Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to give Admission Interview

Salman Gaffar
Anees Hussain


The Interview / Group Discussion (GD) process is a VERY IMPORTANT part of the admission process. Through it, universities wish to ensure that the people they choose are of a certain caliber, and will survive the rigors of work. Hence the qualities that universities look for are:

1. Intelligence
2. Confidence
3. Knowledge
4. Respect for others' opinions
5. Creativity
6. A clear vision and ability to set objectives

You may possess none, some or all of the above. It is almost impossible to fool an experienced interviewer. Think about it – the guy taking your interview has probably met hundreds (if not thousands) of people who wanted to take admission. He's probably taught many of them too. So you may think that you are super-cool, but he sure as hell doesn't think so.

Now do the following:

1. Dress smartly:

Guys should wear a tie, dress pants & shirt. If you normally keep a beard, make sure it is in order. If you shave, then shave. Get a hair cut if your hair hasn't been cut for a while. Your clothes should be understated – which means nothing flashy. Girls – You know how to dress smartly. Just do what you do best. Don't overdo the makeup, but don't under-do it either. A small amount of jewelry (nothing flashy) should do. Look like an executive.

2. Group Discussion:

You may be divided into groups of 15 to 20. You will be given a topic, and each candidate will be required to speak on it for a minute each. The first person will get a couple of minutes to think about it before he starts speaking. Do the following:

A) Think of 5 important points that you can talk about on the topic

B) Pick a side – either FOR or AGAINST.

C) Think with your heads, not your hearts. So regardless of what your emotions say, be practical. Choose the side based on how many points you have in your head in favour or against.

D) If you have 5 points on the topic, spending 10 to 12 seconds on each will ensure that you can use the entire one minute to make your case.

E) Remember, you MUST speak for the entire minute. Anything less will not do….

F) Once the individual speeches are made, the entire floor is opened for discussion. Here you must try to take lead and get your point across first. Again, be practical rather than emotional. Be controlled – don't be an aggressive jerk. Use words like "I agree with your opinion – however consider this alternative point of view…." Or "My friend has raised an important issue here, and to further this line of reasoning, consider that….."

G) If you are told not to say anything further, don't worry – that's normal and probably a better thing to happen. Now you can sit back and relax, and enjoy the show. Remember – do not say anything further after you have been asked to shut up.

H) If you have an excellent educational background or a great test score, they shouldn't bother you with too many questions.

I) They will probably ask you something like "Tell us about yourself" – that is an excellent question to be asked. You can win the interview in this question. Start by introducing yourself, a short summary of your educational background, and a full thesis of what you want to achieve in the future. If you can show that you are ABSOLUTELY clear about what you want to achieve in the future, you can really impress them.

J) Another important thing to talk about is what motivates you and what drives you. You can tell them about the people who have had a positive impact in your life – they can be parents, relatives or family friends. Don't talk about super heroes or friends your age (who cannot really have achieved much in life).

K) Why BBA/BCS/BE/IT? That's easy - there are many reasons why one would pursue any degree – it is sought after, it is a sure shot to a fantastic career, it will allow you to follow up with an MBA which is a great degree, etc etc.

L) Questions such as "Your favourite subject" can be a blessing, as long as you are prepared for answering questions on that favourite subject.

M) If the interviewer is trying to anger you or is replying in negative to all that you are saying even though you know what you are saying is right, then control yourself. This guy is acting this way only to see if you can maintain your cool under pressure. React with a nice smile, and say something like: "Sir – you are probably correct in most of the things that you have said. However, according to my information, the following are correct….." For additional effect, add something like : "However, my information could have become outdated – and thus I will review it later".

N) If they ask you a General Knowledge question and you do not know the answer to it, then simply reply : "I have not come across this information / event". No point in trying to guess some thing that you have no idea of. If you know part of it, you can mention that.

O) If you are a good mind reader, try to decipher what is happening inside this person's head. Sometimes, little things in the demeanor can give you an idea of what a person is thinking.

P) At all times, maintain your cool. Do not give smart ass answers such as "I have come here to do my BBA, not to join the Army" if they ask you how many countries lie on the border of Pakistan. Answer questions with honesty and integrity, not brashness or over-confidence.

To me, a great interview requires the following:

1. Making a rapport with the interviewer. Try to exude a positive attitude, and it will be noticed by the interviewer. Show respect, and you will get respect.

2. Keeping the answers crisp and to the point. However, whenever you get the opportunity, take it to talk about your strengths and achievements.

3. Ensuring that the interviewer understands that you have a vision of your future.

Good Luck

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