At least 5–10% of my work week is devoted to interviewing potential recruits for LightCastle Partners. Over the last 14 years, I have had the opportunity to interview close to 1,300 candidates for LightCastle and, before that, for Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), where I helped interview and select participants for their BBLT programs. Over the years, I have witnessed seemingly stellar candidates make silly mistakes that can easily be avoided through better planning and deliberate preparation. Sharing some insights that can potentially be relevant for fresh graduates, as well as for young professionals seeking new career opportunities.
1. Authentic CV: Many candidates have the tendency to exaggerate their skill sets and experiences on their CVs. While this might help you get called up for an interview; rest assured, interviewers will be asking probing questions to validate your claims. So, don’t put up claims that you can’t comfortably defend during the interview process.
2. Do your Homework: Devote 45 minutes to reviewing the interviewing company’s website before appearing for the interview. Interviewers have a penchant for asking pointed questions on the company’s product/service suite, business model, and history to broadly gauge the candidate’s sincerity and interest level. If you’re too busy or disinterested in conducting background research, reconsider whether you genuinely want to pursue this opportunity.
3. Ask for 30 seconds: You will be judged based on the quality of your response as opposed to how fast you’re responding to the question. If the question is analytical in nature, consider asking the interviewer for some additional time to deliberate on your answer. Also, ask for a piece of paper and a pen for jotting down the key points.
4. Say “Don’t know”: You’re not expected to know all the answers, and interviewers will understand if you humbly express your ignorance. In case you’re unsure of the response, give due consideration before responding to the question. Interviewers appreciate candid responses, but they will appreciate it if you can demonstrate an eagerness to keep learning on an ongoing basis.
5. Don’t burn bridges: Many professionals end up ruining relationships with their previous employers before departing for their new jobs. The majority of recruiters/interviewers conduct thorough background checks, especially for lateral hires. The views of former colleagues are given due importance and can play a pivotal role in making the final hiring decision. Therefore, make the utmost effort to maintain cordial relationships with former colleagues.
Employers tend to make hiring decisions based on six key factors: (1) Communication skills; (2) Analytical ability (3) a demonstrable skillset; (4) Domain knowledge; (5) Problem-solving ability; (6) Leadership potential. The weight of each variable will vary depending on the type of organization and the role at hand. The first two factors are critical for fresh graduates, while factors 3-6 are more important for intermediate and senior-level hires.
I look forward to hearing from the other founders and recruiters regarding their hiring experiences. Also, share your tips for acing interviews.