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.

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What is your next employer looking for?

Employers have a certain type of candidate they need to join their organization. Opportunities will open up, and you will be among those seeking (and eventually chosen) for that role.

This article shares what the employer is looking for as well extra tips on what you also need to avoid or stop doing if you want to enjoy a fulfilling career.

Reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness

To succeed in your career, you need to be trustworthy. Your boss, team members, and other colleagues can depend on you to carry out agreed tasks and keep your word. You need to be a reliable member of the team. Those are the ones that get recognized and get to higher heights in their careers.


Communication as an essential skill cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, listening is a challenge for most people. Learn to listen attentively and go a step further to ask questions and clarify statements or comments so that you avoid making mistakes in the long run.

Do not assume that you heard one thing and then do the other. That is a career stumbling block right there. Try and re-iterate what needs to be said enough to make sure you are sure about what you have interpreted.

Know your onions

Make sure you have the ability to actually carry out the job you’ve been employed to do. No distractions or time wasting on tasks.

Let your wardrobe SLAY

Depending on the type of job it is, wardrobe co-ordination is very essential. Your day at work should be a day you can easily create a professional impression. Get your outfits suitable enough to show that you are ready, qualified and happy to be given an opportunity at the company.

I suggest you do smart and professional dressing in your first few weeks until you settle into your role and the organization’s culture.

Always be punctual

Being punctual is essential. From your work start time, to your work prioritization, you need to eliminate all forms of “African time”. Click To Tweet

Know your key strengths

You have a gift. Call it talent, skill or passion. Just know you have a gift. Figure out what it is. It is also identified as your key strength. You already have it. It may take time to discover but you will and can discover them.

Develop and learn from others

The interesting thing is that you can always find a person who also identifies with your strength and has done more in developing this key attribute.

That is why we have mentors or coaches and role models. You should have an attitude that is willing to learn. Your attitude to learning from others will determine your acceleration.

Take personal responsibility

You are what you create. Make decisions and stand by the consequences of them. Click To Tweet

Kill that entitlement mindset that blames everyone but yourself. Determine to not only grow but to also be the one going to make sure you definitely grow.

Below are some habits that employees need to really avoid.

All employers aren’t the same but you can be an exceptional employee and that attitude will take you higher. Click To Tweet 

I recommend this to everyone looking to attain a higher impact in their chosen field.

1. Taking all the credit

Working as part of a team means everyone contributes their own quota to the success of a task, goal or project. Do not take credit for anything you do. Even when you work alone on a project, it will be obvious what your contributions are but even in that, you still would have needed some input or help from someone other than yourself.

Avoid taking credit that you don’t deserve and over-estimate your participation to the achievement of a goal.

2. Talking down on others

It is totally wrong to speak to a colleague in a derogatory manner. It makes you project yourself negatively and gives off the impression that you lack confidence and possess low self-esteem.

Avoid the urge to speak of or join in, to destroy a colleague’s work reputation. It’s an epic no for your career success.

3. Expressing anger at work

To be in a position of leadership is not a walk in the park. Expression of emotions especially anger is a skill that needs mastery. No one is entitled to use anger to intimidate or communicate at work. It is not a management or leadership tool. To ensure you enjoy a successful career, do not wear your emotions on your sleeves and express emotions when you need to and appropriately.

4. Negative Personality

Another career stall is one who has a negative personality. Everything about you is negative and distasteful. Nothing good comes from your conversations, you always have negativity and spread it to anyone around you. Your contributions are always negative, your output negative, your impression or comments about colleagues are also negative. The outcome is disastrous to your career success.

5. Inability to take responsibility for actions

Avoid the need to point fingers and blame everything and everyone for the mistake or gap. It is going to stall your career if you are unable to own up to it. When you lead a team, you, as the lead, are responsible for the success or failure. Do not pass on the buck but stand tall, admit the wrong, learn, adjust and move on.

6. Hoarding Information

Withholding information from your colleagues so that you can be in competition or at an advantage over them is not a criteria for a successful career.

It shows you are not a team player neither are you a candidate for getting into higher leadership positions. Information is to be shared, not kept as a secret weapon.

What key lessons have you learned as an employee or an employer? Share your experience with us here.

Facebook Live with Edleen B. Elba: Steps to landing your dream job (June 30)

Year after year, companies, and recruiters change their job eligibility requirements, expecting job seekers to acquire some certain skills – first class degree or not.

Whether you’re a fresh graduate trying to jumpstart your career, or an oldie in the job market looking for better opportunities, we have one question for you.

Are you fully prepared for your next interaction with a recruiter?

To help you get started, we’re bringing you this Facebook Live session with Human Resources expert Edleen B. Elba, on Friday, 30th June. She’ll be sharing some insights on job search and how young professionals can land their dream job.

Edleen owns and manages JobSearch, a human resources management company based in Sierra Leone, which provides recruitment, skills development, and human resources advisory services to clients of all sizes and within all sectors.

Looking for a job? Learn the do's and don'ts for job seekers from @JobSearchsl -(June 30) Click To Tweet

Register below to gain access to this opportunity.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • How and where to find a job
  • What employers really look for in applicants
  • Principles to remember: The do’s and don’ts for job seekers
  • Top 7 career fields in demand
  • Case study: Persistence and determination

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Friday, June 30th, 2017

Time: Freetown 2pm // Lagos 3pm // Joburg 4pm

Place: facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

Watch here:

“She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Edleen B. Elba (Founder of JobSearch in Sierra Leone): Steps to landing your dream job. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join!”

Posted by She Leads Africa on Friday, June 30, 2017

About Edleen

Edleen B. Elba is the founder of JobSearch, and a Chartered Human Resources Analyst, with almost a decade of Senior management experience within the private and public sectors 

She started her career in 2003 with KPMG, working in the Advisory departments in Sierra Leone and Ghana. In 2005, she created the Human Resources & Risk Management departments at KPMG and managed both for 3 years.

Over the years, she has acquired skills which include financial management, strategic human resource management, strategic risk management, presentation, software applications, team leadership, time management, effective communication, assertiveness, negotiation, and analytics.

Edleen is also the Chairman of the MEPS Trust Well Woman Clinic fundraising committee and a member of Heaven Homes’ fundraising committee.  She is passionate about skills development and women’s empowerment.

Yoli Mqoboli: I wanted to start a business that is meaningful to me and to other businesses

Yoli Mqoboli
I fell in love with Business Management during my undergrad studies - Yoli Mqoboli Click To Tweet

Yoli Mqoboli is a certified global Remuneration Specialist with extensive experience in reviewing and developing total remuneration policies, packages, and frameworks for both public and private sector organizations.

Her career started off at the South African Reward Association (SARA) as an intern —gaining exposure in all aspects of total rewards such as basic remuneration, benefits, and total reward elements. She has worked for blue chip companies focusing on expatriate reward management and Africa reward. 

After her last stint in corporate, she started Sunguti Business Solutions, a 100% black woman owned human capital solutions consultancy specializing in tailored remuneration, reward and benefits solutions and talent acquisition solutions.

Yoli then approached her former Director and pitched the idea of coming back to the organization as an independent consultant, as such giving her the independence and time to start-up and nurture Sunguti.

What was the spark that led you to start Sunguti Business Solutions?

Sunguti Business Solutions, before the name ever came into existence, was always a dream of mine. I fell in love with Business Management during my undergrad studies. As such, I decided for my postgrad studies to specialize in Business Management. I had in mind a Business Solutions consultancy focusing on each of the various business functions.

My business model would be that of a sub-contracting arrangement as I don’t have experience in all of the business functions. This was also aimed to collaborate with other professionals and hopefully, garner more business participation. I wanted to start a business that is meaningful to me and to other businesses.

What services do you offer your clients? Are they only limited to South Africa? If yes, what are your goals to grow Sunguti to rest of Africa and the world?

Currently, our capacity is in Human Resource solutions, which include Remuneration and Benefits consulting and Recruitment. We focus on permanent placements, response handling, and headhunting services.

Our service offering is in South Africa and we plan on expanding it to Swaziland first, and then the rest of Southern Africa. Our short-term plan is to penetrate the southern Africa region, due to the geographic reach and ease of doing business.

As a 100% black women owned Human Capital solutions consultancy company, do you find it is easier for black women to start their own consulting firms, especially in your industry? If not, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

Starting a business is hard for anyone, and as a black woman within the Reward fraternity is twice as hard. This industry has and still is owned by elite white-owned professional service providers. Women face hurdles such as access to funding, lack of access to other types of business due to non-exposure as these fields have been traditionally deemed to be male gender specific. Also the lack of a support network and lack of advisors or mentors in these areas of business.

For Yoli Mqoboli, starting a business within the Reward fraternity was twice as hard Click To Tweet

Reward management, which is a specialist function within HR, is currently a scarce skill with fewer black professionals. Yes, there has been an influx of black talent –however, the skill is not mature enough.

The major challenge for us as black-owned consultancies is getting taken seriously by companies and peer competitors. You’re deemed an unknown and your credibility shaky because your brand is not yet established. Corporate South Africa prefers to reserve remuneration consulting projects for the big professional services. There is little confidence in smaller consultants who ironically have consulted for the same corporates under these big professional service providers.

How can the challenge of small black-owned consultancies being overlooked be overcome and ensure that they make a mark in the consulting world?

There is no perfect answer, however, in light of the new developments in BEE procurement regulations –bigger professional services providers who aren’t fully representative in black ownership and participation will be urged to partner up with smaller black consultancies. Some have already done that therefore the rest will probably follow suit.

Yoli Mqoboli: The major challenge of black-owned consultancies is being taken seriously Click To Tweet

In the meantime, it’s us smaller black consultancies who have to create the opportunities, approach potential partners and keep abreast of developments in the market. However, the same needs to be done by bigger competitors.

What advice would you give to women looking to venture into the remuneration management and talent acquisition space?

You need to have a flair for people, numbers and the evolution of human capital solutions.  You need to love what you do, and you will never have to work a day in your life!

Secondly, you need to network and keep abreast of the developments within the area of reward management, both locally and globally.

What are your goals for Sunguti in 2017? How will you ensure you meet the goals?

My goals for Sunguti in 2017 is to focus more on business development initiatives; this includes joint ventures and collaborative partnerships with some of the bigger corporations, and expand the service offerings to Swaziland.

We also aim to register with the relevant SETA in the introduction of accredited training and development services. Lastly, we aim to strive for standards of quality and commitment to our current clients.

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

Emma Wenani: Deep down, I always knew I would be successful 

Emma Wenani she leads africa

Emma Wenani is the Director, Human Resources at Global Media Alliance (GMA), a leading communications company in West Africa. Together with her team; they manage the HR processes for over 300 staff members across 9 business entities. 

Emma embodies the idea of women in corporate leadership, but her career now is nothing close to what she wanted to do with her life while she was growing up.

She shares more about that, her leadership experience and the challenges for women in leadership.

What was your dream job as a kid? Why?

I wanted to be so many things at the same time. At some point I wanted to become a model because they looked so prim and proper and very well mannered.

Then I wanted to be an air hostess so I could travel the world; I still want to travel the world, but as a tourist. Then at yet another point, when one of the top cardiologists in Kenya died from heart disease, I decided I was going to be a surgeon.

For the longest time I was working to be a doctor, but when I really discovered what careers were (I guess one eventually does grow up), I knew I wanted to become a teacher, I still believe that I will teach one day.

I wanted to teach because of one of my primary school teachers, Mrs. Katingima. To date, she is my all-time favourite teacher because she taught us and loved us. I admired her; there was something about how much she wanted us to succeed that made going to school very easy.

I wanted to be a teacher like Mrs. Katingima so I could teach my students with as much passion as she taught us.

How did you find yourself where you are now?

I will summarize it somewhat and say I do believe I am where I belong.  I never thought that I would be pursuing a career in human resources, but this is where I find myself and I love it.

When I was doing my undergraduate studies, I joined a student organization on campus called AIESEC. AIESEC is the largest student-run organization in the world, which was keen on inculcating in us the importance of working towards realizing our leadership potential.

It was there that truly, my passion for talent, training and people was unearthed. I was involved in a number of roles that gave me the opportunity to lead teams, attend conferences in different countries with like-minded leaders, facilitate conference sessions etc.

It was clear that anything and everything that involved working with people and in talent management was something I would pursue. After 6 years of being in HR and 2 years specializing in HR studies at Masters Level, I can comfortably say that I am home.

What woman inspires you and why?

I admire Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta; I admire everything about Her Excellency. How simple yet powerful she is, how much thought goes into her ceremonial and occasional outfits, her causes and the passion she puts into them.

I admire that she not only says she is going to do something, but puts her all into it. A leader should not only delegate but should also show others that they can do what they say they are going to do.

The effort and work she has put as founder and patron for the Beyond Zero campaign, aimed at stemming maternal mortality must be lauded. I look forward to meeting H.E. Margaret Kenyatta one day, to tell her that I admired her from afar, and to say thank you on behalf of current and future mothers for sharing her story and truly living her promise.

What do you consider your biggest success?

I don’t know whether I would term it as biggest success but I am proud of the woman I have become. I have always been ambitious and deep down I always knew I would be successful.

But, I do not take for granted the opportunities that I have had in the pursuit of my dreams that have made me excel in my career. 10 years ago, if anyone told me that in 2016 I would be a Director of one of the most successful media companies in West Africa, I would not have believed them.

But here I am, many miles away from home, away from my family, away from what is familiar but flying the Kenyan flag high and representing it in my new home, Ghana, smiling deep down and being content with the woman I have become.

I am still a year behind my dream of being CEO but I am proud of who I am today.

Tell me about a time you failed as a leader?

I cannot put a finger to any moment that I may have beaten myself up for failing. One of the things that scares me the most and would be a failure on my part, would be not leaving a legacy or having a good successor.

If for example, I have to leave my work place and no one notices or feels my absence or I am not able to leave a good transition history, I would have failed as a leader.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to women leadership today?

Today, more women are empowered to take on executive leadership roles than in the past. Obviously we still have a long way to go because the percentage of male executive leaders still outnumbers women’s by a huge margin.

One of the barriers to women leadership is the struggle with the idea of neglecting family as they climb up the corporate ladder. Women are natural caregivers. Therefore, we always have to think of how our families will be affected if we take on more responsibilities at the workplace, and what support, if any, will be offered by organizations whether in the formal or informal sector.

How do we create a balance between taking a seat at the table and still remain competent home makers?

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