Life they say can only be understood backwards, but we need to live it forward. I have had to live life forward these past few days and it has been one experience that will linger in my memory for a while. Here is my own frank dunga’s tale from my first job interview on Monday. It’s not really a story but rather a lesson….enjoy!
At the conclusion of my interview on monday, my interviewer asked me the lethal and sometimes dreadful interview question, ‘do you have any questions?’ After all these years of reading about interviews, and watching them in movies (and short funny clips like frank dunga on ndani tv), I had only one sincere question lingering in my heart….’ How did I fare?’ His response wasn’t startling neither was it flattering (like I would have loved it to), he simply said ‘not too bad!’
One question. Is that a good assessment or is it a bad one. Of course, I’d get differing response if I throw it to people. Beauty they say is in the eyes of the beholder. In this case, our ‘half-full’ brothers will say “that’s good stuff…be optimistic!”, while our ‘half-empty’ fellas will say “better go look for another job, you’ve lost that already”. But then I like to say, “there are some beauties that appeal to the eye of every beholder”, Just as there is a way your cup would be filled that even a lying pessimist can’t and won’t say it is empty in any way…….my point exactly is this, if he had replied “you did excellently well; I’m impressed”….we would all agree that the interview was a success.
I am here today to just possibly state how I could have done better and how I could have gotten a better answer than not too bad… as I tried understanding life backwards during my reflections afterwards, I discovered some probable reasons why he didn’t say “you did great!” Or that “you were fantastic” or something else than … “not too bad”.
First thing is preparation. Yeah, yeah, that is not something new. Any book or article geared at prepping you for an interview would have told you the same thing. I knew that too from books long before I had to go for the interview..….but today I learnt it practically from an experiential stand point and that’s why I’m saying I again. Performance is always a function of preparation. The better prepared you are, the better you will likely perform. There is almost no way you can do well at an interview if you are not prepared for it. When I woke up on Monday, I had no idea I was going to be interviewed…I thought I was going to resume to a job I had already gotten so I wasn’t prepared to answer what I would call the expected questions I was asked. (most of the questions asked were the normal questions interviewers ask…..why should I hire you, what are your strengths and weaknesses, tell us about an instance when you solved a problem, blah, blah, blah). I also wasn’t soooo dressed. I had not eaten, I had travelled a long distance, I was sweating, probably smelly, I just wasn’t that alright and so I count myself blessed and helped to have gotten a ‘not too bad’.
2. Be relaxed. These people are …….are people. Yes people. Mere people. They eat like you do, sleep like you do, use the toilet and even fart like every other human on earth. Relate with them as people. Be organized and composed. The earth isn’t about to end even though a new world is about to begin for you. Let your face reflect this. Find whatever way you can to relief yourself from tension and anxiety. One thing that can help is getting aquainted with other people around and if possible with your interviewer (a compliment on his dressing and look will most likely earn you a smile…and a smile from your interviewer should do the magic on you), but don’t cross your limit line.
Next, Pause and think before you answer. I rushed many of my answers that day and so they sounded less impressive. One reason is probably because I didn’t get past my lesson2 from the previous paragraph (being relaxed). Take enough time…be articulate, audible and exhume some sense of confidence.
Point4. Think outside the box…..don’t be limited in your reasoning…explore every option you’ve got. Any sign of restricted thinking would usually be resented and will score you low points. Most organizations are looking for problem solvers and problem solving most times requires outside the box thinking.
Know your CV. Once you enter the room and they have your CV in front of you, the first they want to do is verify all you have written there. So they’d ask you about it. For most of you that have had other people write very impressive Cvs for you, the least you can do for yourself is familiarize yourself with what they have written. You don’t have to cram what is there word for word, but make sure you know it.
Know what you are applying for. It is almost always certain they’d ask you some questions about the organization and also the post you are applying for. If not everything about it….at least some key things. They don’t expect you to know everything but they expect you to know something. It boils down to the first thing I mentioned- preparation. They expect that part of the preparation you should do for a job post interview is to learn about the job. Yes, they’ll train you after you get the job…but if they are to choose between a ready-made product and a clueless fella, I’m sure you know who they’ll pick. (not all the time though :))
Interviews are all about impressing people. It’s not a time for false humility. You need to show them why it should be you and not someone else. If you can impress well enough, you’d probably earn their approval. So don’t get all complacent with false humility and all…be competitive, give it your best shot, be on the top of your game. Interview I repeat is a game of impression and recommendations. Recommendation is a function of impression. So, When they get to your home-zone(i.e. the area of your strength and passion), make the most of it….impress them there. They’d probably still like you if they see that you know something very well even if you don’t know everything they ask you well and even if it is not what relates most to the job you are applying for. It shows that you can learn something and so you can be taught if given the chance.
You need favour…..so act accordingly. I wrote once about the favour/labour market(see article in previous posts). Favour isn’t something that responds to prayers only….certain things are favour magnets. Use them. One of them is courtesy, politeness, skill, intelligence, and even confidence. But you must learn to draw the line between pride and confidence, intelligence and arrogance. While one attracts favour, the other would attract dis-favour and wrath.
And to wrap this up, I’d say the God factor is also very important. Yeah yeah, I know it sounds all churchy and all, but like I love to say, I can’t separate my faith/belief from what I say, write, do and think. God helped me because despite my ‘not too bad’ performance that day ……I got called up!
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun
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