Believe me, I learnt the do’s and don’t of an interview long before I gained admission into the University. But, on this disgraceful day, as the devil would have it, I chose to freestyle to my first interview.
I had my first interview with Queen Idia Hall Press, a hall press organisation in my school, The University of Ibadan. Of the greatesssss… Okay, no, we are not here for that. I was in 300Level then, and I figured I could join one or two clubs to spice up my boring life.
Some things truly never change. Like every other appointment, I delayed the preparations for the interview till that very day. You know now, legends crash-do everything and still get the results. PS: Follow my advice at your peril. Notice I didn’t say excellent results.
The interview, if I remember, was slated for 9 am. So as not to fall my village people’s hand, I started preparing 30 minutes before the time. Lest I forget, the interview was to hold at my hall of residence, just about 5 minutes’ catwalk from my room.
One thing I have learnt from experience, though I still fall short, is if you’re someone with poor time management, even if you have the whole day to prepare yourself for an event or task, you will still end up late for whatever you planned. Your brain engages you in unnecessary stuff till you are late for the show. Because that’s the way you have trained yourself. Your body isn’t familiar with punctuality. So it has to adjust to its ways and ensures you are late. But I love the pressure that comes with rushing. I should change, I know.
I got to the venue late, of course. I had to navigate around the hall because I didn’t even know where the press room was, and I didn’t think I needed to find out before the day. God! I was terrible. 😂😂
I filled the attendance book, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. Despite being an award-winning latecomer, I was still a novice in lateness compared to some candidates. I was number two on the attendance list. Oh, that was gratifying.
Not until when the other candidates walked in did I realise how fucked my dressing was! I was wearing a jean shirt, an informal skirt with my old pair of sandals.
Dressing – 0
Aminat 0 Village People 2
You know when your brain even conspires against you. Other people’s brains would have signaled to them, “take an excuse from the interviewers, then run back to the room to change.” My brain said, “wo, I Don reach here already, I no fit go back to change this cloth, no be Idia press again? Abeg” I had to listen to my brain. I mean, my brain is the highest decision-making organ for my body. C’mon, do you still suggest I should have declined?
The then deputy editor-in-chief then approached us and shared the supposed exam papers. We were to attempt the written exam before going for the oral interview.
When I saw the questions, I smiled and told myself, “You see, I told you, it’s nothing so serious, so why be too serious? ” I attempted the questions satisfactorily, and I was hopeful for the outcome. Unlike my pharmacy exams, where most papers always end with “God abeg“
Finally, it was my turn to face the interviewers. I casually walked in like I would show up at a get together of friends. I greeted the panelists, sat down and I was like “Yeah, I’m here, will you admit me to this press organisation abi I should take my leave?” No, I didn’t say that loud. “Se I have seen another press club to join ni?” The voice of one panelist brought me back to reality when he said, “I can’t remember telling you to sit down” I immediately stood up and apologized. Another panelist asked me to take some steps backward so she could assess my dressing. At that point, all charms and jazz fashioned against me stopped working. I couldn’t believe what I was wearing. In my head, I was like “Haha, I no look mirror ni? Wetin be this? really, what was I thinking when I left the room like this. Where were my roommates when I was dressing like this? It was like a set-free moment from the bondage of stupidity. I felt sorry for myself. The interviewer then asked me if I was formally dressed. I looked at myself, with so much surprise, like I was seeing myself for the very first time. kin ma paro kin ma jale, I replied no, and she said nothing. My mood instantly changed, I felt sour, and it affected my performance for the rest of the interview.
I knew I didn’t do well. I couldn’t even answer simple, logical questions that were asked. But I really did well to keep my smile, at least that should earn me some points. “Wahala for person who no fit smile o.” And it got so bad at some point that I was moved to tears. “No, I couldn’t let the tears fall now. Ah no now, fine girl like me, I can’t cry in public now. What’s all this? Where are the tears coming from? Ah no, I can’t afford to give these panelists something to gist about once I leave now. Aminat, swallow this thing now, it’s not even a job interview.”
The interview ended with a mixed feeling. I was grateful for the platform. Knowing is not the same as doing. Like I have mentioned, I knew the rudiments of an interview, but I never had to practice it. And as a result, it flopped. Well, I could help you with some tips to ace your next interview.
- Research the organisation before you go in. Google them, go to their website if they have one. And if you are lucky to know anyone who works in the org, seek advice from them.
- It’s the small things that kill an interview. Your dress code depends on the organisation. Some orgs. prefer casual dressing, while others prefer you look business formal. But whatever you are wearing, ensure it’s in line with the organization’s dress code. Look fresh like today’s bread and smell nice like coffee.
- Look, an interview is like a date. The interviewers are curious to know you, and you’re also dying to meet them. Do you like them? Are you willing to work with them? Ideally, the final decision depends on you and the interviewers. You have great skill sets. Are you sure you want to work here? On the other hand, the interviewers are thinking, “Will you be the best person for this role? Can we afford you?” Play your cards well and market yourself.
- Make eye contact and smile as much as you can. It kills the interviewer.
- It’s okay to pause before answering any question. Don’t just open your mouth gbagada and remove all doubt of stupidity. Remember, the job of the HRs is to look for your mistakes.
- Ask questions too. It’s a 50-50 rule. Give the interviewers 50% of the time to talk, engage them with the remaining 50%.
The list is endless and you can attend more seminars on how to ace job interviews. I recommend you read “What color is your parachute?” by Richard Bolles. Don’t thank me, send me money and buy me gifts later.