Interviews:Five steps to an effective close.

This is not the END
This is not even the beginning of the END!
If anything, it is the END of the Beginning!
Winston Churchill


Endings are important whether to a War or to a novel. Great endings lead to great New beginnings so, It makes sense to make them memorable.The same goes for Interviews too.

But, when it comes to closing interviews, candidates too often end in a jiffy with a smile and thank you. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t propose that they stop being gracious to the interviewer or for that matter stop smiling. No! of course not. But, there is room to do a lot more than that.

This is a key moment of Interviewer “Face Time”. Why would you want to waste it?.

Ask any Toastmaster, he will tell you the importance of a great opening and a great close. That’s because the audience remembers what came first and what came last, they forget the rest.  As an interviewee you can take advantage of this human frailty to leave an impact on your audience ( the interviewer) by crafting a memorable close.

How can you do that?

Here is a simple Five step process to close any interview with impact.

Step-1. Summarize. Provide the interviewer with a synopsis of your experience. Recap, re-state, recount why you feel you are the best fit for the job. For example – “As an experienced finance professional having worked extensively on international taxation, I have proven ability in building and leading teams and developing effective solutions for tax automation. As such I hold a sincere interest in joining your team”. Highlight how your skills and experience fit with the job reqs and work environment.

Step-2. Express Interest. Continuing with the last point re-express interest in the job. Emphasize by stating how exciting the position sounds and how you look forward to work with the team. Demonstrate knowledge about the company products and services and focus on its positive reputation. Leave the interviewer with the impression that you this company is your FIRST CHOICE.

Step-3.Concerns. Now to tackle the unspoken anxieties of the interviewer. Silent concerns are a hurdle standing in way of you getting the job. Here is an example of easing an interviewers concern by proactively bringing up the topic – If I were in your place I might wonder as to why I would leave, own house and family and move to a different location. I would like to clarify the reasons for this move …. This clears the air and creates room for a healthy discussion which other-wise might remain a nagging thought in the interviewers mind.

The above three steps will set you up for a classy ending to your interview. The next two will pave the way for a smooth transition to a post interview phase.

askStep-4.Ground work. After the interview you would want to be in a position to call up and speak with the interviewers. This requires some ground work. Ask by when you can expect a response and if it is okay for you to follow up in-case you do not hear from them. You don’t need their permission to ask but having the permission makes your job easier. Helps in overcoming any inhibitions that you may feel when the time comes to follow up. Further ask what the next step is going to be, are the shortlisted candidates going to be called for another round, what would be the time frame? Will there be multiple rounds? Keep these questions ready.

Step-5.Names and a Thankyou. You have got the permission to followup, how will you do so if you have not managed to get their contacts. So, get the names of all the people whom you have met, who interviewed you and their contact information. Send them an individual thank you note. There are innumerable resources online which will help you in crafting a professional thankyou mail.

Following this five step process will help you stand out in the eyes of your interviewer. Always give a great amount of attention to each one of the steps above for every interview you attend. Your interviewers will appreciate your preparation and professionalism and surely want to have you in their team. And yes, don’t forget to shine your “close up” smile to bring the proceeds to an effective close.

Prakash Francis is a Talent Acquisition expert based in Bangalore.


AI/JOBS/& increasing opportunities

Lawyers and accountants join list of workers whose jobs are likely to go – screamed a headline. ai_0

Increasingly such headlines are becoming everyday affairs.

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way and seems like it is set to takeover our jobs , especially jobs that are of a repetitive and mundane nature. These include jobs of order takers – cashiers , maybe even waiters might get replaced by robots. Telecallers might get replaced with Robo callers. Are there any firms already doing so – I am not sure. How far into the future can we expect sizeable volumes of AI replacements? could be 5 years or 10.

A point to remember is that Automation is expensive and is not going to replace any job as long as it is cheaper for a human to do it.

A Mckenzie report suggests that as of now 5% of the jobs are ready for AI takeover. The good things is that 95% of the jobs are going to stay. Even better is that new jobs will replace the old ones. As the human population increases more jobs get created. It is a simple case of demand and supply.  Technology will eliminate certain kind of jobs but more new jobs will be created catering to a different set of problems and solutions.

Opportunities continue to increase.

To find out if machines will actually take away our jobs – watch this TEDx by David Autor

A case for Interning

What does Steven Spielberg has to teach us about Interning?

intern_nation_are_we_exploiting_a_generation_of_workersSteven Spielberg was a movie fanatic who was desperate for a job in the film industry. One day he landed at the Universal Studios , looking for a job. No one had one for him. So he just hung around. He showed up day after a day even though no one wanted him there. But he hung around and volunteered to do anything that was required to be done.

By doing unpaid jobs at the studio he got to watch movies being shot. He learnt by watching  and interacting with folks in the industry.

Eventually the studio invited him to do a short film. And rest ….. well you know it.  

Manage Your Boss – 2

Manage the BossThe phrase – Manage your Boss might sound unusual or suspicious. You might be thinking that I am pulling a fast one. Hoodwink you. But no. This is the truth. Your success on your Job is dependent on your relationship with your Boss.

And this relationship is  something which you need to take responsibility for.

Fact is most of us do influence or manage the relationship  to some extent – in bits and pieces. But to be effective you might have to delve deeper.

Before we go into the how of it – lets get into the why.

Let me share with you a story –

Many moons ago…. there were two Team  members – Rajesh and Rajan. These members reported to a Boss who had an informal and intuitive style of working. He did not believe in written reports – he was more into informal discussions and Brainstorming.

This Boss moved on to a different job and a new Boss took over.

This new Boss happened to have a more systematic approach. He preferred  written reports and liked to see things written down to ensure follow thrrough.

Rajesh quickly realised that the wind had changed and adapted his style to suit the new Boss. He regularly updated his Boss with mail updates and short written reports. Infact he would send down the agenda to his boss before a meeting – which the new Boss particularly liked. It improved the quality of the meetings and made decision making more effective.

Rajan on the other hand chose to continue with the original informal reporting style. This got him into problems with his Boss.

His Boss felt he was not getting enough information and had to spend a lot of time questioning Rajan about the work he was doing. While Rajan in turn did not like the constant prying .  He did good work and wanted to be respected and accepted for that. During the meetings the boss found it frustrating being unable to take any decisions with lack of clarity and Rajan in turn felt stifled.

After a few months Rajan decided to leave the firm.

Rajan did not realize that he needed to adapt to a different style He just assumed that the earlier Boss’s work style would be continued by the New Boss –

Assumptions they say – are the termites of relationships”.

I hope you realise how a slightly different approach can create an entirely different relationship.

My earlier post  covers this topic in greater detail.

Here is a quick Checklist for Managing your Boss-

Understand him/her

  • Understand his Goals & objectives
  • His/her pressures
  • Strengths Weaknesses & Blind Spots
  • Work style

Assess yourself

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” 

Understand Your Strengths and weaknesses

Your personal style

And how do you respond to authority

Create a relationship that

Fits both your styles and needs

Characterized by mutual expectations


it is worth remembering this quote –

More power than all the success slogans ever penned by human hand

is the realization for every man

that he has but one boss.

That boss is the man –

he – himself.


Look forward to your comments , or you could drop a mail to prakash.francis at



Ace Your Appraisal

Performance Appraisal is an annual happening which is approached with a certain amount of trepidation by most employees. There are volumes of net bytes spent on deriding this process – for various reasons.

Whatever be the hullabaloo about the ineffectiveness of Appraisals  they are well entrenched in the workplace and an inevitable part of your annual work calendar. That being the case, you might as well make the most of it.

Here are a few minders to make the process work for you and make it easier for your boss to give you the most favourable review. ArtowrkThe Performance Appraisal can be approached in a 3 pronged Manner – Pre Appraisal, The actual Appraisal meeting and Post appraisal. As the name suggests – Pre appraisal lays down the groundwork for the actual Appraisal meeting. It starts with –


Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes. Zig Ziglar 

  Being prepared is half the job done. Here your preparation starts the day you start work. It consists of –

Documenting Your Accomplishments If you have the habit of keeping a journal this is the time to review those notes. Notice any trends or recurring patterns  that reveal any particular strengths, tasks you enjoyed, co – workers or customers you helped, duties performed which were out of your regular job role.

Incase you don’t keep a journal start today. Journal helps you capture details when they are fresh in your mind. DOCUMENT ACCOMPL- ART

Once you have all the details in hand, list down the accomplishments – both the what and the how – the challenges you overcame, the help you received and the things you could have done better. It is  important to connect your achievements to your goals and those of the organization.  Be brief – and stay in the context.

Gather any commendation emails, letters or awards you received since the last appraisal. It is ok to brag a little – after all this is your appraisal. Your manager may not remember every accomplishment of yours through the year especially the many small ones that can add up and make a serious difference.

Self-Assessment Assess your achievements during the year, the challenges you overcame and areas where you felt you could have done better. Think of ways where additional support from the organisation could have helped you in fulfilling your duties, could be better communication or role clarity. Be specifi c in explaining how it can help in making the team you are a part of, more successful.

Look at things from your superiors perspective.  Here, ideally you should use a performance appraisal form your Manager would be using. Go thru each competency and goal listed and rate your performance. Be honest. Finally share this self-evaluation with your superior before the meeting. This will give him/her a heads up on perception differences if any and help him to be prepared.  You might choose otherwise and just keep this self-evaluation for your reference.

Write down your Goals Where would you want to be in a year or two years professionally. What greater responsibilities would you want to take up. Set goals that are meaningful and relevant. The goal you take up should be relevant to the work you do each day. Write down your goals and share them with your Superior so they can be fine- tuned and mutually agreed upon.

The Performance Appraisal Meeting You have done your preparation, documented your accomplishments and room for improvements. You have your questions ready. Now for the meeting.

Ideally you would have shared your preparation with your superior prior to the meeting.If you haven’t – you could do so now. LISTEN ARTWORK

Typically with all this preparation we might have a tendency to get too full of ourselves and somewhat defensive. We can get so absorbed in putting up a good front that we might block any serious feedback coming our way. Or as we brace ourselves to face criticism we might get defensive. In your best interests – steer clear of any such tendencies.

You know your content, you have it all documented – now relax and have an open mind. Prepare yourself to listen to any difficult feedback. We think that we are good listeners but during critical moments we fall short. To listen carefully we should be able to withhold judgement about what the superior has to say. Your listening goal for the meeting should be to seek understanding.  Take notes.             If its ok with the manager try to note down any criticisms that he has to offer. Stay polite.

Salary Discussion Even if your appraisal goes very well bringing up any salary raise request at this juncture might not be a good idea as raises might get decided much earlier. In case you are planning to request a salary increase – do so a week or two before your appraisal is due as then you can – have all the more reasons to use this meeting to justify your request for a raise.

Learning While doing your self assessment you would have come across areas where you would have wanted to improve or get yourself trained. You can bring that up during the meeting. Learning could be not only training courses – it could also be volunteer work, special assignments, reading, joining certain company clubs etc.  anything to help you develop the skills you need.

Post Meeting Within the hour after the meeting jot down key discussion points, any suggestions for improvement or critical feedback that you might have received. If any specific strengths were mentioned-  get everything down in a journal. Any feedback that you do not agree with you can bring it up – by requesting a followup meeting.

Your review is neither the end or the beginning of the end. It is just an inevitable and critical part of your growth process.

To make it easy on yourself make it a habit to check-in with the boss weekly or whenever convenient. Through regular informal discussions you can get real time feedback of your performance and not wait for a annual review to get a heads up.

In closing, your appraisal needs to be one of open communication between you and your manager. Since the stakes are so high it is all the more important for you to go all out to ensure an accurate appraisal.

Hope you find the tips useful.

If you have any new ideas on improving the appraisal process or have any unique stories to share – leave a comment below or drop a line to

The Royal Enfield and Career Choice

Royal Enfield

The thing about the Royal Enfield bike as any one will tell you is that It is not a maintenance free bike. You cant just fill it, shut it and forget it. It demands your attention – at times it wont work the way you want it to.But that in no way diminishes the pride of ownership.  The rider satisfaction levels of a true blue enfield owner are legendary.

What has that got to do with career choice? 

I got a mail today from a candidate – a fresher from a premier engineering college. He will be soon entering the work force. He had his mind made up that he wanted to get into manufacturing operations and move in to a techno managerial role.He has done internships in an automotive firm and taken up additional courses like production planning and operations. He listed a few organisations he wanted to join and asked me for advice and help. Some of the companies in his wishlist included – HLL,ITC, Nestle

I was quite impressed by his approach at career planning and told him as such.

But, what caught my attention was his choice of Organisations.The companies he mentioned are the creme de la creme in terms of professional / managerial excellence. But someone having Technical aspirations is likely to feel out of place – because here the scope of skill based technical learning will be limited. When all the systems are setup and running smoothly – you can learn how to run it but not how the thing works.

That is what reminded me of the Royal Enfield bikes. The thing about the Enfields are that they require maintenance & demand attention. Not quite the fill and forget it Japanese types. Perhaps that is why the Enfield aficionados talk endlessly about their carburetors, spark plus and oil leaks. They know in and out about their bikes. Because if you have driven the RE even for a couple of years – you would have faced such a situation.( I might be wrong) but I hope you get where I am heading.

So if this Technical enthusiast gets into HUL – he has to keep his technical inclinations in abeyance – because though his learning on the managerial front is going to be extensive-he might not get the kind of technical exposure he can in an Automotive/Aerospace or a pure engineering organisation.

Makes sense?

Leave a comment or drop a line to


The Art of Keeping the Doors Open-Mastering your Exit.


There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over – and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its value. …..Ellen Goodman

When you Leave a job you end a contract – it need not be the end of relationships.

On average an employee stays 3-4 years in a job. This figure varies with industry and level. The inevitable fact remains that every professional has to leave a job at least once in his lifetime. Rushing out of your job in a disorganized manner effects your professional image. You end up letting go relationships with  coworkers and colleagues with whom you might have spent months if not years.

With a little foresight – you can ensure that no bridges are burnt.

Follow these Eight rules and you will exit happier and add to your relationships.

Keep the Key people informed

Resign in such a way that your Boss looks forward to your return. If you have decided to leave, inform your boss first hand and early. Let him/her not get the news from your co-worker or through the office grape wine. And the best way to inform him would be in a face to face meeting. This rule also applies to your mentor, your best friend at work and the person who hired you – these are relationships you want to cultivate. Inform them early about your exit in person and acknowledge their support.

Sufficient Notice

If you are in a large firm you will be required to give one months notice. But  smaller firms generally don’t enforce this rule. Nevertheless waking up one day and deciding to quit can be disconcerting to the team. Especially if you have been with the company for a sizable duration. Fulfill your obligations and ensure your handover is smooth.

Quitting by Mail/Phone

Quitting by these means is not advisable. Incase you have decided on such a course check out this link on how to go about it.

Ace the exit Interview

This is not the time to get even with colleagues and supervisors. Your exit interview will be typically conducted by junior HR folks.Avoid mentioning anything that might embarrass your boss. Contrary to claims of confidentially he is sure to know about the negative feedback you have given. And however insightful your feedback maybe – rest assured it is not going to be taken positively. So stay neutral. You could say that you appreciated the support of your colleagues and boss and be done with it.

Share Credit where due

All said and done there have been learning’s in your current job. Besides, your job has been a stepping stone to your offer. Hence it doesn’t hurt there to give credit where due. Infact if you are finding nothing to be grateful for atleast stay away from spewing negativity. Refer to the Rule  4.

Offer to find your replacement

Offering to find a replacement has multiple advantages. First – you smoothen your exit. You would not want your joining delayed by non availability of a suitable replacement.  Second, having a replacement from your existing network will ensure that you leave the door open for – comebacks.

Send a Thank you note

Send a thank you note to your superiors with whom you were in contact with specific mention of how they added value to your career. This note has to be separate from your resignation letter.

Stay in touch

Stay in touch with your ex colleagues though not too frequently.  Staying in contact through linkedin would be ideal. It is not invasive, at the same time you can be tuned in on the happenings at your Alumnus. You never know when a suitable position might come up  – and your ex – employers might decide on a known devil.

These simple rules work for both permanent and contractual positions. Key point to remember is that careers progression rests on good relationships.

Wish you a Happy Ending !!!