HR| Job Interviews: My Personal Experiences & 10 Interview Tips

My first ever job interview was a flop because I didn’t know I was walking into an interview at the time. I had just completed the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) three weeks orientation program and I was posted to a bank. NYSC jobs are supposed to be automatic right? well, that’s what I thought until I took my letter to the head office of this bank and I was directed to the Human Resources department.

I was offered a seat and two people attended to me a few minutes later. I was asked so many questions and I answered them easily until I was asked for my project topic and I went black for about a minute until I remembered. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. Luckily, the job offer wasn’t taken away from me and I served in the bank for a year.

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My second job interview was after NYSC in an HR consulting firm I applied for an internship at. I remember the sound of my beating heart was louder than the questions I was being asked. I didn’t get this job but it was because I didn’t know it was okay to be an unpaid intern; this girl was in a hurry to make money LOL.  When I heard I was only going to be paid transportation allowance, I bailed.

A few months later, I got scheduled for an interview at a telecommunications company, where I eventually worked for four years. Before I got the job, I went through a series of three interviews. At the first interview, I remember nailing all my questions until I was asked some questions about the company, and I went quiet. At the end of the interview, I was advised to always learn about a company I was interviewing for a position at. I was so sad because I thought this meant I didn’t get the job but I was sent a message to come back for a follow-up interview the next day.

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When I landed my first job in Human Resources, my interview was more of a chat. I had grown over the years and learnt a thing or two about interviews. I really needed to leave where I was working at but I didn’t reveal my desperation at the interview. I arrived early, spoke truly about myself from my heart (not a crammed answer), and I made sure I was comfortable before I started speaking.

I’ve been an interviewer more than an interviewee because of the nature of my job as a Human Resource Professional and Recruiter. Nonetheless, when I’m scheduled for an interview, I still prepare because I know that no interview experience is ever the same. My last interview as a job seeker was in May 2019 and I remember my host wondered why her impersonal questions didn’t bother me. I had an answer to every question and I was surprisingly calm and felt good at the end of the day. I know what it’s like to be at the mercy of an interviewer for a job and I also know what it feels like to wait endlessly for feedback. This is why I usually give candidates feedback after interviews.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

A follower on LinkedIn reached out to me recently for help with an upcoming interview. I was happy to help and then I thought it’ll be a good idea to share some tips here for everyone. Please bear in my mind that this is not all you need to do when you’re preparing for an interview, this is only part of it.

  1. Do not be late for your interview and do not be too early as well. Map out the location before the interview and if for any reason you’re running late, put a call through to let your host know.
  2. Bring a copy of your CV along just in case it’s needed. I personally don’t ask candidates to bring their CVs because I like to study it before interviews but most recruiters don’t do this.
  3. Imagine the interviewer(s) are little kids, students, or anyone else you’re comfortable with. This will help you reduce your level of anxiety. See the interview as a career conversation with someone that wants to know about you.
  4. Study the job description before you show up for your interview. You need to appear like you understand the requirements and expectations of the job.
  5. Research about the organisation; origin, values, ownership, management, culture, industry, works, etc.
  6. Do your best. Answer your questions to the best of your knowledge.
  7. Let your responses be clear and short. You don’t need to spend five minutes answering a question. Use the KISS (keep it short and simple) approach.
  8. Show that you’re interested in the job through your body language; sit upright, be attentive, look up. Don’t be laid back and seem uninterested in the interview process.
  9. Avoid interrupting the interviewer. It may give the impression that you’re impatient.
  10. Ask intelligent questions or don’t ask any questions when you’re asked; “do you have any questions for us”.

I hope these tips help you when you’re prepping for your next interview. Good luck!

Follow me on LinkedIn for more HR content.

Mariam Shittu

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