In our last post under this series, we discussed preparatory steps to ensuring that you are employable when eventually you are done with NYSC. Congrats to the newest batch of ex-corps members in the market. I hope your allowee translates into something more tangible in no time.
Okay, so you have finished NYSC and you’re ready to take the Nigerian employment market by storm, eh? You have edited your resume until it could be edited no more, shoved it in the face of anyone who as much as asked “how are you?”; your applications have been flying out in all directions and now you’ve finally landed an interview, or an exam, at the very least. Read on for tips on how to make sure that you don’t get another degree – in Jobhunting.
1. Do your homework well: Every organisation has a system of operation, and this extends into its recruitment process too. Know everything there is to know about the company, and be armed with the kind of information about them, that is useful to your role in the company or industry. Also, know the kind of exam or interview format you’re expecting, so that you don’t go expecting a personality assessment test while the company shortlists using a more detailed approach. If you are in a specific field, be prepared to be tested about anything and everything in your field. You may be asked to make a sales pitch, answer a call in a polite manner, or write a board full of code. Be prepared.
2. Compare what you have to what they’re asking for: While as a fresh graduate, you may not have all the skills listed in your preferred job, check to see that those you do have are in line with what the job description requires. If you are applying for an administrative job and have a problem with keeping records and accounts, or generally being organized, you might want to change careers or adopt a lifestyle change. (The first option may be easier)
3. Prepare responses to all possible questions: when you’re invited to an interview, its usually in a particular field. Check online or brainstorm with any professional in the same field, to find out what kinds of questions you are likely to be asked and prepare adequate responses to them. There are also some questions that are seemingly easy but make people do badly at interviews. For example, “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your interests? “, etc. Good old Google has almost all the answers. Knock yourself out. In addition to this, prepare some questions of your own for them. It shows that you are a candidate who is genuinely interested in the company.
4. Be aware of body language, a.k.a non-verbal communication: A huge amount of what you communicate in interpersonal relations comes from your non verbal communication. Knowing the right thing to say means nothing if you don’t communicate it in the right manner. You may not realize it, but people react to what you don’t say as much as what you do say. Slouching in your seat, frowning, crossing your arms, repeatedly doing something like tapping your foot, twirling your hair, etc, all have interpretations that the human mind immediately translates. No matter how fast your heart is beating or how your nerves are fluttering, maintain a calm front and answer every question the best you can. Project confidence, respect their space(no keeping bottles of water on the table or anything silly like that) be attentive and mindful of their reactions to your responses. Above all, be yourself. Your interviewers are human anyway; the worst they could do is turn you down, not have you for lunch.
5. Pay attention to your appearance: I know the power situation of the country is at an all time low; as a matter of fact I haven’t had power at home in days now. Regardless, you, my dear applicant, have no excuse to come to an interview in rumpled clothes. It is unacceptable. For a token fee, you could have your clothes ironed at any laundry shop. Its a really small price to pay to look presentable. If you’re male, keep a clean haircut(no dada please, unless you’re interviewing for some artsy role) and for the ladies, no overly long weaves or braids all over the place. Keep your hair away from your face so it doesn’t distract from the purpose of the interview. For those of us with natural hair, its no excuse to look untidy. Put it in a neat bun or any other neat protective style, and if the company has an anti natural hair policy, put it in a wig for crying out loud! It’s a shame that many corporate organizations do not want natural haired ladies in their company, but changing their minds about it is not a battle that will be won overnight by aggressiveness. Wig it! Better wigged than jobless, I think.
6. Follow up: While this is not compulsory, it is sometimes a advantage especially in roles that require someone who has good skills in correspondence. Some recruiters may not find it funny though, so it would be nice if you asked them how they would feel if you contacted them to follow up on the interview, before placing any calls or sending any emails.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and while I wish whoever reads this good luck, if you have any bits of advice to add, do add them in the comments section. You may be helping someone.