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Prepare Hard Smart
-Current Affairs/General Knowledge/Opinions etc: Call it what you want – basically you need to be in tune with what’s happening in the world, especially the business world. After going to B-School many of us lose touch with “current affairs” which we would have followed quite a bit in the B-School interview phase. You may not necessarily encounter this in your interview, but if you do, it would reflect badly to be out of touch. Also, several companies have a Group Discussion round before final interviews and these GDs are usually based on some current topic. Thus, irrespective of how early your summer placements are, there is no excuse to be clueless about what’s going on.
-Company/Function/Industry: There are many instances of how candidates have confused brands of one company with another, or step into an interview knowing barely anything about the industry (this is more likely in campuses where all processes happen over 4-5 days, and you may have to attend as many as 6-8 processes, sometimes more, in a single day). While recruiters know that you have a number of processes of different companies to attend, some may not appreciate that you didn’t give your application much thought. It is advisable to know at least a little bit about the company as well as the industry. Many companies may also have customised application forms. Do remember to go through these as well before the interview – there have been instances of candidates saying things rather different from what they mentioned in the application! (Notice that this last point on company-specific preparation depends a lot on how many companies you apply to, and hence applying prudently is also important!)
-Know your resume: It is a good idea to go through the submitted resume a couple of days before the interviews. This will ensure that you are not caught unawares if the interview is mainly about your past achievements. Also, it would be helpful to mentally prepare answers for the key points on your resume – avoid having to think on-the-spot or miss good points due to nervousness.
Market yourself; but remain truthful
In the preparation phase this relates to building your resume. If you are at one of the top few B-Schools in this country, chances are half your class has an equally diverse and brilliant profile as yours. It is essential to work on your resume in a focussed manner so that it gives a snapshot of the best in you. It is equally important to customize your resume so that it communicates those points which are relevant to the stream/company you are applying to. For example: Your stock valuation skills will be appreciated by a company in the financial sector, but wouldn’t interest a marketing firm as much. Most people try and build different resumes for marketing, finance, operations, etc.
Needless to say, avoid stretching the truth when marketing yourself. An interviewer can usually spot whether a candidate is exaggerating abilities or achievements a little too much.
Don’t get carried away by the HYPE
This is probably the most crucial thing. As countdown to D-Day begins, one hears all kind of sweeping statements ranging from “Kitni companies mein apply kiya? 30? That’s it?!” or “Dude, you haven’t read entire Brealy-Myers/Kotler yet? I thought you were Fin/Mar-focussed”. While some advice may be sensible, there will also be a lot of baseless information coming your way. Separate the wheat from the chaff; check the source of information before acting upon it. This is a pressurising phase for almost everyone - if you can manage to stay grounded and calm, half the battle is won.
Editor's note:- We are also running a series of articles with tips for interview preparation in various functions. The first of that series, focusing on Finance roles, is here.
- Miti Vaidya
The author is an alumnus of XLRI School of Business & Human Resources (Batch of 2011). Currently working as a TAS Manager, she has worked with Goldman Sachs (Global Investment Research) in the past. A graduate from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce & Economics (Batch of 2007), Miti has also completed her C.A.