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As a Human Resource Consultant and business owner, I have anchored several job interviews with a view to filling vacant positions, and it is sad how, having spent resources, vacant positions remain unfilled due to the ‘unemployability’ of some job applicants. I have seen how people with great CVs, Cover Letters, and great scores in the Technical and Psychometric Tests appear for physical interviews, yet are unable to defend their worth. This tells me something is wrong somewhere!  It is one thing to have an endearing CV and Cover Letter, it is yet another to prove yourself when you finally meet the prospective employer.

A job interview is an organized two-way discussion between a would-be employee and the prospective employer, which is aimed at ascertaining the suitability of a candidate for a position.

Here are few, inexhaustible, points to note before, during, and after an interview.

 

Before the Interview:

  1. Be informed: A job applicant’s inability to research and know basic details about the interviewing company could earn him/her an outright disqualification. I once asked a job applicant what he knows about the company, I was shocked to hear his response: ‘I don’t know. You can tell me. I guess that is why I’m here.’ He said this with all confidence and a defensive smile. This is a company with strong online presence. Before attending an interview, endeavour to get information about the company: do a google search, and study their website, social media platforms, management structure, and every relevant details. If the company does not have an online presence, endeavour to go to their office before the day of the interview and find out these details.  In cases where you are unable to go before the day of the interview, get to the venue early enough on the day of the interview, walk round, read their flyers/brochures, study the environment, and ask questions from their staff. This gives you confidence and sets you apart.
  2. Practise/rehearse probable questions and scenarios: Practice, they say, makes perfect. The more you place yourself in the mood, and environment of an interview session, the better prepared you will make yourself. Get materials about interview scenarios and preparation strategies online, from colleagues, experts, other employers, and from relevant books. This is to empower your mind for the ‘moment’ you may not have another chance to get. You may also get an employer or a professional to conduct a mock interview on you.
  3. Get dressed: Several job applicants attend interviews dressed incomplete, sometimes funny. Some come without a jacket/suit (for males) and some come wearing funny colours (I’ve seen a yellow suit, white shirt, and white shoes). You are responsible for getting education on proper colour combinations for your dressing as well as ensuring that your fabrics are relevant and tidy for the day. Several industries may differ in convention, which you may find out, or better still, go with best practice.  For men, dark-coloured suits (black or dark blue) with subtle-coloured shirts, matching ties, dark-coloured socks, and black shoe is advisable.  For ladies, dark coloured below-the-knee skirts suits (trousers are not advised for interview), subtle-coloured tops (avoid silk or synthetic fabrics), moderate make-up, and simple jewellery will suffice.  Avoid or use very minimal perfume, as some people are allergic to it.

During the Interview:

  1. Don’t be too forward: Be modest, comported, and discipline. Endeavour not to talk too much or too lousy. Some employers watch candidates’ actions and mannerism from their CCTV monitors and they use this information to arrive at a final decision about the person’s overall suitability for the position. When other interviewees gather, don’t struggle to ‘shine’ by talking your way into stardom; this may be counterproductive. Silence is golden, listen more and talk less. When you have entered into the interview room, wait until you are asked to sit. Be calm and take time to breath well so as to stabilise your voice.
  1. Focus on the questioner: Place your focus and attention on the person who asks you the question per time. This helps you stay calm and able to effectively tackle every question
  2. When prompted to ask questions, do so: Since you may have prepared for the interview, and also learnt about the would-be employer prior to the interview day, endeavour to ask questions that indicate how deep, far, and committed you want to be and grow with the company if given the chance.  You may ask questions about the company’s Training and Development practice, plans for expansion, and how the position contributes to the company’s overall goal, among other sensible and professional questions.  Keep your questions short; don’t ask too many questions – one or two will be fine.
  3. Ask if it is acceptable to follow up on decisions made by the panel: Some organizations frown at the practice of follow up; they would rather candidates wait for a feedback. When you ask, you know if you would be contravening rules of the employer.

After the Interview:

  1. Follow up, if acceptable by would-be employer: If the interviewer confirms you could follow up, do so at least two days after the interview.  If they’d rather get back to you, please do not waylay them.
  2. Keep Busy: While you wait for the would-be employer to notify you of the outcome of the interview, get yourself engaged/busy. Most employees are always valued based on what you did at your free/unemployed period. Always resist being idle.
  3. Accept gladly or acknowledge a rejection in good fate: When an employer notifies you of not being qualified or taken for an offer, it is very good to reach out to them accepting the decision and appreciating the opportunity to have been invited for interview in the first place.  Let the employer know you would still look forward to being invited for another suitable job opening if the need arise.

On the whole, when answering interview questions keep your answers succinct and give details where necessary, but avoid talking too much; be attentive; play down on your weaknesses, and highlight your strengths especially your good character, accomplishments, responsibility, ability to take initiative, ability to handle challenges, and other relevant information that will demonstrate why would be the best candidate for the position.

By applying these principles and other best practices, I can vouch for your capacity to win at the next interview!

Best wishes.

____________

Bukky Shonibare

Bukky Shonibare

 

Bukky Shonibare is the Group CEO of “The 555 Group” owners of 555 Consulting Limited (Human Resource Management, Operations Management, and Strategy); 555 Foods (owners of ‘Beans City’); 555 Impact Centre (Training & Development); and 555 Foundation (Corporate Social Responsibility with focus on promoting Entrepreneurial Development, Personal Development, and Poverty Alleviation).Bukky has a Certificate in Journalism and Creative Writing from the London School of Journalism, UK; Diploma in Secretarial Administration; and dual Certificates in Entrepreneurial Development and Social Sector Management from the Pan African University, Nigeria. Read her full profile here

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rotimi

Rotimi Olawale, co-founder of youthhubafrica.org is a youth development expert. For more than six years he has been involved in leading youth advocacy efforts mainly around the Millennium Development Goals. In 2006, he represented Nigeria as a youth ambassador at the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. Rotimi has held several global leadership positions including; member, UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel for 2 years; member, African Youth Panel. Rotimi is currently involved in shaping local, national and global policies to benefit youth and also leverage opportunities for young people. He was listed by the Nigerian government as one of 15 Nigerian youth on the world stage in 2008.
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