Over the last couple of months, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to hire new talent for SLA. It’s been brutal. I often hear young people talking about how they can’t find jobs. They always blame the system.
They don’t want to hire new people. They didn’t like my face. They don’t like people from different tribes.
After 3 months of looking at applications and interviewing a bunch of people, here’s a thought I’d like you all to consider…. Maybe you’re the problem. Maybe you went about getting a job the wrong way. Maybe you played yourself and set yourself up for failure.
I know… I’m mean right? And I’m not meant to be mean because I cofounded SLA and we’re meant to be this cuddly organization that helps women. Hell – we probably spend our evenings braiding each other’s hair and giving group hugs as we sing kumbaya.
WRONG. My job as a founder of SLA is to keep it all the way real with you and turn you into a corporate beast. Someone who’s going to go out and crush it all over Africa.
So in the spirit of keeping it real with you, here’s a list of the dumbest things to note for an interview.
Don’t ask basic questions
A couple of weeks ago I was searching for a new program manager. One of the prospective candidates sent me a question asking whether or not we charged people to be members of SLA.
Needless to say I didn’t even bother to look at her application. Why you ask? Because she asked a basic and frankly stupid question. All she needed to do to get that information was to go onto the SLA website and do her research. Yet she decided not to and instead came off looking like the Founder, CEO and Chairman of SimpleHeauxs.com.
When you choose not to take any initiative in learning about the company or gaining basic, publicly available information, you show that you actually aren’t that serious about the company and they shouldn’t take you seriously either.
Don’t overhype yourself
This one is so obvious that I’m actually sad that I have to write it down. One person who we interviewed called herself “an innovator from birth.”
Is that so….? From birth huh?
The best thing you can do when applying for a job is to be honest and straightforward about your results and what you’ve actually been able to deliver. All the grammar in the world won’t help you if you can’t show that you know how to get things done.
Don’t overhype your qualifications
A couple of weeks back I was talking to a girl who said that she graduated from Harvard Business School. On further investigation, it comes out that she just did a course there for a couple of weeks.
Her CV went straight into the dustbin because now I know she is a bona fide massage therapist – massaging the truth all day every day. If you didn’t have to take an entrance exam, then calling yourself a graduate is a stretch. Doing a summer course does not make you a graduate of that institution so chill your life. Not everyone in the world went to Harvard and THAT IS OKAY. No need to be so insecure.
Don’t act entitled
This one goes out to all you returnees out there. Especially the ones who went to fancy schools. Y’all think that because you went to fancy schools with big names like Stanford and Harvard that I should be falling over myself trying to hire you. False.
Some of the most basic, offensive, simple-minded heauxs I know went to these Ivy League schools so relax yourself. No degree can overcome a stank, arrogant attitude and I’d rather take a chilled out, smart local grad over your annoying self any day.
Chill with the foneh
If you spent one year in England and yet try to sound like Queen Elizabeth herself when I interview you, you will be rejected immediately. Why do we Africans feel the need to pretend to speak English with a foreign accent? It’s so weird and makes you seem really insecure. More generally, I’m not quite sure what the intended effect is. People know that you’re faking it and they’re probably judging you. In fact, sometimes the fone is be so strong that it’s actually hard to understand what you’re trying to say.
I have a sort of English-American Nigerian twinged accent because I spent 14 years abroad. Does that make me better, more professional or smarter than someone with a Nigerian, Kenyan or Ghanaian accent? Absolutely not! An accent is an accent not a badge of intelligence so stop faking it. Speak as you speak and be confident with your bad self.
So there it is. Five reasons why you may have gotten rejected from your last job interview. To those of you who’ve engaged in some of this behavior. Don’t worry. It is well. No one can fault you for not knowing but if you continue to make these mistakes moving forward… you have only yourself to blame.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about how you can be well prepared to CRUSH the job market, She Leads Africa has a bunch of FREE resources we’ve created to make you the baddest B you can be.
Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a cofounder of She Leads Africa and runs the programmes and events team.