The first question that is usually asked in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” However, this is not an invitation to recite your entire life story or even to pour out everything that’s in your resume. Instead, it’s  your first and probably best chance to pitch the hiring manager on why you’re the right one for the job.

For example:

If an interviewer asked, “tell me about yourself,” you could say:

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Doe, where I handle our top-performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

For a fresh graduate:

“I recently graduated from the University of Lagos. While studying Theatre Arts, I directed several plays and acted in some of them. I am also an adept script writer. I’d love a chance to dig deeper into script writing, which is why I am excited about this opportunity with Inspiration FM.”

Remember to focus on the experiences and skills that are going to be most relevant for the hiring manager when they’re thinking about this particular position and this company. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes relating to the job you are applying for of course.



I can guarantee you that this question will come up in your next job interview. Unless you’ve never worked a day in your life, you’ll need to talk about why you left your last job or why you want to leave your current position.

Sometimes the answer is obvious as in the case of an internship. When the internship ends, you have to leave obviously. However, for real jobs, you have to explain why you want another job when you have one already. This is a question you really want to prepare for, the wrong answer can ruin your chances of getting the job.

There are several reasons for leaving a job and it all boils down to the following:

You were dissatisfied:

“I learned a lot at my current job in the first one year and then in subsequent years, the learning declined. I’m very eager to learn new things. I can’t see any opportunity for advancement within the organization and I love to be challenged.”

You were fired: if you were fired for performance reasons, you could mention this but avoid putting the blame on others. If you were fired, your interviewer will try to determine if it was due to integrity or performance issues.

“After some management changes, it became clear that the new department director had new expectations for the role that didn’t really mesh with my strengths. Ultimately, she decided to bring in someone from her previous organization who had more sales experience.

The experience taught me that my real talent is in customer service and I know I would be a major asset in a role like this one, which focuses on improving the customer experience. Would you like me to tell you more about my experience in that area?”

You were laid off:

“the company’s biggest client was shut down. This resulted in an extreme decline in the company’s revenue. Therefore, the management decided to eliminate some positions and I was among the five most recently hired employees in my organisation. I am very proud of the work I did for them while I was there and my former boss is one of my references.”

Better opportunity:

“I haven’t had the opportunity to use my graphic design skills as much as I would like to and I believe your company will give me that opportunity.”

Whichever way you decide to answer this question, make sure you focus on the positive. Do not speak ill of your former boss or co-workers.



This is a common interview question. Resist the urge to make this question about yourself. The interviewer is not interested in hearing that your rent is almost due or you have two children to feed.  Even if it’s true, do not mention salary, work hours, or location as the primary reasons you want the job. Focus on how you can benefit the company, not how the company or job can benefit you.

  • Research the company before the interview

Interviewers want a response that shows you’ve done research on the company and the job role. Make sure you research the company and you understand some basic information about both the company and the job. Your goal is to get a sense of their current goals and projects they are working on. When you answer the question, you can mention specific aspects of the company and position that appeal to you.  Express enthusiasm for the company.

  • Match Your Skills and Experiences With the Role

Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role.  To prepare your answer, make a list of the requirements of the job as explained in the job listing, and then note which requirements match your skills and experience. In your answer, highlight a few of your abilities that qualify you for the job.

  • Emphasize what you can contribute.

What value will you add to the position? Mention any skills or work achievements that make you a unique, strong candidate for the job. You can use numbers to express how you can add value to the company. For example, if you increased sales at your previous company, mention this, and express your interest in doing the same for the company.


I want this job because it emphasizes sales and marketing, two of my greatest skill sets. In my previous job, I increased sales by 20% even while the nation was experiencing a recessive economy. I know I could bring my eight years of sales and marketing experience to this company, and help you continue your years of growth.




Jobseekers, let’s talk about body odour. While preparing for interviews, we focus so much on writing the perfect resume and cover letter. Well, I have news for you- you might have the perfect resume, qualifications and still fail the interview before it even starts.

There are some candidates that take your breath away and not in a good way. Your resume might be impeccable, but if you walk into a job interview and the interviewer’s nose starts to burn, that’s going to present a problem. Body odour distracts the interviewer and prevents him from asking questions that are pertinent to your interview success. If you walk into the room oozing, the interviewer will want to wrap it up very fast so you can leave.

Odours to be conscious of when attending an interview:

Cigarette/alcohol smell: We have seen several warnings about the side effects of smoking and alcohol. However, if you still want to go ahead and do these things, that’s a personal choice and is really nobody’s business. At least don’t do it before an interview. Going in for an interview smelling like a burning building is not going to do you any favours. Apart from the stench of alcohol, you give off the vibe of an irresponsible person. I mean, who smokes before an interview anyway?

Heavy perfume: We all love our designer perfumes. Some people would go back home after walking a few kilometres just because they forgot to use perfume. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using perfume, however, moderation is key. You don’t need to bathe in it. A couple of spritzes will suffice. You don’t want to burn the interviewer’s nose with your scent. This will not work in your favour.

Mouth odour: Trust me, you don’t want to talk and have people holding their breath. There are several causes of bad breath, medical and non-medical. Non-medical causes of mouth odour include smoking, eating smelly foods (garlic, onions), terrible oral hygiene, and dry mouth. If your mouth odour is not caused by a medical condition, you have no excuse. Brushing, flossing and using mouthwash regularly should work wonders. Also, don’t ignore your tongue when brushing, scrub it well.

Suffice it to say, that if people smell  (bad smell) you before they see you, you might not be getting that job. It might seem unfair to be judged based on the way you smell. But put yourself in the shoes of the employer, and the people you will work with if hired. Imagine someone with body odour attending to clients.

The bottom line is to maintain good personal hygiene. Cleanliness, after all, is next to godliness.



You spend weeks preparing for an interview, the interview day finally comes and you give your all. You walk out feeling relieved. However, your work is not done, there is still one more step. You need to send a follow-up email. This is your chance to make a great final impression on the interviewer. However, like every other aspect of the job search process, there are rules. These are the Do’s and Dont’s of a follow-up email.


  • Send your email right away, within 24 hours of the interview, to thank the hiring managers and confirm your interest.
  • Include all your interviewers or send separate emails to each person who spoke with you.  (Note for your interview prep: it’s a good idea to gather business cards or make a note of interviewers’ names during the meeting, to ensure that you know whom to address.)
  • Include the name of the position in the subject line, and the words “thank you.” This will ensure that the hiring manager sees your response and knows that your email is important.
  • Remind the interviewer of your qualifications, making sure to mention any keywords in the original job listing (or that came up during the interview itself).
  • Offer links to your online portfolios and other professional sites and networks.
  • Keep it brief. Keep your thank you note short – no more than a couple very short paragraphs.


  • Stalk your interviewers. One thank you email and a follow-up a week or so later are more than enough. Beyond that, you’re not recommending yourself, you’re stressing them out.
  • Send anything that makes you look bad. This includes personal social media profiles that contain unprofessional pictures or behavior.
  • Be too casual. No memes, internet acronyms, etc.
  • Send misspelled, grammatically incorrect emails, or anything that hasn’t been proofread by a trusted friend. Even professional editors make mistakes when they try to work on their own. Get another set of eyeballs to look over your work before you send the email.

Culled from:





In the course of job hunting, many of us stress over every detail like interview questions, handshakes, outfits but we forget to pay an equal amount of attention to people who will vouch for our professional accomplishments. However, there are several reference mistakes that could easily be avoided.

  1. Not telling your references to expect a call/email:

    It’s professional courtesy to ask for permission before using people as references. If professional references are not informed to expect a call, they might react with confusion and surprise when the hiring managers contact them for a recommendation. This could be taken to mean that the candidate is an unprofessional and disorganised individual.

  2. Making it hard to contact your references:

    It is important to make it easy for employers to contact your references. You have to list different contact details, email addresses, personal phone numbers (with the reference’s permission of course).

  3. Give a reference who might not have nice things to say about you:

    This goes without saying, only give references you are sure will have nothing but glowing recommendations for you. You don’t want to list a former employer with whom you didn’t part ways on good terms.

  4. Giving references that have little or no relevance:

    While it was mentioned above that you should only give references who will highlight your skill set and strengths. However, this does not mean that you should list your family and friends. What questions do you want a potential employer to ask your mother? Your potential employer does not want biased feedback from a reference who appears to be a close friend.

  5. Not giving your references enough information:

    Update your references on new skills you have acquired. Basically, give your references your resume to study before your potential employer contacts them. It is important to have your references know a little about the position you’ve applied for so they can discuss your most relevant skills and provide you with the strongest possible recommendation.

  6. Your references can’t speak about your job experience:

    If you are a fresh graduate, please resist the urge to list your parents and family friends as references. Instead, get university professors, supervisors, mentors to give you a favourable recommendation. Your best bet for references should always be your most recent employers or colleagues.

  7. You didn’t bring your references to the interview:

    It’s better to be safe than sorry, it’s just paper it’s not heavy, take several copies of your references with you to every interview. Hiring managers might not request for it right away but if they do, you score extra points for adequate preparation.




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Your interview does not begin when you sit in front on the interview panel, it begins the moment you step inside the office building or interview venue. The interviewers are judging you silently. It is not just about answering the questions perfectly, you are also being judged based on:

Your Dressing:

Your dressing speaks for you before you even open your mouth. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed. You should be corporately dressed. Jeans and T-shirts do not belong in a job interview. Your shoes must be polished and free from tears. Also, chipped nails make you look untidy and don’t care about your appearance. Avoid wearing too many accessories, it’s not a party. You should not look unkempt at the same time, you don’t want to give an impression that you are vain either

Inability to Make Eye Contact:

: Making eye contact could be difficult for introverts and shy people. However, this is very important as looking at everywhere but the person interviewing you makes you look disinterested or easily distracted. Be yourself, you will not burst into flames if you make eye contact. Imagine you are talking to an old friend and smile. There is no need to be nervous, the worst that could happen is you don’t get the job and that is not the end of the world.

Time Consciousness:

Time is money. This is one of the cardinal rules of interview preparation. Arriving late to an interview is the beginning of failure. It makes you disorganised, disorientated and generally portrays you as someone who has no respect for the time of others. If you arrive late at an interview, it is interpreted to mean you would come late to work is you are employed and unable to meet deadlines.

Chewing Gum:

Chewing gum during an interview will portray you as someone who has no manners. Apart from being disrespectful, talking with your mouth full whether its chewing gum or food looks very unsightly.

Your conduct:

Work on your body language.  Smile at employees you find at the company. You have no right to look down on people normally, but this should not even cross your mind when you go for an interview. You don’t know who might be watching.

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