6 tips on how to crack a telephonic job interview


Today’s age is defined by fast paced lifestyles and hiring too is no exception. “Time is at a premium, with harried corporate executives constantly looking to squeeze in more productivity into fewer hours. Hiring has also caught up with the whirlwind culture of the modern corporate set-up. Potential candidates are screened via telephonic interviews and only the ones making the cut are invited over for a face-to-face dialogue, thus saving companies a lot of valuable time and effort,” says RaviKant Banka, founder & CMD of Eggfirst Advertising.

The first step towards getting a job depends upon your skill in taking the perfect telephonic interview. Banka shares some practical tips to crack the telephonic interview:

1. Fixing a convenient time: Fix up an appropriate time and day for the interview, one that is convenient for both parties. Find a quiet room to answer your interview. Get kids, pets, family or workmates, whatever is the case, out of the way. Shut the door and firmly convey to everybody that the room is out of bounds for them while you’re giving your interview.

2. Check the technicalities: Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged before you start the interview. In a telephonic interview, nothing conveys sloppiness as a cell phone that goes dead in the interviewer’s face. Also, ensure that cellular connectivity is good and there is no chance of call drops or your voice breaking while you’re talking to the interviewer. If connectivity is an issue, it is better to give the interview over a landline.

3. Creating the atmosphere: Dress up for the interview even if it is telephonic. If you’re lounging around in your pyjamas while answering crucial questions over the telephone, the casualness of the whole set-up is bound to creep into your approach and interview etiquette, making you sound indifferent, unprofessional or disinterested. Your voice is the sole judging tool your interviewer has and sounding disinterested is a sure shot way of losing the opportunity. This does not mean that you need to dress in your best business suit either. Smart work clothes will do just as well. They’ll remind you that you need to sound alert, attentive and ultra-professional over the telephone. Remember, in a telephonic interview, it is only your voice, timbre and tone of speaking that will convey what kind of a person you really are.

4. Keep the CV handy: Keep your CV ready before you begin with the interview. An interviewer may ask you a specific question related to your resume. Having the CV handy will make it easy to refer when required. However, ensure that you do not make rustling noises while you refer to the CV. Also, keep a pen and note-pad handy, in case you need to jot down a few points. You don’t want to be rushing around, searching for writing material while giving your interview! Additionally, keep water handy by your side. A long interview, coupled with slight nervousness, will have you reaching out for a few sips of water now and then.

5. Right pitch and tone: Speak slowly and crisply, enunciating each word clearly. Your main focus should be in getting across your points lucidly and intelligently. This is even more imperative if you’re giving the interview to a person from foreign shores, since pronunciations differ vastly in different countries. Also, remember to smile while answering questions. This injects a note of warmth in your tone, making your interviewer respond in a like manner.

6. Ending it: Lastly, end the interview with a warm thank you and enquire about the way forward or the next move in the interview procedure. This conveys your interest in the job. However, take care not to sound desperate, even if you are!

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Is Brand Patanjali more about ‘Bhav’ or ‘Bhaav’

I was stunned when I heard “Colgate will be below Patanjali by this year, and in three years, we will overtake Unilever. In three years, Unilever’s lever will go flat”. This is Baba Ramdev’s prediction.

In its extensive report, ‘Wish you were listed: Patanjali Ayurved’, multinational brokerage CLSA has pegged Patanjali to be bigger than Emami and Jyothy Labs and calls it “perhaps the fastest growing fast moving consumer company in India with revenues in excess of Rs 2,500 crore for 2014-15”. To provide a perspective to compare, note this: Jyoti Labs reported consolidated revenues of Rs. 1,515 crore in FY15, Emami Rs 2,217 crore.

On the other hand is Patanjali’s dramatic rise: 2012: Rs 450 crore, 2013: Rs 850 crore, 2014: Rs 1,200 crore, 2015: Rs 2,000 crore and estimated for 2016: Rs. 5,000 crore.

The numbers speak for themselves.
But numbers seldom convey the complete story.

So, I decided to look beyond these numbers and attempt to see what’s really making this magic happen. Undoubtedly, Patanjali the brand, has stoked and leveraged with fullest intensity the pent up sentiment of Indian consumers wanting a mix of natural, original, traditional, Indian and credible.


I have two specific observations to make: One is brilliance of the ‘marketing’ execution of the brand. Second is in relation to the sentiment that Patanjali stoked through a deeply honest and nearly spiritual relationship with consumers. While both are important elements of the brand, I believe it is the latter that has contributed far more to the success than the former. The marketing capabilities of the larger MNCs are next to none; and no amount of Patanjali’s execution brilliance could have touched consumers so deeply so as to cause a massive tsunami of emotional upsurge across the country.

Let me start with the marketing execution brilliance bit of the brand:

Pricing: I picked up a few products and checked their comparative pricing- and found that the attractive pricing is truly the star of the show. I discovered that almost all Patanjali products are priced around 15-30% cheaper than the popular brands, with some even priced cheaper by more than 100%. This table shows the bigger picture succinctly-


There are a few hundred of such products in the Patanjali bouquet- squashes, juices, health supplements, balms, cough syrups- each priced as competitively as the above examples.

Market-savvy Indian consumers know a good bargain when they see one. And they have whole-heartedly welcomed Brand Patanjali into their lives. Ask around and you’ll find that one in three people is a Patanjali consumer and perhaps even an evangelist.

In fact, established FMCGs are so spooked by the Patanjali wave that some of them have resorted to price cuts to meet the challenge presented by low priced Patanjali products.

Packaging: I then decided to check out the packaging. I personally found the packaging a bit rustic. However, its rusticity seems to work in its favour. If people are to be believed, the austere packaging only adds to the authenticity of the products. Make no mistake; while the packaging seems a little rustic, it adheres to all the characteristics of a good packaging- visible brand name, visible category name and design elements, clean designs, etc. Barring a few such as dish cleansers, I found all the packaging quite nice.

Also, check this out- written prominently on each Patanjali pack are the words- ‘Made in Bharat’– a masterstroke if you ask me. What better way to harness the patriotism that we Indians literally wear on our sleeves!


Promotions (advertising) – Between January and March, Patanjali Ayurved doubled its ad spends on TV. Patanjali’s weekly television ads jumped 102% from 11,897 in the first week of January to 24,050 times in the week ending 25 March, according to BARC. In the past three months, Ramdev appeared 234,934 times during commercial breaks across TV channels to endorse Patanjali products, according to BARC India.

Its ads are ground-breaking in their own right. Take the case of its Dant-kanti ad. It takes an impudent shot at sundry oral-care brands by lampooning their show of a white-coat-clad dentist endorsing their brands, even suggesting outrageously that the white coats could represent white lies! Brilliant!

Consider also, its unique choice of endorsers- Olympic medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar for its ghee- a true son-of-the-soil, honed in the akhadas of rural hinterland- instead of the usual cricketers/Bollywood brigade; Hema Malini for its biscuits, not a young, sexy starlet, a la Bipasha Basu in one of its competitor brands.


Even the mass yoga sessions by Ramdev are transformed into an ad blitz for Patanjali products. If it’s endorsing the virtues of the Patanjali ghee in one, it is praising the efficacy of the Aloe Vera gel in another. The Baba even goes to the extent of applying the gel on his face, or putting the Patanjali Badam Rogan Tel into his nostrils, much to the amusement of his indulgent followers.

The shrewd yogi has also effectively connected with his multitude of followers via social media to promote Brand Patanjali. Note the Baba’s social media allure-

Twitter- 538,000 followers, Facebook- 915,496 people are talking about him with 5,676,103 likes, YouTube- 53,166 subscribers with 11,059,312 views.

Also, there are loads of videos on the official Patanjali YouTube channel, showcasing the manufacturing process of various Patanjali best-sellers.

That’s some exercise in trust-building!


Placement- The company sells its products via 15,000 exclusive outlets as well as some 1 lakh kirana stores that stock its products. Not just kiranas, but big retailers like Reliance Retail, Big Bazaar, Hyper City and Star Bazaar are also stocking Ramdev’s FMCG products. Not to forget the online play. Patanjali’s flagship online store is doing extremely well as are its products on e-commerce sites such as Big Basket, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. On digging deeper, however, I discovered that distribution and supply are not quite smooth. Quite understandably so, given the massive surge in demand.

And now, let me talk about the second observation; that of the deep brand connect, almost spiritual in nature, which has contributed to the massive success of Patanjali.


That Baba Ramdev inspires frenzied trust in his millions of followers is a given. For the better part of the last decade, Baba Ramdev has used this trust and belief of the masses to create a fertile ground for the seeds of Patanjali to be sown and flourish. His mass Yoga camps and sessions have fired up millions. Through these, people seem to have reconnected with Yoga, with the ancient wisdom of scriptures and with their roots. Ramdev’s brand of yoga has given them hope- a hope that Yoga will cure them of diseases and give them a healthy long life. The hope is further kindled by actual people getting cured of life-style diseases by Baba’s yoga camps. This hope has translated into unwavering belief in the Baba, with the Baba’s words being gospel truth for them.

Add to this the swadeshi wave that the country is in the throes of. The thrill of buying a product that is easy on the pocket as well as the conscience, coupled with the patriotic feeling of scoring over evil MNCs is unbeatable. Patanjali has very smartly harnessed the swadeshi wave to its advantage.

Just when the time was ripe, the Baba and his commander in chief, Acharya Balkrishna, unleashed the entire gamut of Patanjali products on unsuspecting, yet willing, consumers, who lapped up the products eagerly. Patanjali had arrived! And taken the market by storm!

And Patanjali is no storm in a teacup or the whim of two yogis.

Now, whether the yogis achieve their ambition of upstaging Unilever remains to be seen, but as of now, the Patanjali duo is enjoying the last laugh. And bringing smiles to millions.

All in all, people – read consumers – believe in Baba. They believe in what he has made happen for them and millions around them. This emotional, spiritual trust is what marketers would give an arm and a leg for. Compare this with Johnson and Johnson, which has spent billions and more than a few lifetimes to build trust amongst consumers. Baba Ramdev has made all this happen in a few decades. I guess it emanates from what he refers to as ‘bhaav’. Roughly translated it means sentiment. Have the right sentiment and energy to serve with the right intent and it makes for unprecedented magic. This, for me, is the biggest learning and belief confirmation. If one is out to serve with genuine deep heartfelt bhaav, energy, sentiment, everything simply falls into place and success is a given!

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Emotional Advertising – The Holy Grail of Viral Success.

Emotions are sneaky things; they creep up on you, when you least expect them to, slipping in under your radar and catching you unawares. And guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it. Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Our brains are genetically hardwired to analyse and react to every stimulus on a deeply emotional level, a throwback to Neanderthal times when fight or flight, hunting-gathering, mating- every decision was made by the pre-frontal cortex- the seat of emotions in our brain.

Most people believe that the choices they make result from a rational analysis of available alternatives. In reality, however, emotions greatly influence and, in many cases, even determine our decisions. Emotions have always had the upper hand in every interaction we have with the world in general, and always will. We can cry ourselves hoarse about logic and analytics and rationale, but hey, the fact remains that humans are highly emotional creatures and emotions are our cul-de-sac.

The power of these emotions and feelings makes them fantastic vehicles for deeply moving advertising. For, these emotions lunge at the cockles of our hearts, catching hold of them and refusing to let go. Social media is chock-a-block with superb examples of effective emotional marketing that hit pay dirt.
Let’s consider few outstanding ones;

The ‘Dove- Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign struck a chord with consumers, generating close to 3.8 million shares in its first month online and adding 15,000 new subscribers to Dove’s YouTube channel over the following two months. The campaign tapped into women’s feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, generic worldwide.


It was centred around a core emotional insight that resonates with women globally. The compelling storytelling led to highly emotional moments of awareness in women everywhere. The uplifting, feel-good ad became the most shared video of all time on social media.


The 2012 ‘GoPro- ‘Fireman Saves Kitten’ is another heart-warming video that created massive buzz on social media. The emotionally charged video notched up 5 million views in a week on YouTube, even while it caught the attention of Chinese electronics giant Foxconn, which acquired an 8.88% stake in GoPro in late 2012 for $200 million. GoPro filed for an IPO in 2013.

David Abbott’s Father’s Day print ad for Chivas Regal is a perfect example of an ad that conveyed emotions so real and universal that almost everyone connected instantly with most of the things mentioned. Written from a personal perspective, and conveying a direct message from the writer to his father, it was an ad that moved consumers to the core.


The ‘Cello- Main Aur Maa’ campaign also succeeded on the premise of real emotions, skilfully conveyed. Racking up over 5 million views in four weeks, the video has warmed the cockles of many hearts.

celloThe true-to-life incidents, the human story, the heart-warming relationship resonated deeply with both men and women, forcing them to recollect instances from their own lives and thinking about their own mothers. Not only that, it even got people to think about what they could do to make up for lost time in their most valuable relationships. That’s some advertising!

Viral ads driven by strong emotions not only garner highly-coveted social engagement for brands, but also translate into an exponential increase in sales and business. Johnnie Walker’s ‘Keep Walking Lebanon- Keep The Flame Alive’ campaign garnered it a 20% increase in market share. Under Armour’s viral campaign ‘I Will What I Want’ led to Under Armour Women’s sales lifting by an incredible 28%.

Johnnie Walker


WestJet’s ‘Real-Time Giving’ campaign was a delightfully heart-warming campaign, one which catapulted the company’s sales to a massive 86% increase over the same period the previous year. Not all emotional marketing actually cuts ice with viewers. There is a catch to what makes an emotional campaign work, and what doesn’t.

Now here’s my theory on which emotional campaigns or viral videos work and which don’t:
The key to success, I believe, is its ‘authenticity’. The authenticity of the base feeling drives in most parts the success of the campaign. (I will share what constitutes the rest a little later in the article). Now what is authenticity: It’s being real, being genuine. Today, discerning viewers can detect a fake from a mile away. Emotions that are not real do not connect and are rejected outright. For emotional ads to make a mark, they must be real, they must hit a nerve and they must strike a deeply emotional chord in the viewers to actually grab their attention and leave a lasting, memorable impact.

Let me give an example of a viral video which received serious flak on the internet: the ‘Jai Hind’ video made for an online Hotels reservation brand. The high production value video including celebrity stars (Raveena Tandon and Manoj Bajpai) not withstanding, the video had misplaced emotions and in appropriate execution. The movie tried too hard and directly so.

Jai Hind

Dabur Vatika

However, the world has moved on from showing loud overdramatization and melodrama to subtle indications. I believe away from movie Kranti to say, Lagaan. There seemed to be a deliberate infusion of extra feelings and sentiments; trying hard to force people to get the message. On the other hand, watch the subtlety in Dabur Vatika video or the movie Masaan and their astounding critical acclaim.

Here’s another inauthentic one: A British rock band’s recent video ‘Hymn for the Weekend’. The video has been at the receiving end of serious online flak.

The reason being, stereotypical and archaic portrayal of India. The sadhus, the slums, the urchins, so on and so forth. India has long ceased to be the country of snake charmers. It has moved forward. It’s a new rising India. So, the Slumdog Millionaireish depiction of this India failed to establish a connection with the young, urban audience

Hymn For The Weekend

In short, a video, an ad or a campaign that tells a story in an authentic and compelling way is more likely to move you and stay with you for a long time, as against in-your-face hamming and copious amounts of fake sentimentality that only leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Fake emotion often results in work that is cloying, irritating or emotionally manipulative; work that rolls eyes instead of reaches hearts. Successful emotional marketing involves emotions that are raw and real, that fire the synapses in your brain and hit you square in the solar plexus, leaving you utterly, completely moved.

Now, this is my theory. I’d like to hear your views. Do write your comments and let’s discuss.

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A Marwadi in Advertising

Chairman and Managing Director, Eggfirst Advertising

backbeat_146Marwadis in advertising are few and far between. The advertising profession is symbolic of freespiritedness, flamboyance, ponytails, late-nights in office, the wee hours in pubs, smoke breaks, coffee breaks, big campaigns, award nights, so on and so forth. But a typical Marwadi is known to maintain a good distance from such adventures, being frugal, shrewd, basic, money-minded and not to mention, pure vegetarian. The perception is as old as the 19th century, when this community from the deserts of Rajasthan migrated to various corners of India and flourished as traders.

So, what am I, an engineer from VJTI and MBA from Bajaj and a quintessential Maadu, doing in advertising? A question frequently posed to me by Marwadis, non-Marwadis and generally people at large who I bump into at various occasions. I construct my answers differently for Marwadis and non-Marwadis. A popular Maadu saying goes like this: ‘Fando ni baat paachhi; takko ni baat kar’. Roughly translated it means, ‘Talk fundas later, buddy; let’s talk money first’.

Absolutely to the point. So when asked by staunch Marwadis, why advertising, I refrain from giving fundas. Neither do I talk money. Rather, I delve into another subject every Marwadi worth his Daal-Baati-Churma loves talking about – food.

Why do Marwadis always get pedhas from Chidawa, or rasgullas from Bhai Shankars, or bundi from MM Mithai, I ask? With this opener, I’ve already got the attention of my chachu, taucoujins, trader dosts: my target audience. Then, I continue further, it’s because there is a sense of comfort and assurance that the quality will be amazing. That’s branding, I stress. Because brands take extra effort to ensure that the quality is amazing, and that it is amazing each and every time. I’m the guy who helps brands build appropriate beliefs for people like you to go and buy these products. That’s my ‘dhando’. And it takes care of my Daal-Baati-Churma as well.

By now, I’ve grabbed some serious tongue- balls – after all, it’s money I am talking about AND food. So I go for the home-run. Why do we put barak (silver foil) on ghevar and barfi? To bring out the wow feel, much like what I do in my job in advertising, I point out. All of them say, wow! And most of them start calling their family maharaj, “Kaal ek kilo ghevar gharaan bhej diye!”

For non-Marwadis, non-believers, clients and people at large, I take an aggresively defensive approach. Just like cricketer Rahul Dravid, aka, the Wall. Sipping a potent mix of orange and mosambi juice, I remind them that, as a community Marwadis are known to have quite a large appetite for risk. Don’t we readily take a risk, when we go with our conviction and our money to invest in some new stocks or new line of business? Marwadis also have the uncanny ability to adapt to situations very quickly, a dexterity that comes especially useful when handling a client or a brand. Finally, many a Marwadi company keeps its cost lower than the industry average. Who better than a Marwadi advertiser to do the same with the client’s money?

These are some of the strokes I play when they throw the ‘how come a Marwadi in advertising’ bouncer at me. I don’t shy away from declaring my passion for creativity, living a new day every day, understanding people and consumers, and giving everything to building beliefs. On one such encounter, while I spoke such truths, a supposedly potential client said, “Your passion and understanding for brands is great. Let’s work together. Don’t expect money, my budget is very modest. After all, for you, it’s all about passion, na?”

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