By Silvia Nyambura.
Nothing kills the excitement of a possible new job like an interview gone bad. There are so many things to remember that it is not surprising if one makes mistakes here and there.
According to Stefano Polimeno, the Country Manager for Jumia Classifieds, there are red flags before and during any job interview that employers are always looking out for. Once these mistakes are made, an interviewee may not be able to redeem themselves even with a little class or a sense of humor.
Jumia Classifieds is the company that oversees the Africa Internet Group’s businesses including Jumia Jobs, Jumia House, Jumia Deals and Jumia Car. The company has over the last 6 months seen an increase of about 110/120% in terms of partners on Jumia jobs. Polimeno who heads all 4 business segments in 3 markets including Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda say Human Resource Managers from different institutions often come back with feedback on what happens during interviews and how best potential employees can handle them.
Here are some do’s and don’ts.
Don’t apply for a position you do not qualify for.
The first error people make is to apply for jobs they do not qualify for.
“This is something we advise against because they will end up being disappointed; employers will not call them back. Without experience, you cannot be called for interviews. It is a waste of time,” he says.
First impressions are everything. Dressing up professionally will ensure the interviewer takes you seriously.
“You cannot impress an interviewer if you look like you have just rolled out of bed.”
Polimeno advises that positivity needs to start from the application process because it takes away all the fog blinding the interviewee’s eyes and that would make them apply for a position they do not qualify for. It is therefore important to be positive not only in the way they appear but also in expressing how good they are at what they qualify for.
“Going into an interview with the right mindset is very important. You can be a diamond but if you are buried in the mud it could be very difficult to find the gem in you.”
Present yourself as a solution
This means presenting one’s strengths as a solution to the issues that the potential employer could be looking to address in the position advertised. Interviewees should show off their strengths that way the employer knows they know what they are talking about.
Know the company before going into the interview. Research about it. This shows there is interest in the workings of that institution and that the interviewee is prepared to answer whatever it is the interviewer may ask. It shows professionalism.
It is important for interviewees to ask as many questions as possible to the interviewer to try and find out what they are looking for, identify challenges and ambitions the institution has for a given period of time. This helps one adapt their speech, capability, and knowhow and teach themselves because that is what an interview is about.
Make yourself memorable.
“Differentiate yourself from the rest of the interviewees. Don’t be shy instead be as outgoing as possible. The interview is a competition and you need to be the best. If you can’t be the best be the one who sticks in the mind of the interviewer,” Polimeno notes.
Look for brand similarities.
In this day and age, the existence of Social Media means the concept of what people are has changed. Job seekers need to ensure they have a similar mindset and ambition as that of the potential employer. Previously an employer would look at a person and decide whether they were eligible for the position. This is because at a certain career point it is just about survival. This is not the case anymore. If the job seeker’s ambitions are not similar to those of the institution, they might affect his/her performance which means they may have to leave after a few months. This is a bad record and a waste of time.
Job seekers are also advised to communicate effectively verbally and non-verbally especially for those in more senior professional positions. These are positions of leadership which mean people will watch and follow. A leader cannot dictate. They need to involve the people they work with and this needs to be seen during the interview.
“Even when you think you are outgoing and can talk freely, the truth is you do not know who you will be interacting with or what approach they use for the interview. Do not panic, be relaxed because when you panic you blank out and that does not help,” says Polimeno.
This facilitates interaction between different institutions and being interviewed for certain positions. When people know you on a personal basis they are already prepared for what you may have to offer in an interview.
Kyamutetera is a senior journalist based in Kampala