Fine tuning to get a job

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | August 01, 2013
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Sandeep Goyal's new book helps fine tune the art of giving an interview.

Interviews usually cause a flutter in one's stomach. To combat this feeling, advertising veteran Sandeep Goyal, the man behind bringing Japanese advertising giant Dentsu to India, has co-authored a self help book on job interviews that will help people prepare for the face-to-face interaction. Interestingly, the other author of the book is his teenage daughter Carol because of whom the idea for penning down such a book germinated.

You're Hired!

Sandeep Goyal

Titled 'You're Hired!', the 254 page book is divided into two parts - the first part 'The Interviews' contains 12 real life inspired fictitious interviews between candidates and employers. The second part comprises 'The Interviews analysed', pointing out the mistakes or suggestions in each case.

According to Goyal, the self-help book emerged after Carol's preparation for law college. Given that Carol had never undergone an interview, she was clueless about how to prepare for it. Naturally, she was nervous about the prospect, prompting Goyal to discuss with her and create a 10-day action plan. The guidance and preparation resulted in Carol terming the interview 'a breeze'. However, the entire experience made the duo contemplate penning down a guide book on interviews that focused on professionals.

After six months of labour, the book was finished. "My daughter Carol had to find time during her vacations and weekends," says Goyal. The 12 interviews are no-frills-attached, straightforward scenarios under different settings and attempt at dispelling fear from the interviewee. "Each of them has a thought behind it. What is different about this book is the intervention that is provided in the second half. The whole idea was not be preachy but participatory. While the first interview 'Airphone Ltd' is more janta in nature, the others are elitist job profiles," he adds. And, of course, the book also contains one interview from the advertising industry, where the interviewee, a fresher, applies for a job in the creative function.

Speaking to afaqs!, Goyal says all the interviews are inspired from his stint in advertising and television (he was group CEO, Zee Telefilms before handling Dentsu India). However, the one interview that he enjoyed working on was the chapter titled 'Bite Magazine'. The chapter revolves around food writer Hina J Singh, who is interviewed via Skype, for a food magazine. In fact, the chapter was inspired by Goyal's handling ITC Maurya Sheraton during his initial years in advertising.

Goyal forayed into advertising in 1986 by joining the Delhi office of JWT India (then HTA) after missing the IAS exam. It was during his stint at HTA, that Goyal was given the ITC Maurya Sheraton account, which turned out to be his best learning on the job. In fact, he thanks Shashi Vandrivala, sales manager at the hotel, who taught him what a good client is all about and what to get from the agency.

Carol, however, likes the last interview 'ADC to Royalty', which is about an arts and aesthetics graduate applying for the aide-de-camp position for the Maharani. "She enjoyed that one," Goyal recalls. But the most important fact of making this book was working with his daughter, Goyal says.

Speaking about the most memorable interviews that he gave in his career, Goyal points out to the one he gave to join Rediffusion in 1994. "The interview was scheduled with Diwan Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishnan. I steered the conversation to a recent pitch for a lubricant brand that I won for my then current agency against Rediffusion. Ajit wanted to know what I had done better. I looked him in the eye and told him that Rediff was off the mark on strategy itself. Rediff had used cars and bikes to create very swish and stylish ads, while I created a campaign in Hindi with trucks. A truck consumes more lubricant in one trip from Mumbai to Jammu than a bike consumes in a full year. My pitch was more business driven. I was hired!" he says.

Recalling one of the best interviews that he took from the interviewer's seat, Goyal says he was asked to meet a young girl, who was recommended by his aunt. He thought of wrapping up the interview quickly. "I saw her portfolio. She had no ads. But she showed me her poems. There was a script outline for a movie, too. I was floored. We got chatting. She said she was a trained classical singer. I asked her to sing me a bhajan. She was mesmerizing. I hired her in no time. Today, she is one of the ad industry's senior most creative directors," he says.

To counter this, another interview of a creative person that he took with Gullu Sen, his partner for years, rubbed him the wrong way. Goyal says the candidate took out his portfolio, which contained beautiful ads - at least half of them done by Sen! "The guy had just 'created' a portfolio of some really nice ads from the archives of an agency Gullu and I used to work for, not realising he was going to end up presenting them to the original creator! Terrible interview! Gullu almost strangled him!" Goyal says.

Goyal is not new to the publishing world, having come out with his first book 'The Dum Dum Bullet' in 2005. Having always been academically inclined, Goyal is currently working on his Phd, with his thesis topic being celebrities as human brands. Simultaneously, he is also working on a book titled 'Konjo', which will be based on his association with Dentsu. The book is expected to hit the stands early next year.

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