Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tips for Acing Interviews

Today I'd be sharing a few tips on interviews. Disclaimer: Points may not be valid in all circumstances. So the need to apply common sense in each context applies. 1. The best time to begin preparation for interview is when you apply for a job. The notice of interview may be short. 2. Read up the job description and ensure you understand what every function entails. Google is your friend. 3. If you know the company and industry, please read up about the 2 extensively 4. Ensure you always have an interview ready outfit always. Guys a white shirt, black, grey or navy blue jacket with tie is best. The color of shoe and belt must match. I.e black for black or brown for Brown. 5. Ensure you use deodorants and jewelry modestly. Getting the help of a makeup artist is not a bad idea. Chew mint before to ensure no mouth odour. Don't take anything for granted 6. Even if going for an aptitude test dress for interview. You may be invited for interview and then be informed at the venue of a test. 7. Aptitude test are not difficult. In fact if you are familiar with the primary common entrance it is easy. The key is speed by practice. Sit on gmath, gre, etc 8. Do mock interviews with working class people. Rehearsals are very helpful. 9. Tell us about yourself is the typical question. Yet the interview is passed or failed at this stage. 10. Your answer must be in context of the role applied for, the skills required for the role and organizational value and culture. 11. Where you come from, your religion is typically irrelevant except you are applying for a religious or ethnic role. 12. Please smile and be cheerful throughout the interview. It may show confidence or lack of it. 13. Look at the interviewer(s) during the process. If you don't know an answer be bold enough to say you don't know it. 14. Please study your cv very well. 15. If you say your hobby is reading and the last time you read a book is 2 years ago it will raise a flag. You can be asked to share on a book you read recently. So everything on your cv counts. 16. Some interviewers can be harsh, naughty or wicked. Don't loose your cool or composure. Eg. The interviewer says I hear people from your tribe are promiscuous or violent. It is just a ploy to see how you can handle difficult customers. (Note I have not said it is good for an interviewer to ask such questions). 17. It is good to prepare one or two good questions to ask. If you read up about the organization you will have a good idea of what questions to ask. 18. if you applied for a marketing officer role and you're asked where you see yourself in 5 years time your response must align to the role. Don't say you will be a Human Resource professional. Say something like in 5 years I will be an accomplished marketing specialist leading a team of marketers. 19. For questions around salary. There is no right or wrong answer. If you know how much you want say it you can add that you are open to company rate. 20. In conclusion, 50% of people who fail interview do so because they do not listen carefully to the questions. If they say list please don't explain. Twitter handle @tallestnaija

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Preparing for an Interview: Knowing what an employer wants

While it is a fact that jobs are scarce relative to the number of job seeker, it is also true that competent people are fewer than available jobs. Opportunities are not scarce, it is rather the capacity to attract opportunity that is scarce. Today’s youth must learn and communicate employability skills. Your CV is a tool that communicates what you can offer to a prospective employer. To enable you communicate your skills effectively, you need to understand what the world class employer needs from a world class employee. The top skills that organisations need are as follows: 1. Critical thinking 2. Problem solving 3. Communication skills 4. Analytical skill 5. Ability to sell and influence others 6. Proficiency in computer / ICT 7. Technical knowledge related to job. 8. Ability to plan, organise and prioritize work. 9. Ability to work in a team structure According to Bill Gates an American business magnate and co-founder of Microsoft, “The purpose of education irrespective of course of study is to increase our capacity to think, analyse and proffer solutions to the problems”. Your education has hopefully prepared you for the workplace. A typical organisation has a vision, mission, objectives and values they will be looking out for a candidate whose vision can key into their own and whose value is in alignment with their own. Organisations focus on initiatives that revolve around generating a. Revenue, income, sales b. Reducing or eliminating cost c. Quality d. Time During the interview process, your response to questions should show examples of how you have done these things in your past endeavours or activities. Do not trivialize the leadership opportunities you have had in the past e.g. class rep, fellowship roles and other positive association. Imagine mentioning in the interview that you were president of BSF 2013–2014 and the membership grew from 600–1200 by the end of your tenure. That communicates growth and businesses can relate to that. You may not have many interview opportunities but you need to take full advantage of the one you see. 1. Dress professionally. For guys, a white shirt is the best with a tie. Always let the colour of your belt and shoes match i.e. black with black or brown with brown. Use jewellery moderately and perfume/ deodorant as appropriate. Make your hair; it is a good opportunity to make first impression. 2. Do a mock interview – Rehearse and practice with your friend and senior colleague who are gainfully employed. 3. Research about the organisation that is to interview you. 4. Prepare 1 or 2 good questions to ask the panel. How is the organisation heading against the foreign exchange fluctuation? What are the company plans to dominate African continents? 5. Listen to the questions attentively. Respond with the company needs in mind. 6. Be conversant with the current affairs. Listen to news. 7. Be familiar with your CV. Be honest. 8. Use examples of what you have done or how you have demonstrated capacity. 9. Explore opportunities to volunteer while you wait. You pick up skills while working and become more attractive to the employer. 10. Be punctual for the interview and be prepared to wait for long. 11. Apply your faith – Hebrews 11:1. Declare you have your job. Meditate on God’s word.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Projecting a positive attitude into local content

I am a firm promoter of the mantra ‘patronise made in Nigeria’, ‘employ Nigerians’ and ‘proudly Nigeria’. Let me state this from the beginning.   An emerging trend that is disheartening is the increased loss of confidence of Nigerians in Nigerians.   It is now a cliché that Nigerian graduates are not employable or are half-baked.                                                     It is to our shame if our Schools is worse off now than when we were students.   I was once involved in the management a large scale banana plantation in Osun State. The first shock I got was that majority of the available farm hands are either from Benin Republic or Benue State. Indigenes in the environment will rather ride okada- commercial motorcycle than do farm work.   We are increasingly seeing more construction workers coming from neigbouring countries. It is now common knowledge that the best tilers are across the border.   The rich employ cleaners from the Philippines. The commanding salary of such expatriate cleaners will make the average Nigerian graduate green with envy.   I never cease to wonder how we have become so bereft of skillful cleaners, tilers, farm workers that work permits are granted to foreign nationals for jobs that we clearly ought to have several citizens skilled at.   In my engagement with several CEOs and captains of industry, some key reasons they advance as justification for employing foreigners for menial jobs include the following: 1. Attention to details 2. Great work ethics 3. Confidentiality 4. Competence 5. Positive attitude 6. Integrity-Keeping your word   It appears that many of our people are generally lazy. They aim to do minimum work for maximum pay. Someone told me recently that the average apprentice does not complete their training cycle. They simply set up their own business after a quarrel with their master. They are half-baked providing half-service.   Have you noticed that except you insist, an average workman will not clean up after repair work in your home or workspace? How many people have been disappointed by Nigerian tailors?   We need to pay premium attention to quality education for all cadre of workers in Nigeria. Training (and retraining) of workers is very key. We need to reform the institutions for Technical education or privatize them for specialized training of low-mid skilled workers. This training should focus on technical and soft skills-ethics of excellent service delivery. Why can’t we aim to produce the best tilers, plumbers, painters and tailors in Africa?     We also need to get government to adhere to the recommended percentage benchmark for budgetary provision in Education. We should endeavour to mentor young graduates and workmen around us in the ethics of diligence, hard work and excellence. We all can play a part in solving this problem of employability of Nigerian graduates.     Have an appetite for continuous self-development and growth. We should not lose our demand for quality service and excellence just because we want to promote ‘Made in Nigeria’. If the Beninese can deliver excellent jobs, so can Nigerians! We should demand it from ourselves!    We need to remain hungry and refuse to accept poor service as the norm. If we all demand for quality long enough and take the right steps, we will get there.      Written by Oluyemi Adeosun @tallestnaija    

Monday, May 08, 2017

Fan for Life

It never ceases to amaze me about the passion that folks put into football especially followers of the English Premier League.   You hear statements like “I beat you home and away”, “ I bought the best player in the league”. You wonder if the Shareholders have such passion. All the other stakeholders typically exit the club or move to other clubs.The fan is expected to be loyal for life. While it is good to relax and unwind, it is pathetic for any individual to know more about the history, statistics, strategy and prospect of a football club than the organization and industry they work. So, while you boast about the next player(s) your club is about to sign, keep boosting your competence level such that tier one companies will be jostling to sign you to their company.   Lastly, is it fair to poke fun at a player who earns Millions of British Pounds Sterling per week sitting on the bench while you earn coins struggling to maintain the 1st team shirt at work? Manage your passion. --  Adeosun Oluyemi Theophilus @tallestnaija

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Selection or Discrimination

Have you ever witnessed the debate between university and polytechnic students as per which is better and that they should have equal pay and access to employment? It is on record that some organizations do not employ Polytechnic graduates or University graduates with certain grades, and also, graduates from some universities. I was addressing some Polytechnic graduates recently who expressed concern about how Poly graduates are perceived in consideration for employment and I informed them that the discrimination started a long time ago. The discrimination started when the entry requirements to both Institutions are different, i.e. 4 Credits for Polytechnics and 5 credits for Universities In addition, the discrimination between Federal and State owned Universities started when the Federal schools insist on a minimum JAMB cut-off mark of 200 while State Universities settled for 180 and some are pleading to go lower. Even abroad, the scores required to secure admission into an ivy league university is higher than for a regular university. Do you therefore blame Organisations that prefer graduates from such schools to those from ordinary schools? My point is that discrimination is first initiated when you lower the entry requirements, regarded in this case as Input. It is imperative therefore not to focus on the outcome which is tagged discrimination but understand the root cause. Many organization don’t have the luxury of time to go through a long list of application and hence devise means to whittle down the application list to a more manageable size, essentially to reduce the time spent in recruitment. Where there are limited space for few, organizations are at liberty to deplore measure to get the best applicant. We have too many applications relative to opportunities or positions. We were at Organisation X for a recruitment exercise. A Staff member came out and said Applicants that meet the following criteria may leave the recruitment venue: · If you did not go to a University · If you did not attend a Federal University · If You did not attend a 1st Generation University or Foreign University · If you got less than a 2nd Class Upper degree. He then told the remaining candidates that they resorted to that approach so they can manage the number of applicants. He agreed that they could have eliminated the best candidate but they do not have the luxury of time to interact with everyone who came. The justification for this is still subject to debate. Note that Many Countries legislations frown at any type of discrimination. I also do not support it at all. I believe in the equal opportunity employer mantra. Another input factor for discrimination is related to the Lecturer/Student ratio in Academic institutions. It is believed that the lower the ratio, the more contact lecturers have with their students and the better the quality of Education. The Lecturer to Student ratio is a major indicator used by many organizations that assess Universities for Quality Education. A friend once told me that his graduating set was 141, from a Federal University, while a particular State University had over 400 Graduands for the same course. An Ivy League School in US had just 21 people in the graduating class of the same course. If you are a product of a non prestigious Institution or a lowly rated programme please don’t despair. Yes you may not get as many invites for career opportunities but what is important is to make the few opportunities you get count. For Instance if you have an HND do not focus on the few organisations that do not employ Polytechnic graduates. If you have a 2nd class lower do not focus on organisations that insist on 2nd Class Upper minimum. Focus on the alternatives. You can do a post graduate diploma, top up degree programme, Masters degree or appropriate Professional qualifications. You can also get trainings around skills that are critical in your industry or sector of interest. Note that we all face one type of discrimination or the other in our careers. Don’t enter into a pity party. Avoid conversations that will always make you inferior because your profile matches whatever discriminatory measures that are out there. No one can make you inferior without your consent, don't give consent to dissenting opinion about who you are or what you have labored to earn. Explore the alternatives by being the best in what you do. One of the undisputable key antidote to discrimination is excellence. Nature, Culture, Exposure, nurture and individual choices and attitude all help to build or erode Excellence. -- Adeosun Oluyemi Theophilus Twitter@tallestnaija

Monday, May 19, 2014

Making Employees Run by Choice

If you ask the average employee to state the vision, mission statement or quality policy of their organization, you will be surprised at the percentage of those who can’t recite it. Some employees have even never bothered to read it. In some organizations it is even placed on notice boards but yet just ignored consistently. Are you then surprised that they are not working with a sense of urgency or purpose? You must ensure that at every forum you state the vision and mission statement of your organization until everyone internalize it. It is also possible that some employees cannot run with the company's vision and mission because it is not 'plain' enough. According to Albert Einstein, if you cannot explain your vision to a 6 years old, you don't understand it either. Once a vision/mission is going into lines of sentences, then it will be difficult to recite or memorize Think about the vision of company's such as Nike - Just do it! If you wake up an employee, he can tell you even in his sleep. The values of the company must be imbibed by all from the MD to the Gateman. All employees must know why the organization exits and what values it holds dear.I beats me when someone says the MD or GM does not permit certain type of practices. It should be our company values are not in line with such practices. We must move more towards institutionalism and less on the lone genius or the MD. It does not speak well when the standards that apply to management is different from the line workers. Leaders must lay examples and demonstrate the way to go. They need to take time to explain the rationale behind decisions as much as time permits. We have employed people’s minds, hearts and not just their hands. No matter how well you compensate your employees, we must ensure that we continuously explore ways to keep them engaged. How can we align their interest with that of the organization? Can we show them that their interest is been served as they pursue the organizations agenda. Which new skills are they developing by virtue of working with you as line manager? Are they exposed to continuous training and best practices? Implementing Work life balance and family friendly policies will further engender our employee commitment. I recall a friend who once wanted to exit an organization, it was the spouse who prevailed on him to stay put. This is because the spouse could feel the welfare incentives of the organization. A friend once worked for an organization where spouse were not allowed to come for the end of year party. Such a spouse who feels disenfranchised would urge the friend to move on if a better opportunity presents itself. Can we trust our leadership? Is our organization purposeful? If the vision of the organization is not plain and documented, the people will be slow and sluggish. Vision provides the fuel, drive and impetus to forge ahead. It takes away eye service or ass licking. It increases efficiency and reduces error. People who are sold out to a cause break every barrier en route their achieving success. They turn their tasks to accomplishment and see how what they do add to the bottom line. Every role in that organization becomes as important as the other. It is not enough to have an open door, we must also have an open heart.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Underestimated Forms of Capital

Most people have just “one reason” they have not started their business or embarked on a venture, and that is "Lack of Capital" While this may be a fact, it is generally misunderstood to mean just money or finance. There are four types of capital I will like discuss in this forum. 1. Financial Capital- We are all generally exposed to this so I will move on to the other forms. 2. Reputational Capital- This can also be seen as integrity. Can people take your word to the bank? Are you credit worthy if you don’t have a physical collateral? You can only leverage on this kind of capital if you have built it over the years. Do you keep to time, schedules, deadlines, commitments? This form of capital can easily help you attract financial capital. 3. Relational Capital – I find it strange when people complain that people in authority have shared all appointments to their friends, who else should they share it with? You do business with those you trust. You trust people when you know them. So how do you treat the people in your network right now? Do you look down on some people with disdain? Are you condescending when you interact with people who in your opinion are of a "lower estate"? People who are stranded or without assistance may perhaps have failed to develop and cultivate their social capital. People give to relationships and not to needs. People will give a beggar N50 and give a friend's son N1000 and tell him to manage the small money. 4. Educational (Know-how) Capital – This is the tool that helps you in problem solving. What curse can your course cure? What intellectual contribution can you bring to the table? Your skills and its commercial value comes to play here. The processes and systems you know and how you have put them to use comes to the fore here. In spite of the scarcity of jobs in this country, I have friends who have changed jobs 4 times in the same year. Head Hunters just keep pursuing them on the strength of their know-how, guess what they didn't even apply for those jobs. If what you have is a "pure water" credential, if your skill is common then your chances of attracting financial capital is slim. 5. Time – This is one form of capital we all have equal amount (24 hours each per day). This is the capital with which we can develop, pursue and acquire other forms of capital. How do you use your off-peak period? Are you utilizing fully your professional network and contacts? Are you passive or active in associations? Are you engaged or disengaged. Are you learning, unlearning and relearning? What you do with your time should be value adding. Perhaps I should end with a quote from the oldest book “For unto everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.” Mattew 25 vs 29. The first rule in capital is knowing that you have something with which to exchange. Don’t go with a cap in hand. Look within, you have all you need!