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Thursday, November 1, 2012

You are rarely rejected in interview due to inadequate English communication

Last week, I went to a MBA college for conducting a seminar on how to 'deliver an impactful interview'. These kind of  seminars are quite popular in MBA colleges. Mock interviews are planned in these seminars to help students get a sense of a live interview. Here is a case of a girl, that was interviewed, called Priyanka.

Priyanka had an excellent resume. She was a confident Arts student who had passed with distinction. Had participated in different kinds of activities like dramatics, elocution, debate and others. Had done a certificate course in German. It was a dream resume for a recruiter. 

However, when a question was asked 'Why have you done MBA?'.  She was unable to weave her background and present a 'convincing case' of what made her leave Arts and do MBA? Why did she take up MBA finance? She gave reasons that 'forced' us to ask more questions. With more and more questions, her lack of reflective thinking got exposed. Instead of emerging as a person with a strong profile, she emerged as a confused person with no sense of direction. Despite strong credentials, anyone would have rejected her in an interview. 

Then we interviewed another person, Sadanand. 

Sadanand had a working experience of 2 years in manufacturing companies of repute. He chose to do MBA in production. In the mock interview, he could not demonstrate that he is strong in concepts of Production, because he was unable to speak coherently about his 2 months summer project he did in a manufacturing company. Neither could he explain his 2 years of experience of production and the difference that MBA has made in his thinking. Surprisingly, he spoke about his experience in details which made us realise that his experience was good. But he was unable to explain how it increased his capabilities. Despite his excellent background experience, anyone would have rejected him in the interview. 

What went wrong in the interviews of Priyanka and Sadanand?

On the surface both examples look similar. Both seem to be having 'communication problem' of English. But, if you dig deeper, you will realise that ' inability to communicate' is just a symptom. Root cause lies elsewhere. To help you understand the root cause of the problem, please see the diagram below and pause for a while. You will realise that 'interview' is the last step in the process of getting a job.

If you have seen the above diagram, you will realise that Priyanka's rejection resulted because of the step 1, not because of lack of English communication. Because she did not understand her 'arts strengths' or the principles of 'excellence' to utilise arts in management, she never made a PLAN for herself. And because she never made a plan, she did not do consciously use the opportunities in MBA to channelise her arts background. Because she had not explained to herself why she was doing MBA in Finance, despite being good in Arts, how could she explain it in interview? Her problem of communication occurred because she had not thought about her strengths and constraints and made her 'Excellence Plan' consciously. Here problem of communication in the interview was just a symptom. Her root cause of Interview rejection was her inability to think through her strengths and excellence principles and make a plan that will help her strengths productively. In the interview, this lack of thinking only became visible. 

Sadanand's lack of communication, on the other hand, resulted due to step 3. He did not draft his resume properly. For instance, his resume explained his summer MBA project in 2 lines and his two years of production experience in 6 lines. Because he could not 're-articulate' his production experience and summer project, his mind could not 'connect' them together. And because his mind did not connect the two, he was not ready to weave together a coherent 'narrative' ( a consistent story) that will display his strengths in production. In other words, his problem of communication stemmed from his inability to integrate and connect his 'experience of 2 years' and his 'MBA project' with his MBA degree, not because of his lack of communication. I even requested Sadanand to explain his strength in his native language, Marathi. He could not still communicate this integration. Root cause of Sadanand's interview rejection was not communication, but his inability to integrate his experience with MBA. Because he had not 'connected' his production experience and summer project, he could not draft his experience in the resume properly. He merely drafted them in few lines. Many MBAs make this mistake. Unable to understand how resume can be utilised to 'lead' the interviewer to ask the 'desirable questions', they miss the opportunity and curse themselves later.

Sometimes, the root cause of the problem is in step 2. Unaware of one's strengths, one chooses wrong employers, or wrong jobs, and hope that one can get selected by chance. Sometimes the root cause may also lie in Step 4, but not in communication. For instance, even if you learn to present your credentials in the interview in an impactful manner, you may still not get selected because your 'skill sets did not match with what the employers required'. MBA's miss this 'matching step' because they are not aware of the skill market and therefore do not think in advance about the skill mismatch. They go unprepared for the interviews and get rejected because they are not prepared to answer the questions on 'mismatch of skill sets'.


As you will observe from the above diagram, the cause of 'Interview rejection' is rarely 'English communication'. The 'lack of english communication' is merely a symptom that is visible in the interview. The root cause of interview rejection lies in the earlier steps, either step 1,2 or 3. In my experience of coaching students of last 5 years, i have not observed a single student where the root cause of 'interview rejection' was due to difficulty in 'English communication'. 

In short, the problem symptom of getting a desired job in MBA may become visible in the interview, but its root cause lies in the earlier steps. If you plan to maximise your investment of time and efforts in MBA, you must think through right from step 1. That will help you gain maximum advantage of your opportunity of doing MBA. Step 1 of drafting an excellence plan is perhaps the most important step. I have observed some students fare excellent in an interview, despite their poor English communication, simply because they have undergone the Step 1 diligently. 

If you think for a while, the same principles of four steps are also applicable if you are doing engineering, commerce or any other graduation. 

Students fare poorly in the interview not because they cannot communicate, but because they have not made any plan that integrates their experience and skills. They just meander around in doing MBA (or their graduation) and waste multiple opportunities of excelling, thus robbing them of the self-respect. It kills their curiosity. It makes them sit as ducks waiting to be fed. It forces them to accept the 'instructions' of their teachers meekly without questioning their purpose; it makes them copy patch-up solutions for problems for which they must have dug deeply.   And then, is it surprising to find, that when they finish MBA( or graduation), they lack any confidence to take charge of their lives ( leave alone interview)? 

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