Six Soft Skills to Help You Ace Your Next Interview

Imagine two people being interviewed for the position of customer support team manager.

Both candidates have what it takes to deliver on a professional level, however one is more apt in relating with people based on his past behavior and the assessment of the interviewer. That is to say, he possesses excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Who do you think will get the job?

Assess your ability and prepare ahead before going for the interview Click To Tweet

A LinkedIn survey revealed that hiring managers look for candidates who in addition to skills and experience have the potential in performing the role. By potential, they mean the candidate’s own perspective and soft skill set that enables him to do the job effectively.

They ranked the following six soft skills in order of their importance.

Adaptability

In today’s world, the business environment is continuously changing and so are highly effective organizations because any organization who does not or cannot adapt to the constant changes in the environment will either be left behind or fizzle out.

As such, effective organizations seek candidates who can easily adapt to changes so they can remain competitive. According to the survey report, the most popular question hiring managers ask in this regard is:

‘Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. How did you react? What did you learn?’

Culture Add

Hiring managers have been advised to seek candidates who are not only like them (culture fit) but also bring a different perspective to the table.

Collaboration

Candidates who can work well with and in teams are what hiring managers are looking for according to the survey. No one can achieve much working alone. Do you get along well with others?The survey says one question to expect from this area is:

’Tell me about a time when you were communicating with someone and they did not understand you. What did you do?’

Leadership

Not only are leaders born, leaders can be made. Hone your ability to inspire, motivate and unleash the potential in others.

One popular question according to the survey report hiring managers ask pertaining to leadership is:

‘Tell me about the last time something significant didn’t go according to plan at work. What was your role? What was the outcome?’

Growth Potential

It is the ability of a candidate not only to perform on the current job but also in future and more prominent roles within the organization.

Hiring managers have been told to look out for candidates who are goal oriented and self-motivated. Such candidates are said to have the ability for growth potential.

Prioritization

Candidates who can demonstrate that they know what task comes first and what task should be put to a later date have gotten their prioritization and time management skills right. This will help you meet deadlines and also increase your productivity.

Besides the aforementioned soft skills, some hiring managers clearly spell out the soft skills they expect candidates to have for the role they are applying for.

Assess your ability in terms of those skills and prepare ahead before going for the interview.


Do you have some special skills you use for your business and career?

Share it with us here.

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi: I am motivated when I see people growing

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi
Skill empowerment has become the best way to thrive as an individual Click To Tweet

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi is the founder of Developing Afrika. Developing Afrika is an initiative set up to empower young people with skills needed to become an entrepreneur at little or no fee, thrive as entrepreneurs and establish a sustainable business.

Using social media she has raised an army of goal-oriented youth a and has succeeded in helping so many others reach their goal through free training.


What was your motivation in creating Developing Afrika?

In an environment where there are lots of unemployed yet talented youths, the crime rate has surged. There is also a decrease in proper jobs. Skill empowerment has become the best way to thrive as an individual whether male or female.

I came up with this idea in 2013 as a fresh graduate with the aim to target young secondary school students. However, due to limited resources and knowledge, I decided to put it on hold.

What has helped you to carry on so far?

Starting the journey now has been the most fulfilling thing I believe I have done. I am motivated seeing people grow, seeing people achieve their dreams. It hurts to hear that people who want to achieve certain things are unable to due to financial restraints or finding the right mentors. Being able to create that solution makes the difference to me.

When I tell people what I do, the first reaction I get is, “What’s in it for you, what’s your financial gain?” When I say nothing they go, “There has to be something you are gaining. What kind of business model is that.” I have learned to look beyond the snide comments and focus on the goal which is to reduce unemployment and help people achieve their dreams. I believe we can make Africa a continent to be reckoned with in the world.

It hurts to hear that people who want to achieve certain things are unable to due to financial restraints Click To Tweet

How did your growing up shape who you are today?

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, neither was I born poor. I didn’t have all I wanted, I still do not. However, I learnt to see opportunities in every situation.

I have had disappointments just like everyone else but I have also learned to rise above them and see the beauty in life. Life is beautiful to everyone who chooses to see it so.

What are your thoughts on women-owned enterprises?

I believe very much in women in enterprise. I support women working for themselves, being independent, and supporting people around them.

Also, I believe that irrespective of the girl power, all women must respect their husbands or partners as it has been commanded by God. Women can only learn this by learning to support themselves in their actions first not just by words.

What does your average day look like?

On an average day, when I’m not on the move, I’m in my shorts and top, exchanging emails and closing deals.

I also spend time running my business and praising God. I try to watch interesting movies too when time permits.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Natasha Bassey: I want to be better and to make others better

I try to add value to someone, somewhere, somehow each day - Natasha Bassey Click To Tweet

At a time when most young ladies will give an arm and foot to work in one of the biggest Telecomm companies in Africa, this #MotherlandMogul took a wild leap and it is taking her places.

Meet Natasha Bassey, PR woman, trainer, network marketer and a multi-business owner. Outside working in Telecomm, Natasha has experience in the show business industry. SLA contributor Priscilla Omoruyi caught up with Natasha Bassey and she shared her experiences and life work with us.


How long were you in the Telecomm industry?

I spent approximately 3 and half years in customer service and customer relations. My job was to attend to customer issues and try to resolve them as quickly as possible while at the same time trying to empathise with the customer and reassure them that the would get the most time effective response to their issue.

What prompted you to leave and strike it out on your own?

It initially started when I was diagnosed with medical issues that affected my hearing. I had also just completed my second degree in sociology and felt there was no better time to move on to new things.

What are the challenges you face as a network marketer?

For me, the greatest challenge isn’t even the recession. It is the close-minded nature of people to new ideas and better ways of doing things. I find overcoming that get rich quick mentality of instant gratification here and now a huge challenge.

Natasha Bassey's greatest challenge has been people's resistance to new ideas Click To Tweet

Money in itself is, after all, a byproduct of the mental process, so if that process is shunted in any way then there will be issues.

You are into a lot of things, how do you handle them?

I am usually able to handle all my businesses with my phone which I have turned into a mini office. I seriously need a personal assistant, though.

The truth is that handling so many initiatives does take quite a bit of juggling. But the willingness and drive are fueled for me by my determination, I want to be better and to make others better.

I wake up each day determined to take it one day at a time, one decision at a time. I try not to do everything but focus on the most important and rewarding things. Above all, I try to add value to someone, somewhere, somehow each day.

What are your best and worst moments?

For this, I would like to borrow a phrase we use in network marketing. There are no good or bad experiences, only learning experiences and this knowledge has really changed the way I think.

Natasha Bassey: There are no good or bad experiences, only learning experience Click To Tweet

The truth is no person or event has the power to make or break you, you are the only person who can. Interestingly another great thinker Brian Tracy said this, successful people make every decision right. This means that whatever decision the person takes in that time, whether “good” or “bad”, the person makes it work out right.

If you could go back in time to change something about your work and business, would you?

My mother always used to say hindsight and the ability to look back at our choices is a good but can only be achieved in retrospect. I believe all my actions and experiences brought me where I am today, I honestly don’t feel I would change anything.

I say this even though I sometimes look back at the time and energy I put into getting my second degree and wonder if I should have put in that much.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

10 East African songs that will get you hyped for your next big interview

Stella Mwangi

No matter how many times you practice your introduction or write down the skills you’ll bring to the position, interviews can be the most stressful part of getting a new job. We all know the stakes are high for an interview – you can go from the bottom of the pile to the #1 candidate by presenting yourself well and telling a compelling a story. 

With so much riding on your success, you can’t go into the interview room full of jitters and unsure of yourself. The best way to make yourself stand out is to be confident and calm. Not sure how to do that?

We’ve pulled together a list of 10 East African songs to help center yourself and find some inner peace before the big moment. 

1. Habida – Superwoman

As the title suggests, this song will get you into a ‘conquer the world’ mood. With its catchy beat and uplifting lyrics, it is just the kind of song you need to conquer an interview.

2. Octopizzo – Black star

Straight from the chorus, it is clear that the song is telling the listener to believe in themselves.

“Forever you will be, a shining star…

You will always be, a black star…”

Go forth black star and rock that interview.

3. Khaligraph  Jones – Yego

This song is about Julius Yego, the Kenyan javelin thrower who broke the African record twice and Kenya’s national record four times. Seeing as the song is based on a champion, it shouldn’t be hard to get into a winning spirit when listening to this song.

4. Juliani – Exponential potential

The title says it all and so does the video. The video is set within the confines of a boardroom which seems appropriate given the lyrics of the song. This is just the song you need to get the energy to unleash your full potential.

5. STL – Dreamer

Stella Mwangi (STL) uses this song to encourage all the dreamers to go out into the world and follow their dreams while recounting her own story. It will definitely get you in the mood to conquer your fears and ace the interview.

6. Wangechi feat Karun – Analogue dreamer

Although on the surface, the song seems to be talking about following your dreams, the more profound message is about being courageous enough to be different and to be you in a world clogged with similarity. Just the dose of courage anyone needs before an interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjZqJX-8Q-g

7. Muthoni the Drummer Queen (MDQ) – Nai ni ya who?

This song  was written for the city of Nairobi and what it takes to make it. But the song’s universal message also applies to any other city in the world. At its core, the song emphasizes the importance of getting up and doing something to change your life. The track’s awesome beat will get you hyped in seconds.

8. Avril feat Rabbit King Kaka – Ninaweza

‘Ninaweza’ means ‘I can’ in English. The song stays away from metaphorical analogies and remains as simple as its title suggests. It is the only motivation you need to get hyped for your interview. The message is clear, ‘You can.’

9. Vanessa Mdee – Hawajui

With a colourful video, Mdee encourages her listeners to overcome any obstacles that come their way, including unfair judgement from people who have no idea who you are.

10. Jua Kali – Baba Yao

The song begins with these words,

“Hauezi niekea chini, me ni baba yao”

“You can’t put me down, I am a champion” (English Translation).

Side Note: The Direct translation of the phrase, ‘me ni baba yao’ is ‘I am their father’ which is a sheng colloquialism used to refer to oneself as the best or a champion among colleagues.

Which of these are your favorites? Any ones we missed? What is your all time favorite song for getting pumped your big interviews?

How to answer these 2 key interview questions

black woman on interview
Get a better understanding of who you are before you set out for that interview Click To Tweet

Before you attend any interview, you need to prepare adequately. Research the company and review the details of the position you applied for. Evaluate your expertise and strengths, and ways in which you can use your skill set to be an asset to the hiring organization. Anticipate how you will confidently answer questions asked. This preparation will help you get a better understanding of who you are, and enable you to clearly outline your competencies, qualifications and goals.

First impressions are very important in the hiring process. In order to stand out from the competition, you need to make a lasting impression. This is not only determined by how you carry yourself, but also the way in which you respond to questions.

Here is how to answer two key interview questions:

 1. “Tell us about yourself”

This is a common question. So, where do you even begin? Do you treat the question as if you are on a date and start talking about your interests, dislikes and whatnot? Stop. HR doesn’t want to know about where you grew up, the kind of hardships you went through to get to the position you are in today, or the number of siblings you have.

When asked this question, you have to first focus on your academic background and professional experience. Give a brief overview of the two. For example:

My name is Anastacia Kihoti, a communications graduate from Africa Nazarene University. I am currently a customer service manager with four years of experience working for SMEs and large organizations in the service industry in East Africa. Additionally, I have more than two years of experience in inbound and outbound campaign management in call centres…

How to flawlessly answer the common interview question; Tell us about yourself Click To Tweet

The next step is to talk about your career progression as well as what you have learnt or achieved through the years. Capture the HR’s attention by mentioning the accomplishments that you are most proud of. For example:

As the customer service manager,  I managed a team of  fifty customer service representatives in introducing call centre systems by developing customer interaction and voice response systems, and executing user acceptance test plans. I came up with a strategy to get the job done within two weeks and successfully completed it at a lesser cost than that of outside consultants…

Finally, you should give a summary of what you want your next career step to be. Make sure this logically ties in to the responsibilities of the position you are interviewing for. For example:

I am looking to move away from customer service to coaching and developing team leaders and agents, managing the daily running of a call centre and driving performance of the team leaders to meet the business KPIs…

2. What are you looking for in a new position?

In a recent email exchange with a job candidate, who was asked this question during an interview, he said, “I didn’t know what to say but the first thing that came to mind was ‘More money’. I regretted it as soon as I had said it because of the look I got from the HR. Although he didn’t say my reason was wrong, I got the feeling that I had blown my chances. How should I handle such a question in the future?”

Well, we are all looking for greener pastures but mentioning money as the first thing may put off a recruiter. It makes it seem as if that is all you care about. Although money is important, don’t let it be your first response.

Mentioning money as the first reason you're looking for a new job may put off a recruiter Click To Tweet

Start by mentioning that you are looking for a job which has the potential for advancement. Talk about the desire to work in an environment where you will be challenged and in which you can grow your skills while being mentored. Highlight the experience you expect to get from the position. One of the most important things you can do is gain as much experience as possible from every job you get.

If you strive to work in a place that you’re excited to go to every morning or where you’ll be mentally stimulated, be honest about it. Tell the recruiter that those are the crucial aspects you want in a new position.

What are some other ways you have navigated these key questions? What other questions often give you pause at interviews? Let us know.

Use these 3 Ps to land your dream job in Africa

Florence Hutchful

It is not enough to show up for an interview having submitted a stellar resume. There are a few tips for blowing your interview out of the ballpark. At SheHive Accra 2016, Mrs. Florence Hutchful, Head of HR for West Africa at Standard Chartered Bank Ghana, summarized these tips into what she termed, the 3 Ps to acing your interview.

Preparation

It is important that you are able emulate the persona described and detailed in your resume. This means that you must come off knowledgeable and prepared for your interview. To be able to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the job, it is essential that you research the company.

Read about the company online, spend time on their website and get to know the company. If you cannot find any valuable information online, go the extra mile and walk into the institution and ask questions. Furthermore, be ready to answer questions regarding your salary expectation. It is important to have a fair idea about salary brackets in any given institution.

ALWAYS quote an expected salary; it shows that you know your worth and you are fully aware of the value of your time, skill and experience. Never compromise on preparation, it is what will make or break your presentation in an interview.  

Presentation

Presentation in any interview begins with your physical appearance. Even before you speak, panelists will assess you based solely on what you are wearing and your demeanor – your posture and composure. It is imperative that you dress and appear smart and confident.

Make sure your skirt is a good length, check the cut off your blouse and say no to overly elaborate jewelry, you must look professional. Confidence is always seen in the way you carry yourself, look up, straighten your shoulders and strut your stuff like the motherland mogul you are. Your ability to exhibit confidence in yourself through your outward appearance scores you several points even before you begin to speak.

Adequate preparation will be key to ensuring that your spoken presentation is top notch. Remember to clearly articulate your views, present your ideas in concise and direct responses. Do not beat about the bush, exhibit clarity of thought and speak with authority. In the event you do not know the answer to a question, assess the panelists, are they attempting to evaluate your ability to think on your feet or is this a direct question?

If it is the former, exhibit creativity and find a suitable answer, regardless of how far fetched it may be. But if it is the later, be candid and ask to get back to them later. Nothing beats honesty.

Participation

To get the job you must want the job. Remember that jobs aren’t just lying around for people to pick up. You have to demonstrate you are interested in the position, and mention the skills you can bring to the table and what the organisation will gain in return.

Be keen for the job; don’t be passive. Engage panelists; look them in their eyes when you respond. Ask questions and show your excitement for the position. There is nothing better than an employee who is passionate about their job; this fuels engagement and the desire to succeed in any position. Your ability to show a keen interest in an interview may very well be what scores you the job.   

Hopefully, with these three Ps you are sure to ace any interview and land yourself that dream job. All it takes to win is preparation, which will fuel your presentation and your ability to participate.