Share This Post

General

Challenges I faced while interviewing Nigerian graduate: All you need to know about job interview

The Interview Each time I conduct interviews, I usually end up
shaking my head and lamenting about the state of education in
Nigeria. Our tertiary institutions are churning out graduates who
are mainly unemployable. Earlier today, I interviewed almost 50
candidates and by the end of the whole session, the only

conclusion I could arrive at was that we have a BIG problem. In
one particular instance, I was alarmed when I read the CV of a
particular female graduate of one of the Universities in the South
West. It was full of outlandish errors and so I asked her to spell a
few words. She spelt the word ‘redeemed’ wrongly four times
before she got it right the fifth time. On her CV, she described
herself as one of the officials of the church fellowship when she
was an undergraduate but she wrote the name of the church

wrongly. She couldn’t spell the word ‘corper’ despite trying more
than five times. Yet, during her national service, she taught pupils
at a school. I underlined about 10 grammatical errors on her CV
and showed them to her. She couldn’t even determine where to
use apostrophe s. A particular candidate couldn’t speak a whole
sentence without committing serious blunders. Even when I
repeated those errors while thinking he would correct himself, he
repeated the blunders again. Another candidate found it difficult
explaining what he studied in school. Some have not developed
themselves in any way since they graduated. I had to spend some

time to talk to a lady who had her Ordinary National Diploma
fifteen years ago but had not done anything to improve herself
since then. When she mentioned the issue of paucity of funds, I
pointed at her designer bag and her well braided hair as evidence
that fund was not the problem. I asked a female candidate what
her aspirations were if money was not a restraining factor. Her
answer left all of us on the interview panel with mouths wide
open. “I want to live large and live big”, she told us. One of the

candidates told us he studied ‘BSc Economics’. He made the
mistake thrice until I corrected him that he studied Economics and
not BSc Economics. A fellow was asked to introduce himself and
he started with ‘My names are…’. I asked him how many people
he’s introducing. Even when I tried to correct him, he insisted he
was correct so I gave up on him. On one occasion, I asked a
female candidate what her husband does. She replied, ‘I’m sorry
but he’s a driver’. I asked her why she was sorry about the
legitimate job that her husband does. I told her that the job of her
husband does not define who he is. His job is simply a job. I told
her I also drove a cab before. I spent the longest time with her as I
wanted her mind to be disinfected of the low self-esteem she
seemed to carry. I played the video of Femi Ogedengbe, the
Nollywood actor turned security guard in the United States and
encouraged her to be proud of her husband. Interestingly, the
husband is a graduate and I’ve asked her to give me her husband’s
CV. She almost broke down in tears when I told her I’d rather hire
her husband than her. She knelt and apologized before she left my
office. A few guys had the labels of their suit on their sleeves- at

least three of them that I recall. When I asked why the labels were
not removed, they grinned sheepishly. One of them told me that is
the current trend. When that same guy sat down, I observed that
he wore ankle socks with a significant part of his legs showing
bare skin. One candidate was particularly striking for his naivety.
He came in shaking and stammered while introducing himself. He
could barely string a sentence together. When I tried to make him
comfortable by asking him to take a deep breath, he answered by
saying, “I don’t know why I’m like this today. This is actually my
first interview”. He just finished his national service and anxiety

was written all over him. I made two major observations during the
interview session today: 1. Candidates who engaged in
extracurricular activities while in school turned out better. There
was a lady who was a member of SIFE- Students In Free
Enterprise- while she was on campus and she was one of the
bright spots. There was another fellow that represented his
University at a competition outside Nigeria. He was also
outstanding. Likewise, a lady who was Vice President of her

Students Union while she was an undergraduate. She
demonstrated so much confidence during the interview. 2.
Candidates that went to private universities performed better
generally. There must be something the private universities are
getting right as their graduates communicated better. They
demonstrated a far more superior level of intelligence. I was
disappointed by the performance of most graduates of mainstream
universities and polytechnics. One could almost guess whether a
candidate attended a private university just by listening to them.
If you’re preparing for an interview, it’s in your best interest to do
some research about the company you want to work with if you
know the company. Google is your friend. Work on your

communication skills. You should be able to talk about yourself
very clearly and also describe what you have done before-if you’re
an experienced hire. Your body language is critical- no fidgeting
and no show of anxiety. All of us have butterflies in our stomach
when we face strange people on an interview panel but with a
smile on your face, no one will ever know. A lady cracked her
knuckles throughout the interview today. It’s very irritating but
also shows she was nervous. Your posture is important. Dont
slouch on the chair. Sit straight with your back on the chair and
your legs together. Mind your language while being interviewed.

It’s better to be brief than to be unnecessarily verbose. By talking
too much at times, you demonstrate that you know so little.
Pronounce words well. It can take some practice but stand in front
of a mirror and rehearse until you get better. Be ready to defend
your certificate. Demonstrate that you actually earned your
degree. Maintain eye contacts. That shows your level of
confidence. Good grooming is key to your success. No matter the
current fad, it’s safer to be conservative in your dressing. Dark
coloured suits are best for interviews. Stay with white or blue
shirts for men. You can never go wrong with them. You must have
a great sense of colour to want to try very bright colours. It’s
either it turns out so good or you turn out like a magician’s

apprentice. Ladies have the latitude to try out more colours but
the simpler, the better. Pay attention to your hair and hand bag.
Synchronize your colours properly. Avoid loud jewelleries. Look
your best as the book is often judged by the cover during
interviews. Your appearance is what we see first before we hear
what you have to say. We need to declare a state of emergency in
our education sector and even start to teach intending graduates
certain life skills. Nigerian graduates will not be able to compete
with their African counterparts in a few years at this rate.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply