A grueling Interview session


Prof R.K. Gupta
Campus Head
Icfai National College
Jodhpur Campus
E-mail: cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta@rkgupta.in

A grueling Interview session

(A global retailing Corporation conducting interview after screening of candidates through a 60 minute  50 MCQs test).The candidates called are having first division in High school and undergraduate university  degree).

Vineet ( as he enters room): May I come in sir? Good Morning!

The panel member 1 : Good morning Mr Vineet, please take a seat.

Vineet sits erect with hands on his knees and looks straight with a warm smile. He is wearing a light blue formal shirt and a plain tie with polished black shoes.

The panel member 1 : Can you please tell a little bit about yourself?

Vineet: Sir, I graduated from Delhi University campus in Commerce and …

Panel member 1 : Excuse me Mr Vineet, but this we can see from your resume….'

Vineet: [gets a bit nervous but regains his posture and replies….]

Well sir, I had the opportunity to work in evening on part time basis as a sales clerk in a big store over last 2 years. "The most important thing I am eager to say is that I'm very adaptive and respond well to pressure and change. As a sales clerk, I worked in three different departments and under two different managers. I had to learn new product lines quickly and, at the same time, different sales approaches preferred by a new manager. I found this challenging and exciting and my portion of departmental sales grew steadily. My manager commended me for how well I handled the pressure. Retail is always changing and I think I'm very well-suited for such a career."

Panel member 2 : That is interesting. What do you think of our company Global-Mart?

Vineet: It is a famous company known for its professionalism, ethical dealings and top customer care. Most of young people like me dream to work with you as it gives them tremendous scope for learning, dealing in situations, rich work experience and handling technology. If I am right, last year Global-mart was ranked 5th in the world ranking list in terms of Revenue. So if given a, chance I would love to work here, sir.

Panel member 3: What do you think is your future in the retail sector?

Vineet: Well sir, retail is the sunrise sector due to a renewed interest in investment in real estate and retailing. Major companies are entering it and in India there is going to be a sea change in the way people shop. Hence I see a bright future here for me both for rapid growth and handsome earnings.

Panel member 1: Mr Vineet you seem to converse quite well in English?

Vineet: (smiling and modestly) Thank you sir. In fact I hail from rural background and I came to Delhi 6 years ago. I did not loose even a minute and drew up my agenda to improve my communication skills and English and joined an evening institute. I regularly see English movies (Mostly Oscar and award winning) and try to converse with friends in English. I love English music too. I read a lot of good magazines in English. I am trying. (With modesty written over his face)

Panel member 2: Would you like to have tea or coffee?

Vineet: Nothing sir. Thank you.

Panel Member 2: What do you think of the current banking crisis?

Vineet: I am sorry sir; I don't have much understanding of this subject. But I guess 'compromise with prudence in landing', and abandoning the traditional risk management in financial sector led to this situation. USA is a big market and any disturbance there will naturally affect the global financial markets.

Panel Member 3: What do you think about Raj Thackarey's activities recently against North Indians settled in Maharastra.

Vineet: Sir, I would like to avoid answering this controversial and more of a political issue. But I believe India is one and all citizens should get opportunity anywhere to work and live as per their ability and choice.

Panel Member 3: Do you think small stores called 'Mom and Pop' stores will die because of organized retailing?

Vineet: I don't think so, sir. But they have to reposition and re-plan their offering, improve customer service and expand a bit. The convenience store and end-of street shops will keep serving the consumers. Everything can't be sold in organized sector shops and modern malls. Both can co-exist successfully at least in India. Of course the FMCG and Apparels shops will get hurt most.

Panel member 3: What is meant by Visual Merchandising?

Vineet: It means intelligent use of space, display techniques and merchandise to induce sales and augment customer experience in shopping in the store.

Panel member 1 : Rather innovative description; fine. What is you career goal and who is your role model?

Vineet: I wish to eventually start my own store after 10 years of experience.

Panel member 3: ah! So you will learn the tricks from us and leave us after some time?

Vineet: Well I would put it like this. There is no harm to be ambitious and to be one's own boss. I do need experience and I will work with vigor and zeal with the company and shall be found quite useful and an asset. I don't see anything wrong in dreaming to be an entrepreneur. I am quite willing to take multi-task assignment if given opportunity. I can assure you that I will demonstrate sense of ownership. It is only a dream yet.

Panel member 1: Are you ready to sign a bond to work with company for 3 years period?

Vineet: I am afraid; I am not keen to sign a bond, sir

Panel member 2: Why Not Mr Vineet?

Vineet:  Sorry sir, I guess no employee who is satisfied would wants to leave the employer. Signing bond is like forced retention. I don't believe it is good for company and the employee either.

Panel member 1 : We have a chain of stores and your job will be transferable?

Vineet: I know sir. That is a great opportunity available to your employees to work in different work environments, cultures and with different customers. I am open to work any where in India or abroad and I have no encumbrances or limitations.

Panel member 2: Do you have any objections to working late hours and a work day of 10-12 hours. You may have to come on Sundays too.

Vineet: I don't have any issues with that. If required occasionally I don't mind attending office on holidays. I am mentally prepared to work long hours as retailing career demands that.

Panel member 3: What is success?

Vineet: It is difficult to define. The human desires are unending. Success means different to different persons. My goal of success is less of money but more of job satisfaction and to carve out a name for myself in world of retailing.

To be good and contended human being and be able to serve society is also important component of any success formula.

Panel member 1 : Well Mr Vineet what are your salary expectations in Delhi?

Vineet: Sir, I am in interview with one of top ranking organizations. I am in consonance with your rules and salary structure. However, I guess a gross package of 4 lacs to start with would be reasonable.

Panel member 3 :  How about your comfort dealing with women?

Vineet: Sir, in present environment everywhere women are working hand to hand with men. I was educated in co-ed school. I have participated in cultural programs and projects during my studies and I have been quite comfortable dealing with girls. In fact I was considered quite friendly and well mannered by them.

Panel member 1: Have you ever participated in union activities in college and have you ever been booked in any criminal case?

Vineet: No sir.

Panel member 1: Can we find out about you from the names of referees given by you and your employer store?

Vineet: Sure sir, you are welcome to do that.

Panel Member 1: How early can you join if given an offer?

Vineet: I shall be writing my final semester exams next month. Hence I can join by 1st April.

Panel member 2: But we can't wait that long. We need persons earlier.

Vineet: I am sorry sir, but you will agree that I have to devote my time and energy presently in studies. I am afraid I won't be able to join before the date I told.

Panel member 1: Alright Mr Vineet. We are pleased to offer you the job of Assistant Manager (Merchandising) and your gross salary shall be 3 lacs for 6 months of training period and 4 lacs per annum thereafter and that will be explained to you in detail in the offer letter that we shall post shortly to you. You may leave now. All the best

[Vineet warmly shakes hands with panel members, bows courteously and says thank you and leaves gently.]


Vineet has demonstrated a balanced personality, positive approach, good mannerism, good communication skill and ambition. He avoided controversy and political issues and nicely en-cashed his part time experience in a similar work. He has good general awareness and sharp mind with analytical power. He was well dressed and serious in the interview process. He should be an asset to organization.

Tips for interview:

* Dress clean and formal
* Have black shoes with shine
* Be courteous, smiling and confident looking
* Avoid controversial questions
* Don't get agitated by provocative questions, laughter or remarks by members
* Study business of the employer and about likely role you may be given.
* Don't pity yourself and don't under-demand too.
* Practice a few common starting and interview questions given below.
* Don't try bluffing and guessing but admit you don't know or are not sure.
* Prepare current affairs.
* Don't act casual and I-don't-care type.
* Watch out, you might be silently watched and heard by some one or a camera as you wait; gossip or come out of interview room.

Some common questions to practice:

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
2. Why are you interested in this position?
3. Why did you choose this type of career?
4. What are your greatest strengths?
5. How would you describe yourself?
6. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
7. How do you determine or evaluate success?
8. Provide an example from your past that demonstrates the contribution you could make to our firm.
9. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those supervised.
10. What are your weaknesses?
11. What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction? Why?
12. Describe your most rewarding educational experience.
13. If you could do so, how would you plan your preparation differently? Why?
14. What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
15. Cite a situation from your past that required you to respond to pressure. How did you deal with it?
16. What are your long-term goals? Or where you see yourself 15 years from now?
17. Why should we hire you?
18. Can you explain how will you set or plan/target/approach for this department/position/responsibility?


your professors and seniors are important link to good jobs at least for the first job and in early career. Network and be respectful to your seniors and professors.

Responses of some employers about why they selected certain candidates over others:

* Communication        * assertiveness
* Clarity                        * motivation
* enthusiasm               * confidence
* drive

It is important to remember that familiarity, common contacts or background, references do play important role in hiring but not to be used openly and brashly.

Prof R.K. Gupta
Campus Head
Icfai National College
Jodhpur Campus
E-mail: cityju@rediffmail.com / rkgupta@rkgupta.in

Source: E-mail November 6, 2008


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