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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to Win Interviews without getting Stressed

I help many people prepare for their interviews. I have observed frequently that whenever someone is preparing for their new job interviews they will usually by under lot of pressure. I have also seen lots of exceptions where people directly goto a job interview without any preparation as if it is a meeting with a friend or a date with a girl friend. There are also many Guru's who dont need any kind of preparation, their years of experience have build strong knowledgebase for them to handle any tough technical or person interview rounds. I am not writing this blogpost for such Guru's I am writing this article for the normal guy/gal who has not got soo many years of experience. Who has not given too many interviews. I have even seen experienced people getting stressed out when they have to go through a new job interview.

Let me share few tips to help you relax & give a winning performance in your interview.
1. Preparing for an interview is an ongoing process. It is not an even which occurs on the last day prior to the actual interview scheduled date.
What i mean by ongoing process is , even before you have scheduled the interview date start your preparations. Be very focussed when you are doing your normal work or tasks for your present job or while in college. When you configuring your new linux server, when you are tweaking your old application server, when you are troubleshooting your network switch, when you start learning new things about your brand new storage array - when you are doing your normal job be very alert & learn those small & big details , learn with a vision to handle questions on these areas when you are faced with them in your real interview.

2. Try to cover more topics in less time Only if you can absorb it. There is a limit for information absorption for everyone. You can read a whole Brocade manaul & digest within 1 week , I may need a month. You may learn all the administration commands for your new NAS appliance within a day I may need a week. You may learn to do all Linxu Server tweaks within a month I may need a year. Point is when you are preparing for interview I agree you have 10 to 20 major topics to prepare on like
Storage domain
Networking
Operating System
Management Software
Security
Troubleshooting
Performance Improvement

But dont try to read 100 page materials for each topic if you have only 4 days for interview. You wont be able to finish even more than 2 topics. Instead read fast or skim through huge text materials or prepare compressed notes before hand to use as last minute interview quick reference guides.(I am planning to write one such guide email roger.smithson@gmail.com if u r intersted - u gotta pay for it if u need it).It is important u prepare well on all required/essential topics without spending too muc h time on any one,but spending time based on ratio of More time on Topics of your weakness & Considerably less time on Topics in which you are already strong. Also its a very good practise to read your profile(resume) & anticipate what questions may come based on what keywords you have used on your resume. List out all those possible questions and make sure you get answers for all of them before you go for the D-day.

If you have enough time better read some more reference materials on each topics, reading online is good only when you get specific material fast & spend actual time reading that material. What generally happens is people keep searching for right material using google or any other search engine , they search for hours & hours & download all materials. But then they will say I will read them all tomorrow since there are so many materials to go through- chances are he/she never gets enough time to read them. So instead of spending time in searching/googling spend quality time to actually read atleast 20 to 40 pages of compressed materials on each topic based on what you have mentioned in your resume & skillset.

Have some one who is already in the industry with some good experience to track your preparation progress & evaluate you constantly- this is a very strong tip. If you can get this to happen you can surely win the interview. But i have usually seen people are soo busy they can hardly take out time for others. So in that case be ur own mentor & try to evluate ur self as an independent person

Give stress to more hands on or lab exercises it is always important that you work more on practical section rather than preparing all the time on theoritical aspects. This is very much true for any Software or Storage or System administration or Networl administration kind of job openings.

prepare well for that dreaded common interview question " Tell me about yourself " . Make sure you talk only tech & career stuff & nothing personal here.
Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. Begin by talking about past experiences and proven success:

"I have been in the Storage administration area for the past five years. My most recent experience has been managin SAN & NAS infrastructure from Vendors like EMC2,Netapp & HP. One reason I particularly enjoy this work, and the challenges that go along with it, is the opportunity to solve complex problems & improve data storage solutions. In my last job, I deployed & succesfully optimised some major Storage solutions resulting in a 30 percent increase in availability ,reducing 15% recurring costs & increasing utlisation by 25% in a matter of months."

Next, mention your strengths and abilities:

"My real strength is my attention to detail. I pride myself on my reputation for following through and meeting deadlines. When I commit to doing something, I make sure it gets done, and on time."

Conclude with a statement about your current situation:
"What I am looking for now is a company that values Storage innovation , where I can join a strong team and have a positive impact on overall team's success"

Practice

Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasize in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn't memorize it ,you don't want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational.

Even if you are not asked this type of question to begin the interview, this preparation will help you focus on what you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist you in answering other questions. The more you can talk about your product -- you -- the better chance you will winning an offer at the end of all the interview rounds.

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