Since hiring season is at its peak, I might as well talk a little more about it. One very important aspect of the recruitment procedures is the dreaded interview. Be it 10 minutes or 20, you have to condense your personality in to the most apt of words, such that whatever comes out of your mouth neither sounds too generic nor too fake. If you practice it at home too much, you end up trying to remember the words you said to yourself in last night’s mirror interview, and that always gets across to the interviewers.
So, what is the best way to explain your personality to a bunch of highly judgmental people? Well, there is none. As far as my experience is concerned (which isn’t a lot, but is valuable at the same time), you can’t just think of a one size fits all kind of solution to this. That also does not mean that your honesty and integrity about your personality will get you hired. No, it just means speaking your heart out, while staying within prescribed limitations is the best way to get through to these morticians behind the desk.
What exactly do they look for? Uniqueness, definitely uniqueness. Especially at the internship level. At this point in time, your skills are as close to zero as possible so the interviewers want some spark, some zing, as if they are looking for a certain romantic chemistry between you and the organization. This does not become evident over the course of the interview, but can take from a split second to the whole duration. It depends on how long you take to stand out from the rest. What matters at the end is the people whose names or personalities get etched in to the interviewers’ mind after all the interviews have been conducted. When the time comes to evaluate, you want to be sure that they remember who you were, because even if your personality was fabulous in your head, if they forget you, you’re done for.
How do people manage to stand out and appear unique? There are a number of ways to do so, however, I shall first talk about the kind that do not need to appear different, they simply are. These people have always been the kind who stand out in the crowd; they either have such privilege by speaking more fluently and expressionistically than the rest, have their schooling done from a foreign country, or having a different birth place, making them sound much more learned and special than other people. They could have an eccentric dressing style, pairing up things in ways that are not common to a lot of people, or a name that has hardly ever been heard around, and instantly clicks with the interviewers. These are what I would call, ‘the Lucky Ones’; they simply have their uniqueness served to them on a silver platter and never have to make a conscious effort to achieve that.
Next, we have the people who spend every waking moment trying to develop their personalities, appear sharp, appear vigilant or appear…just about any positive adjective in the dictionary. Life is hard for these people, since they always fear breaking out of character at the wrong moment, or cracking under pressure. They need to carefully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, because interviewers will try their hardest to break these people. Sometimes these people concentrate their strategy on breaking the ice with the interviewers, to develop some kind of friendship, either through compliments or similar beliefs, and hope that this tactic can carry them across the recruitment ladder. Sometimes these people are generally smart and capable, but the things they are good at are things everybody happens to sell easily as well, rendering them unnoticed.
Finally, we have the people who are clueless about themselves and the interview. They do not make a conscious effort, nor do they stand out as special, and are often quick to be rejected. Sometimes the interviewers also find them to be a little arrogant in their answers. Let’s hope none of us falls under this category.
If you haven’t been gifted with an idiosyncrasy you can flaunt to the world, I suggest you stick to the second strategy. It is going to be difficult for you, you will fail quite a lot along the way, but I assure you, someone will recognize your potential and decide to give you a chance.