Tips to a winning introduction during your next interview

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve realized that a lot of people find it difficult to introduce themselves during an interview. That ‘Tell me about yourself’ question is the ice breaker and most candidates are scared to break it because they are not too sure of themselves.

Before I go into tips to a winning introduction, I would like to address a foundational problem that hinders us from selling ourselves properly and the “Lack of CONFIDENCE”.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it.

On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

Are you a fresh graduate or a prospective intern and not sure what to say when asked to Introduce yourself? Here are some things that would guide you:

Think through what you want to say before opening your mouth to talk

Mental preparation and a mirror exercise would do.  You don’t need to cram a speech or start reciting it verbatim, rather it should provide a guideline on what how each point should be said.

Avoid distracting words

Words like ‘urm’ ‘erm’ ‘izz like’ ‘you know’ etc could be distracting for your interviewer and may imply you’re not prepared for the interview. If those interjections are too much, it can be a huge turn-off.

Keep it concise and simple

I remember one of the interviews I sat in a few months ago, this guy legit talked about himself for a whole 30minutes.

Do you know that’s where the interview started and ended? At a point, he was just blabbing and we didn’t understand what he was saying but didn’t want to be rude and interject him.

Besides, we already knew he was a NO and allowed him to land before saying we had no questions and dismissed him.

Self-awareness is important

If you are self-aware, it is easier for you to understand other people and detect how they perceive you in return.

How well do you know yourself and the kind of direct or indirect message you are passing? Here are some things you need to build on to prepare for the next interview:

1. Your Bio

Start with your name, your school and course of study, the aspect in your course that interests you and why (this is not compulsory if it’s not related to your course of study).

2. Your Strengths

This could include something like being very organized, being able to manage your time and setting priorities, being able to communicate in a clear manner, being able to manage people regardless of their temperament, being able to work in a team.

Take note that while talking about this strengths, you should include one or two examples of how you have demonstrated them while in school as a leader in your school project, school activism, Student union or department association and finally through religious bodies you have belonged to.

3. Your Value Proposition

Talk about the value you would be adding to the team or organization. I would advise that you do extensive research about them and ensure what you are saying is relevant and relatable. If you have done your homework properly, they will fall in love with you!!!!

Finally, this is a piece of golden advice that is like the icing on the cake for people who want to give a winning introduction.

4. Humility won’t help you

I have met superb people who have great skills which companies are looking for but because they haven’t worked in a formal organization, they think those skills acquired through volunteering, internship, and personal development aren’t relevant.

Sister, if you don’t sell yourself, who will ??

Be proud of your little achievements and don’t be too humble about them. In the end, the best salesman gets the contract!

I hope you digest this information and deliberately work on your confidence. It may not happen overnight but with time, you can grow and become better.

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Oh!! Those nerves: 6 ways to deal with nervousness at job interviews

“I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I am nervous, I know I am going to put on a good show” – Beyonce Knowles.

I have (like most people) experienced nervousness at one point or another. Especially when at a place or situation that needs you to create an impression to someone or group of people you are meeting for the first time.

The feeling encountered takes on many forms. It could be a rumbling stomach, sweaty palms, distorted speech, temporary memory loss, shaky feet, rambling, fear, unable to smile, dry mouth, heart beats too fast, breathing issues and some form of tiredness to some.

Nervousness can affect the most confident and prepared person. Dealing with it takes awareness of the likely symptoms and an understanding of how to mange them so that it does not get the better of you.

Try this 6 tips to overcome the nerves

1. Prepare

A lot of what we do centers on preparedness, and an interview process isn’t left out. Take the time to practice and organize your thoughts. You can role play with a friend/partner/expert, research on the role, company, job description, practice your answers to likely questions.

You should also note down key talking points as well. Think of it this way – if you study for an exam to pass it, why do you think studying to ace an interview isn’t necessary?

2. Pause

Interviews are what they are. Have the understanding that you are in a conversation to show your eligibility for that role. And when you find yourself forgetting what was asked or you have no idea what the answer may be, because the nerves have kicked in,  just pause.

Take a minute to think things through and collect your thoughts before launching in again to answer the questions.

3. Please, breath! 

I mean this literally. Shortness of breath can also be from trying to hold your breath in so that you can just rush out those words. This can make you get more agitated.

We need you alive after the interview so please breath in and out while taking the time to respond. If you are offered a glass of water, accept it. You may need it if you experience dry mouth.

4. Ask the question again

This is a statement you should get used to. Do not feel it is a crime to request that the interviewer repeats him or herself. It does not make you look or sound dumb.

For clarity purposes, ask for the question again especially if you know you did not understand it at first. It is better to do this than to assume and ramble on or talk off the mark.

5. Your arrival matters

Following on from point number 1, get yourself ready and check you have the exact location for the interview. Have the appropriate wardrobe and grooming you need to appear presentable.

You need to have details of the office phone number (in case you need to ring in for an emergency), the method of interview, time zones (where applicable), the job/role information on who you are to meet.

Aim to arrive 10-15 mins early so that you can relax, calm down, have a chit-chat with those you see at the building or simply collect your thoughts.

6. Take notes

Summarise and note down at least 5 things you need the interviewer to know about you. List any questions you may have that needs more clarity, jot down points as they answer your questions.

This points back to preparation.

Remember that interviews are an evaluation of your suitability for that role/job at that particular point in time.

Many factors inform the decision of the recruiter so never exit an interview feeling like a failure and always put in your best at all times.

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Transferable skills: What they are and how you can detect them

So many of us want a change of jobs and we feel our skills will not fit. That isn’t entirely true Click To Tweet

Have you looked through a job application and your initial thoughts are that you haven’t got any required or essential skills necessary for the job? Don’t panic just yet, we have the scoop to calm your career nerves.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are talents and abilities you can take from job to job or career to career. They are skills you have acquired and can implement in any future career settings.

They are categorized of more soft skills than technical skills.

How are they acquired?

Transferable skills are acquired through volunteering, internship opportunities, apprenticeship, training (formal and informal), hobbies and any job, task or role you were or still involved in including parenting.

The key thing is that you have every opportunity to develop your skills & learn new ones Click To Tweet

What set of skills are transferable?

Interpersonal and people skills

Simply put, it is a skill that shows how well you relate to others. Top tip is how you communicate (written and verbal), empathy for others, conflict resolution and willingness to get along with others (team player), to ensure a common goal.

Organisational skills

This set of skills requires the ability to use your energy, resources and time in an efficient and effective way. Top tip is how you are able to follow through, manage your time, prioritize your work, planning and of course, meeting deadlines.

Leadership skills

The ability to influence a set of people to achieve a goal or move to a particular direction is essential as a leader. This set of soft skills is developed over time. Top tips are how you can effectively communicate, indispensability, integrity, commitment, problem-solving, initiative, decision making, evaluating, delegating and managing.

Communication skills

This set of skills cannot be overemphasized enough. They require the ability to articulate, explain, persuade and speak in public settings (meetings, work presentation or informal settings). Top tip is how well you are understood either through an email or letter or through your speech.

Information technology skills

The use of I.T skills is more than essential in our everyday life. However, you need to show an ability to use formal I.T skills in a work environment. Top tip is having the ability to use Microsoft Office packages.

Research and analytical skills

This set of transferable skills has the ability to search or look for information or data, organise them, interprete and make inferences, theories and decisions or solutions based on your findings. Top tip is the need to want to solve problems, by thinking, creativity, and curiosity.

You already have transferable skills. You just need to list them out now and apply them Click To Tweet

How do I know if I have them?

Get out your pen and a paper and begin to make a list of skills and talents you have acquired thus far. Reflect on the roles you have done in the past (even in an educational environment) and as you go through this set of skills, create a list of your own set of transferable skills.

4 principles to follow for a meaningful career 

How do you actually find meaning and purpose in your career? Start here Click To Tweet

We all aspire to find meaning and purpose in our careers, whatever our line of work maybe, but the question is how do you actually do that? I feel like somewhat of an expert on the topic having explored different fields of study from Physics to European studies. In addition to that, I have considered going into the business world but eventually ending up working in development.

I do feel that the work I do now is more in line with my long-term goal which is to work in the intersection of educational development and girls/women’s issues. Had I taken the time to ask myself some key questions years ago and really try to answer them based on a true understanding of my want, needs, and aspirations, I may have arrived at this finding a long time ago.

Through this post, I’d like to share with you some practical steps you can take to make sure that you don’t stay stuck in a career that’s not meant for you but rather you are empowered to find a career that allows you to do the things you genuinely care most about.

1. Define what “meaningful” looks like to you

Conventional wisdom may indicate that a meaningful and successful career is one that brings loads of money, recognition, and fame. And maybe that is true for some people, but is that true for you?

You need to take a moment of self-reflection and truly consider what a meaningful career looks like for you and how that fits into the context of a meaningful life.

Personally, when trying to decide what a meaningful career looked like, I tried to consider how my intended career weighed against the following factors: legacy, mastery, freedom, and alignment


Look at the list of things you will have to achieve on this job and ask yourself if these are things you enjoy doing and can see yourself doing for an extended period of time. It’s not always going to be rainbows and roses, and so even on the mundane days, you have to ask yourself if you would be willing to stick it out).

Are you creative and like to think outside the box? Do you like to follow rules and preserve order? How well do you handle uncertainty? Do you like being told what to do or do you prefer to be left to your own devices most of the time? Are you good at convincing others to do things or do you prefer to let the numbers do the talking?

Will your career allow you achieve the things you want to professionally while allowing you to stay true to yourself?


Make a list of all the things you know you kick-ass at and totally dominate. Are you a good writer, speaker, convener, motivator, team player, thinker?

Does the career you’ve chosen put you in a position where you can display your mastery of these skills? Are there other skills that you have a feeling that if given the opportunity to do so you could master easily? Would this career afford you that opportunity?

Does the career you’ve chosen put you in a position to display your mastery of your skills? Click To Tweet

I think we all know intuitively what this means. Whatever career you choose, it’s going to come with some constraints i.e. salary, benefits, vacation days, perks, how much you get to travel etc.

When you imagine yourself living your best and freest life, what does this look like? Will this career allow you to achieve that vision of freedom that you have?


When it comes to alignment, the question you have to ask yourself is whether your chosen career is in line with your personal values and the type of work culture that you value. This requires a bit of research and digging to find accounts from people who have worked there.

For instance, a company might be well-known for fostering creativity but also condoning a culture of misogyny (Uber anyone?). You need to be able to determine for yourself whether the culture that exists is one you see yourself fitting into seamlessly or whether it is one where you are willing to change to adapt to.

2. Think long term

Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people are living longer which means that for our generation, retirement age is probably going to increase. Chances are whatever career you do commit to you’re going to be in it for a long time.

So rather than thinking “What job do I want right now”, think “What life do I want 50 years from now”. And then find the career that fits into that. Find a career that you can see yourself doing 10, 20, 30 years from now. One that excites you and you feel will have room to allow you to grow in the direction of your long-term goals.

Think about the life you want 50 years from now and find a career that fits into that Click To Tweet

3. Be honest about your finances

One of the main reasons that people stay stuck in a job or career that they don’t love is because of money. Either the money is too good to leave or the money is so bad they can’t afford to leave. But know this, you deserve to find a career that you find meaningful and fulfilling.

So start today, start with what you have and create a “financial cushion” that will enable you to get started on that journey towards career bliss and psychological freedom. Make a budget and stick to it, give yourself a timeline, start exploring other opportunities and when the time is right, make your grand exit and follow your dreams.

4. Give time some time

No one likes to hear this, but things take time and as the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who’ve known what they wanted to be from birth or whose first business idea took off, chances are you’re going to spend some time going through ideas that fail and jobs that you don’t like or downright hate. Consider it all a learning process.

For every experience you’ve had, make time to think about it critically and consider what worked and what didn’t, what you loved and what you didn’t like, what you want to do more of and what you want to swear off completely.

Chances are you’re going to go through jobs that you don’t like or downright hate Click To Tweet

Talk to a lot of people, find people you trust and people you admire and ask them for advice and for their opinions. Keep searching and keep applying yourself and your efforts will be rewarded. Eventually, you will find yourself in a career that you love through dedication and perseverance, and when you’re there you will know that all the efforts and sacrifices you made to get there were worth it.

Do you have any thoughts regarding what it takes to find and pursue a meaningful career? Do you identify as one of those people who is living their dream life and following their passions? If so, let us know how you managed to figure out the “magic formula”.

How to land a job in a top bank: When the A’s are no longer enough

Those grades are great but they aren't enough to get you that job in a top investment bank Click To Tweet

Let me paint a picture for you.

GCSE 9A*’S. A-Level 4A*S. University 1st class in Business and Economics. Founder of a Banking society in university. An avid reader of FT, The Economist etc. Sounds like a good resume of a banking employee right? WRONG! Or shall I say not necessarily.

Sorry to burst your bubbles if you are reading this and this is you and you are thinking you have done enough. (Chances are you are, I mean all the Motherland Moguls are all geniuses who talk about Marxism and liberalism at their Saturday lunches.) The truth is those grades are great, but they are necessary ingredients, not sufficient ones.

So how can you stand out? Here’s what I have come to find from my experience in a top investment bank and by speaking to the people I work with.

Three tips that will help you…good luck!

1. Networking as cliché as it sounds is the quickest way to accelerate your application

People go and on about the power of networking. I go to many conferences and the section I dread the most is the 20 minutes they shove in at the end for ‘networking’. You may be reading this agreeing with me. Sister, I feel ya!

But let me share something with you. I have been in my industry for a couple of years now and I have never gotten an opportunity the conventional way. Everything has come as a result of a simple conversation with someone who I connected with.

Networking is not speed dating! You do not have to speak to everyone. Find one or two people to connect with in an authentic way and follow up!! This is where most people drop the ball. When I moved into the Securities division at my firm it was a shock to many.

How did you do it? Well an MD asked three of us to email him for coffee after a recruitment event. The next day I set it up. We spoke, we connected and after a few months, he hired me. What I later realised was I was the only one who followed up with him.

Nobody likes a jack-of-all-trades master of none, here's how to stand out Click To Tweet

2. Know your WHY and have a story

To a large extent, one of the reasons I wanted to go into the corporate world was so I could rock a Chanel suit and 6inch Loubs, sit in a glass office and tell people what to do. Jessica Pearson from Suits to be specific. (Don’t judge me! Everyone has their fantasies!)

However, when asked why you want to go into your chosen corporate field in an interview never ever give a cliché (or dumb) answer. For example: ‘With my combination of subjects I felt this will be a great industry for me’ Yawnnnn.

Or, ‘I have always been passionate about banking and how the industry works. I kept a piggy bank since I was young and care bout savings’.

Lol, sister please take several seats.

People like to work with interesting people. Think about the interviewer- poor guy. Seeing person after person is really boring! Bring some of your personality into the room and position the conversation in a way that gives you the control!

For example: ‘I never imagined I would work in banking, to be honest. I’m really interested in infrastructure –especially coming from a third world country- and how infrastructure can enhance development. What I realised though was that there were many great developers, but no one has any idea how to finance large projects.

Concepts like debt financing, credit and loans kept coming up and so it sparked my curiosity. I began to speak to people and it became clear that rather than join the queue of people waiting to get their projects financed, I could go to other side and start helping them figure out how they could do so through different financial instruments…’ blah blah blah

Do you see the difference? You’ve now given the interviewer something to ask you more about and you can control the conversation. Chances are he doesn’t know much about infrastructure in third world countries so the interview (usually 30 min) becomes an opportunity for you to teach him something new!

To convince someone to give you a cherished spot in their firm -you need to be an intentional person Click To Tweet

3. Do not be a jack-of-all-trades master of none

I have some sister reading this who has trekked up and down the Himalayas, organised a UN conference, run a small business on the side and volunteered in a home all in the summer before their application to banking.

Sorry, sister! Are you the only one??? Relax.

Nobody likes a jack-of-all-trades master of none. To convince someone to give you that cherished spot in their firm -you need to come across as an intentional person. Don’t just pile on achievement after achievement, be clear on the reasons why you do what you do and what part of you these activities are developing.

Are you adventurous and love a good challenge? Then let your activities show that. Do you love to spend time learning about the problems of the world? Then do things to show that. Don’t be a follow-follow.

A question you will definitely get asked is what you enjoy outside of work. Give a genuine answer! Imagine spending 12-hour days with a very serious person who cannot talk about anything other than work. Snooze fest! This is what the interviewer is thinking about! Would I want to pull an all-nighter with you?

So ladies in general, it’s pretty simple- be yourself and be unique. The good grades and achievements are great, but the ‘softer skills’ I always argue will trump those every single time.

So to land that job, It’s pretty simple- be yourself and be unique Click To Tweet

Job hunting 101: 6 survival tips for the aspiring Motherland Mogul

Are you feeling personally victimised by the job application process? These tips are for you Click To Tweet

Anybody here feel personally victimised by the job application process? Yeah, me too. I thought having a degree would mean people would come knocking at my door, begging me to work with them. Wishful thinking.

I’ve come to realise the job is not going to find you, you’ve got to go to look for it. The process can be so tiring but it has to be done, you know, if you want food on the table or that life you’ve always dreamt of. First-time job seekers, this one is for you; welcome to job hunting 101.

The devil is in the details

Your C.V is the first thing your potential employers will see. They need to be able to pick out key highlights of your professional experience at a glance. It is also important to streamline your C.V, what about it says ‘I am perfect for this job‘.

Remove irrelevant details. Nobody needs to know you got mad skills with the knitting needles unless you’re applying for a job in the weaving industry. If that’s the case, make sure your portfolio shows all you can do. Make sure your professional accomplishments are distinguishable, that’s how you get your brand out there.

Your cover letter is just as important. Be prepared to write countless versions, each tailored for the company you are applying to. Research the company. Add small details, such as why you like the ethics of the company or how you would be a great fit. This lets them know that you aren’t sending a generic cover letter but that the interest is real.

Apply, Apply, Apply!!!

The application process can be slow and tedious. Set aside a day to focus on sending out applications. The truth is that not everyone will respond. Don’t give up! There is no harm in putting your C.V out there, it is more likely to do good than harm.

Be proactive, drop your CV off at places you are interested in. Don’t worry about your pride, she can’t get you a job, determination though? She is your best friend. You’ve got to be prepared to do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door.

Don’t underestimate the power of resources like LinkedIn. Create a detailed and notable profile that will make you stand out as a viable candidate. You can also use LinkedIn to reach out to professionals in your field to check if they have any openings or ask for advice. The resources are endless, use them to your best advantage.

Apply for your dream job, apply for the practical jobs. The key thing here is to never stop applying. I repeat. Never stop applying.

There is no harm in putting your C.V out there, it is more likely to do good than harm Click To Tweet

Be patient

Easier said than done, right?

Companies are more likely to not respond to your application and somehow actually receiving a rejection email is more comforting than deafening silence. Don’t be discouraged, something’s gotta give. Something will give!

The worst expectation you can have when you start applying is that job offers will flow in constantly. Getting your first job could take months but it will happen, it’s not impossible but it’s not easy either.

Just keep swimming

Getting a job after university or after a slump is hard. Especially when it feels as if everyone around you is getting great jobs, moving forward and leaving you behind. This is on top of the actual overwhelming feeling of job applications.

People sit and tell you to get a job as if you can wake up, snap your fingers and have it. The external pressure is suffocating. Remember, don’t compare journeys, your path is just that, yours. Comparing yourself to your friends won’t get you a job, it will just make you miserable. Focus on what’s important and go get it.

Comparing yourself to your friends won't get you a job, it will just make you miserable Click To Tweet

Go the extra mile

At some point, the job hunt will make you feel like you are going crazy. You’ll find yourself applying to jobs that seem out of your field. And that is okay!

Look at job opportunities that may require you to step out of the traditional thoughts of how your career should look. Each experience should inform and be a stepping stone for the next.

Connection is key

People like to make you feel that asking for help when looking for a job is shameful. Nobody got time for that. Put your pride back in your pocket, you don’t need her. Network and connect. Jobs are often about who know as much as you having the necessary skills for them.

It is key to keep contact with people in your industry, even if it is with your peers or with someone you once interned for. Keep yourself on their mind, so when opportunities arise they think of you first. When someone sees a job that they may not be available for or isn’t in their field, they can refer you.

Make and keep strong genuine connections. Connect with as many people as you can and stay in touch, help others out, the path to employment isn’t one you have to walk alone.

How to land a job with the African Union Commission

Would you like to work for the AU? Here are some tips on how you can land a job with the AU Click To Tweet

The African Union Commission, previously the Organisaton of African Unity, is Africa’s biggest and most influential regional body. Its origins span from a time the continent was fighting against colonialism and Apartheid with African heroes such as Kwame Nkrumah, Emperor Hailie Selassie, Muammar Gaddafi, Sekou Touré, Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere and many others being its founding fathers.

It’s 54 years later and the AU has won its fight against colonialism and Apartheid and has shifted its focus to the development of the continent in order to create a prosperous, people-centered Africa which is a key global player.

More and more young people want to join the AU and contribute to the development of the continent. Would you like to work for the AU? Besides meeting the requirements of the job description here are some tips on how you can land a job with the AU.

Be a Pan Africanist!

In order to work for Africa’s largest regional organization, you have to love the continent and be a Pan-Africanist. Pan-Africanism is essentially the belief that African unity is important for the social, political and economic development of the African people. When talking about Pan-Africanism, other theories such as Black Consciousness and Ubuntu come to mind. However, this should not just be a theory, you should genuinely believe in a Pan-African Africa with a strong regional identity.

Your belief in Pan-Africanism should be evident in your cover letter, make it known through the interview, and your personal and professional experiences should speak to that.

Demonstrate that you have done development work in your community.

This is very important. Your previous and current experiences (personal and professional) should demonstrate that you have been active in the African development space, especially in your country of origin and/or its sub-region. This shows that you aware of and can conceptualize the realities that Africa is faced with in different subjects and can make a meaningful contribution as you are in sync with the realities.

The first female Chairperson of the AU Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Copyright African Union
The first female Chairperson of the AU Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Copyright African Union

Be African with an international view

The African Union works with a wide variety of organizations and governments worldwide. The pool of AU staff come from different African countries and the diaspora. This means that you will constantly work with people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds, whose working language is probably different from yours (The AU has four official working languages). You have to be culturally sensitive and be willing to learn from other people’s cultures and backgrounds.

You have to demonstrate an international outlook and be forward thinking. Any international experience you might have will work out in your favour. Do not conceptualize ideas within the framework of your country origin but it should have an African and international view. Simply put do not give a single country’s view/perspective to solve continental problems.

Be diplomatic

Diplomacy plays a huge part in the African Union’s work so you need to be diplomatic. You need to be able to find diplomatic solutions in your work and in all your experiences.

Most, if not all, of the work done at the AU is very sensitive so you need to be sensitive to others while so you need to be tactful and consider everyone’s opinions while maintaining your own.

Copyright African Union
Copyright African Union

Know Agenda 2063

Agenda 2063 is the holy grail of the African Union as it is the continent’s 50-year developmental framework. It is based on seven aspirations which will result in the “Africa We Want”. Agenda 2063 works towards creating a prosperous, peaceful, people-centered Africa with a regional identity.

If you want to land a job with the AU you have to know and understand Agenda 2063 and its flagship projects which are currently being implemented. For the first time, the AU’s focus is not only predominantly on peace and security but on the continent’s development and making it a key player in the global arena.

Agenda 2063 does not belong to the AU but to all Africans! It relies heavily on its implementation by member states. Every single African has the responsibility to seeing this great plan through in order for the continent to enjoy the fruits of its aspirations.

Thousands of people who meet the job description apply for jobs at the AU Commission but it is those who robustly believe in themselves and the continent who get the job. If you would like to get more information on vacancies at the AU Commission visit