
1. Ask to have produce weighed. How to understand the price.
2. Ask the butcher about the price of meat and how much you want to buy.
3. Learn how grocery stores are organized (e.g. produce, processed foods, international food, candy, soft drinks, alcohol, etc.)
Part 2: Activity (20 minutes)
Hand out the worksheet provided above.
Explain the differences between the customer and clerk. Assign the students their roles in their pairs. Let each pair plan each role play scenario with the help of the worksheet.
Make sure they understand that they need to improvise a lot of the role play on their own. Have them write information and phrases down before they get started so they have something to guide them during the role play.
Get the students to do a quick practice role play session with a partner. Walk around to see if anyone needs help. Talk about how to do better role plays as a group.
Part 3: Role Play (20 minutes)
Once each pair finishes their practice role play, have each customer find a new clerk. Have all the clerks remain seated and get the customers to rotate around the classroom.
Once everyone has a new partner, have the customers initiate one of the role play scenarios and act it out with the new clerk. The clerk must respond to the new customer’s questions. This time the students should try to perform the role play without notes.
Part 4: Review (5-10 minutes)
Did anyone buy something unusual? Which grocery store was the most expensive? Which one was the cheapest? Did you understand where things were in the grocery store? Did any store not have what you were looking for?
Further practice suggestions
Have students film an exchange at a grocery store with an English speaking clerk. If you’re not located in an English-speaking country, or if they aren’t comfortable asking strangers to be on camera, have students get creative and make short videos showing themselves at the grocery store using the vocabulary they learned in this module.Lesson Plan #3: Around Town
We all have things we need to do around town: shop, meet friends, run errands, eat at a restaurant, find some entertainment. That makes this lesson super practical. You’ll also be teaching students how to discuss options, make plans and give directions.
Aim: To teach students how to make plans with friends
Skills: Speaking, listening, comprehension
Materials: Blackboard, worksheet for students
Level: Easy to intermediate
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Part 1: Introduction (10 minutes)
Introduce the topic to the students. Discuss activities you can do in the town you live. Have students think about the last time they met a friend in town and what they did. Ask students the following questions to spark a classroom discussion.
1. What are common things you do with their friends?
2. How do you get there?
3. How much does it cost?
Part 2: Activity (20 minutes)
Hand out the Around Town worksheet. Have each pair plan their day out with each other by first answering the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. Once completed, discuss some of their plans as a class.
Once each pair finishes discussing their role play information, have them write out a script following some of the cues in the given role play script. Walk around and help students fill in gaps that they’re struggling with. If there’s time, have students find a new partner and make up new conversations on the spot. They can use their scripts for reference and try to ad-lib parts of the conversation that need to be modified based on their new partner’s responses.
Part 4: Review (10 minutes)
Have students read their scripts out loud with their first partner. Have other students summarize their plans out loud or on paper.
Further practice suggestions
Have students make plans with their classmate, either in pairs or small groups. Then have them make a short 2-3 minute video recording or PowerPoint presentation documenting their day with pictures, video and audio.
Your adult students will be far more comfortable using English in everyday scenarios after trying these activities. Give them a try!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
It is incredibly unfair to university students to allow them to graduate without helping them prepare for a job interview. According to a recent article in the Korea Herald, English skill is still an important requirement for job seekers. a survey done by the Korean job portal Saramin found that:
When the personnel managers were asked how they evaluated foreign language skills, it was either by giving a presentation or interview in English.
The last third of a university presentation skills or speaking course is enough time to prepare students for the test that they cannot afford to fail. Seniors will naturally appreciate the training since they will be interviewing in the near future but underclassmen can also benefit. It will serve as a blueprint for the skills and experiences they need to accumulate before graduating in order to be as competitive as possible.
How to teach job interview skills in 8 sessions: A course outline
In eight sessions you can prepare students for a variety of interview scenarios by introducing thirty questions in sets of five and reinforcing the delivery skills they learned for public speaking. Each session can last from 60 to 90 minutes and will use what was learned in the previous session to help students feel more confident and prepared when they interview for their first jobs.
Session One: Lecture & Discussion
In the first session I introduce the “Five C’s” of a job interview. These adjectives describe an ideal candidate.
The 5 C’s: Capable, Confident, Convincing, Comfortable, Concise
The Five C’s help students set goals for preparing and delivering their answers and also help their classmates give feedback when working together in class. At the end of the first session, I give the students the first set of five questions to prepare for session two.
Session Two: 1-1 Practice
In session two, we discuss the pros and cons of different answers for the first five questions. Then students practice asking and answering the questions with a partner. My final exam is a one-on-one interview with me in my office so practicing one-on-one is an important scenario to prepare for. Ten questions are chosen and the test takes ten minutes per student. The second set of questions is given at the end of the second session.
Session Three: 1-1 Practice
The third session is similar to the second. Students usually find the format more comfortable the second time around. We may rotate partners after a round of practicing so that students can get a variety of feedback. Teachers can choose to have students practice both of the first two question sets or focus completely on the second set. The third set is given at the end of the third session.
Session Four: 2-1 Practice
Once students begin to feel comfortable in a one-to-one format, it is time to more to the next level. In session four I put students in groups of three. Students build upon what they have learned and now have two interviewers and must rotate who they look at in order to speak to both interviewers while answering. This is similar to looking at different areas of the audience while presenting. I ask students to start and finish their answers looking at the interviewer who asked the question but also show respect to the other interviewer while speaking.
Session Five: 2-1 Practice
In the fifth session we practice in the same way but with the fourth set of questions which were given in the previous session. The fifth set is given at the end of class.
Sessions Six & Seven: Hot Seat
In the sixth session I introduce the hot seat. A single student will sit in a chair in the front of the class and are grilled by a group of three or four interviewers. This helps simulate the stressful environment students will face in an actual job interview. In a smaller class all of the students can be asked two or three questions in the hot seat in a single session.
They can do it again in the seventh session with the last question set. In a larger class the students will be split over sessions six and seven. Be sure to factor in time for giving feedback when planning your lessons. The final set of questions is given at the end of session six and can be focused on in session seven.
Session Eight: Mock Group Interview
In the final session students are divided into groups of four and take turns simulating group interviews. All thirty questions can be used. Group A will interview Group B. Interviewer 1 from Group A will ask the same question to each candidate in Group B starting with Candidate 1. Interviewer 2 will choose another question and ask each interviewee starting with Candidate 2.
Every candidate will experience answering in the various orders so they understand the pros and cons of being the first, the middle, or the last. For example, the first candidate has less time to prepare but there is no chance of another candidate stealing their thunder by giving a similar answer.
When we finish each round, I ask the interviewers to give feedback to the candidates and then the other students vote on who they would select as the best candidate and give reasons for their choice. This activity demonstrates the randomness of what different people focus on and favor when choosing a candidate to join their company.
Some general interview tips that are covered include turning nervous energy into enthusiasm, keeping eye contact inside an imaginary passport-sized box around the interviewer(s), and smiling in a professional manner.
It can be challenging to give advice and feedback to students regarding the right way to interview for a job since different companies, cultures, and individual interviewers have their own unique preferences when selecting candidates. The best thing you can do is point out pitfalls to be aware of such as keeping answers positive, avoiding controversial topics, and not volunteering weaknesses.
Finally, to make your interview questions, just visit the job site Monster. It has a great list of 100 potential interview questions. You can also use this Success Checklist activity with your students to help them brainstorm and set goals.
Tim Thompson teaches graduate and undergraduate presentation skills courses at KAIST. He served as the national coordinator for KTT (KOTESOL Teacher Trainers) and is the Program Chair for this year’s KOTESOL International Conference. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Tim Thompson
Tim Thompson teaches graduate and undergraduate presentation skills courses at KAIST. He served as the national coordinator for KTT (KOTESOL Teacher Trainers) and is the Program Chair for this year’s KOTESOL International Conference. He can be reached at email@example.com.Post navigation 4 thoughts on “ How to Teach Job Interview Skills: An ESL/EFL Lesson Plan ”
Great post Tim! Are there any textbooks you recommend to teach job interview skills?
Thanks Pete. I don’t use a textbook for skills-based classes. Instead, I try to read as many articles as I can and ask students about their experiences interviewing for jobs. That way I can stay as up to date as possible.
I was surprised at first at how much chatting you have planned for the learners. I see though that emphasizing that they are not just “getting to know one another” but are trying to prefect their image. This makes a world of difference and makes me wish I had a chance to do some dry runs myself before bombing at an interview panel. Cheers.
Looks very good, Tim! Thank you for sharing it. I’m teaching an Interviewing class for the first time at my uni in Seoul (English majors) next semester and am scrambling for a tentative syllabus right now. (If you don’t mind sharing that, that would be fabulous, also – although if you’ve prepared your own packet of materials, I certainly can’t do that in the next 1-1/2 months (without any experience in it).) But this was really helpful to look at. I teach Presentations often, also, and I can see how these 2 classes can work together and overlap in some helpful ways. Maybe see you at a KOTESOL conference or something, sometime. (I don’t think we’ve met.) Mark TurnoyLeave a Reply Cancel reply
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Once you submit your application to business school, the admissions committee will conduct a preliminary screening based upon your undergraduate GPA and CAT/MAT/XAT/Etc. scores. If you meet a pre-determined "academic cutoff," you will likely be invited for a personal interview to further probe your suitability for that particular business school.
Don't be under illusion; Objectivity is predefined to judge you
Role of Gestures in Personal Interview
Why PI? 4 Reasons!
Personal Interview Tips. Top 5 Tips for Effective Answers
Your gestures are being observed in PI
Once you submit your application to business school, the admissions committee will conduct a preliminary screening based upon your undergraduate GPA and CAT / MAT / XAT / IIFT / SNAP scores. If you meet a pre-determined "academic cutoff," you will likely be invited for a personal interview to further probe your suitability for that particular business school.
The personal interview is a critical step in the admissions process and should not be taken lightly; most MBA programs will not accept a candidate without meeting him/her in person. A personal interview is aimed at knowing a candidate more intimately - assessing the clarity of thinking process, future goals and the 'fit' with the B-school. It provides the admission committee of a b-school to evaluate your interpersonal and soft skills.
Personal Interview can also turn out to be an Opportunity to 'sell' yourself. While intimidating for some MBA-hopefuls, the personal interview represents a prime opportunity. Interview allows you the chance not only to put a face and personality to the name and credentials on your application file, but also to express your academic, personal, and professional accomplishments, experiences, and intentions.
The focus of a B-school interview can range from specific questions about your job to broad discussions on life. Approach the interview as a conversation to be enjoyed, not as a question-and-answer ordeal. It may be about your hobbies - your recent cross-country trip. This doesn't mean that the interviewers are not serious. It just means that you're being sized up as a person and a future professional in all your dimensions.
On the other hand, the PI is an opportunity for the b-school to question you about your application, your autobiographical sketch or any issues on your transcripts or entrance test scores. Your interviewer wants to learn what you are like as a person and how well you respond and communicate. We want to understand your values, how you think and how well you handle yourself under pressure.
One and all b-school is committed to admit students who are able to handle the rigors of business school on an academic, personal, physical and psychological basis. Your interview is your opportunity to convince the admission committee that you are up to the challenge you are expected to face in future.PI Alerts Register below to get Tips on PI & Clarify Queries from Experts on &
Interview - an integral part of the B-School admissions process.
The admissions process of some business schools requires that the MBA applicant attends a mandatory interview. These mandatory interviews are usually conducted as in person ones. If you are an international applicant and the business school has not been able to either send its representative or identify any alumni in your country to conduct the interview in person, the interview is conducted over the phone or through web conference. Again, an in-person interview is generally recommended as you can build rapport and use it to get feedback to determine your fit for the particular program.
What does the PI tries to test?
The personal interview process aim to test the 'views' expressed by a candidate during submission of the application or through a free-wheeling discussion around one's bio-data given in the application form."
A few 'knowledge-dipstick' questions on one's basic academic background might also be fielded to assess the depth and accuracy of existing knowledge. A few basic General Knowledge questions may also be asked. B-Schools also give importance to consistent academic performance as it is indicative of academic discipline and ethos one is required to have to survive in the rigorous competition.
According to experts, Personal Interview stresses on the following areas:
"Why do want to do an MBA? How does it fit into your career goals? What do you wish to do after your MBA?" - These are some hard questions that you will have to answer almost invariably in all Interviews. These questions search the 'inner motivations' of a candidate, and there are no 'right answers'. The only way to answer these questions is to introspect: what excites and motivates you; what makes you perform your best; what would you really like to do in your life, and how do you genuinely see an MBA helping. Tough questions, but answering them honestly is critical for your success!
'Why MBA?' is the most important question that MBA aspirants need to answer. There is no "good answer" for this. The answer needs to be your answer. In other words, you need to think deeply, introspect and find out what it is that really drives you, that really sends a shiver of excitement down your spine when you think of achieving it. It is only this excitement and this drive that can convince the interview panel about your answer rather than any 'manufactured' answer by any test prep faculty.
Also "Why do you think now is the right time to pursue an MBA?", "How will you fit into our program?" And "What will you do after you graduate?" are the key questions for every interview candidate. Interviewers are looking for responses incorporating specific examples from your academic, personal, and professional experiences. Further, they want to know the reasons behind your major life decisions.
So put on your thinking cap, do some soul searching and then jot down the answers to 'what's your goal' questions.
Given that a good MBA is a demanding program, B-schools would like to know how you will be able to cope up with the academics and the extra-curricular 24 x 7 demands of your new campus. They are also keen to assess how you have utilized the earlier learning opportunities.
Be prepared to discuss different specialty areas in business and their responsibilities. Interviewers will also expect you to discuss current issues in business, including the economy, taxation, foreign competition, the role of technology and ethical challenges in the field.
Interestingly, it is not just about knowledge and answering the questions but also 'leading' the interview panel. Anything you say opens the doors to new lines of questioning and discussion, so make sure you know where you are leading the interview. Be careful about the gates you open, and be very sure you have in-depth knowledge about whatever you mention.
For e.g. if you say you have an avid interest in Badminton, be ready for questions pertaining to Prakash Padukone, Deepika Padukone, plastic shuttles v/s feather shuttles, Saina Nehwal etc. It is advisable to brush up 2-3 subjects from your graduation thoroughly if you are a student fresh out of college. Also, contextual knowledge of the environment around you as well as "general knowledge" comes quite handy.
Brush up on your area of specialization/ subjects at graduation. Account for breaks, if any. Take pains to know about the company you work for; your place in the scheme of things and your contribution. Since 'Extracurricular' would comprise activities other than academics and work life, list those activities, preferably recent, that you have participated in or initiated. Be clear about what you do in your leisure hours. Preparation for general awareness questions is an ongoing exercise.
Your speaking and listening skills become very important than the often tested reading and writing skills. As simple as it may sound, good communication strategy is quite simple. Listen to the question keenly to understand it well, and then offer a precise answer. If you don't know the answer, no bluffing the panel please! The experts are too experienced to notice this and can get switched off.
While speaking, the biggest sin you can commit is beating around the bush and being too verbose. Remember, panel can easily interpret these "tactics" on your part to be lack of clarity or a deliberate attempt to obfuscate your lack of knowledge. Also, while answering questions, please remember it is not a quiz and you can actually pause and collect your thoughts before answering, if required.
To be honest, it is not at all tough to 'prepare' for an interview as you only have to analyze yourself because all the answer an interview board seeks are within you. Although, practice for an interview session should ideally begin, as soon as you make up your mind for pursuing management education. However, you should use the few weeks and months before the interview to revisit and update your knowledge base, and crystallize your reasoning and thinking process on your career and life goals.
Reading newspapers and keeping updated with all the major happenings does help a lot. Revising the concepts, at least from courses one liked or did well in, from under graduation is required.
Attend mock GD sessions and giving 2-3 mock interviews. Importantly, preparing for GD/PI sessions is a good time to reflect and introspect on what are one's career goals and the reasons why one is opting for management career, and one should make use of this opportunity.
First steps on how to approach an interview?
Have well thought out answers for questions such as "What are your strengths? Why are you right for that particular business school? Why is that particular program right for you?" It shows organization and forethought if you know some specifics about the program to which you are applying and can explain why those features fit well with your career goals.
For example, if you are applying to the Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), through some simple research you will discover that they are strong in Human Resource Development. Perhaps, you have worked with a recruitment company or have been a trainer in an institute. Relate these in the interview.
Don't waste time discussing things that are already indicated on your application. You can elaborate if the topic illustrates something about your character and preparedness for the b-school experience, but do not be redundant.
Remember that the first impression you create is very important. When asked to say "something about yourself", most candidates just blurt out their schooling, college, marks and qualifications. All this is already there in the application. Why tell the interviewer something he/she already knows. Ideally, you would want to use this opportunity to show how you are different from the thousands of other applicants, not to blend in to the crowd.
A final word on approaching this question. After you have said what you have to say - don't venture any further. Don't drone. You just might say something foolish. Sometimes interviewers don't interrupt in order to give the candidate the impression that he has not spoken enough. This is just a stress/error inducing tactic. Don't fall for it. If the pause gets too awkward for your liking, just add something very politely like, "Is there something specific that you would like to know about me?"
You should be prepared for these potential areas of questioning:
Be prepared for a wide range of questions, from casual inquiries about your family to probing questions about ethical/legal issues. Also be prepared for general questions about current events and items of interest in popular culture. Nothing is more disheartening than interviewing an "academic genius" who doesn't know who is the Deputy Prime Minister or Vice -President of the Country.
How an interview commences?
A typical interview covers more than one theme. You are generally asked to first introduce yourself to the panel members. Remember that this is your opportunity to 'lead' the interview into areas that you are comfortable with or to topics that you wish to discuss.
It is quite important to highlight your achievements, whether academic or extra-curricular, in your introduction itself. Don't wait for the panel members to specifically ask you about them. Other things that you could mention in your introduction are your family and academic background, hobbies and interests, goals and aims in life, your strengths and weaknesses etc.
In fact, you could say almost anything as long as it is relevant, in the sense, that it reveals something about you as a person.
Interviews also centre on questions pertaining to academics, especially for all the freshers. Once again, it is hardly a good strategy to open your books just a few days before the interview and try to mug up whatever you think is important for the interview.
Try to ensure instead that you are keeping up with the subjects in your undergraduate course, are comfortable with the basics of the course and ready to answer application-based questions on these subjects.
If you appear to be the kind of person who picks up his books just to pass your examinations, the interviewers are likely to probe you further to check your genuine interest in the course you are currently pursuing and whether you, as a student, have really taken in something.
Remember that the people who are interviewing you are professors; they are unlikely to be too impressed if you seem to forget everything that you are supposed to have learnt just a few weeks/ months back!
If you have work experience, you can expect some questions around that. Besides your role in your current organisation, be ready for questions about latest developments in the industry/ sector that you are working in.
For example, if you work in an IT firm, you could expect questions relating to significant developments or news pertaining to that sector, any major acquisition that has taken place, questions like which are the four or five largest firms in the IT sector, what different software products or solutions they offer etc. Hence, it is necessary to know your industry/ sector well and keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments.
Current awareness/ Business awareness
You could be asked questions pertaining to the world of business and important developments. The more you read the more confident and comfortable you will be and ready to answer any question that is thrown at you.
Importantly, here too, you may be able to come up with a unique insight or logic that impresses the interviewer and wins the day for you. The candidate who has prepared for just a few days is likely to be unable to go beyond the basic view or opinion which the tired interviewer has already heard from other candidates s/he has interviewed during the day.
So make sure you read the newspaper, including the business section, everyday. In addition, reading a general magazine will also help. But, more importantly, it is crucial for you to try and analyze developments and develop your point of view regarding these.
Make sure that your opinion is backed with strong logic and is not just an opinion without any substance.
Tips for Answering Questions Effectively
Interview DOs and DON'Ts
Body language do's and don'ts for interviews
Questions You Should Ask the Interviewer
Successful candidates always ask questions at their interviews. In fact, the questions you ask reveal more about your suitability for business school than anything else. Here's what your questions tell us:
General Rules for Asking Questions
(Here are excerpts from the interview of few successful candidates for your reference.)
An interviewer is taking interview of a Computer Engineering student who has cleared the entrance test and GD for admission in his college.
Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Student: "I was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh and attended Scindia School. Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with computers. It was my hobby, my passion, and my way of learning. Like most kids I enjoyed computer games. When my folks gave me a computer as a reward for good marks in 10th Class, I mastered DOS, Windows, and WordPerfect within six months. I then went on to teach myself programming basics.
By the time I passed 12th Class, I knew I wanted to study computer engineering. From that point on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around the same. By my junior year at Engineering College in Nagpur, I decided I wanted to work for a major IT Company but I also wanted to master in other fields of handling business so that I can develop an overview of expectations of the company from me. That is why I decided to pursue MBA before joining any IT Company. I now want to graduate from this reputed college so I can be at the forefront of starting a career into a reputed IT Company. I am prepared to answer any questions you may have about my education and experience.
Interviewer: But you did tell me about your schooling, wasn't that all about your education?
Student: Yes sir, I did tell you about my school and subject preferences but can tell you a lot more about my engineering experiences and lessons I learnt from them, that is, if you allow me.
Interviewer: Frankly speaking, I have no idea about engineering stuff as I am a commerce student. So if you will tell me about you engineering course and all, I don't know how will I understand them, and above all, how will I know you are speaking the right thing?
Student: Hahaha. You surely are very frank sir, so I will also be very frank to you. What I was about to tell you about my engineering days are just my experiences I had and the learning I get from them so far. They have nothing to do with my engineering course. Also, what I have heard about you from my friend's cousin, who is an alumni of this college, is that you are the most amazing professor with remarkable diversified knowledge base. So I can be very sure about your knowledge of computer engineering stream.
Interviewer: OK..So you are here with a lot of research and all. hmmm. You seem to have done a bit of homework.
Student: Thank you for the compliment sir, I always like to be ready with my home work as it gives you an unmatched confidence.
Interviewer: Keep this attitude for the rest of your life as well. You will be informed about the final decision of the admission committee. All the best.
An interviewer (Mr. Dubey) taking interview of a fresher candidate (Rachit) who has cleared CAT and scored well in GD session.
Ritesh: May I come in sir?
Mr. Dubey: Hello Ritesh, please come in. Take your seat.
Ritesh: Hello sir, Thank you.
Mr. Dubey: So you have scored 97 percentile in CAT. Congrats. What do you think? Is it a great achievement?
Ritesh: Thank you Sir. Yes, it is a great achievement as I had put in a real hard work in the preparation. But at the same time it is only half a battle won.
Mr. Dubey: What are the major reasons for your success?
Ritesh: Many years ago I learned an important lesson from Mr. Dewakar Sinha, my first most important mentor. He told me his secret to success was to 'Look at each day as a new opportunity to be your very best. Set high goals, be honest, never say no, and be in the company of people who share your passion for doing their best.' I've always remembered that advice and try to live it every day. While preparing for CAT, I used to be very self motivated, determined and honest. I really liked working hard and enjoyed what I did and I also tried to surround myself with people who shared similar passions. I generally thrive in such environment. I am looking forward to find same environment in this institute.
Mr. Dubey: Why do you want to study in this institute?
Ritesh: I've always wanted to gain knowledge instead of mere earning a degree. This institute has got several years reputation in the field of academics and a long list of experienced and talented faculty. This was the main reason for my interest in this institute. Also, I have been in touch with a number of alumni of this institute for their guidance regarding my CAT preparations. I could pursue this course anywhere, but I'd rather study in an institute whose products I trust.
Mr. Dubey: Well. Ritesh. It was nice talking to you. You will get the admission department's final decision in a while.
Ritesh: Thank you sir, have a nice day.
An interviewer (Mr. Mehta) asking questions from a candidate (Nisha) who was working in a BPO part time along with her BA. She has scored well in entrance test and GD.
Mr. Mehta: Hello Nisha, so how are you feeling today? Nervous or excited or both?
Nisha: Hello Sir (With a courteous smile). Yes sir, I am excited as well as nervous as you can see. But I know how to handle stress as I have done it before as well.
Mr. Mehta: Really. so how do you manage stress with work?
Nisha: Stress is a part of life so one must accept it as it comes in the way. When I am confronted with stress, I tend to find out the cause of it. There are various causes for stress, it may be due to self reason or may be due to others too. If I see there are people who are adding to my stress level then I believe in discussing with them and focusing on the professional as well as personal issues that lead to such stressful situation. So what ever be the cause, I approach it with a flow chart method, i.e. starting with the root cause and doing the follow up. One tends to lose temper but life/work teaches you to stay calm and use logical ways to find out the solution. This is the only way to achieve your pre-determined goal within time frame, I believe.
Mr. Mehta: Do you have a goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 to 7 years from now?
Nisha: Setting goal is very important for me sir, so I do have set a goal for me. Although it's certainly difficult to predict things far into the future, I know what direction I want to develop toward. Within three years, I would like to become the very best HR Manager for the company that hires me in the campus placement after 18 months from now. In fact, my personal career mission statement is to become a world-class expert for Human Resources. I will work toward becoming the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I will be fully prepared to take on any greater responsibilities that might be presented in the long term.
Mr. Mehta: It feels so good to hear such motivating future plans from kids your age. I wish you all the very best. You will soon get to know the final decision of the admission committee.
Nisha: Thanks a lot for your compliment sir. Have a nice day ahead.
An interviewer (Mr. Tyagi) is in conversation with a candidate (Archana) who does not seem to be much open to people, although her entire academic life and score in written test are commendable. But her GD performance is not that great. Mr. Tyagi wants to examine if Archana is worth giving a chance in his institute.
Archana: May I come in Sir?
Mr. Tyagi: Please, have your seat.
Archana: Thank you sir.
Mr. Tyagi: So Archana, you are a commerce student and want to pursue finance?
Archana: Yes Sir. I have completed B. Com with Accounts Honors. I was always interested in numbers and figures, so have decided to become a finance manager since childhood.
Mr. Tyagi: What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?
Archana: The key quality should be leadership--the ability to be the visionary for the people who are working under them. The person who can set the course and direction for subordinates. A manager should also be a positive role model for others to follow. The highest calling of a true leader is inspiring others to reach the highest of their abilities.
Mr. Tyagi: But Archana, what I can make out from our conversation is that you are not a very outgoing person. Is there a reason for this or do you consider this as your weakness?
Archana: Yes sir. you observed it very right that I am not a very extrovert person. There is no specific reason for the same and I don't consider this as a weakness. Throughout my academic life, I have performed the way I decided and was expected to. I never fell short on my professors' expectation and performed my duties well. My little reserve nature has never been a hurdle for me.
Mr. Tyagi: If I were to ask your professors to describe you, what would they say?
Archana: I believe they would say I'm a very devoted person, that I put my mind to the task at hand and see to it that it's accomplished. They would say that if they ever had something that needed to be done, I was the person who they could always depend on to see that it was accomplished. They would say that I always took a keen interest in the subjects I was studying and always sought ways to apply the knowledge in real world settings. And I am not just guessing what they would say, in fact, I'm quite certain they would say those things because I have with me several letters of recommendation from my professors, and those are their very words. I can show them to you as well.
Mr. Tyagi: If you had to live your life over again, what would you change?
Archana: That's a good question. I realize that it can be very easy to continually look back and wish that things had been different in the past. But I also remember that things in the past cannot be changed, that only things in the future can be shaped. That's why I continually strive to improve myself each and every day. That's also the reason why I want to become the very best finance manager the company, which will hire me, has ever had. To make positive change. And all of that is still in the future. So in answer to your question, there isn't anything in my past that I would change. I look only to the future to make changes in my life.
Mr. Tyagi: Well said Archana. I am very impressed I must say. I wish you all the best in life. You can leave for the day. The final decision of the admission committee will be conveyed to you soon. Thank you.
Archana: Thank you Sir.
Interview - Sample Questions & Suggested Answers
Justify your decision to pursue the MBA program?
Don't tell the panel that you are looking for a "challenging job in a good firm with lots of money, status and glamour". Instead, you must convey to the interview panel that you have made a rational and informed decision about your career choice and your intended course of higher study. There are broadly four areas which your answer could touch upon:
Why do you think you would enjoy your chosen area of study (Eg: Marketing)?
Marketing is key to the success of any organization and the function has always appealed to me, because it requires a combination of creativity, strategic and analytic ability - all qualities that I feel I possess. Through discussions with some of my seniors, I have a pretty good idea of what it's like to work toward taking up a marketing job, and I know I will enjoy the work.
How do you spend your spare time?
I have a good collection of books of different genre and enjoy reading. In addition, I love driving during late evenings or on rainy weekend afternoons. Also, for the last two years I've been volunteering at the local children's hospital on Saturday mornings.
What are your strengths and your weaknesses?
First of all, take time to write down 3 of your strengths and 3 weaknesses. These are examples from personal life; you can quote your relevant real professional life examples.
"Since my childhood, I have a habit, if I want to go to a movie and my parents wanted me to finish my maths homework first, then I used to solve the Math's problems first and also I used to make sure that I do it correctly. I would not care how much effort was involved, how much convincing was required, so my first strength is that I am a determined person.
Secondly, I have a habit, when I take up some work; I make sure that I do it very well. It was my dad's 25th birthday. All my family members had completed the decoration, but I started when everybody finished, because I was not satisfied with the way it was done. I worked alone for four hours and at the end of it, everyone appreciated it. Moreover, my father, for whom it was a surprise, was delighted. My second strength is that I love perfection and I achieve it most of the times.
Now as I have told you about my strengths I would like to share with you something. One of my strength of being a determined person is also my weakness. When I take up some commitment, I invest so much energy, hard work and efforts in it that I sometimes neglect my personal life, social life, health and family life. I still remember I have not visited my very close friend since last 2 years. My strength of being a determined person is also my weakness.
My mother tells me that I spend a lot of money. I think she is right and but from other perspective, I think what I am doing is also right. Whenever I buy something - clothes, watches, shoes, I buy best quality products, and good products or services are always expensive. My second weakness is that I spend a lot of money on quality products."
The first thing you need to do prior to interviewing is assess yourself. This includes listing your strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments and achievements, reviewing your strong and your weak subjects, and recording some of the key decisions you have made in your life.
You should then review your interests, the disappointments you've encountered, your work environment likes/dislikes, your business and personal values, your goals, needs, restrictions, and life style preferences.
Prepare structured answers for the following potential questions.
Conclusions: Our Best Tips for Interview Success
Your success will ultimately depend on your ability to sell yourself to the interviewer. (S)he is seeking the following traits:
If you have them, flaunt them! They will open the door to a wonderfully challenging, yet satisfying academic experience.
Hopefully you should be ready to face PI by now. For such understanding on the subject matter please stay tuned to www.mbarendezvous.com. portal with MBO approach.