Effective ways to ensure a successful job interview

You have managed to leap off the pages of your curriculum vitae and cover letter and have been invited to a job interview for a prospective job role.

Of course, you are stressing out, yes you are one step closer to grabbing that dream but the pressure is mounting and you have to prove yourself one more time (and now there is no paper to hide behind!).

How do you ensure that you are successful in your next job interview?

Prepare and prepare and prepare

Preparation is your friend and is going to ensure your success. One of the first steps should be to find out from your future employer if there is anything you can prepare ahead of the interview.

If they are obliging, you could go further to find out the format of the interview and who will be on the interview panel. This is something you can (and should) also find out from current employees.

Read over your curriculum vitae and cover letter, be familiar enough with them so that you can address any questions on them. Know why you included specific details – what were you trying to get across about yourself?

If this is the first time you are applying for a job, make sure you are able to highlight how your background has equipped you for this position. The same goes for a position you are applying for within the same sector as you are currently employed.

If you are looking at branching out from what you have previously done then it is necessary to be able to illustrate how your skills are transferable.

For example, if you all your experience is limited to corporate and now you intend on moving to a government department, detail skills you acquired during your corporate experience and how these could be applied in your new setting.

Preparing for this pre-empts the inevitable question about why you are making a change and goes one step further in showing that you have thought about how your past experience, although different, translates.


You could go about practicing by either going through a mock interview or even more informally just chatting through some questions. This is a must in ensuring that the actual interview is not daunting.

Work through some basic questions such as personal background to start off with. Then move on to specific experience and education. Make sure you can also address questions about the new position and company.

Would you be able to answer why you are leaving your current position? Or some of the more sticky questions such as what makes you different; what is the biggest challenge you have faced and what is one quality you would change about yourself.

Make sure that you do not over-practice, you do not want to come across as rehearsed during the actual interview. So walk that fine line between practicing and coming across as rehearsed!


During the latter part of an interview, it is inevitable that you will be asked whether you have any questions for your prospective employers. It is imperative to ask questions and in order to be able to do so, you need to factor this into your preparation.

Questions can relate to the working environment; the type of clients and if you are aware of who the interview panel will be ahead of time – questions can then be addressed to specific people.

For example, if you know the head of the department will be part of the interview, try to research some of the work she or he has recently been a part of so you can ask a more detailed question.

Remember, inasmuch as an interview is about you being judged, it is also your opportunity to assess whether this position is the best fit for you. So if work/life balance is integral to your happiness then be sure to ask about this in the interview.

Current Employees

Try to connect with current employees. They can assist in shedding light on what the work environment is like and what the position you are applying for entails. A good starting point for connecting is LinkedIn.

More often than not you will have connections in common, which makes connecting a lot easier.

They can also help you figure out if the position advertised is really what is described or in substance is something else. Current employees can be a great resource for understanding our potential work environment and role.

Outcome of the Interview

Before you leave the interview, be sure to find out how the communication following the interview will go and who you can contact if you would like feedback.

Whether you secure the position or not, feedback is key. You have an idea of how you would like to come across but did that materialize and is there anything you could have done better?

Of course, these are more critical to know if you did not secure the position. So often when we fail we want to forget about the experience entirely. But knowing what did not work will put you one step ahead in terms of preparing for the next interview.

Do not read notes up until the last moment before you enter the interview. Take some time before to try to relax! It is really difficult to do, especially when you know you need to ace the interview, but having that sense of calm will translate when you go into the interview.

Small things like speaking slowly are also important and are sure to ask for a minute to think something over if you are unsure – there is no need to answer immediately!

And lastly but most importantly, be yourself and do your best.

Got an article you’d like to share with us? Share your story with us here.

Five benefits of vacation work during the holiday season

So the holiday season is here, and whilst everybody is in a tizzy over year-end functions, pre Christmas plans, decorations and basically bawling over the holiday season… You or perhaps someone you know, maybe thinking well now that the semester has come to an end; what to do?

Quite the temerity it must be; deciding whether to lounge around and have a jam all summer, or work towards building your portfolio to be industry ready.

In as much as the season may leave many of us with a lot FOMO as a result of Instagram lifestyles, we need to stay the course in our personal journey towards achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. It is never too late to jump back onto the bandwagon!


Decisions… Decisions…

What to do? Christmas is generally a season where everyone is spending copious amounts of money, sometimes even to their detriment.

And the social media platforms are an absolute field trip for the type of lifestyle one should be engaging in, consumerism is a monster unleashed.

As a student, graduate, or a job hunter, your best bet would be to look up any vacation work that may be offered by corporations or NGO’s. This will not only aid in keeping you from spending money which you (or your parents) don’t have, but it will propel you a few steps closer to the career you want to find yourself in.

What is better time there to start actualizing your dreams and aspirations than the Christmas season with all its good cheer and positive vibrations?




There are undoubtedly a plethora of benefits when it comes to taking up vacation work, however, here is a narrowed down five points to bring the thought home:

1. Vac work will aid in establishing whether the career field of choice is the right one.

It is always better to know before making a long commitment to a particular trade service, whether or not it is what you want to be doing for the rest of your life.

Nothing brings more clarity than having a real-time experience of a work environment to further solidify your stance.

2. Extra flow of income, if it is a paying gig.

Vac work may not always have a monetary benefit if it does, however, that means Christmas spoils for yourself and some money to put towards the savings account.

In the instance that it is not a paying gig; there is a lot that could be made up for that in the form of experience. It would be important in this instance to ensure that wherever you’ll be taking your vacation job, there are individuals who are open to and willing to mentor and guide you.

3. New experiences and encounters.

This is self-explanatory, having a chance to experience new things generally is always a plus. At no extra cost to you, nothing brings about rejuvenation and perspective like exposure to a way of being that is different to yours.

4. Showcasing a level of responsibility to the parents.

Parents want to know that their children are ready to take up adulting and the responsibilities that come with that. Nothing spells grown up more than taking charge of one’s life and journey.

5. A sense of accomplishment.

Nothing brings on a booster more than a sense of achievement. No matter how small the feat or how insignificant the milestone may seem; but to you, it is a step in the right direction.

You can always be proud of yourself for doing the work of being a better version of you.


You were born for this…

Do you boo! You are able to do everything you set your mind to. You just ought to get up and show up in your life. It is important to hold yourself accountable for the life you want to live.

It is equally important to ensure that no Christmas splurge fest formed against you shall prosper.


Time to enjoy the holidays, hone your craft and Merry Christmas!

Webinar with Odunayo (PushCV): Writing your cv and cover letter for your dream job (July 13)

What do the first six seconds of your CV say to a recruiter?

If you’re attending many job interviews but never get a call back from employers, we’re about to solve your job hunt misery.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how much skills you possess, having a bad CV and NO cover letter can end your chances for a job in no time.

Learn all you need to know from @OdunEweniyi about rewriting your CV and cover letter. (July 13) Click To Tweet

Now, whether you’re planning to write your CV yourself or get a professional writer, you also need to understand the difference between your CV and cover letter and know how to construct and present both to potential employers.

We’ll be chatting with tech founder and Chief Operations Officer of PushCV – Odunayo Eweniyi on Thursday, July 13th, about how to get the attention of recruiters, through your CV and cover letter.

Odunayo launched PushCV for both employers and job seekers – to fully harness the power of technology in the search for the perfect candidate or the perfect job.

Register for this webinar below.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Techniques for Job application
  • Rewriting your CV and cover letter
  • How to get the attention of a recruiter in 6 seconds (Presentation)
  • Interviewing processes every job seeker must know of

Webinar Details:

Date: Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Time: Lagos 1pm // Joburg 2pm // Nairobi 3pm

Place: We’ll send you the link to watch once you register

Watch here:

About Odunayo

Odunayo Eweniyi is the Chief Operations Officer of Sharphire Global Limited – which owns subsidiary companies like PushCV, Piggybank.ng and FrontDesk.

Odun, as she is called, is very passionate about education, employment and most importantly, female empowerment, which enabled her to work with her team to build products to achieve that goal over the past 4 years.

She graduated with a first class degree in Computer Engineering from Covenant University. She loves to write a lot, and when she’s not working or eating, she’s watching TV shows.

Falling into the gap: life in-between varsity and employment

shehive joburg she leads africa
A gap year is not a waste of time, no matter what our relatives love to say Click To Tweet

Graduating from university is one of the most satisfying moments in life, you’ve accomplished your goals and now you are ready for the rest of your life. It can also bring a lot of anxiety especially if you don’t have a job lined up.

Don’t worry though, great things take time but its how you spend that time that also matters. What you do during period between finishing university and starting a job can actually shape the rest of your career so here’s some tips on how to make the most of it.

Take a gap year

free-gifVarsity can leave you burnt out, tired and overall unable to deal. A gap year is not a waste of time, no matter what our relatives love to say. Taking time off can help you figure out what you want from life and your career.  If you can afford to travel, do so.

If you have to pay your way, consider teaching overseas or if you’re just looking for work experience an internship at the UN could be a viable option. If you are settling back home you could also volunteer, this opportunity will not only look great on your CV but is an opportunity to help in your local community.

Use the time to plan

Graduating from university doesn’t necessarily mean you know exactly what you want to do. It is highly likely you spent more time focusing on the next assignment due or exam to write and never really sat down to think about your future. This is the time you have to sit back and plan, perhaps start a journal.

Set out your career goals (using this SLA guide), business plan, decide who you are and where you are going. Doing this can keep you extremely motivated and will help you plan your next step. Set new goals, you don’t always have to fit into the traditional path and this may be the time to broaden your career search, you could consider going back to school.

Protect your mental health

It is extremely demoralizing to watch your peers get jobs straight out of varsity. It is also very easy to lose motivation when the job hunt is not automatically successful; so keeping a positive attitude is important for your well being. Exercising can be a fun way to keep emotionally grounded and fit. You could try out new forms of exercise like Pilates or Yoga which have been said to be mood boosters.

Creating structures is important especially for people who find a balance by knowing what to do. You could wake up at a certain time each day, set aside hours to job hunt, set time for writing etc. Creating structure can help you from falling into a slump, when we feel like we are doing nothing we lose our way a bit and so by creating stability we keep motivated.

Make your hobbies your career

i-can-do-anything-mindy-gifOne of the coolest things about having downtime is being able to do what you love most. If that’s reading novels, create a book list and get to reading. If writing is your thing, start a blog. It is a great creative outlet that could potentially lead to new opportunities.

Through exploring your passions, you could turn your hobbies in to a possible career opportunity. The opportunities are endless.

Online courses

Keeping occupied during this period is important to make sure you keep motivated. By taking online courses you enhance your skills and keep your brain active. The courses you could take could be influenced by your career choice because they could potentially make you a better candidate when you apply for jobs.

It could also be a smart opportunity to read up on different disciplines, use this time to explore your options.

Use this time to work through your business ideas or set your career goals Click To Tweet

It is okay to not be okay

things-happen-gifSometimes life has its own plans for us and timing just is not in your favour. Even though this gap feels like the worst thing that could happen to you it might not be. The time will allow you to work through your business ideas or setting your career goals.

Your emotional well- being definitely is vital so taking time off to check yourself may just be what you need. Sometimes time has to stand still for us to move forward.

How to start a PhD with no money

We understand that some Motherland Moguls are working towards a career in academia. It could be because you’re looking to add Prof. before your name or you just want to further your studies. Chances are you’ve looked up the cost of studying a PhD and balked at the price tags.

Because SLA always has your back we spoke a self-funded PhD student. Oreva Olakpe is not only studying for a PhD in international law focusing on African migrations, she’s also an entrepreneur and a hustler. She’s self-funded her way through school so we knew she’d give some great tips.

Why self-fund a PhD?

Finding funds for a PhD is hard. Most of the funding out there is based on the interest of people that have the money. If they are not interested in what you are doing, there’s nothing for you. If you’re from a country that doesn’t have the money to fund research on their particular field. Don’t feel too bad though.

Well, the issue with funding is that it can suck out the creativity of your work. Especially when funders want to dictate where your research goes (and if they can, they will). When you self-fund, your research is in your control and you can go wherever you want with it.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s very difficult to be self-funded. In Oreva’s program, there’s just one other self-funded girl. And guess what, both of them are African. There’s nothing Oreva didn’t do to pay for her living costs. She says, while there is a joy in knowing that your efforts are paying for your research, it’d be wrong to glorify it.

So if you’re ready to walk down the self-funded path, be ready to do all sorts of things to make money…

Save up

First of all, don’t jump straight into your PhD from your masters. Have a year to figure out things financially. Find a 9-5 that pays well and start saving ahead of school.

“For me, I only managed to save up a bit of money. What was able to help me get through the stress was doing entrepreneurial activities.”

Apply for (small) grants

Any PhD student is familiar with the grant application process. Grants can be very competitive and the trick to get through them is to apply for many.

“I got tiny grants from different organisations as opposed to the big funding that most people get.”

Small amounts pouring in from different organisations can come up to a lot. For Oreva, grants paid for all her international flights. For her fieldwork, she spent a couple of months in China and grants paid for all that. When money comes in from different sources, you can take care of annoying things that suck up your funds without you knowing (like transport and food).

There’s no shame in applying for all the grants. Also consider applying for a scholarship. A fair warning though, there is not much out there for Africans in social sciences.

Have a support system

“The most important thing that helped in cases of emergency, was family members.”

Just because you’re self-funding doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help when time calls for it. For Oreva, family came through when she needed her tooth removed and did not have cash at hand. Her mom and sisters are deep in the entrepreneurship vibe and this supported and inspired her hustle. Oreva credits them as her motivation to try business ideas as a source of financial and intellectual freedom. Friends came through when someone smashed her laptop screen —the most important thing for a PhD student— and she needed to repair it.

Another way family and friends pull through is with connections. If you need to do fieldwork in certain locations, they can help make things easy for you. The important thing is to have a support system, whether its your family, friends or the investment your parents put in your name.

Get your hustling gear on

Oreva has sold clothing (ankara), artwork and jewellery that paid her a lot. In addition, she does a lot of freelance writing and has worked with blogs while also writing academic articles for companies. While she lived in China, Oreva was also an IELTS tutor and French tutor.

It seems if there’s one thing self-funding a PhD will do, it’ll improve your entrepreneurial spirit. Academics are associated more with the library than the marketplace but the truth is entrepreneurship fits into any career. Academics can also be entrepreneurs.

“A lot of the African students I know are hustlers.”

In SOAS, where Oreva studies, there’s a market for students. Maybe it’s unsurprising that most of the people selling at the market are African students. Some sell jollof rice, buns and chin-chin while others sell jewellery, bags, homemade beauty products, soaps.

Find ways to cut cost

“I don’t stay in London but in my family home in Nigeria. This way I don’t have to pay that high rent.”

You don’t have to be physically present at campus for most PhD programs. To cut costs further, you may also consider studying something that relates to you or to your country. Oreva’s case study is focused on Nigeria.

Pick research topics that will be cheap for you. This way your networks will come through. For example, when you have to travel to conduct research in your home country, chances are people will be more willing to help you.

And it doesn’t have to be people you know. It can be local universities coming through because they see the value of what you’re doing.

Did you enjoy this article? Sign-up for our newsletter to get even more amazing content directly in your inbox. Click here.