To me an interview is a meeting – a conversation between two (or more) persons with the object of gaining information of the interviewee. We need to remember that an interview is not just a question and answer session. It is a purposeful and deliberate exercise to explore the mind of the other.

Great companies all over the world are creating employee value propositions to attract the best talent. They have discovered the importance of spending time and effort up front when hiring employees to prevent the pain of turnover. Therefore to get a candidate who fits well in the job and in the organization the interviewer must understand the organizations vision, values and culture in addition to the job qualitative requirement. Personally I prefer a mix between a structured approach with some freewheeling which varies depending on the candidate.

The interviewer

The most important prerequisite for a good interviewer is an ability to listen. An exposure in psychology also helps a great deal in interviews.

An open mind and respect for the other as an equal – regardless of age, experience, caste, color, creed or status is sacrosanct.  Candidate’s dignity must be maintained. Avoid assuming a position of superior.  “Be curious, not judgmental” – Walt Whitman

Remember a candidate can sense your trustworthiness by your approach and behavior. Only then does he/she feel at ease to talk about his feelings and emotions and on various facets of his life. He knows that what he reveals will remain confidential.

Maintain proper decorum in dress – not flashy or loud as it may distract the candidates.

Does knowledge of psychology help?

Yes it does. In my Interviewing Officers Course we were given an excellent exposure in psychology at the Defence Institute of Psychological Research, New Delhi. This helps a great deal while interviewing complex candidates or for higher management positions.


A cheerful and helpful disposition builds a rapport and is the key to successful interview.

Opening an Interview: Most candidates are tense when they enter.  A bright smile from the interviewer greeting him by his name does wonders. Remember to shake hands and offer a chair. This releases his initial tension and anxiety and a spirit of bonhomie sets in and his real personality comes out.

Ask the simplest of questions to which there are no right or wrong answers e.g., any difficulty in reaching the venue, what was going on in your mind waiting for your interview,  did he/she get a cordial reception or what is their earlier back ground.

A rapport is fragile to maintain so care needs to be taken that it does not snap at any point of time. Therefore be encouraging at all imes.

Use silence to your advantage

Waiting in silence can be awkward for both you and the candidate. But resist the temptation to speak up. It gives you an idea how he responds under pressure

Be helpful

Maintain an easy pace without rushing. Ask open question to keep the conversation going. Silence conveys he has not understood the question – explain it in simpler way (or with an example) without making him feel small. If he becomes emotional (or tearful) say a few kind words to comfort e.g.  “we are all human”.

Few points that of interviewer must avoid!

(a) Allow interviewee to talk

Remember the purpose of the interview is to get to know and understand the candidate. Best way to do this to let the candidate talk. The less the interviewer talks the more the candidate gets the time.

(b)   Don’t be aggressive  arrogant or sarcastic

The interviewer must not be aggressive and show-off his own knowledge. Never make the candidate feel that he is not performing well. Humor should not be confused with flippancy.

(c) Don’t get distracted

Even if he goes off topic be attentive and in control-change the topic tactfully not abruptly.

(d) Avoid unconscious bias

Generally we all form opinions based on our likes and dislikes. Take care not to get biased. Similarly don’t get over impressed when the candidate shares a common interest with you.

Conclusion – Humility and Fair play

It is extremely doubtful if there can be a mathematically accurate measure of human ability. As such we need to remember with a sense of humility that we have been entrusted with a responsibility to be part of a process that could affect the ‘future’ of an individual. A youth comes here with hopes and dreams. And he or she must leave feeling good and with the belief that – there was good faith and fair play in the interview process whatever the outcome is.


About Dilip

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are music and growing culinary herbs. Love to play golf and do yoga regularly. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

18 responses

  1. girish says:

    Respected sir,

    The article is very informative and knowledgeable and I would imbibe the leanings from it.



  2. Parthiv Dave says:

    Hello Sir,

    Off-late, I have started taking interviews for MBA Fresh Graduates from Tier II and III colleges. I agree with all your points and your blog really made me think whether I have conducted interview appropriately.

    I believe the interviewer also has to evaluate whether the candidate’s goal(s) match with the company’s expectations. I have observed that many candidates lack the direction and often lands up at wrong interview. For example, a finance graduate who is strong in equity research appears for interview for Business Analyst at IT Major.

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful blog.



  3. Dilip Sharma says:

    Dear Sir

    The interview posting is very helpful and has increased my knowledge.
    And u have posted on the right time when me and my colleagues have completed our MBA and looking for the Jobs as our interest.

    Thanking You

    Dilip Sharma


    • Dilip says:

      Hi Dilip,

      Great to hear from you. My congrats on your MBA and best of luck for your dissertation project.

      BTW there are two more posts for candidates appearing for interviews. (1) How to ace the interview and (2) Opening question.

      Best of luck!


  4. Aditya Pandey says:

    Dear Sir,
    It was great pleasure and honour to be your student.
    As all the time you have been a constant source of knowledge,information & the best example of Achieving things that you desire. I went through your interview tips and they were helpful.

    Thank you

    Hope to see you soon

    Aditya Pandey
    Oct-2009 batch


    • Dilip says:

      Thanks Aditya for your kind words. It is you wonderful guys who inspire me. And thanks for that.

      Its a great step you have taken to enter into the Film world of ‘Acting and Direction’. Some day please share with us what made you decide on this amazing career and also about your routine in the Institute.

      Best of luck.


  5. supriya dhende says:

    Dear Sir,

    I especially appreciate the information and advice you offered in this post…It is invaluable on the part of interviewer and the interviewee both….I would like to add some HELPFUL TIPS FOR THE INTERVIEW DISCUSSION:
    1.Ask for clarification if you do not understand the question. Never assume you know what they mean
    2.Never argue or debate with the interviewer
    3.Do not ramble, as you could potentially talk yourself out of the job
    4.Think before you respond, gather your thoughts and then give a quality answer that is to the point
    5.Stay positive in all your answers
    6.Keep all your answers related to your job qualifications. When asked “tell me about yourself” try to keep the answer related to your goals, education or work experience
    7.Watch your body language. If you are slouching, swinging your legs and playing with your hair, it will give the interviewer the feeling you are not a self-confident person. You always want to sit straight up, pay attention and make sure you are not doing any nervous gestures
    8.Always ask the interviewer when they will be making their decision. This will allow you to leave the interview knowing when you should expect to hear from them
    9.Remember…being a little nervous is normal and expected
    10.Be positive, but not overly friendly with the interviewer…

    Again, thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your generosity.



    • Dilip says:


      Always a pleasure to hear from you. I really appreciate the value addition to this post. It will surely help all our friends and fellow professionals. Thanks for your encouraging words.



  6. Prachiti Talathi Gandhi says:

    Dear Sir,

    I did my MBA in HR and this blog is really a guiding star for all of us. Though I am not much into HR directly, these do’s and don’ts will help me otherwise in my career also.

    Thank you so much.



    • Dilip says:

      Hi Prachiti,

      Knowing you I can say with confidence that you have a flair for getiing along with people nad thats a core attribute of an HR professional. Thanks for dropping by.



  7. Rajat Joshi says:

    Dear Sir,

    A truly enlightening and thought provoking piece on interviewing skills. Infact this should be read by all the interviewers from time to time to remain grounded and have unbiased interviewing with the potential candidates.

    Would like to add a few points :

    1. Applicants should atleast do 80% of talking and 20% by the interviewers hence 80-20 rule very well applies here.

    2. Make the candidates comfortable by sitting across from them or in L shape manner and NOT behind the desk. Infact best of the corporate CEOs prefer this !. The reason being sitting behind the desk is considered as a power play mode and perhaps the interviewer may forget the essential basics of good interviewing skills as mentioned by you.

    3. Allow the participants to ask questions about the position and the organization – if they ask about the duties of the position – give a realistic answer.

    4. Introduce the applicant to your office and its staff as this is your opportunity to show that your office/organization is a great place to work.

    It is a pleasure to read your blogs!

    Best Regards,

    Rajat Joshi


    • Dilip says:

      Hi Rajat,

      A warm welcome to you. To be appreciated by a professional trainer like you means a lot to me.

      I am glad you added some very useful points to the post especially regarding the seating etiquette suggested by you. I recall in my own organizations for senior executives the final round was by way of a chat in the ante room sitting comfortably. I would love to experiment at the junior levels too.

      I look forward to more value additions from you in the future too. Many thanks.


  8. Harshad R. Pendse says:

    Dear Sir,

    Beautiful thoughts put together!

    Thanks a ton for continuously providing us fair doses of wisdom without actually preaching. Your blog posts are an outcome of your learnings out of your rich experiences that probably you have gathered over your entire lifetime.

    I feel blessed and honoured when I read your blog.

    Thanks again and Regards,

    Harshad R. Pendse


    • Dilip says:

      Dear Harshad,

      I am so happy that you stopped by and wrote some very encouraging comments. I remember you as a model student who always inspired and guided your less experienced classmates.

      Thank you my friend and do come again. Wish you great success in your professional and personal life.



  9. Ayan Hore says:

    Dear Sir,

    I’m Ayan from Balurghat. We met at SCIT on 5th Feb 2001.
    I have read some of your posts & liked your blog very much.



    • Dilip says:

      Welcome Ayan,

      I do remember you very well. I visited your blog and congratulate you on a fantastic blog. Your photography is par excellence and highly professions. I intend being a regular visitor and keep in touch with you.

      BTW I remember the few days I spent in Balurghat as a peaceful town. Thanks for rekindling my memories.

      Take care and good luck.


  10. Geetha Chandar says:

    Dear Sir,

    This post with a different perspective is as interesting as the ones you had posted on the topic of ‘Interviews’ on 28th May and 2nd June, 2010. Thank you!

    This especially is beautiful:

    “As such we need to remember with a sense of humility that we have been entrusted with a responsibility to be part of a process that could affect the ‘future’ of an individual. A youth comes here with hopes and dreams. And he or she must leave feeling good and with the belief that – there was good faith and fair play in the interview process whatever the outcome is.”

    That’s why I personally prefer the phrase ‘talent acquisition’ or ‘strategic talent acquisition’ to ‘recruitment’. And I also like the advertisement where towards the end the interviewee has the courage to ask the panel whether the interview was all about finding out what he knows or what he does not know!

    And this is so true!

    “The most important prerequisite for a good interviewer is an ability to listen”

    And there may be times when we have to follow a simple rule while we are listening: we must not only hear what people are saying, but we must also learn to hear what they aren’t saying. Many times that message is more germane than what they’re actually saying?

    Thanks and regards,



    • Dilip says:

      Hello Geetha,

      Good to read your comments. Very recently I was engaged in the interviewing some very bright young people for a premier B School. The six full days of meeting young minds was a fascinating experience. Most of them are so candid and honest in sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings as such it becomes a huge responsibility for the interviewer to ‘judge (assess) without being judgmental’.
      You summed up beautifully especially ‘but we must also learn to hear what they aren’t saying’.

      Thanks and regards.