• Job Interview Prep

    When the wind chill here in Maine plummets well below zero and caresses your face like an exfoliant during your early morning constitutional on the beach, it’s time to focus on the interior: a warm fire, in-house blossoms, coffee and a little research on the Web.

    Economies and cultures may differ but job-seeking and anxiety-inducing interviews know no boundaries.

    Interview Prep is basically the same – no matter the job or the continent in which you live. Here, African Writer and Editor, Temitayo Olofinlua, offers sound advice:

    “So your CV made a real good impression, and you were called for an interview? Congratulations! Now you have to scale the next hurdle-the interview. (To be honest I hate interviews. They are just not real. All they succeed in doing is this: they put you on the spot and assail you with questions that make you stare, stammer or ramble away in the desperate hope that it all makes sense). Preparation is key while getting ready for an interview.

    Before the Interview

    This starts right after the (invitation) email, phone call or text message. It’s polite to say thank you and confirm if you’d be available for the interview. It’s a ‘little act’ that goes a long way to demonstrate courtesy.

    The invitation should show the date, time and location of the interview but it’s not sufficient to get you there on time. It’s advisable to take a trip to the interview venue a day before just to get a good idea of the location and distance.

    We all understand how traffic emerges from nowhere; you should give a generous time allowance for this. Remember lateness increases your stress levels which can affect your performance. There is no harm in getting to the venue 30 minutes earlier. Punctuality is the soul of a business; show that and you may be on the road to a successful interview.

    Pack a file. Yes, it’s such a shame when you realise that you have to go back home because you forgot your NYSC certificate. So pack the required essentials-the certificates, invitation letter, awards, stationery and a jotter. It is also important to have photocopies at hand. Most companies are going paperless but there are still a couple of them who would ask you for the certificates. Packing a file ahead of time gives you the opportunity to focus on other things like what you should wear.

    What you will wear will generally depend on the company you are applying to. However the safest route seems to be the corporate – a suit or a fitted shirt, pants/skirts. The important key here is neatness, no scruffiness allowed. All collars should stay where they belong; same with the underwear. Please no blings, flashy earrings or jeans; unless it’s an interview for a deejay position. Dress appropriately; it sure makes a good first impression.

    Knowledge is power. The applicant needs a firm knowledge of the organisation and the way s/he can contribute to the success of the organisation. Visit the company’s website, read up as much as you can. If you can get the company’s annual report(s) – companies quoted on the stock exchange will have this in circulation – by all means do. Know the company’s mission, vision, history and management.

    And very importantly, what exactly the company does. This shows that you are passionate about the company. It also saves you some embarrassing moments during the interview. You don’t want to look blank when asked to talk about company products.

    During your research about the company, it is important to bear in mind questions to ask your interviewer(s).

    It is also important for you to literally ‘embody’ your CV, i.e. be the person that your CV says you are. And continually seek ways in which your past experience can make your potential job more realisable. Why would anyone sound unsure or hesitant when asked what year they graduated from high school, or university. Or at what age they graduated?

    The ‘Interview’ Before the Interview

    Read through your application and try as much as you can to answer questions like why do you need the job? What skills are related to the job that you seek? What position are you applying for and how do you hope to execute the job? You should be physically and psychologically prepared so have a positive attitude.

    So you think you are ready? Brush up on your knowledge of current affairs. Then, attempt some play-acting-let someone act as an interviewer posing likely questions to you. This gives you an idea of what to expect; it also helps you relax and sometimes laugh at your failure at some questions. As such you are better prepared to address knotty questions. Throughout the preparation it is important to stay calm. Interviews can be as long as a day (a series) or merely a few minutes, but it’s advisable to eat, and to visit the toilet before you step out for the day. The Boys Scout slogan ‘Be Prepared!” means a great deal more when it comes to interviews.”

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