Interviews! The word elicits two parallel emotions at the same time: Excitement & Anxiety/Fear. Getting the opportunity to ‘exhibit’ your skills, knowledge, experiences and abilities and having a shot at getting the job out of a sea of possible candidates, elicit joy, excitement and most importantly, hope! But the thought of facing people you don’t know, wondering if they will approve of you at first sight or just dislike you immediately or wondering how you will make it past other qualified candidates, elicit fear, anxiety, worry. Most candidates often agree that interviews can either leave them deflated with low self-esteem or can leave them feeling like they are smart, intelligent and can take on the world.


The best way to tackle interviews is to ‘Prepare’! if you are confident of your skills and competencies and ability to do the job, then boost your confidence through preparation. Some questions are not outright ‘black or white’ questions that require ‘yes or no’ answers. Most interview questions are testing your confidence, your authenticity and originality, your attitude and most importantly, your integrity. The test of integrity is very important to hiring managers/employers because most people are nothing like what their CVs portray. Also, certain interview questions are testing for behavioral competencies that are required for the job position and in those cases, there are no right or wrong answers; it is a test of your personality, your attitude and your disposition.


Below are some interview questions that candidates dread and what they actually mean:

  1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. This is an opportunity to sell yourself. It means market yourself in terms of your skills, work experience, qualifications, work achievements and your core competencies. It is not a time to tell stories about your family, where you grew up, your position in the family, your hobbies and personal private preferences. It simply means “Show me what you’ve got”!
  2. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE? The recruiter wants a ‘motivation statement’. Why are you interested in this particular organization and in this job role? It is a time for you to showcase your knowledge of the organization, their vision and mission, and how they align to your personal goals. You should showcase why the organization is unique to you because no employer wants to feel like you are just interested in a paycheck from ANY organization. You need to show keen interest in business of the organization.
  3. WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES? This is somewhat tricky. You have to be careful not to appear proud and boastful when talking about your strengths and be careful not to mention weaknesses that could immediately bring your interview to an abrupt end. You should mention strengths that are job-related but can also be seen in your personal life such as “I am driven in getting results. I don’t stop until I get the results I want”. In mentioning weaknesses, mention a trait that can be classified as weakness and strength at the same time such as ‘being a workaholic and not knowing when to stop’. Be honest but not too personal. Keep it professional.
  4. WHY DID YOU LEAVE/WHY DO YOU WANT TO LEAVE YOUR PRESENT JOB? Never ‘badmouth’ your last employer. Keep it professional. Talk about your desire for wider scope of responsibilities, experience and growth. Keep in mind that if you have been on your job for a year or less, this will be difficult to prove or believe. If you were laid off, be sincere about it because a background check will still be done. Ensure that the reasons for leaving your present job is not just for ‘higher pay’ because most employers do not want to feel like they are merely a means to an end.
  5. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? This seeks to understand your vison, your goals and your purpose. Employers are looking for loyalty and longevity with any prospective employee. If you are applying for a Business Development role in the Finance sector for instance, and you mention that you see yourself in 5 years as a world class footballer, that is a red flag! Every employer wants to know that you are coming in for the long haul with the interest of the organization at heart. Your personal goals should be seen to align with that of the organization.
  6. WHAT ARE YOUR SALARY EXPECTATIONS? This is one of the most dreaded questions. One of the statements you surely SHOULDN’T make is “I am sure the organization has its pay band and I will go with the pay band for the position”. No one wants a cliché answer. This is a time to negotiate. Yes, the organization ideally has a budget for that position but you can get better than anticipated if you impress the panel and prove your worth. Realistically, propose a markup from your current salary but be careful not to mark up too high. Investigate and find out what the ‘going-rate’ is for similar positions in similar sectors. This will help you not to sell yourself too short or price yourself too high.


This list is not exhaustive by any means and remember clearly that interviews are highly SUBJECTIVE. It totally depends on the people on the other side of the table, the decision makers. There are no hard and fast rules to nailing your interview process and answers above are merely a guide. However, it is possible to be so ‘on point’ during your interview that it will clearly be the case of the organization deciding to choose someone else for best known reasons and not a case of failure on your part.


For more personalized coaching on applying for your dream job, interview guide & preparation and career counseling, contact [email protected] or call +2349058247268.


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