This chapter teaches techniques to prepare for interviews and group discussions.
Interviews and Group Discussions
Interviews are part of the procedure for some admissions, scholarships, and jobs. In an interview, one or more persons sit in a room and invite candidates for discussions.
Group discussions are for jobs. In a group discussion, several students sit in a room and discuss some topics. An examiner sits in a corner and tries to find out who speaks well, who shows initiative and leadership and other qualities.
Presentations (or public speaking) could be for a thesis, project, debate, some function, course work, or job. In a presentation, a student stands before a group and tells about his subject. Then finally, the student may be asked to answer questions from the audience.
In this chapter, the word “interview” will mean interviews, group discussions, or public speaking.
How to Improve Your Ability to Discuss
One very important fact to note about interviews: the decision of the examiner is highly subjective. It means that if 10 examiners give marks, then their results will not match. Some examiners may call one student the best and some other examiners may call the same student average or even the worst.
The subjective aspect makes it difficult to prepare for inter-views.
Success in an interview depends on two factors that you control:
- Your knowledge of the subject
- Your ability to discuss the subject
Of these two factors, how to improve your subject knowledge is discussed throughout this book. I will now teach you a technique only for improving your ability to discuss your subject.
To speak to the interview board or the examiners in an interview or give a talk or speech to a group or discuss some topic in a group is a skill. For a beginner, it requires no specific knowledge about psychology or how people in a group behave. All that you need to do is to feel reasonably confident and to open your mouth and say whatever comes to your mind.
Just like learning to ride a bicycle, you can learn to speak in a group only by practice. There is no other way.
The easiest way to practice is to get together with some of your friends. Imagine that it is a real-life situation. If you are going to wear a tie in a real interview, wear it for the practice interview also. Make the practice situation as close to a real-life situation as possible. You can ask some of your teachers to interview you (and your friends and classmates).
An important part of this practice is to ask two questions after the practice. First, ask “What did I do very well? or what am I good at?” Find out your strengths. This will give you
confidence. The second question to ask “How can I improve? or how can I become better?” Again listen carefully to answers. This is very effective because even non-experts such as your friends can tell you that you were sitting like a lazy person on a sofa or that you were sitting on the edge of the chair or that you were sitting too straight or that you were answering to only one person rather than to all the members.
No amount of written advice is enough. You should practice giving interviews.
Even if you need to prepare just for interviews, I suggest you practice all three: interview, group discussion, and public speaking. You will improve faster.
Another important fact to know is that in any good interview the interviewers (or examiners) will first ask you about yourself, your education, and your city to make you feel comfortable so that they can then ask you questions to find out about your subject knowledge.
But, remember some incompetent or sadist examiners will not give you a chance to feel comfortable. Even in that case, the confidence and relaxation techniques in this book will help you remain relaxed and confident.
About Dress, Greetings, Newspapers, etc.
There are some other relatively easy issues such as what to wear, what to say when you enter an interview room, etc.
Do anything reasonable. There are no specific rules. Here are a few guidelines. Use this list when you are practicing interviews.
Look neat. Wear neat and clean clothes and polished shoes.
Be on time.
Say greetings like “Good morning, sirs” when you enter the interview room.
Shake hands firmly, if you shake hands. Many people consider a firm handshake a sign of confidence.
Wait for someone to ask you to sit down, then thank them and sit on a chair.
Listen to the interviewers without interruption. Let them finish a question before answering it.
If you do not know something, say so. Do not bluff or tell lies.
Look at all people while talking. look at the speaker while listening.
Do not be too loud or too soft in speaking.
Thank the interviewers before leaving the interview room.
In IAS-type interviews, you should also read the daily newspaper so that you know that day’s news. In most other interviews, reading daily newspapers is not important.
Here are some common questions in interviews.
- What attracted you to this job?
- Tell us about your previous jobs.
- Tell us about yourself.
- Tell us about your education.
- Tell us about your achievements.
- Questions related to current events.
- Questions asking for solutions to problems.
How to Develop Self-Confidence for Interviews and Group Discussions
Most people feel a little nervous in interviews, group discussions, and public speaking.
Even some of the world’s greatest orators have been known to get a little nervous. Abraham Lincoln, a famous president of the USA, accepted this fact in his book.
It is okay to be a little nervous.
Being a little nervous means that your body is generating some extra energy.
You just need to learn to use this extra energy to speak confidently. Once you begin talking, once you spend a minute or two, then you may not feel nervous anymore, and talking or discussion becomes easy.
Chapter 8 gives techniques to program yourself for success. To program your body. And to program your mind.
You can use the same techniques to program yourself for self-confidence in interviews and group discussions.