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Mastering Extempore

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Extempore speaking is the term used for a non-formally prepared speech. Every time you speak you are preparing for extempore speaking. You probably prepare without even knowing it. You have to read to learn new things for this type of speaking. When doing extempore speaking, you need to use the knowledge that you have and use a strong delivery. The key to extempore speaking is that the words spoken are chosen as we speak them, and what is delivered is a stream of consciousness that is fluent, erudite and articulate, while being unscripted. Historically, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) (a top notch business school affiliated to Delhi University) has been known for conducting an extempore session along with the GD/PI rounds in its selection process.

 

Extempore tests the candidates on the following:-

  • Ability to think on the feet
  • Ability to connect with the panel
  • Ability to think outside the box
  • Analysis of the topic and identification of the issue to be addressed
  • Ideation
  • Prioritization and sequencing displaying logical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Overall presentation skills-body language, confidence, poise, composure etc.

 

For effective extempore speaking – candidates must be fluent and well read.

  • Be mentally ready: Know what to speak beforehand. Ponder over the topic for some time and prepare the flow of delivery. Your previous extempore practice sessions would surely be a booster here. Understanding the audience, the direction they are most likely to accept, helps in framing the flow of speech & also helps to connect with the audience.
  • Keep a check on your rate of speech: The key is; neither to go too fast nor too slow. Do not start really fast, as you are likely to end much earlier than the given time.
  • Confidence is the key: It’s not what you say but how you say it” that makes the difference, too. Confidence, along with knowledge, always helps, even in abstract topics where you are tested on presence of mind, spontaneity and analytical skills.
  • Handle mental blocks smartly: Remember the famous quote? “If plan “A” doesn’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.” At times, when you get stuck, try to maneuver yourself out of the situation gracefully by avoiding being nervous. For such situations it is better to have back up plans.
  • Don’t get carried away:  Don’t get emotional about the topic, avoid getting too personal on sensitive matters, don’t deviate from the topic and talk about irrelevant stuff.
  • The darker and brighter sides- In case of controversial topics (e.g. Should actors from Pakistan be given an opportunity in Bollywood?), you may choose to explore both sides, a stand which becomes difficult to take in case of GDs due to challenges of group dynamics. In an extempore, since you are the only person speaking, it becomes possible for a smart, strategic speaker to discuss both aspects of the controversial topic. However, one has to be on his/her toes about the time constraints while taking this stand.
  • Competence, Enthusiasm & Adaptability is the key: Work on yourself & your competitive advantage which could be excellent vocabulary, being good at idioms & expressions, some good proverbs & quotes, good general knowledge, etc. Stay calm & put your best foot forward.
  • Mind your Ps & Qs- Last but not the least; do ensure that you sound polite & don’t end up hurting anyone by commenting on a specific caste, religion or sex. You must have heard-“Words are free, it’s how you use them that may cost you”

 

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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Dress Code in Interviews

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The first ten seconds decide a lot about your success in an interview. Before you utter a single word to the interviewer, you have already made an impression based on how you’re dressed. Although every company has a different dress code, but it’s still important to keep appropriacy in mind.

Your attire along with your body language and confidence plays a vital role in the success of your interview and boosts your chances to bask in the dream job.

What if a woman wears a dark pant suit, pulls her hair into a low ponytail, wears little makeup, no jewellery and flat shoes to a job interview as a clothing stylist? It’s doubtful she would be offered the job. The hiring manager would probably be looking for someone who projects creativity and style in the clothing, wears makeup and accessories that are trendy and fashion forward. On the other hand, what if a woman wears the same suit, pulls a neat ponytail and minimal makeup for the role of an HR manager? Of course, she will be considered more professional and will create the right impact on the hiring manager.

Thus, dress in a manner that is professionally suitable to the position for which you are applying. In most of the cases, this means wearing formals. When in doubt, go basic.

Some Dos and Don’ts

  • You should wear a formal suit to interviews. A matching blazer and pants, dress shirt, tie (you can skip the tie if you are a female), coordinating socks and dress shoes. A dark-colored suit with light colored shirt is your best option.
  • Shoes should match your belt, the belt should be very basic.
  • Females should keep their makeup and jewellery minimal.
  • Avoid bright colours and flashy accessories.
  • Your outfit should not look dirty and make sure your clothes are ironed.
  • Choose simple and dark colors.
  • Shoes should usually be black in colour, and very simple in style and fairly low-heeled for ladies.
  • Shower before the interview. Don’t wear too much perfume or you will smell overpowering and you don’t want that, do you?
  • Dress according to the season, skip the blazer/ jacket if it’s summer time.
  • Make sure your attire is well fitted.
  • Your hair should be neat, clean and styled in a simple manner. Huge clips, brightly-colored scrunchies or elastics, and super high ponytails look out of place with formals. You may want to wear your hair in an updo, pull it back into a low ponytail; men’s hair should be short and neatly combed. The idea is to look polished and professional.
  • Dress appropriate to the position.

“Perception is reality.”  – Lee Atwater

Think about the image you want to project during your interview and then choose the apt outfit. You may not have to dress like this everyday to work, but you are more likely to be taken seriously and you are more likely to present an image of a sincere and a professional hire if you dress appropriately.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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Common Mistakes To Avoid In An Interview

Shalini was interviewed for her dream job last Monday, but she showed up late, wore the wrong attire and as a result she couldn’t put together a sentence or two. She fumbled, looked unprepared and guess what? She couldn’t make it. It happens to the best of us, when we go unprepared. It is not just knowledge and experience, we need to understand the importance of so many things, be it our dress sense, confidence, body language, attitude etc. Understand that, keeping a few things in mind will definitely help you do fairly well in your interviews.

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Show them you would be a great hire and avoid making these common mistakes:

Negative body language and inappropriate behaviour

If you never smile, have a limp handshake, and don’t make eye contact with the interviewers, you’ll come across as too shy or too strange or simply not interested. Show your interest in the position you are applying for.

So, smile, say hello, look them in the eye, and shake hands as though you really are happy to meet them.

Restrict yourself from being too entertaining or amusing. Inappropriate behaviour leads to its adverse effects.

Appearing uninterested

If there is one vacancy, then there is no dearth of people applying for the same. That means, the employers have enough choice, therefore, if you don’t show interest in being a part of that company they certainly aren’t interested in hiring you.

Ask intelligent questions that indicate that you have done some research, if you don’t seem prepared and diligent; it shows you’re unprepared and lack of preparation is an opportunity crusher.

Preparation will help you demonstrate your interest in them and the job. You will also perform better in the interview when you are prepared.

Sharing inappropriate information

Sometimes, people have a whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth mind-set in a job interview, so they “spill their guts” in answer to every question. Not smart or useful! It’s not recommended that you tell lies, but avoid boring the interviewer and blowing an opportunity by sharing too much information. If they want more details, they’ll ask.

Unprofessional questions

To an employer, no question means lack of interest. During the first interview, asking questions only about raises, promotions, vacation, and benefits are not usually well-received. Those questions apparently indicate that you are just interested in specific personal benefits rather than the job.

Instead, ask for details about the job like, what an average day is like, if the job is new or being filled because the previous employee was promoted, etc.

Not enough research

Do a thorough research on the profile of the company by visiting their website, Research about their missions and aims, locations, if they are a part of a larger organization, their subsidiaries, and work of the subsidiaries.
Note the names of their products and/or services and get familiar with what each does.
Research about the officers named on the website, their location, any common background with any of them. (Hometown, school, previous organization, etc.)

It’s easy to make these mistakes without even realizing, and many of them are more common than you might think! Take the time to prepare, so you don’t have to stress out about blunders after the interview. Good Luck!

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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Six Golden Rules To Ace A Group Discussion

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As each sport and game has its own rules and tips to help you navigate it successfully, the same goes for group discussions too. The general tip is that you follow the rules, gauge your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, work around their strengths, tap into their weaknesses and you can sail through with the perfect image in group discussions.

Rule 1: Prepare

Work begins long before you sit for the group discussion. Your performance is as good as your preparation. Half the preparation is about knowledge. If you think you can wing it with aggression, you are mistaken. Find out the kind of topics that are given at the institution or company you are applying for.

Prepare well in time on as many topics as you can, not just the ones given in the past, but related ones too. You never know when the subject would be changed. Get into the habit of active reading. It’s different from passive reading. Passive reading is where you read merely to understand the subject. Active reading is where you not only understand the subject, but also begin to raise questions and voice your opinion – positive, negative or neutral about the subject. This is critical in the group discussion to counter or support others’ points of view.

The next part of rule 1 is to have mock GDs, preferably with differing groups of friends. The point is to train your mind to think of any given topic’s pros and cons in a dynamic situation where you can’t predict the person’s response. More importantly, it is about looking at all the possible angles to the topic. This shows your logical mind, creativity and also your ability to think on your feet which comes with preparation.

Rule 2: Know the Participants

Carry a notepad and pen to note down your discussion points as soon as the topic is given. Most people who attend GDs are as focused on their performance as they tend to be. Take a deep breath and when the team introduces itself, note down the participants’ names. In the heat of the discussion, calling out the person’s name is a good way to get his attention. All of us respond instinctively when our name is called out, so use this technique. Not only does it get you their attention, it also shows your people skills and presence of mind.

Rule 3: Take Care of your Posture

Your body posture reveals your state of mind. At the same time, it conditions you to a particular way of thinking. Don’t lean back or lean forward. Find the balance.

Let your body posture be of polite intensity so that you come across as a balanced individual with plenty of energy. This also shows empathy and respect to others when they speak and is an asset that brings you additional points.

Rule 4: Take Charge

Take charge of the discussion right in the beginning. It shows your leadership capability. Introduce the topic by setting the framework for the ensuing discussion and state your opening point before leaving it to the group. Further, when it comes to conclusions, many GDs fall through and participants don’t make good use of it although it brings points. Conclude the discussion by summing up if you can. To do this, listen actively throughout the discussion and note down the key highlights – say, in columns of negative and positive points on your notepad or any other format that suits the discussion.

Rule 5: Retain Your Balance

During the discussion itself, give your logical counterpoint without aggression when there is a disagreement. You are not there to prove that your stand is right, but to show your maturity and logical thinking. When the discussion drags over a point, it is time for you to interject and turn the discussion in a new direction, either with a related point or with an opposite view.

Be to the point and intervene when another candidate is taking all the airtime. When he pauses for breath, it is the right time to take your chance, state your point and then, pass the chance to someone who hasn’t had his say.

Rule 6: Follow your Domain

Keep the domain in mind while projecting your image. Let’s suppose you are facing a group discussion for a sales function, you may have to take a more aggressive approach whereas a marketing function could veer towards the creative and the practical approach in assessment.

Group discussions are as much about your knowledge and point-of-view as about how you handle yourself and others. Do these right and you will have projected the right image.

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Interview

What is an Interview?

The interview is the last step of the hiring process. It offers you and the employer the opportunity to meet one another and exchange information.

Preparing for the Interview

The process of applying for a job starts with an application. Probably no one ever found a job only on the basis of a well –designed resume or an expressive cover letter, but these things do go a long way in attracting the attention of an interested employer.  Once your resume is short listed then starts the main interview process.

Points to be noted during the Interview

The three Vs of the cycle of communication are

  • Visual- body language, eye contact, gestures, gait, posture and smile
  • Verbal- words, speech, articulation and content
  • Vocal- tone, accent, pitch, intonation and rhythm

Punctuality

  • Never be late for an interview- ten minutes early is on time but on time is late.

Entry

  • Hold your head up, put on a smile and be sure you look like you are enthusiastic about the opportunity. Be polite and cordial to everyone you meet, you never know whose opinion will count.

  Dress

  • Clothes should be formal, clean neat and tidy. Handbags and brief cases should be in good condition and shoes should be well polished.

Posture

  • Sit upright with your back straight. A good posture will show the interviewer that you are prepared.

 

Potential interview questions

Q1: Tell me about yourself?

Answer 1:  It’s probably your best chance to tell the interviewer on why you are the right one for the job. Here you can talk about your present skills, and a little bit about the experiences you gained at the previous position.

 

Q2: What are your strengths?  

Answer 2: Be prepared to talk about your strengths and skills and what you can bring to the organization. Mention something that would benefit the organization – motivation, enthusiasm, commitment, passion for a high tech environment and love for the work you do.

 

Q3: What are your weaknesses?

Answer 3:  Refrain from mentioning any weakness that is unfavourable for the organization.  For example, if applying for the post of team leader, do not mention indecision or short temper as your weakness.

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