Job Recruitment Process: My Most Recent Personal Experience With Oral Interviews


Experience is the best teacher! I am going to be sharing a job recruitment process experience I had couple weeks ago. Like me, if you are a university graduate with a good qualification, and want to gain employment in top private and government companies and organizations, you can relate.

Who needs to read this? I think everybody should. Maybe you are still studying in school to gain B.Sc. or post-graduate qualifications, then you would certainly need to apply for a job at a point in time – except you are Dangote or Otedola’s son or daughter- you certainly need to read this to the end.

So, I had this wonderful job interview experience at this top Nigerian commercial bank and only going to share because I got a feedback. Though the feedback didn’t come directly, it came from a ‘connect’ who I got to meet later, who then had to do the background running and came back with the feedback.

Experience is the best teacher!

I have various job recruitment processes experiences over the years, from the 40-50k salary jobs to the top-of-the-crème super jobs, where trainees reportedly earn over 150k. In Nigeria, check the social media, you get job requests where the information goes like “a fresh graduate, with a professional certification and graphic design/digital marketing knowledge, living on the Island, NYSC member preferable for an accounting job. Not more than 24-years old, 30k salary. Send your CV to modernslavery@mail.com. Please share”.


Mere looking at the description of the requirement of the persons needed for the job above, nobody needs to tell you that this sounds like modern slavery. Personally, any job I am going to be taking salary should have a benchmark of at least 40,000 naira monthly salary. Anything below is an insult to me and the years I spent in attaining this level of education and experience. But in Nigeria, some graduates work 20k jobs, and this is because this is the only opportunity they got offered. The economy is so bad, and in recent times, it has been saddled with a recession. So, it takes a whole lot of bullishness to reject jobs with meagre salaries.

How did I get these top job opportunities?

This is where your grade matters. We all must have heard or read this quote, “it is not by grades, but grace”. This is so true and I agree with it, but believe me, without grades, there is no way you will get opportunities to work for the best companies in the world. These companies and firms see qualification grades as a testament for hard working. Are you hardworking? If yes, then it is expected to reflect in your school grades. That is why some companies will go as far as asking for your university result transcript.
               

It is true that your grades do not determine your success after you leave college, but do not let people discourage you from attaining for top grades when you can. Another fact is that the grades give you the leverage to apply for a top job, but it ends at the application. You have to prove yourself by taking aptitude tests. Dragnet, WorkForce and many other outsource handle this for many top companies. You can easily get related materials to prepare for these tests which are mostly GMAT based.

It is not by grades, but grace

The 40-50k Jobs

Before I proceed to reveal my main purpose of this blog, I would like to briefly talk about the 40,000 to 50,000 naira jobs. Like I mentioned earlier, the economy is really bad, and these small and medium scale companies who offer a salary in these ranges do so because that is the only thing they can afford. But, the painful thing is that they also want the best quality of workers for the jobs they are offering. Many of these jobs should have lower qualification graduates, but they’d rather have university graduates handling these jobs so they can have ultimate performers with high work output in these job positions.

I have had experience with one or two 40-50k jobs, and the last one I took; I almost took my employers to court over a disagreement. So, you need to know yourself, and know what you can do or not, know what you can tolerate from people before you would jump at these jobs. Yes, you are a graduate and need a job to carry on with life, but many of these jobs will take total control of your life that you would later realize that you haven’t actually gained anything, financially or skill-wise.


The Job Recruitment Process Experience

I saw the job posting for Trainee Banker online, and I applied. The usual requirement is the level of qualification and grade, ‘B.Sc. or M.Sc. Second Class Upper’. It was a top commercial bank in Nigeria, so the competition was high. I got an invite for the test, attended, and passed. After 4 weeks, I got called up for an oral interview. It was in this oral interview I got another insight into job recruitment processes in Nigeria.

I labelled this ‘another insight’ because I have other job recruitment processes experience. The most notable was with one of the biggest Audit and Advisory firm in the world, KPMG. If you are familiar with top companies, you should know their trainee recruitments are always vigorous. Many of the tops firms apply what many of us have now known as the ‘assessment centre (AC)’. For KPMG, I got to the fourth stage, which was AC. Something failed me, and it was ‘confidence’.

I thought I had overgrown the ‘confidence’ problem when I set out for the top commercial bank interview, but I got knocked out again, but with a different experience. Are you wondering what happened and how it happened?



Top firms’ human resources (HR) personnel know they want in a job candidate. They have these qualities written out in a form of report, in which they just input the scores based on their judgment after assessing a candidate. The HR knows what they are looking for, and sometimes, they can sense it in 2 minutes. It could be from the way you present yourself, how you walk, your mode of dressing, how you say your greetings, how you answer your questions, your command of the language you speak, and so much more.


Where did I fail?

Like I said, I was at KPMG, and it was a wonderful experience. The orderliness of the AC was second to none. The interviewers were all smart. All I needed to do was just to sell myself and wow the interviewers. There were 3 stages of doing that, I tensed out in the face-to-face oral interview. It was a sickening experience because my body visibly shook right in front of the HR. I wasn’t going to get that job where I shook like a baby. I have had more interview experiences, so I prepared better this time around.

I made my way through Lagos to the company’s HR headquarters somewhere in Victoria Island, Lagos. I met other candidates looking all bubbly and smart. I was calm, relaxed and sat with a few candidates. We went through credential documentation and waited for turns to meet the interviewers. I watched some go in and return fast, others longer, but I was still calm. If you are one serious minded job finder like me, you would already have all the ‘How To Pass Interviews One Time’ kind of materials, both soft and hard copies. I have practised all and feeling more confident by the second.

Eventually, I got called and was caught unaware because I was in a chat with another candidate sitting close to me. This unsettled me for about 30 seconds as I made my way into one of the spaces for the interview. I was greeted by four sweet faces of interviews.


The greetings went well and I was ushered in to sit and relax. The usual first questions came and I was firing. “Tell us about you. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?” questions were been thrown about the room. I recited my answers and they listened with cute smiles on their face.

Then came the first question that always unsettles every job interviewee. “What would you bring to the company if we hired you? What skills do you bring that can improve our company?” kind of question. In my past experiences, I have come to know, this type of questions is the most important because that is where you get the opportunity to really sell yourself. I thought I was going to be bullish when I replied, but I fluffed a bit and tried to make a comeback.

Then, the interviewer who has been silent and taking notes all this while took over from his colleagues. The questions that he asked weren’t the traditional interview questions. These questions took me off guard. I didn’t write this post to fault Nigerian companies’ recruitment process but want to open our eyes to preparedness for interviews. Truly, I was hinted that some questions unrelated to the job at hand would be asked, and I prepared myself to weather that storm, as long as it was the normal questions that other candidates have been asked before.

What were these non-traditional interview questions?

The questions that were asked were related to my university course of study and current affairs. I studied Computer Science, so this man said since I did that, I should still be familiar with mathematics, and I replied, yes. First, he asked me to differentiate (x2 – x), second, the full meaning of HTTPS.

Woah, I wasn’t there for that. It took me completely off balance, and I fluffed. I did differentiation right from secondary school, so this shouldn’t be a problem, but surprisingly, my brain couldn’t process this at that moment. I have memorised the full meaning of HTML back from the day, but I couldn’t say for HTTPS. The more I thought about failing the questions, the further my brain couldn’t the answer. At the end of it, he made me say, “I can’t answer now, but I know it”. Then more questions came, who is the Deputy Governor of your state of origin? Who is the Deputy Governor of Lagos state? What news item is currently trending?

The only thing I could answer confidently was the news item. It was clear I had failed. Immediately, I picked up cues from the interviewer who asked these questions, I was never getting a positive feedback.

The feedback

After a few weeks, I met someone who worked in the same premises with the top Nigerian bank HR. He did help check for my scores, and the feedback he returned was a negative one – which I had already known. It was as clear as this, “he wasn’t confident, and couldn’t answer the questions correctly”.

This was different to the usual feedback, where the firms say something like, “we are sorry to inform you that we will not be able to continue with your recruitment process…”

What did I learn?

I do not know if it is possible that you completely get all the interview questions you would be asked correctly, but I do know that your confidence and tone would determine your success. When I started thinking about how I couldn’t answer the questions, failure dawned on me, and my tone changed immediately, with my confidence sunken further below. I didn’t give myself the chance to bounce back.


Tips to apply for your next job interview

1. Prepare well. From my experience, you can see that answering all basic questions does not determine success. Some unexpected questions will arise, and how you weather it matters a lot.

2. Be smart and outspoken. You should never attend an interview looking shabby and not speaking freely. Free and express yourself naturally. You only get one chance to wow your interviewers.

3. Be confident. Being dressed smartly and ability to express yourself freely goes a long way to improve your confidence. Once you know what you are going to say, do not fret. If you are tensed, take a few seconds to relax. Speak in slow but assertive manner.

4. When you can’t answer a question rightly, completely shut it out, and never let it affect how you answer the next question. Allow yourself the opportunity to bounce back.

5. Learn to smile. Smiling makes you feel comfortable and build your confidence.

6. Learn to be able to pick up positive and negative cues from interviewers. Know when to stop talking, when they look at you as if you are going off line.

Conclusion  

I have two cool friends who we graduated from the same institution. They have nice grades on their qualification as well, but they got their jobs without having to go through many job interviews. Why were they so successful? It wasn’t like they were better than me because we did all the things youths do. We play, chase girls, party and all that. Why were they different? They were successful because they were bullish and confident. They go to interviews without fear, as though they have got nothing to lose. They know how to talk substance.

So, if you are going for that next interview, research the company. Know what to say when you are required to match your skills with the improvements you could bring to the company. For those who are not getting interview opportunities, practice your GMAT and other aptitude tests. 

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