Moment of Reflections III

Personal Interview Expriences

As stated previously, applicants seeking employment into organisations are expected to appear before panel or one on one to be interviewed with a view to ascertaining ones suitability or other wise to join an organisation.

Interviews can take many forms.  Some may be only verbal i.e discussions or questions and answer sessions.  Others may also include practical exercises, social event such as dinning, physical exercise (as in Military and Para-Military) and hands on exercises such as dismantling of a plant or assembling of parts of a machine. In my sourjoun, I have had opportunities of attending several interviews within and outside Nigeria. I have also participated as a panel member as well as chaired interview committees.  Some of my personal as well as friends experiences may be useful to be shared.

In late 1980s, a French Oil Company operating in the downstream sector of the Oil and Gas industry made it devut in Nigeria.  Elf Oil as it was called placed advertisement for graduate trainee’s vacancies.  I applied and was short listed.  We had aptitude test and I was among the candidates invited for oral interview.  At the interview, questions were asked and I believe the answers given by me were correct as majority of the questions were academic mostly relating to accounting and finance which is my field.

However, we were given some objects and asked to use the objects to create an item.  They were like blocks from Lego (children game).  I could not come up with any structure using the Building Blocks and that ended further consideration of my candidature.

In another instance, a friend by name Mallam Nuhu had an experience with the then giant company called UAC.  After passing an aptitude test and series of interviews was invited for social events which included dinner.  After the dinner, he was asked whether he would like to take tea or coffee. He opted for a cup of tea.  The waiter was instead directed to bring coffee to him.  Unknown to my friend as a way of testing him when the coffee was brought, and he was served, he took the coffee without question or resistance i.e rejecting it.  To him, it is a favour being done to him so why insist on having his requested tea.  This singular act made him to lose the position as he was considered to be flexible and such attitude could mean bad in leadership. Such situations and or circumstances as espoused above are several, as such candidates should adequately prepare for interview surprises.  A minor mistake could cost you your dream job as it has cost some of us already.  Please learn from our mistakes.

Furthermore, at an interview I attended for a bank job, I was grilled and asked several questions in the office of one Mr. Olutola, then an Assistant General Manager and Head of Investment Banking or Corporate Finance Department.  During the interview, one of the panel members was determined to see me fail at least a question.  I must state here that there was nothing personal in the grilling I received.

A woman by name Mrs. Gloria, a member of the panel asked me about my strength after answering, she then asked me about my weaknesses and I said I did not know any! She shouted and raised her voice to ask me if I had never dated any girl who would have told me my weakness!  Yes in an interview before several other members of the panel I was asked this personal question. Moreover, as I was lucky answering most if not all questions, one of the panel members drafted a mathematical equation centring on computation of cost of capital and I was asked to solve the equation there and then! At the end of the exercise I was hired!

You can never be said to be over prepared for an interview as panel members are free to ask almost any question and you are expected to answer the questions.

Another experience I had was when I appeared before a panel consisting of people of different races.  Black, White, Indians and Latinos when I attended an interview for a position in African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. Some members had to speak to me through an interpreter.  I was overwhelmed and perplexed with the number of the panel and the diversity as I was not coached or prepared for such diverse panel.  Needless to say I did not succeed to be hired is to over state the obvious.  I failed woefully at this interview.

I did also send several applications in response to numerous job vacancies announcements to The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agencies (MIGA) as well as other United Nations Agencies and Multinational Companies at various times. In one instance, I was among five people that made it to the interview level for a job placement with IFC.  The interview was conducted first via normal telephone and subsequently through Skype.  Again I could not impress the panel members so I was not hired.  I believe my inability to speak another international language in addition to English language affected my chances.  Professionally, technically and competence wise I was told I topped the list but on account of my in ability to speak French, Arabic, Italian or Spanish or even Chinese language.

Moreover, it was the first time I was being interviewed via telephone.  I did not have an opportunity to be coached by an experienced hand in this exercise.

“Recite: In the name of thy Lord who created man from a clot. Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not.” (Quran, 96:1-5)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5: 11)

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