Monday, January 23, 2012


Faced with an interview, each career seeker seeks to showcase the best in themselves – almost confident that the prospect employer has no doubts. Surprise! They also know and are busy innovating ways to cub this overwhelming brilliance that the job seekers seem to acquire. For some positions that require some character orientation that may not be easily picked up in an interview, the prospective employer may resort to certain methods that are not conventional. In such cases, even the career seeker has no idea that they are being interviewed. Let's look at some – don't be embarrassed if it ever occurred to you.

Scenario 1

Angela has been interviewed twice for an Executive Assistant in a blue chip company. The HR Manager just called her to invite her for the last interview. In addition he followed the invitation with an email. Angela just failed the interview. She gave the prospect employer a short cut to short listing. What did she do? She has been highlighting due diligence as one of her outstanding competencies but on this case she did not even acknowledge the email. The interview still stands but she will take it as a formality.

Scenario 2

While in one of the last sessions of interviews for a Marketing Manager, Gilbert agreed to be taken for lunch by the Managing Director. During the lunch meeting, Gilbert embarrassed himself by the number of people he was struggling to put off to give him time with his prospect boss. At one time a young, controversially dressed lady showed up and hugged him, thereby taking over the conversation. The Managing Director did not show any disgust – but in his mind, "Gilbert is an unstructured brilliant person who has not distinguished himself using an own code of communication and choice of friends. He is everything to everybody and is a potential risk to the reputation of the company. He would not even be comfortable as a member of the local club that the company subscribes membership to".

Scenario 3

 Faith has come out in the first round of an interview as a very humble receptionist with ability to sort out all kinds of external encounters face to face and even through telephone conversation. This day, there is a caller who is asking for a name of a member of staff that does not exist but he insists that he has just spoken to the target respondent. The argument hots up and Faith hangs the phone. He calls again and complains about the hanging of the phone and Faith gets indecent with threats. Two weeks after the call Faith, who was very optimistic of success and was initially the panelist best bet, has never been called for an interview and the position has been filled. Guess who the caller was?

Scenario 4

Adam Kent, the Managing Director of a Central African milling plant is meeting finalist candidates for the position of Business Improvement Advisor. Phillip is six minutes in the interview process with Mr Kent and all over sudden he rises up. "Phillip, I hope you do not mind me walking around during our chat – been interviewing the whole morning" he says. "Feel free to stand if you feel more comfortable that way – provided we have a conversation". Phillip then stands and the conversation goes on with Mr Kentstaring mostly out of the widow while leading on the cabinets. Ten minutes later Mr Kent says, "Do you mind if I smoke a cigarette? Do you smoke yourself? Come on, pick a stick – I smoke in my office". FYI Phillip is a smoker. What do you think the Managing Director was testing, if he was? Bear in mind, neither of the options was wrong – but the impressions were different. Also figure out the kind of responses that would portray Phillip decently - smoking or not smoking.

Impressions work really well if they are either representative of ones personal character or if they have been intensely internalized. Doing something or not, speech or silence, facial insensitivity or lack of it; all speak some language.

Friday, January 13, 2012


In an interview process, Angie was asked a question that she has never been asked in many of the interviews she has attended before.

"If we offered you the opportunity, and gave you a chance to decide your priorities in our orientation exercise, what are the first five questions you would ask the person in charge of your orientation?"

Perhaps this is one question that she was not ready for and most likely her performance was dismal at this .it is reasonable under very competitive circumstances for employers to expect that new recruits pick out reasonably fast in their service delivery. At any cost the investment in new staff training and orientation should be minimal and where possible the new staff should gather the necessary information while undertaking the assignments. This is perhaps many employers in advertising for jobs tend to place emphasis on the fact that the appropriate candidate has to have good knowledge of their sector. In very structured set ups, the employer would even expect the new staff to be able to navigate their own learning process – identify the required knowledge for effective performance of their responsibilities.

Managerial position should prioritize on aspects like strategic orientation (mission, vision, and values), structural design and core processes. Specialized marketers would also prioritize on aspects like strategic orientation (mission, vision, and values), product competitive edge, market segmentation, market share and current performance. Operations management candidates may need to explore issues like capacities, lead times, unit costs, resource allocation etc.

Other than identifying what information is priority in ones area, it is important also to be able to figure out (may be not in technical detail) the kind of briefing or training that one requires to get a grasp of all this priorities and the possible sources of the information.

This is not only part of knowing oneself but also how ones personal drive fits within the prospect employer's business operational pace.

To your advantage the ability to navigate ones own orientation may be resourceful, especially in hostile situations. Ever encountered a new supervisor who does not want to freely train you? Or a work group in your new employment in which everybody seems to want to isolate you? Or perhaps a new job in which you seem to be sabotaged?

If it does not seem to come your way ordinarily, acquire it tactfully.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What constitutes your working style?

Many times we come across working environments that change our lives, inspire passion for certain work styles or reorient our strengths – yet we hardly systematically appreciate the impacts made. There are successful professional with performance track records but who cannot conceptually explain what makes them be what they are appreciated for.

Here are two samples of interview answers. What makes you the professional you are?

Answer 1:  I am an ambitious hardworking and disciplined person who makes sure that all work expectations are met. (These are more of work attributes than conceptual derivatives of experience and acquired knowledge. Your personality makes you a successful professional. You do not have consciously formed work styles).

Answer 2:  While working at DRT Pharmaceutical, I was assigned a unique team that was composed of highly specialized people. I feared handling them because I was more of a generalists than them. With time I was able to facilitate them working together without having to direct their technical delivery. From then I have acquired appreciation for facilitative management that works through empowering people to do best what they are good at. This is my characteristic working style. (You have explored only one work style that really applies to the scenario that you have explained. Does this apply to the position you are applying for?).

What have you learnt over the years or successfully applied that typifies how you choose to handle you professions? What exactly apart from your personality?

Thursday, January 05, 2012


Too Blunt -  Less Styled

Caller 1;            Hallo, can I talk to the Human Resources Manager
Receptionist:     Hold on
(Transferring to the department Assistant)
HR Assistant: How could I help you?
Caller1: can I talk to the HR Manager?
HR Assistant: May I know who is on the line?
Caller1: I am Michael Mwangi
HR Assistant: Michael Mwangi from? (Bad English – don't mind)
Caller 1: From within Nairobi, town.
HR Assistant: Does she expect your call; or rather what is it regarding?

(Behold you have been trapped – your have to justify yourself to be connected)

Less formal Tactful and Cheerful

Caller 2;            May I talk to Andrew
HR Assistant:    May I ask the second name?
Caller 2:            Mr Andrew Mutiso, the Human Resources Manager - apologies for not being specific. I am Alice Awuor from Frewer Ltd
HR Assistant: Not at all. Hold on for Mr Mutiso
(She does not even know who she is transferring – but I guess she is charmed by this seemingly familiar sounding courteous caller)
(How he sustain this sense of comfort that he has vested in the HR Assistant is what matters)

Less formal Intimidating Caller

Caller 3;            could    Ms Monica Masinde be in or could I reach her on the cell
HR Assistant:    Let me just transfer you to her. She is in
 (Caller 3 may perhaps not be having the cell phone number for Ms Masinde. The HR Assistant has been made to have a feeling that whether she passes the call or not, the Caller will reach the target recipient. This approach is indecent and can only be complemented with very good negotiation skills)

Other Less formal opening statements

§          Nick please
§          A quick one with Walter
§          Could I pass a quick message to Bob
§          I would be please if you could squeeze me a minute with Robert. It is important.

Tactfully get over the barriers. Do not intimidate your target respondent. Make up for any inaccuracies you might have accrued to get to the target caller.

Can we see what the conversations with the target call recipients would be? NEXT

Monday, January 02, 2012


Why do you want to leave your current work place? Your experience seems exciting from your explanations!

Susan: The main reason why I want to leave my current work place is to seek new challenges.

Comment – This is the most realistic reason that everybody knows. It is like in a certain book that all job seekers read. In certain panels, the answer is so basic that it gets some panelist sarcastically smiling.

Austin: I have often admired your company and what it does and I would want to be part of it.

Comment: a panelist would ask whether you have a purpose for yourself ar you are just merely augmenting the organisation purpose. Would you be without a purpose if the organisation did not exist. This response is traditional and was geared to impress the target employers.

Alison: I look forward to a better pay ……….

Comment: This could be the most sincere answer but would mean that a candidate has no other attachment with the company other than a better pay and the acquired competencies.

Dave: The last three years in my employment has been characterized by a lot of market activity. I must appreciate that it made me develop and exercise my abilities in product and business development. We are now relatively stable and back to routine work. At this point I feel underutilized and I would be excited to be part of your ongoing expansion programme.

Comment: With such a comment, the panelists are sure that;
a)         You are not running way from anything
b)         You are in control of your career
c)         You are know the relevance between your career and the target employers
d)         You have an objective in each work place
e)         You know the target employer, their stage in business operations and current circumstances.