Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interviews: Opinion of one of the panelists

As part of my 'acting' manger stint, I've had the priviledge to interview some 20 odd job seekers in the last couple of weeks. Now, I haven't been in a job interview in 3 years, so some insights were gathered even as I had the pleasure of deciding the destiny of many (sounds powerful), while being on the other side of the table.

The typical interview involves the cusory introduction, you give us a brief of your educational and career background, we attack you with questions based on your c.v., we then shift to questions about the job, and finally throw in a couple of puzzles to see your analytical skills. Then we give you the chance to ask one or two questions, before the HR representative closes with the usual 'We'll get back to you in a few weeks'.

Here are some insights:

1. Don't put anything on your c.v. if you can't defend it. The fun one is putting French, we'll start the interview in that language! Usually, the jamaa is caught flat footed. You say you are IT, we'll give you an IT problem.

2. The shorter and more precise the c.v. is the better. Focus on job skills and exposure. Anything else such as dining hall prefect is a waste of paper. Save the trees, stick to 2 pages max.

NB: We sifted 100+ cv's to get the 20 interviewees so I cannot over-emphasize this point.

3. Make sure you know what the job is about even if it's just general knowledge. Use google or human networks to know. And don't use one of your 2 questions to ask directly, it's a minus. If necessary, ask tactfully e.g. what are the day to day activities of the job like?

4. Identify an ally in the panel and flow with them. Most of the decisions made were based on a general concensus with one direct supporter (usually the big boss). I'm not sure how someone becomes likeable but guess if we like you, odds are in your favour. I saw a guy with double masters being snubbed for a fresh undergrad. Life ain't fair, but remember we'll be working with you for years to come so we need to choose the right person to flow with the crew (race, tribe, religion have nothing to do with this, just personality - emotional quotient).

5. Be confident, but not cocky. If you don't know the answer, say so, confidently. Arrogance will get your cv blacklisted for the next million years.

6. Finally, if you've sold spinach for the last 3 years, attempts to convince us that you can switch to repairing kitchenware will most likely fall on deaf years. We turned away good guys even if they'd done their research and got most answers correct, so long as their career trend didn't fit with our objectives. They'd probably use us as a stepping stone to get to the spinach selling department.

"The fastest runner does not always win the race, the strongest soldier does not always win the battle, the wisest does not always have food, the smartest does not always become wealthy, and the talented one does not always recieve praise. TIME and CHANCE happen to everyone" Ecclesiastes 10:11

Happy Hunting!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

They see me rolling... Season II

An update since Season I:

1. In our zeal at enjoying the company fleet for our own pleasures, one of my colleagues went on an upcountry (really far) road trip without telling the boss. Twas the same weekend unfortunately that mkubwa got vehicle monitoring software installed on his PC and tried it out. We all got banned from using the cars except on company business. Back to square one!

2. I had my first serious accident early last month. Was driving back from Matuu (ndalas) to office around 8 p.m. Decided to overlap coz of a slow truck holding up traffic, only to find a car turning right, into a junction I hadn't noticed in Thika. Braked and skidded but still hit her (it was a lady) door and crossed with the side mirror. Graciously, no one was hurt. Ended up footing for the repairs undercover, didn't want to involve boss (had already gotten into trouble before over the cars, when a dent appeared and no one took responsibility).
Lesson: Don't overlap, just don't.

3. Finally got my first own ride following a nice deal that came by which I was compelled to take up. Had to sell most of my prime shares come everything, but hey, isn't it why we buy shares? The effect:

- At just the same time, my neighbour who had a Starlet, upgrades to a Corona, while the other neighbour unleashes an Xtrail and 4X4. Seems I'm still a very small rat in a big race...
- Workmates now consider me a hero. Eish, it's just a car.
- Fly neighbour invites me for sister's wedding, then gets me to carry her fly friends to reception and insists that I show up for dinner usiku. Food, Alvaro and dancing, my social status is on the up.
- Fuel is expensive, adjusting from busfare to ngata is a big leap. New hobby is being on the look out for sub 98 bob petrol stations.
- Despite 4 years of power mechanics in high school, the mechanic makes you feel like a bumbling fool.
- The convenience is too mzuri, unfortunately it comes with responsibilities i.e. errands and favours for family and friends.

Hope season III has better things in the offing. Enjoy the next 4 months bila public holiday :-(

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