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Useful Tips for “Social and Political Interviews”, Different Kinds of Social Interviews for Candidates.

Social and Political Interviews

Introduction

Social interview is somewhat altruistic in character. It is between persons who have a more informal approach enabling either to discuss matters of concern to societies or associations in which they are severally interested, or may be to solicit some form of patronage for a particular object or person.

Qualifies Necessary

The essentials for an interview of this kind are sincerity, absence of boastfulness, self-effacement and readiness to offer cooperation.

Since familiarity breeds contempt, it is necessary that the one seeking an interview should not trespass too closely on the private time or purse of the other. Nor should the official position of the other be, in any way, invoked to fulfill a social duty beyond limits of strict propriety. Thus, should A desire that B, an official, help C, it is not right to press B to go farther than what is proper in giving any undertaking in this respect which might result in official difficulties. It is not uncommon in India to hear of cases where Sifarish is used at a social interview with unfair consequences all round. For this reason certain strict rules of conduct have been laid down for the guidance of officials meeting with non-officials socially. While this is necessary, there are, of course, numerous occasions when these classes of persons derive a mutual benefit through social contacts.

A district officer may accept an invitation from a non-official because they are known to each other socially. Yet, if the latter uses such an opportunity for furtherance of his selfish purpose, it is distinctly injurious to the officer as he might breach the official code of conduct in the discharge of his public duties.

Cooperation and Coordination

A man or woman representing a social organization may desire to interview another who represents a different social strata. In such a case, the object is entirely an impersonal one and the trends of the interview must be kept impersonal. Cooperation should be the keynote of what passes between them, and coordination of resources should be the goal of their efforts.

Conventions to be observed

Where high personages grant purely social interviews to those whom they know, the range of conversation will be dictated by the senior of the two. Such interviews should not be prolonged in ordinary circumstances. It should also be the particular duty of the junior person to withdraw before long. It would not also be correct for him to ask very personal or intimate questions about his senior even if the degree of social intimacy happens to be considerable. An interview is not the time to talk about such things. It is an occasion for exchange of generalities. If, however, the senior invites a definite opinion on a matter of public concern, it ought to be understood that confidences exchanged are not likely to be misused by either of them. References to another person’s defects or shortcomings should be avoided. It would be a folly to utilize this interview for the airing of personal likes and dislikes.

Different Kinds of Social Interviews

(i) Patronage for Public Causes

It may be that a person seeks an interview with someone in charge of some public institution, such as the secretary of a club or the president of an association, with a view to securing patronage for some philanthropic organization. At such an interview there should be no delay in making known the object of the visit, and in explaining, very briefly, what is desired. It might follow this form: “I have come to ask if you will kindly contribute to the funds of the anti-tuberculosis campaign. We are endeavouring to raise so much (state the approximate amount of money) locally. The President is Mr. X and the Treasurer is Mr. Y.”

(ii) Recommendatory Interview 

It often happens that somebody wishes to speak to an influential public man about a particular individual with a view to securing some help or a job from him. In this case, the interviewer may say, “As I believe, you are not restricted in electing or recommending somebody for the post of a Caretaker of the Assembly Building, may I request you to consider favourably the claims of Mr…, who is known to me as an eminently suitable person ?”

To waste the time of another, beating about the bush is fatal to securing the influence or the interest that is sought. Having stated one’s case, the remainder of the interview should not go beyond reasonable limits, and should be terminated by the interviewer as quickly as possible.

(ii) The “Invitation” Interview

If a distinguished person is being invited to give away prizes or to preside over a meeting, and this is done through a personal interview, it is very necessary to make such a call at least a fortnight ahead. Then the time, place and occasion of ceremony must be made quite clear. Having obtained a reply, it is regarded presumptions to overstay one’s welcome.

(iv) Political Interview

 The political interview is slightly different in nature and may be sought, or it may come about unsought. In the former case, some vital or urgent matter is clearly indicated. In the latter case, public interest will determine the nature of the interview.

Many persons may not be invited for an interview by the Head of a government or of a governmental department. An effort should also be made that an interview is kept as brief as possible, commensurate with the importance of the subject. Facts and figures or essential details should only be mustered and presented in as precise a manner as possible. Interviewers may state their case thus :

“We represent so and so (name). We desire to bring to your notice the following facts (statement is here given). In our opinion, the persistence of the existing situation is likely to lead to the following undesirable results (name them), We, therefore, propose the following immediate remedies (make proposals).”

The minister interviewed would then ordinarily open a discussion on certain aspects of the case and it would depend on his questions what the answer should be. But all answers must be brief and to the point. They should not be such as to appear evasive, indefinite or insincere.

Should a body of private citizens seek to represent a case, on behalf of the larger community of their city, to a mayor or an executive authority, there must be a complete absence, in the interview, of prejudice, bias, overstatement and personal advertisement.

Every political interview should be tolerant and dignified in conduct. Reference to racial or communal discrimination, religious fanaticism and threats should be strictly avoided.

Bargaining Detrimental

Though a political interview rarely completely fruitful in its results, it has the advantage of being the means to an end. Bearing this in mind, the interviewers should treat it, not as an occasion for bargaining but as an opportunity for bridging gulfs and resolving differences. Strong positions, on either side, in such interviews will prove counter-productive.

 Begin with Points of Agreement

In interviews of social or political nature it is a wise maxim to be invariably followed, that discussion should never begin with matters on which there is a difference, or likelihood of disagreement. One should begin by emphasizing, and go on emphasizing, the points of agreement. Try to show that both sides are striving for an agreement and that the only difference is one of the methods and not of purpose.

Draw Positive Answers

Get the other person—the interviewee saying, “Yes, Yes”, at the outset; keep him from saying “No” if you possibly can. A “No” response in any interview is a difficult handicap to overcome. When a person has once said “No”, his ego demands that he remains consistent with himself. Hence, it is essential, we start a person in the affirmative direction the moment an interview begins.

If at a political interview, an ultimatum is presented, and it is apparently quite impossible at the moment to accept it, hesitate to say so. Terminate the interview without commitment and reflect on whether it is not possible for you to accept a compromise. Then make the suggestion.

Socratic Method

Socrates, the philosopher of Athens, was brilliant in spite of his seeming idiosyncrasies; he walked barefoot and married a girl of nineteen when he was bald-headed and forty. But he did something that only a handful of men in all history have been able to do—he radically changed the whole course of human thought. His method ? Did he tell people that they were wrong ? He was far too adroit to do that. His whole technique, now called the “Socratic Method” was based upon getting a “Yes, yes” response. He put his questions and stated his points in such a way that his opponent would have to agree with him. He kept on winning one admission after another until he could carry his point unopposed. The Chinese have a proverb full of the age-old wisdom of the East : “He who treads softly goes far.” Put this into practice.

Avoid Resentment

Now, at a social or political interview, it sometimes happens that the opposite party makes a complaint. A minister may feel constrained to say : “I do not like the way in which you and your party (or community) are exploiting the situation.” The ‘bad’ interviewer would immediately resent this remark and fly into a rage that would abort the interview. That is just the opportunity to show how well-balanced the interviewer is: he will immediately recall the rules of conduct he is expected to observe, and that is the purpose of all this elaborate exercise.

It is always better to bend than to break.

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