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Articles on Personality Development
Interview Techniques - IV

• The difference between success and failure lies in preparation. You can divide your preparation in 2 broad areas:
      * Planning your work (preparations)
      * Working your plan
• Planning your work – Your preparations must be based on the following:
     * Knowing yourself
     * Knowing your surroundings/environment
     * Knowing your job organization

• Working your plan
     * You should make efforts in collecting authentic and quality study materials.
     * A methodical preparation would help you make ka guess about expected topics.
     * Speaking before the mirror.
     * Mock Interviews
     * Group Discussion
    * Adopt a relaxed and positive attitude. You should remain relaxed and positive no matter what the situation is. While preparing, you must always imagine that you are going to qualify at the test. Such an approach would channelise your energies in the right direction.

There are some myths about how a candidate should behave during a job interview:
• Dress determines selection – Your dress creates the overall impression about your personality. It can help initially, but the
ultimate selection decision is not determined on the basis of how swell you are dressed for the occasion, but how suitable you appear to be for the position applied for. Dress is only a ‘top up’ to the substance in you.

• You should feel comfortable being there, everything else will automatically fall into place.

• Never argue with your interviewer – If you are appearing for an interview for a role requiring leadership, then it is important to have your original views on different subjects. Taking a ‘value based’ stand that reflects your long term thinking helps a lot for posts at middle and senior levels.

• Reaching early for the interview

• Communication is a very critical skill – Undoubtedly, communication skill is very critical. How deep you think, what is the width of your thinking, how you present yourself are some of the factors that show how good you are at communication. Words and sentences are carriers of ideas. Communication is also attached and seen with the general composition of an individual.

• Be presentable, position things well and most importantly have faith in yourself. You will succeed.

• An interview is conducted in order to select either the best candidate or reject the weaker ones.

• The traits of your personality and what they reflect also become crucial during the selection process. It is not that people are born with specific qualities, but rather a personality is built through proper grooming and interaction with family, society etc.,

• A positive, balanced and impressive personality can be built at any time provided you are able to identify the need for it.

• You as an adult human being can develop your personality by interacting with your own self. To be more precise, as a grown up, you must know how you think, behave and interact. After knowing your present personality and what you expect, put in conscious efforts to mould your personality into a new format.

• Remember, those appearing in the interview might just be better prepared than you. So, what might matter is the way you think and present your answers. In fact it is your personality that can actually make the difference.

• Every individual has his strengths and weaknesses. No matter how hard you may try, there might be certain things with which you may not feel comfortable.

• Similarly there are things with which you are extremely confident and comfortable. In an interview, your effort must be to see that the interviewer tests you on your areas of strengths and not on your weaknesses.

• The first step therefore is to carefully prepare your PIQ. You should not put anything in it that is not correct. The PIQ should be prepared in a way such that it highlights all your positive aspects. You should visualize questions on each part of your PIQ and prepare and rehearse your answers accordingly.

• In all interviews, the initial few questions are from your PIQ only and are basically meant to make you feel comfortable. If you are well prepared, you might be able to answer confidently.

• How to end an answer: This is a very important aspect. You should not only know what to speak, but also know how to end your answer. In most of the cases, the next question follows from your previous answer. Therefore if you are careful, you can actually pull the interview to your areas of strength.

• You should never leave an answer open-minded, especially if the topic is not your strong point. All answers should be short, to the point and water tight.

• However, if you wish that you should be asked few more questions on certain topic, then your answers should deliberately end on such notes from where such questions can follow.

• It is important to understand this concept and prepare yourself accordingly. There are few expected questions in all interviews. For instance: Questions on your background, state, hobbies etc., If you prepare your answers using this trick, you stand a good chance of leading the Board to your well prepared areas. And naturally the quality of your answers would be much better.

• Gauge the mood of the Board: You have to study and observe the board members. If they feel happy with a point that you have made or show interest in your answers, press home to your advantage. If you find that the answers are irritating them, do a quick mental calculation and cut them short.

• However, a word of caution. You must be careful not to take things on face value. The board may try to judge your commitment by pretending to give either too satisfied or an annoyed look.

• Introduce wit and humor: Every one loves a person with a sense of humor and wit. If during the course of your interview, you get an opportunity to introduce humor, go ahead and do it. It will create a positive impact.

• For example: A candidate with an unusually long name was asked by one of the members as to how many letters there are in his name. The candidate with an impish smile answered, ”Sir, I think that by giving me such a long name my father wanted to ensure that the name of his son stands second to none. Therefore, he put all possible alphabets in it”.

• By giving this kind of an answer, the candidate not only showed his intelligence, but also projected that he is witty.

• Generate interest of the Board: You have to sound focused, committed and display passion while you answer. Nobody likes a deadwood. The interview Board also gets tired of listening to people who speak prepared answers in a stereotyped manner. If you show that you are different, you catch their eyes. Once you do that, you succeed in making an impression.

• Use your common sense: Any amount of bookish knowledge cannot replace your common sense and presence of mind. In all interviews, the Board will ask you questions that are intended to check your common sense. You should never get confused by such questions. Learn to frame on the spot “smart” answers.

• Appear confident and in control: It is natural to be a bit nervous in all interviews. However, your appearance, answers body language should not reflect your nervousness. You must try and appear confident. You have to show that you are in control your self and the situation. If you manage to do that successfully, you can be assured of creating a positive impact.

ACE THE INTERVIEW – (A ready reckoner that will prepare you to face few interview questions that an interviewer is most likely to ask) Plan your answers ahead of time so that when asked, you are ready to deliver them with confidence.

• What are your weaknesses and drawbacks? This is the most dreaded question. Handle it by minimizing your weaknesses and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal strengths and concentrate on professional traits. ‘I am working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined a course in communication skills, which I find very helpful.’

• Why should I select you? Summarize your experiences of achievements and tell that you are already working as an officer and you will be a great addition to the team of officers in the Indian army.

• Why do you want to join army as an officer? Tell that as an offr you have vast avenues to work more, prove your talents and skills. I have selected Army as a career because its mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I might be excited about what the Army wants me of and I can offer of myself.

• What are your goals? My goal is to get a job of un-ending achievements. I hope to eventually grow into a position that offers me more responsibility.

• What can you do for the army that other candidates can’t? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: “I have a unique combination of strong technical/adm skills to excel and the ability to build strong officer-men relations. This will allow me to use my knowledge and break down my skills to make them more user-friendly.

• If you were an animal, which one would you want to be? The IO uses this type of psychological question kto see if ;yo9u can think quickly. If you answer “a bunny”, you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer “a lion”, you will be seen as aggressive.

• Are the questions in an interview confined in specific areas?
Personal interview can be both structured and unstructured.

Structured interview – One can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that the questions are primarily confined to the candidate’s academic qualification / participation in extra curricular / awards and achievements / personal attributes like strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, special interests, family background and general knowledge.

Unstructured interview –
Could you enumerate some typical strengths and weaknesses which can be safely quoted in an interview
Although two individuals can be compared as they possess different traits, yet certain qualities and shortcomings are common to almost all personality types. Some commonly quoted strengths are handwork, persuasiveness, leadership, meticulousness, entrepreneurship, cherishing values like honesty, integrity, truthfulness etc., team skills and objectivity whereas overconfidence (complacency), slow starter (laziness), ambitious in goal setting (flamboyant), stubbornness (rigid) and procrastination (delay without reason) are weaknesses that a candidate can defend himself against if he has done his home work in advance.

• What is your objective of becoming an officer in army?
• Where do you see yourself in five years
• Why should we consider you in preference to other candidates?
• What is your biggest weakness and how do you plan to overcome it?
• What has been your most significant achievement in life so far?
• Who do you consider a role model and why?

STRENGTH & WEAKNESS – Develop clarity on objectives. Be clear on your strengths, which could translate into demonstrating suitability for the army officer. At times, one can be quizzed on an area of weakness. Be frank to plead ignorance if you do not know an answer, rather than random guessing. The IO would normally appreciate honesty. Even if you stumble on a particular question, do not get disheartened. It is human to err. Instead try and direct the IO to an area where you are comfortable.

TEST OF PATIENCE – Interviews are also often considered a test of patience and endurance. The IO may test nerves and patience by grilling you on a specific topic that could be a point made earlier during the interview, information included in the PIQ or any topical subject. Demonstrate patience, giving full attention and focus to answering the questions to the best of your ability. Well rounded preparation for the interview would help you to give your best. Preparing is a continuous process – keep working towards improving ability and knowledge right up to the day of the interview. Be confident and demonstrate that you are in control and you are comfortable.


• Be prepared on your PIQ.

• Do your homework about the Army.. Try to link your interests and experiences to it and how it would benefit you as well as the org & what you potentially bring to it.

• Brush up on your general awareness about current affairs and happenings. Interest in one’s environment is an essential quality. Make a habit of reading newspapers and general interest.

• Make a mental list of questions you would like to ask.

• Answer honestly and never lie.

• Do not take more than a few seconds before answering and do not cut off the interviewer’s question mid-way. Make sure that your answers are sound and acceptable.

• Greet the IO with a genuine smile and shake hands firmly, when extended. Show enthusiasm.

• Wait until you’re offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Avoid leaning on the table or slouching. Do not smoke even if the IO is smoking or offers you a cigarette. Decline courteously.

• Maintain eye contact when you are speaking.

• Look interested and be an active listener. Make effective use of body language as it speaks louder than your voice.

• Avoid answering in monosyllables like ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Moderate your answers and be open about telling the interviewer more about yourself and your experiences.

• While answering about your strengths and weaknesses, provide specific examples, to help you fulfill the interviewer’s expectations. (It doesn’t really ring true when you say you’ve got “excellent leadership skills”. Instead, say “I think I’ve acquired super leadership skills through a combination of effective communication, delegation and personal interaction.” Put across your area of weakness in a way that it comes across as an ‘opportunity’ you have worked upon and overcome.

• Make sure that your good points get across to the IO in a factual and sincere manner. Only you can sell yourself to the IO, so help him realize the need for you in the org.

• Never make any derogatory remarks about your present/former superiors, units • Salary/holidays/benefits should not find a place in your answers.

When an IO asks about it, normally answered as –

CANDIDATE 1 – “My strength is that I’m a hard worker. My weakness is that I get stressed if I miss a deadline because someone else slipped up.” (The answer is unimaginative. Most people think of themselves as hardworking)

CANDIDATE 2 – “I really can’t think of a weakness. May be I could be more focused. My strength is probably my ability to deal with people. I am pretty easy going. I usually don’t get upset easily. (This answer starts with a negative statement, and then moves to vague assertions containing such words as may be, probably, pretty and usually.

Here are some tips to better field this question:

Assess your skills, and you will be able to identify your strengths. Make a list ;of your skills, dividing them into 3 categories as follows:

• Knowledge based skills – acquired from education and experiences, for example, computer proficiency, languages, degrees, training and technical/professional ability.

• Transferable skills – on your portable expertise that you gain from one job to another. These include for instance, communication and people skills, analytical, problem solving and planning skills.

• Personal traits – your unique qualities like being independent, flexible, friendly, hardworking, expressive, and a team player

WEAKNESS – Everyone has weaknesses, but who wants to admit them, especially in an interview?. The best way to handle this question is to play down the characteristic and emphasize its positive aspect. Select a trait and come up with a solution to overcome your weakness. Avoid talking about your personal habits and concentrate more on the professional qualities you have.

Clarifications answered:
Q : What should I do if the interviewer is not satisfied or not willing to accept to accept my answer to a particular question?
Check your depth of knowledge in a particular subject. Faced with such a predicament, the best recourse at the disposal of the candidate is to stick to his position while showing utmost courteous and respect to the interviewer . In short, be polite yet very firm in your reply and you would win the wholehearted appreciation of the IO.

Q : In one of the interviews , the IO asked me to define my career goals. I answered but the response was not satisfactory. How does one answer this questions?

Ans : Firstly – You would have to do the skill assessment of an area to list your greatest strengths and abilities. Secondly - You should assess your values/ interests. List the values that are important to you personally, including your ideal working conditions and your dream to become a army officer. You must decide on specific areas of work you like to do. Do not stat that you are in search of a ‘Challenging position’ Be as specific as possible. Be prepared to discuss career goals, future plans, and eventual areas of interest etc.,

Q : What should I tell, when I am asked – “why were you rejected last time?

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