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INTERVIEW Techniques: Power Your Interview !

Power Interview @ Alok Barua, CEO, SVR

Once upon a time, I had this rather “Bindas Attractive Smart “ close friend of mine. She was a seasoned relationship world war veteran. She was the kind of person, who could walk right into the middle of any relationship like a cool summer breeze, and exit without a single scratch on her mind, body and soul.I was a great admirer of her both in terms of physical and mental assets. In one word, she was “Cool” as they say.

 During our MBA course; we had those intense interview sessions which she unfailingly cleared without much ado. I begged and pleaded her to tell me her mind blowing miraculous trick as my interviews were going nowhere.  “You imagine all of them naked and then your interview takes off “, she said finally relenting, giving a novice pearls of rare worldly wisdom. It was a shocker though and it set me reflecting that it was a pretty genderless looking technique like Michael Jackson and pondered whether I could practice something as crude as that considering my gender barriers.

Anyway , I got very curious and when the next big MNC interview was over, I innocently asked her, “Did you do it to the Motu (the fat one), Did you do it to the Old tired snooty Hag? , Did you do it to the sweet sixteen looking one ?, What about the good looking Stud ?” Did you undress mentally the innocent looking one too ?.. .

Resultant: She screamed at my wrapped mind… “Stop it…Please Stop it, Alok, …it did not work this time….I kind of liked the good looking guy and we have exchanged no’s, my interview was not OK”.

My immature search for that elusive interview  technique & strategy was nipped in bud and vanished into the thin air .

Interviews give people jitters. Make you sweat and nervous sometimes. The fact that you cannot anticipate what will be asked, make people sleepless and do some pretty weird things. Latest I heard was an Engineering student locking herself up in a bathroom protecting herself  from the pains of a mock interview session in campus.

Anyway, after all my interviews and talking to managers @ 5-15 a day, I have come to a hopefully insightful stage in my life where I love interviews and we all need to love this poor thing called interview.. In this write-up, I make an attempt to give my friends a  few workable techniques and define why we need to reverse our thinking.

Reverse your thinking and attitude : “I Love Interviews…interview is a great place to talk ”

Let me start with what one of the greatest genius Einstein had to say on knowing – I do not know everything but I do know where to find it if I need to use it. If Einstein did not know everything then, we can also afford not to know everything. All I am trying to tell you is that you will be measured by capability to comprehend , apply and practice management and not how information wise you are. Any organization that picks people on superficial knowledge like quiz masters will definitely suffer in long run and such selection is not my forte. And finally remember, if you are not selected,  it is for your own good , as you will have a horrid time post joining if the fitment is not exact. So, rule one…Relax … because even  Einstein knew that he did not know everything under the Sun …neither can anyone of us…so for heaven’s sake !!! Relax !!!! 

Second, normally anyone who talks about himself is loathed and termed as an ego-maniac. But, at the same time every one of us likes to speak about ourselves given an opportunity. Just think for once, Interview is a venue where people are all geared to hear about you, your career and your achievement meaning this is fun without the tag ego-maniac unless you overdo it and kill your own interview. Probably, this is one only place in the world where we get paid more to talk about oneself. So, rule two, interview is an energising great activity…all people want is to know about you and pay you more if you do it right. 

One insight I can share with you about senior professionals, the achievers is that they can cooly walk in to any interview anytime and walk away with the job. The sole reason is that they have the right soft skills ,for the matter any interaction and it also means that they love interviews or discussions.

Power your Interview: “I just love to achieve; I delivered before and will deliver this time”

Normally people speak without much thinking about what they speak, thinking that it is the greatest pitch in the world to get a job. Well, we need to be little bit specific here. I suggest a very old sales technique here which I have used and succeeded. To demonstrate, if you are a fresher, you will face questions like: Where did you do your summer project? It looks like a pretty harmless question but the right answer in the form of a power statement can mould your destiny. I am producing a few probable responses :“ I did my summers with HSBC Bank” OR “ I did my summers with HSBC Bank, a global banking major” OR “I did my summers with HSBC Bank, a global banking major, and I brought in deposit of 15 crores in two months as a part of direct sales team”. If you have read the above options, the last answer is the best because it is a power statement which is likely to power your interview positively. Think of yourself as a product with attributes and benefits. Then, keep a handy set of power statement on your achievements that are relevant and of use to your prospective employer. This is likely to create more positive impact than any other techniques. Rule Three, power your interview with plenty of power statements..

Control  & Direct your Interview:  “I love to talk about my RELEVANT Achievements and Strengths”

Once,I was interviewing for a Client Servicing Position and the interviewed lady when asked about her achievements told me that she had won some prestigious international recipe contest. Our conversation there on veered toward recipes and the food quality in Kathmandu restaurants. My knowledge of recipes and the right place to eat was refreshed and blessed. Thanks to that lady. But, did she land the job? Hell…No.  Now, we were not looking a “Chef”. The point I am making here is that you can raise and control the kind of discussion that will take place in your interview. Always mention achievements and experience that match the prospective employers list. The employer when giving you a chance to speak is only wanting to know : “With your past experience what can you do for us “.  Rule Four, Do not direct your interview to irrelevant experience or weaknesses..

Take charge of the golden opportunities: “I love the questions you ask , I’m prepared , just fire“

Most of the questions that are asked can be anticipated. These are the golden opportunities. Most interviews start off with a warm –up question like “Tell me about yourself”.  Personally, I love this question and I do come prepared with the first and the most likely next also “What do you know about our company ?“. With websites online, you would be stupid enough not to be able to mesmerize your interviewer about how much you know about his company. One literally told me to stop once and he admitted there are things that I know more than he does as an employee.I just copied his website , cut paste job into my computer , printed it out and read it like a prayer every morning.

Importantly, if you are good in that first two minutes….Only two minutes can decide your fate. You can help your interviewer decide positively on your candidature in two minutes like a noodle pack.

But if, the interviewer has a negative inkling about you candidature or have some doubts about your capabilities, then, the questions that are difficult will raise their ugly heads. One of my friends was asked about company laws when he was being interviewed for the Head of Creative. Later, we realized that the board member who raised these questions was siding with another candidate through tacit understanding. But, this is an unlikely situation in most private sector interviews. Below, I produce a set of questions that you need to prepare for in advance; basic yet the most important:

The Golden Opportunities:

Tell us about yourself?  Tell us about your organization? What do you know about us? How do you fit the role? What can you do for us? Why should we give you the job?  Why did you choose this career?How do you see yourself in the next 5 or 10 years? Tell us about one achievement in your life. Tell us how you motivate your team etc etc.You can add to the list but keep it to basics and it does not need a Harvard Graduate to do so. Rule Five, for God sake at least know the answer to these basic questions if you are serious about your job change.

Remember to enter the interview room with a smile, keep on a pleasant smile (that exudes confidence and not vain pride or ego)

Do not smirk or give the irritated look even when irritated and never ever give  the high and mighty look or your interview will be over in that fleeting second.

And at the end of the interview bring in a sunshine smile and offer the most grateful Thank You that you can conjure like a magician…

Now that “You love Interviews …..You are a confirmed winner”.

Cheers, Best of Luck to your new journey in landing the next higher role.

The author can be reached at:


Qualities Employer Look for in an Employee

Qualities Employer look for in Employee @ Alok Barua, CEO, SVR.

Everyone dreams and desires to garner, cultivate and nourish the key qualities, skills, and traits that make a successful professional. My association with two reputed Indian Universities where I had the privilege of conducting Communication & Leadership Courses and my past experiences, resulted in this write-up.

The qualities (In bold below) are based on “NIIT Employability Research” which is open to debate and I have partly agreed and disagreed. Friends, please note that the views expressed are my personal views.

Superior communication, personality & professional life skills :

Most of us invariably believe we are more or less OK in communication skills. Some of us are so damn proud of our abilities to communicate. Then there are those who  consider themselves  the number one expert in communication. All these  are myopias fatal in action in terms of career. My dear friend get out of that illusion fast and you will see the ground reality. Because someone is always one up on you. Spoken words are read before they are spoken, also between, beyond and inside words.

My current work demands interaction with senior professionals thru mail, in person or telecon. But do I need to tell you that their communication in mail or telecon reminds me of school children scrawling on the walls at home or talking to a goon sometimes. I normally laugh and  treat these goons respectfully  with the word “Sir” laced into a sentence four times religiously. It is a shocker at times to realize that the other person is totally so thoughtless in his communication .You need to fine tune your communication all the time or it will fall flat like the MW stations in India. Communication is the key to a career that really takes off but do not please hallucinate that it represents a person who speaks all the time. Beware of such a person and keep off. It will harm your career more than your laziness.

The variants of English I hear is something like this in India – A Bengali English, A Punjabi English , A Bihari English, A Tamilian English ( Kalculation) , An Assamese Englis (with a missing sh) etc etc…the target is to hone it to a nicety and minimise accent and make it “premium business class”. This one is a real challenge like dropping ones’ surname. But, “a premium business class communication” is not a fool proof parameter of a good resource but the tip of the iceberg. If true, we could import native english speakers business class wholesale,what do you say ?

Sensitivity to society, environment, ethics and human values.

Without this one , the human values and sensitivity ,there is no difference between my laptop and you. Have you ever experienced calling someone and  ending up feeling as if you have landed in sub zero Antarctica . Yes !!!!!!  Yes!!!!! I am referring to the remoteness and coldness that afflict the corporate world. It is sometimes misread as professionalism but this is a universal fallacy.  Professionalism as I read it is the art to do things the better way every time in business. 

So it does mean that you make the other person feel worse even in a telecon but rather it should energise.The supreme truth is that you cannot lead without the others in your team or understanding the other /individuals and offering some empathy if not sympathy all the way to the top. You might be called “Chainsaw Jack” as one CEO was called for his ruthlessness. Not a title I aspire for. I laugh when people join a charity or give alms when they I know are cold to their junior or colleague’s personal problems afflicting work and genuine failure to deliver work  as it harms his or her  targets. So much so for professionalism. The  goal here is to become a “Fully Functional (Humane) Manager” as it pays rich dividends in life and not only in career.

No wonder, a “Gallup” global research voted “A Caring Boss” to the top of the charts as a quality that juniors prefer the most in a Boss.

General Management Capability :

Across domains, sector and industry, one fundamental pre-requisite for all senior and middle level opening is the capability to understand business in its entirety. You make not be able to balance a balance sheet in a year but you should be able to read PAT and PBT.Better still if you know how to increase your PAT without incurring any more bludgeoning overheads. You need to know how  the various little bit and parts join together to form a live and dynamic business. You are not a dead end but a part of the entirety. Cultivate an active interest in what the others are doing as you already know what to do with your function and that is why you have been anchored to a job in that function and not the next higher role.

The trick is to outgrow one’s responsibilities fast and enlarge them to the next higher plane.

Specialization & contemporariness – advanced domain competency :

Some professionals are so engrossed with what they know and that complacency set in terms of contemporariness updating.  An engineer can be perfect in the execution of a 20,000 crores power project but when you ask him about the financials or business development pros and cons, you will draw an entire blank. One was not even able to tell me even by gut feel how much one MW will cost  (Roughly $ 1 million) . You need to keep abreast with the recent development in your specialties’ also. Sometimes, professionals will not be able to tell you the difference between a blog and a domain-ed website.

Industry-linked, and ready for first-day-first-hour productivity at post- joining:

If you been job searching as a fresher, you always face a chicken and egg situation, no experience , no job and no job means there will be no experience. In the first place, we need to welcome freshers ; One of the key  advantage is they can be easily retained for a while and bring in new drive and enthusiasm into a business function.

But for the experienced the new yardstick is that of relevant experience. No organization in private sector would like to incur ramp up cost for any new recruit.  None will wait for even one month for you to start delivering .So, your relevant experience is the most relevant in most placements. Shifting gears and changing functions, domains and industry is a huge task in itself unless the recruiter is in love with you. All the recruitment is like a transplant of one heart with another considering business is live and dynamic.

Personally, I differ on this as I believe that a person from another domain expand the total knowledge of an organization and at times can be exponentially productive as he or she might give up the down-trodden path that we hung on to sacredly like holy grail.

International exposure and Global perspective:

Cross culture exposure always enhances your insight into economy, business, markets and consumers. This is valued as you have worked in a place where you become an outsider yet you have to unravel the finer mechanics of socio-economic –political systems of  that society at micro and macro level; then, design and deliver , make your business profitable. Quite a challenge as language, culture , socio-economic make-up that we know in India is wiped off the slate clean.

Now, when you understand others , you increasingly understand one better. Similarly, if you are exposed to a foreign market then you can understand the Indian market much better as you now have a benchmark to compare. Even consumer insights that you were aware of earlier will become more meaningful . A stint abroad is a must for all aspirers of  senior roles.

Strong analysis & application orientation:

There are three steps of learning – knowing, understanding and then, the capability to apply and practice what you know and understand..

For example, you might know that brand positioning is important, then you can understand HOW to position a brand, and finally you actually execute a brand positioning in Mumbai. The last is the most important. Let me give you another example,  you know forgiveness is good; then you understand that by the act forgiving another, you release yourself of the vengeance and pain, the ultimate skill is to really forgive someone. So application of knowledge is the key to business success and that is a hormonic catalyst that resides only in the best of best professional across the globe.


Please do not read this as academic research. Academic PhD can help you teach, not train nor for the matter run a business or a business function. Here, research represent,  the desire and initiative to supplement one’s knowledge with fact, figures ; using them analytically that helps in the decision making process effectively and efficiently. But it is not good for any business to conduct a one year research to land in a new market, and  that is the limit of idiosyncrasy. The next step is probably insanity and not a competitive business.

Entrepreneur’s mindset of innovation and risk-taking.

I doubt this in India though but may be true in the West. Indian business once into take off  mode abhors risk . Try a domain or an industry move, you will only probably get a job in a year, so much so for risk taking and entrepreneurial mindset of Indian Business, But, as an employee, you can be innovative like an entrepreneur but too much risk taking I doubt if allowed. You might end up being shown the door at times. Trust me, I have firsthand experience.

The author can be reached at :

Senior Architect , Architect: India

Senior Architect : India

Experience : 8 years experience or more

Compensation : 12 lacs + (Negotiable)

  • The candidate should have led a design team and worked independently to execute large architectural projects of a varied nature. Ideal candidate should have the ability to develop a program brief,  come up with comprehensive design solutions and will be required to establish project goals, time-lines and work toward the execution of these.
  • He/She should be conversant in basic CAD software and should be able to handle multiple clients.
  • He/She should have a good design portfolio and experience in executed projects.
  • International experience is desirable but not essential.
  • Mumbai experience would be a plus.
  • Should have worked with very good Design firms.
  •  The candidate may be required to travel to Singapore for long stretches of time.
Project Coordinator – Architect
Experience : 8 years of experience or more
Compensation : 8 Lacs + (Negotiable)
  • Project Architect will lead teams in a technical capacity.
  • Our Studio methodology includes a high level of collaboration between various studios and the project team.
  •  The Project Architect must have at least 8 years in both technical or design experience and communication skills to facilitate this type of collaboration.
  • In addition to AutoCAD experience, BIM skills are highly desired but not necessary.
  • Adequate technical knowledge and experience in execution of architectural projects larger than 20,000sq.mts is a must. The candidate may be required to travel to Delhi and Singapore for long stretches of time.
Design Architect 
Experience : 3 years experience or more
Compensation : 4 lacs +
  • The candidate should have a flair for design, enthusiastic and excellent skills in Photoshop, Sketchup and CAD.
  • Should have worked with very good Design firms.
  • The candidate may be required to travel to Singapore for long stretches of time.

TO APPLY : Please forward cv to  sv.recruiters   mentioning your CTC , expectation and notice period mentioning Ref. No : SVR -01-01-01-11-10  / Architect/ applied for  the subject line.

Job Status : Open on 1 st Nov 2010

Senior Manager: Business Development: EPC Firm : Delhi

Senior Manager: Business Development: EPC Firm : Delhi

CTC: 15 lacs to 20 lacs

Job Description:

  •  Bachelor of Engineering in Electricals. 
  • Capable of growing North Market Electrical Engineering Services & EPC aggressively ; significant past achievements in terms of volume of business and premium clients.
  • Expertise in Proposal, Tenders and Contract in EPC & Power sector
  • Strong Business Capabilities, Capable of delivering results in a competitive environment.
  • Excellent Analytical abilities, Possess a strategic awareness and a strong customer orientation with a passion for delivering value to customers.
  • Must have excellent negotiating and contractual skills.
  • Ability to lead and motivate.
  • Exposure to Gulf work environment and knowledge of international Standards, Codes and regulations will be an added advantage.
  • Assessment of the requirements of project and pre information of new projects.
  • Identify new business opportunities in the areas of group’s operation and to bid competitively for projects.
  • Co-ordination with clients, & Consultants, other contractors for business development

 ABOUT OUR CLIENT :# Our prestigious client is one of the largest corporate conglomerates in India with a widespread international network of 24 countries .# Our Client activities encompasses EPC Projects, Infrastructure, On-site fabrication of structures, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of Electrical and Mechanical Equipments, Piping etc. for large Industrial projects such as Power, Refineries, Steel, Cement, Fertilizer, Petrochemical and Desalination Projects.

 TO APPLY : Please forward cv to   mentioning your CTC , expectation and notice period mentioning Ref. No : SVR -01-03-12-10-10  / Sr Mgr -BD applied for  the subject line.Job Status : Open on 12 th Oct 2010

COO:Chief Operating Officer :Engineering Services Firm :India

COO : Chief Operating Officer : Engineering Services Firm : India

(Compensation : Not  a constraint for right candidate)

Qualification : BE/ B.Tech – Mech / Elect / Civil

Age Group : 45 to 55 years

Minimum Experience : 25 years and above

 Generic Role Description :

# Responsible for Leading business operation for  entire EPC Electrical & Mechanical, Infrastructure and O & M division.

# Significant leadership Qualities and exposure to varied projects across industries.

# Capability to handle large projects in terms of manpower and cost within tight time frames.

#  Represent stakeholders both internally and externally to the best of abilities ethically.

#  Right balance of expertise in technical, commercial and human aspect of management.

#  Willing to travel across sites across country as an when required.

 Areas of Exposure : Techno-Commercial Expertise

1.  EPC Projects, Infrastructure & On-site fabrication of structures

2. Installation, Testing and Commissioning of Electrical and Mechanical Equipments, Piping etc. 

(Experience in Large Industrial projects in Power, Refineries, Steel, Cement, Fertilizer, Petrochemical & Desalination Projects. 

Preferred professionals from:

L & T , GMR, Adani, Tata, Reliance, Sobha, Ansal …preferably from group whose expertise lie in handling large turnkey projects in Power , Infrastructure, Refineries, Cement etc.


# Our prestigious client is one of the largest corporate conglomerates in India with a widespread international network of 24 countries .

# Our Client activities encompasses EPC Projects, Infrastructure, On-site fabrication of structures, Installation, Testing and Commissioning of Electrical and Mechanical Equipments, Piping etc. for large Industrial projects such as Power, Refineries, Steel, Cement, Fertilizer, Petrochemical and Desalination Projects.

TO APPLY : Please forward cv to   mentioning your CTC , expectation and notice period mentioning Ref. No : SVR -01-03-2-10-10  / COO applied for  the subject line.

Job Status : Open on 2 nd Oct 2010

Project Manager : Real Estate : Mumbai , Bangalore

Project Manager : Real Estate : Mumbai & Bangalore

Designation : Project Manager

Education :  B.Arch / B.E

Location :  Mumbai , Bangalore

Experience : 5 – 7 yrs

Salary Range:  Negotiable

Computer Skills Required: Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, Reading Auto CAD file  

Roles and Responsibility:

  • Responsible for project management of all projects,
  • BOQ preparation,
  • Project costing and cost monitoring,
  • Tender formulation,
  • Developing tendering procedures,
  • Tender and construction related documentation,
  • Contract administration,
  • Vendor coordination,
  • Consultant coordination,
  • Controlling other site related activities

TO APPLY : Please forward cv to  sv.recruiters   mentioning your CTC , expectation and notice period mentioning Ref. No : SVR -02-02-27-9-10  / Mgr Project / Location applied for  the subject line.

Job Status : Open on 26 th Sept 2010
Closing on : 15 th Oct 2010

Senior Project Manager : Real Estate :Mumbai , Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune

Senior Project Manager  – Real Estate

Education :  B.Arch / B.E

Location :  Mumbai , Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune

Experience : 7 – 10 yrs

Salary Range: Negotiable

Computer Skills Required: Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, Reading Auto CAD file  

Roles and Responsibility:

  • End to end management of a minimum 50 thousand sq feet design and build project.
  • Project Management Plan including project scheduling , quality control checklist , communication protocol and contract administration.
  • Responsible for Vendor & consultant management , tendering formulation , BOQ preparation , Site Logistics & Construction management.
  • Reporting & documentation including ; cost tracking , schedule monitoring , material tracking and risk analysis.
  • Involved in Project Closeout including budget closure, coordination with construction manager for handover documents from vendors & snag list. 

TO APPLY : Please forward cv to  sv.recruiters   mentioning your CTC, expectation and notice period mentioning Ref. No : SVR -01-02-27-9-10  / Sr Mgr Project /Location applied for  the subject line.

Job Status : Open on 26 th Sept 2010
Closing on : 15 th Oct 2010