Friday, 17 April 2015

15 Things Potential Hopefuls Overlook in a Job Interview

I happen to work in an environment where I see people come in their worst and their best to get the job of their lifetime. I see hopefuls cut their little thread of hope by being unprepared and I see the non-hopefuls channel their shortcomings to their advantage.

I have seen dreams shattered and hopes come alive. I have seen the victory dance and the Yes fist in the air, and I have seen that face of failure hanging on a shoulder of defeat.

You Create Your Own Luck

I have seen the unqualified get hired and the qualified got turned down. This is not luck. We create our own luck. As the ever true saying goes…

‘’If you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail’’

I can go on and on but let’s get to the list.

1. First impression goes a long way. Ladies, this goes all the way right up from your attitude and all the way down to your appearance. Smile and be polite (you have nothing to lose) smell good and look good. Clean and professional hairstyle and no clownish make-up. Ditch the prestige hats and the extra accessories you’re not going for a fashion show. The heels you can barely walk in…please no! You want to look your best and be your best because only the best tends to get employed. Believe it or not, I have seen people get hired just because they’re likeable and approachable. Don’t forget the minty fresh breathe and smile the heck out of your jawbone. 

1b. First impression: Guys, that baggy jeans and the trainers, those rings that look like they’ll knock me into 2017 and that funky attitude, ditch it. Keep it formal. Even if you’re going for a janitor’s position dress immaculately so they won’t forget you easily. And I do not mean wear that yellow Polo t-shirt. Imagine you’re going on a date, a date with success. Dress like you want to leave with the price, dress and look like success. No gangsta movement. Gangstas don’t smile? My little gangsta looking for a job, be prepared to smile like a Cheshire cat!

2. Be prepared: I cannot stress this enough. We live in an era of smart phones and people get late for interviews with the lamest excuse that they got lost. If it’s going to get you that job and if you really want the job, find the location few days before, or you can leave your house very early. There’s nothing wrong with being early. You can go to the nearest coffee shop and revise your notes to kill time.

It's NOT Magic

3. Research the company: One question you can’t escape from is the ‘’tell me what you know about our company’’ In my experience every employer wants to know that you care and want the job that much to spend 15/20 minutes on their website researching and finding out vital information about their company. Research the company’s policy and what they do and what they stand for. Research their recent downfalls and successes, their newest innovations and future plans. Imagine the kick you get when your significant other remembers the tiniest details about you. Yea that.

4. Be polite: From the janitor to the receptionist, they all count in your steps towards success. Just a little secret, sometimes your fate lies in the way you greeted and treated that cleaner and receptionist you thought was ordinary. The same respect you have bagged for your future CEO or interviewer make sure you have the same parcel for anyone you meet along the way. They all count. 

5. Be articulate: Speak like you mean it in a clear and attention-grasping tone. Be audible, concise and avoid mumbling. The essence of communication is to be understood and if I can’t understand you then you’ve defiled the purpose of it all. Do use proper and simple grammar to put your point across. It is not a vocabulary test, and people are hardly ever impressed with big words. Do not shout at your interviewer, that’s rude.  

6. Confidence: See it’s all a chain work. If you’re well prepared, you tend to ooze more confidence than the applicant who is not.  Even if you’re boxing above your weight with the job you’re applying for, be confident and do not try to bullshit your interviewer, they’ll know. No one likes to be taken for a fool. Sit uprightly and look them in the eye and keep handshakes very firm, don’t break a finger though. Be confident but not arrogant. Remember they need you as much as you need them and you’ve gotten this far so you must have done something right up to this point so keep your head up. You can do this.

Be Confident but Not Arrogant

7. Be Honest: If you’ve thrown few lies in your curriculum vitae, be sure to know those lies by heart. In my opinion, avoid the deceit because it always comes back to bite you. Most times we think employers want the qualified and the applicant with the big vocabulary but really they want the person who is willing to learn, honest and reliable and is passionate about the role. After all, they just want their money’s worth and the job done.

8. Ignorance is not Bliss: know the names of your interviewers, the name of the company (yes I have seen people who don’t have a clue as to which company they’re seeing) that is the highest sin in my books. Know what the company does, be aware of the time of your interview and know what department you’re interviewing for. Be in the know and learn how to pronounce the names of your interviewer and that of the company. Don’t chance anything.

Preparation Is Everything!

9. While you wait: Don’t make yourself a cup of coffee even if you’re offered because if it spills on your crisp shirt, you do not have a valid excuse for that recklessness. Instead, opt for tiny sips of water to calm your nerves. Revise your notes or better still read magazines and articles from the reception. They might give you few tips and insights on the company.

10. Ask questions: In life as in anything if you refuse or fail to ask questions, this will indicate that you’re either satisfied or comfortable (it’s not a good place to be during interviews) or employers will think you’re not that passionate about the role. Or maybe you’re not too interested. Ask and ask questions but do it in a polite manner. 

11. Listen: Believe it or not, part of getting the answers right is by listening. Some of us can’t wait to answer, so we listen with the intent to reply and not understand the question. Listen attentively and if by any chance you are not sure, ask for it to be kindly repeated for you. No shame in asking. 

12. Tell me about yourself:  This is one tricky question. This is the time to sell yourself and channel every damn thing you’re saying to your advantage and make it relatable to that job description. This is not the time to showcase your endless collection of Michael kors watches or explain your love for Paddington your dog. This is time to show the interviewer you’re worth their time. Tell them about your attributes and past achievements not about Nemo your fish.

13.   Your strength and weaknesses: Hold on, this is not the time to open your skeletons or start acting like you’re the best thing since slice bread. When you highlight your strengths, make sure it has everything to do with the role you’re applying for. Do not go on about your achievements on call of Duty nor your ability to twerk like you’re spineless. When you speak on your weaknesses, make sure you highlight the fact that you’ve learnt from it and you’re a better person now. Don’t drag yourself in the mud and expect your interviewer to pull you through. That’s not their job. 

14. Fidgety and nervousness: Sit still. No fidgeting, no wandering eyes. Avoid the extra hand gesticulation, seriously not needed. Keep calm because it is only when you’re calm you can deliver your best. Pace yourself and smile, do not giggle like a village idiot. If you do not know the answer, do not be afraid to say you don’t know. Remember the reason why they’re even interviewing you is because they have seen you as a potential, don’t blow it up. 

15. Negativity, unprofessionalism and etiquettes: No chewing gum, or sweets or mints. That is bad manners but I’m sure you know that already. Do not forget your please and thank yous. Manners maketh man. Don’t pick your nose or eyes or bite your lips and of course phones on silent. Avoid saying err mm and hmmms, if you need time to think a bit, have a sip of water in front of you, that’ll give you few seconds of thinking time. Do not speak ill of your last or present employers to your potential even if they treated you like were Cinderella. That is bad, very bad and unprofessional. They will dig for dirt, it is their job but do not succumb to it. Rise above it. Be a professional.


These are no hard and fast rules, these are just guidelines. These are the petty things I have seen hopefuls lose their place over. Do not be that person. Always be prepared, in any situation. Dress for the occasion and be pleasant at all times, no matter how bad you’re feeling. Be a professional. 

Even if you do not get the job, getting an interview is still a level of success. You learn from it and get ready for the next one. Deep down, understand that you did all you could to the best of your ability. And that’s okay!

If you fail to get the job don’t beat yourself up too much, use that energy to fuel your next move. Do not stop because of few setbacks. Be persistent and consistent till you get what you want. Hard work pays!


If for any reason you’re not going to be offered the job, let it not be because of your unpreparedness and neglect.

Again I want you to understand and be okay with the fact that you can do all the right things and still not get the job. It wasn’t yours. It wasn’t your time. As in everything, pray and seek the face of the good Lord. He knows best. But remember God help those who help themselves. So put your back into it!

...And Never Give Up!

Till Then...