The metric of how well you’ve done in your MBA usually boils down to this one thing- a big fat job. And when you land one, you feel that weight has been lifted off the shoulders. You’re able to enjoy the last few weeks of your MBA that much more, knowing that your future is secure.
But what if you strike out the first few times? Desperation sets in. Morale goes down. And doubt replaces self-confidence. Making a comeback from each interview that didn’t go your way gets harder and harder.
While you’ve prepared yourself academically over the course of your MBA, ask yourself this: Have you prepared your sales pitch? The recruiters are, after all clients, and the candidate i.e. you, the product. What good is your academic understanding when you won’t get the opportunity to get to the interview table? And the times you do, you can’t close because you couldn’t get the recruiters to ‘buy’ into you.
In cricket and in life a few sessions of net practice can make all the difference. Of course, you need to maintain your cool and not get bogged down by the occasion, but if you know what shots to play, which ball to duck, the chances of a good match performance get better.
So here are a few tips that’ll help you pitch yourself better and close a job interview:
- Get The Basics Right: YOUR RESUME
How many times have you read a career objective that goes like “Seeking an innovative and challenging career as a professional in the field of marketing/finance, which provides opportunities for professional development and broaden my horizon in diversified manner to be a key player in a challenging and competing industry.”
I mean what! If you have a career objective like that you don’t deserve a shot. Keep it really simple, preferably one line that is clear and precise. And write from your heart. What is it that you really want to do. How you can fill a need gap for the industry you’re applying to, if not that particular recruiter. But whatever you pen down keep it non-ambiguous.
Follow it up with a neatly formatted work-ex in chronological order, your professional and personal achievements and your hobbies. Hobbies show the recruiters your personal side and can become an icebreaker in an otherwise pressure cooker interview situation. So give it due weightage.
Mention your contact details such as your phone no. and email id right at the top. Don’t bury it inside make the recruiter go through your resume again when all he wants to do is pick up the phone and offer you the job.
- Research The Organization And Fill The Void
You are a prospect because you can fill a hole in the organization. Needless to say, you have to be the perfect fit. But you’ll fall short if you haven’t done your homework.
Find as much as you can about the role you’ll be applying for and the organization’s culture. Get in touch with your alumni who might have worked there. Work some contacts and talk to a few people. Make notes as you go and pen down the job role and organization’s cultural values. Then write down how you fit the role. What is it that you bring to the table that no one else does. Tune up your strengths accordingly. More the clarity, better your confidence levels when you walk in. It’s okay if you haven’t got everything right but the least it does is, tells the recruiter how serious and enthused you are to be a part of his organization.
Pay Attention To Body Language
Again one of those things we don’t give much importance to. You should come across as competent and confidence who knows what he/she is doing. Dress up nicely for the day. Looking and feeling good is half the battle won. Sit straight, maintain eye contact while talking and smile. No one likes a brooding face and a serious disposition. You are not interviewing to be a commando. People want to hire and work with other friendly people. And your body language tells them more than you think. It shows you are easy to work with and have good people skills.
Make A 30 Second Elevator Pitch
By this time you’ve got the hang of what you need to do in an interview room. But what if you are literally in an elevator with a top guy of a company you really want to work with. Or at a dinner party. These are perfect occasions to get someone interested in you. At the very least you make a high profile connection, which can come in handy some day.
How you strike up a conversation will depend on the situation. But a good way to start could be starting with a warm hello and telling them how impressed or inspired you were by one of their accomplishments. More recent the accomplishment, better it is. It tells them that they have a fan in you and will lower the resistance of talking to a stranger.
So what is an Elevator Pitch? It is basically a crunched down version of your resume, keeping the most impressionable bits and leaving out the rest. It’s conversational and doesn’t try too hard. It’s casual yet assertive. The only way to arrive at the perfect pitch is to write it down and practice it with family and friends. Afterwards ask them what was it that they remembered and keep tweaking it until you’re sure that you’re making the impression you had set out to.
- Innovate: Your Personal Business Card :
You can think of this as a written down version of the elevator pitch. It’s short and punchy and answers key questions the recruiters have such “Who are you” and “How are you different”.
But for it to work effectively, you have to position yourself well. Bring it down to one word that best describes you such as “perfectionist”, “eye-for-detail”, “team player” etc. Once you have the right adjective, illustrate it visually. Look up innovative business cards on the internet to get inspired. Get a few made and keep them in your breast pocket. Hand them out to close the elevator pitch or to leave it at the front desk of the company you’re interested in.
However, none of these will help if you don’t practice. Keep at it till the time you can recite your spiel in your sleep. Then, practice some more. It’s the edge you have over your competition and something you can master easily. Start now and should be ready by the time you hit the placement season.
Contributed by Himanshu Saxena ( Class of 2009, IBS GURGAON )