Friday, 17 July 2015

Job Interview Essentials for Freshers

The job interview preparation, especially for freshers, starts from the time you come across an advertisement and apply for it by submitting your résumé. Once your résumé has been shortlisted, its time to get ready for the interview rounds.
The three critical rounds of evaluation are:
  1. Written Test which comprises of Technical/Aptitude or both and can be conducted online or on paper.
  2. Group Discussion (GD)/Just a Minute (JAM)/ Extempore that evaluate communication skills and thought process. It helps filter candidates clearly especially if there are too many for the position.
  3. Technical and HR Rounds.
When you look at a job description, you will find several criteria mentioned -the degree, academic track record and the skills the company is looking for.  Resist the temptation to send your standard resume at hand and customize it for that particular role. Painful as it may sound but for every single job you apply for you should tweak or if required even completely re-write your resume highlighting the areas relevant for the role. This will ensure you get called for the interview.
Once you receive a communication asking you to attend an interview, remember to check the date/time/venue for the interview so you can be prepared.
As you get ready for further rounds of the interview follow the mantra of three Ps’ – Prepare, Practice and Present.
You should start preparing for the first round which is usually a written test. Revise subject matter, then practice sample papers of the company or online tests.
For the next round of Group Discussion, JAM or an extempore, read and stay updated on the current affairs - domestic and international. This will help you participate actively in the Group Discussion or speak fluently in the JAM session.
Extempore speaking is an art by itself. A sound vocabulary, concentration and streamlining of thoughts are some of the key factors for a successful and interesting extempore address. More than the preparation, practice is handier.  Speak in front of your siblings or friends, continuously for a minute, but without any interruptions. This practice will not only help you to get through extempore but also GD and JAM round.
The next two rounds are Technical and HR which are more challenging than the previous rounds. Before participating in these rounds, there are three important things you must know to tailor your interview response.
  1. Research about the company. Is it a service or a product-based company or anything else?  The best place is to go to the company website and find out all the details. Once you understand the company profile, re-look the job description that you have applied for. Understand the key skills the company is looking for that particular job. Analyze yourself and understand your relevant skills. This will help you answer technical questions effectively.
  2. The final round is the HR round which is the most important round of an interview. Complete your homework before going for the interview. Check out the company's website for all details - how they have grown, what they specialize in, the products and services they deal in, their revenue model.
  3. Learn other details too - branches and locations of the company, the number of employees, mission and vision, core values the company believes in. This will help you answer HR questions effectively and with confidence. Remember that the HR round is the decision maker.
So before you go, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
  • Dress like a professional. Your appearance should be pleasant and professional.
  • Ensure that you carry all the specified documents including your résumé
  • Reach the venue 10 minutes earlier than the expected time and connect with the concerned person
  • Maintain the right body language and etiquette throughout the interview
  • Speak to the point
  • Stay grounded and answer questions in a manner that gives them the confidence that you are the right candidate for the job and that you will be an easy person to work with.

The most important thing is to prepare; always prepare for success and not for failure. As Thomas Alva Edison says, “Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

5 Most Important Soft Skills that Every IT Job Aspirant Should Possess

If you want a job, have technical skills. If you want a career, have people skills.
“Soft skills” are those critical employability skills that employers look for in any prospective employee. Today the IT industry is looking for employees with “soft skills” as well as “hard” technical knowledge. Employees who can integrate networking, project management and teamwork, business technology and specific application skills are valued significantly more as compared to others.  These are the “Life Skills” which shape a professional’s personality.
‘Soft Skills’– The Key to Being a Successful IT Professional
  1. Effective Communication: Communication at workplace extends beyond emails and face-to-face meetings. It assumes new dimensions when one has to deal with people from different culture, background, language proficiency and even hierarchy. Expertise is acquired slowly, but feedback from mentors is a sure way to help in honing these skills.
  2. Teamwork: Most jobs require one person to coordinate with multiple people from several functions, at different knowledge levels and varying geographies. Coordinating with them, understanding their perspective, respecting them for the strengths they bring to the group and being aware of one’s own responsibilities goes a long way in producing amazing team results and becoming an invaluable “team asset”.
  3. Problem Solving: A typical IT job will require you to solve new problems each day and face challenges to improve the existing solutions. You will need to adopt a mindset of embracing learning as a continuous journey and never becoming complacent with existing knowledge.
  4. Continuous Self-improvement: You alone are responsible for your career. Your employer may make learning resources available to you but the responsibility to use, learn and utilize the learning at work, everyday, will be only yours. Spending even two hours on the weekends to keep yourself abreast of technology trends will go a long way in understanding this continuously changing landscape and sharing valuable technical inputs with your group.
  5. Time Management Skills: You will be swarmed with activities and people, emails pouring in, discussions and even distractions. But remembering your tasks, prioritizing them and staying organized will go a long way in establishing your credibility as a reliable and efficient person. Never hesitate to seek out advice from your manager or colleagues; each one of us goes through the learning phase and success comes to those who apply their learnings.

The combination of soft skills and domain skills is the winning formula for IT career aspirants.  Domain knowledge complemented with well-honed set of interpersonal skills, gives a competitive advantage over others in the IT job market.
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

4 Things Fresh Graduates Must Do Daily to Improve Communication Skills

‘Learn English in just 3 weeks’, ‘Speak like an expert in 20 days’, etc. The list of available options in the market which promise to improve communication skills is endless, however is it really possible? The answer is NO. Communication skills, like fitness, is the result of continuous workout. The question that hits us next is how should we practice? Should we enroll in another course again or is there something that could be done daily to improve the communication skills.

Top tips to improve communication skills:
1. Listen More - Listening helps in structure and content. Listen to English news, programs on BBC, attend seminars, Techtalks, etc. Remember,  we learnt our mother tongue by doing exactly this.
2. Speak More - Speaking in English helps you gain confidence. Take every opportunity to speak in English. The fear of making a mistake should not stop you from using the language. The idea is to start thinking in English and not just translate to English. Self correction is the first sign of success.
3. Read More - Reading helps in building vocabulary. Read as much as you can, find the time to blog, express your views and improve your written and spoken communication. As an investment into careers, youngsters must subscribe to at least one national daily, one online news service and stay updated on what's new and happening around you. This will help build vocabulary and at the same time improve general awareness.
4. Observe and Interpret Body Language - You must also pay attention to your body language. Generally, when we listen to a speaker, we judge both verbal and nonverbal cues simultaneously. So, observe good speakers and try to emulate a few things if possible.

Every individual needs to be well equipped with the tools to communicate effectively, whether it is on the personal front, or at work. Communication is basically a two-way street, which entails the relation between the sender and the receiver. There are some barriers that occur while speaking. One can try to overcome all language related barriers by first learning to speak English and then improving.

Multiple employment surveys point out that an increasing number of graduates are not readily employable for various reasons. We live in the Information Age, where a major part of our communication takes place via e-mail, text messaging, telephone or video conferencing and for obvious reasons, candidates who can read, write, speak and understand English fluently score over those who cannot. This is the sole reason why few graduates do not get an ideal job even after a long, hard search and even good technical skills.

A final word to the fresh graduates - do the basics right and practice to succeed in your career.
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

4 Sutras to Score More in Verbal Aptitude

4 Sutras to Score More in Verbal Aptitude
 When you think of Verbal Aptitude, you know it involves understanding words; the relationships they share with each other, how words are connected to make meaningful contexts and it becomes our job to comprehend those contexts using some clues and hints.
 It is a critical component in your exam and it takes practice to master Verbal Aptitude. It is not enough if you just read a lot but you are equally required to listen, write and speak to ace this section.

Here are the 4 sutras to help you score more in Verbal Aptitude.
1.      Logical Thinking & Reasoning
Usually questions pertaining to Jumbled Sentences otherwise called as Paragraph Formation and aka Sentence Formation fall under this category. The objective here is to logically connect word parts or sentences to form meaningful contexts. The mantra is simple - You identify the subject, then identify the action and then connect and create the remaining sentence.
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
·         are given to /cannot be/people who/quarrelling/happy
·         that/lived in/halls/I dreamt/I/marble
In the first one, the subject is 'People', the action is 'quarrelling' where you also have a helping verb - 'are'.
Now, let's connect: People who are given to quarrelling cannot be happy.
Let's do the second one, the subject is 'I' and the action is 'dreamt' and 'lived'.
Now let's connect: I dreamt that I lived in marble halls.

Another question pattern would be 'Analogies' which involves understanding the relationship between words.
Let's take an example:
Marathon is to race as hibernation is to
·         Winter
·         bear
·         dream
·         sleep
All we need to do is understand the relationship between the stem pair 'Marathon and race' and then identify the word that shares the same relationship as the stem pair. Now, Marathon is a long-distance race and Hibernation is an inactive state resembling deep sleep. Now, these are literally definitions, so we have our key words in the definition and all we need to do is look for options that project the keyword.

2.    Grammar - Get your basics right
Typically questions like sentence correction or improvement, finding errors, selecting words, active- passive voice or direct - indirect speech fall under this category.

Let's take an example:
If I had known / this yesterday/I will have helped him/ no error
If you are familiar with 'If conditionals', you would be able to immediately recognize that this is an example of a third conditional where the form is "If+ past perfect tense, would have +past participle" and that the error is in part 3 where you change ‘will’ to ‘would’.
Now you know how important it is for us to know our basics and the rules when it comes to grammar. It makes life so much more easier.

3.    Vocabulary - It’s all about the words and their meanings
Question types like Synonyms or Antonyms, spellings, one word substitutes and even idioms and phrases will fall under this category. So a good knowledge on root words will come handy, apart from good amount of practice writing to ensure your spellings are in place and make sure you understand the difference between the literal meaning and the implied meaning when it comes to idioms and phrases.

4.    Comprehension
A good knowledge and understanding on vocabulary will help you with this category. Learn to understand context as a whole, identify the main theme or message. Learn to read between the lines. Your ability to summarize, paraphrase and interpret will prove beneficial. So, question patterns like Reading Comprehension, Cloze Passage and completing statements will no longer pose a challenge.

So, the 4 Sutras for you to keep in mind when it comes to Verbal Aptitude are
  1. Logical Thinking and Reasoning
  2. Grammar - Get your basics right
  3. Vocabulary - It’s all about the words and their meanings
  4. Comprehension
Remember, apply and practice them to ace this section on Verbal Aptitude.

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