The Hidden Interview Question

The Hidden Interview Question

The Hidden Interview Question

The hiring manager/interviewer has a huge responsibility of getting not just the best candidate but the best culturally fit candidate for the organization.

This weight of responsibility calls for in-depth and thorough selection process, most especially in today’s world with dearth of qualified and employable candidates.

The interviewer will therefore devise different types of interview [HERE] – written or oral or both just to fill a role. He will ask different questions and design different stages of interviews in order to search, select and hire the very best candidate.

However, there is an underlying question at the mind of every interviewer, especially when there is a strong need to hire the right candidate, at the right time and at the right price.

Behind each phone call, each e-mail or in mail, each text message and every form of communication between the hiring manager and the candidate is an underlying question that needed to be answered, either explicitly or implicitly.

This hidden question can be asked in different ways at different times, using different methods of communication and even in a different tone.

Some interviewers can even ask in a direct way! Looking straight into the candidates’ eyes and asking quietly but firmly.

‘Why should we hire you?’

This question can be disguised in different forms;

What are your strengths?

Why did you apply for this role?

Why do you want to leave your present role?

Do you think you are the best candidate for this role?

Tell me why you should be considered for this role?

What are your value propositions?

What are you bringing to the table?

What value can you add to this organization?

In other words, the interviewer wants you to market yourself, he is looking for the ‘wow’ factor in each of the candidates. The hiring manager is searching for something different, something unique, something strong enough to justify the recruitment’s ROI (Return on Investment).

But most times, candidates fail this critical question because they couldn’t convince the interviewer enough or provide any justification to hire them.

How to answer the hidden question…

Okay… the next question should be, how should I answer this underlying question even when not asked directly?

‘Why should we hire you?’

The question can only be answered with evidence of past accomplishments or demonstration of capability to solve problems relating to any of the under listed crucial business objectives.

The overall corporate strategy/objectives of every business entity are to;

  • increase profitability
  • increase customer base
  • generate sales/income
  • maximize revenue
  • identify and mitigate risk
  • develop new business opportunities
  • improve customer satisfaction
  • improve service quality
  • enhance productivity
  • reduce cost
  • retain customers
  • outperform competitors
  • gain market share, etc. etc.

Remember to always focus on notable achievements that are applicable to the role you are being interviewed for.

Explain what you have done in the past and how you have gone above and beyond your call of duty to impact your organization.

For example;

INTERVIEWER: Why should we hire you for this role??

CANDIDATE: As the Senior Finance Executive with over 8years’ experience, I provide strategic and tactical leadership in the areas of accounting, financial reporting, business development, strategic investor relations and corporate communications.

I have a track record of producing exceptional results within a short period. For instance, at my present place of employment, I played a leading role in bringing the company to profitability within 7months. Raised N25miilion (debt and equity) to finance development and launch of new products within 6 months. Acquired high end commercial accounts and businesses worth over N9.6bn within 1year by signing on new accounts, growing existing relationships and reactivating dormant relationships.

I have also led and built a team of 10 Financial Executives to achieve profit budget of N5.2bn in 2015 and over N7.2bn in 2016.

I believe with my level of expertise and outstanding achievements in previous and current roles, I should be able to replicate such if considered.


INTERVIEWER: Why are your strengths??

CANDIDATE: One of my strengths include efficient financial system implementation. I am equally passionate about overhauling multiple ERP systems to improve customer service, reporting and quality.

 If you find it difficult to identify your achievements or accomplishments, you can start by going over your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and see how you have added value overtime. Highlight these attainments  and mention or iterate them to impress the interviewer.

In case there was no formal KPI, you can always search for relevant ones and measure your performances against it.

Dear Recruiter,

Dear Recruiter,

DEAR RECRUITER: This letter is based on applicant’s experience with a typical recruiter.

 Dear Recruiter,

Kindly make an effort to include full Job Description in all your job postings. Remember to include; location, job requirements, job responsibilities and all relevant details that will aid my decision in applying for the role.

If you have already identified candidates for the role, please don’t bother advertising the vacancy or call me for interview and raise my hope for no reason. I have feelings too, remember.

If I’m shortlisted for a role, may I ask you for a fair chance to compete with other candidates during the selection and hiring process?

Dear Recruiter,

If the interview venue is outside my current location, can we explore other options of interview using technology? If possible?

And if it’s not possible, can you make it easy for your dear applicant by subsidizing or paying for my hotel accommodation and transport fare? Please?

I don’t want to “travel the world in 80 days” using my resources and eventually not considered for the job.

Dear Recruiter,

It’s an honour to be called for an interview, nevertheless….

I want to be adequately prepared before attending the interview, so, try to give at least 24-48hrs notice for the interview.

When I do honour your invite, please don’t keep me waiting at your lobby for hours, most times, I probably need to get back to work with my present employer.

And may I humbly ask that you should please be nice during the interview. I’m here to interview for job not to be interrogated for a crime.

Dear Recruiter,

I wouldn’t mind discussing my salary expectation during our first meeting. We both know that, it will be waste of time and resources to negotiate salary at probably the 4th stage of the hiring process and discover that we can’t agree on the pay.

Dear Recruiter,

Could you please, find time in your busy schedule to give me feedback after the interview. I think you owe me that honour.

It doesn’t matter if I pass or fail or you want to keep me in view! Just communicate. I want to know my areas of improvement and where I stand in the hiring process.

Not knowing is nerve wrecking.

Dear Recruiter,

Please, don’t take my follow-up ‘Thank you’ note or email as seeking for attention or favour, I’m only being professional.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Applicant

Read Dear Applicant’s Letter  HERE  Dear Applicant,

Dear Applicant,

Dear Applicant,

DEAR APPLICANT: This letter is borne out of a typical recruiter’s experience with applicants.

As a recruiter, one of your responsibilities is to hire not only the best candidate but the best culturally fit for the company. There have been days of excitement and days of disappointments…you have roles to fill but no qualified applicants.


Dear Applicant…

Recruiters put job descriptions and responsibilities together in order to attract qualified candidates for specific roles.

Most often than not, when applicants see job vacancy they believe it is just a propaganda that the hiring company has identified candidate for the role already.

Another mindset is that one cannot get a job without being referred by an insider. So, CV or Résumé is just a ruse. Therefore, they refuse to spend quality time writing a winning CV.

This might not be true in all cases, so please, take all genuine job adverts seriously and prepare accordingly.


Dear Applicant…

Stop applying for jobs you are not qualified for…..

For a recruiter, there is nothing as frustrating as receiving over 300 CVs for a particular role and only 5% are qualified for the job.

Most applicants don’t even bother to read job description, responsibilities and requirements. These set of applicants just keep applying for every vacancy that crossed their path. When I say any, I mean ANY and EVERY VACANCY!!!

Do not make it a hobby to apply for roles you are not qualified for, else you will be frustrated and think the job is for the recruiters’ cronies.

I have seen quite a number of entry-level candidates applying for Executive level roles that require 10-15years experience!

You need to be strategic in your job search.


Dear Applicant…

If you are interested in vacancies that exist in a different state from your state of residence, please include alternative address on your CV showing a nearby address. Location/proximity is one of the determining factor for short listing candidates.

(Exception to this if the hiring company is ready to provide accommodation)

Likewise, if you are applying for job outside your country of residence, please indicate your interest to relocate.

Dear Applicant…

For experienced professional, you have a slim chance of being shortlisted for the role you know nothing about, unless you show certain level of competence.

Therefore, if you are switching career, there is need to lay emphasis on your relevant transferable skills communication, team work, leadership, analytical and so on.

N:B; How to gain experience in the newly found career? You can volunteer with a friend/colleague with expertise in the field (during vacation), take up relevant online courses or get relevant professional certifications.

Dear Applicant…

Your CV is a marketing tool that shows what you can offer a potential employer and a well written CV should earn you the right to an interview. However, the onus is on you to spend time in developing it. Don’t leave it to chance.

It is often not advisable to have a one-size fits all CV/Résumé. Your CV should be tailored to each role.

Do not be in a hurry to submit your CV without proof-reading. Watch out for incomplete info such as; contact details, dates etc.

Avoid the temptation to exaggerate or falsify your information or work history. Most times it can come back to haunt.

Use a generally accepted format when attaching CVs- Ms Word or PDF. Some applicants attach CV in a zip or password protected format. This is an extra work/challenge that a recruiter is not willing take on.

We cannot over emphasize the fact that candidate should only apply for roles that match their profile and should not expect miracles if they act otherwise. In case you are wondering, Yes! I believe in miracles.

It is equally imperative to work on your LinkedIn profile. Most recruiters shortlist and recruit via LinkedIn.

Dear Applicant…

It’s still a mystery that candidates will apply for a role, he will be invited for interview, the candidate will confirm availability but will not show up for the interview without giving any reason or prior notice. This is totally unprofessional.

If you won’t be available for any reason or you have lost interest or you will be running late, please relate to the recruiter or hiring company.

Dear Applicant…

We agree you need to ask question and get all the facts right before attending an interview, but please write down all your questions and ask the recruiter once. Don’t make it a duty to keep calling every hour asking questions after questions. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat…

’I’m sorry to bother you’

Dear Applicant…

If you are submitting any hard copy documents during the recruitment process, it will be appropriate to have it well-arranged and neatly packaged.

Please don’t present oil-stained, crumpled or partly torn documents. Even if you feel remorseful.

Dear Applicant…

Every job interview opportunity is one step away from being hired. Maximize it. Prepare effectively.

Don’t come for an interview unprepared. Please don’t chew gums during the interview. Dress appropriately. Maintain eye contact. Be punctual.

If you are not fluent in English or the language of communication, please work on yourself, enrol for Language classes and learn. Remember, you are not the only candidate for the role.

It’s okay to ask questions like;

When should I expect feedback? What do you look out for in an ideal candidate for this role? What is the next step in the interview process? Etc.

Avoid question like;

What’s the company into? – You are expected to have done your research beforehand.

Dear Applicant…

Under no circumstance should you badmouth your former boss.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Recruiter



Read Dear Recruiter’s Letter  HERE  Dear Recruiter,

Understanding Different Types of Interviews

Understanding Different Types of Interviews

Job interviews do come in different shades/colours and can be so daunting for the unprepared.

Imagine a potential employer invites you for a brief chat but on entering the interview room, 6 pair of eyes glared at you! You just unknowingly walked into a panel interview!


You were invited for an interview and you painstakingly prepared for an oral interview, [you even practiced in front of a mirror] but alas! it turned out to be a written interview?

Anyone faced with any of these scenarios, will spend the first few minutes trying to adjust to reality.

In all honesty, interviews can be unnerving but understanding and knowing how to effectively handle different types/formats of interview can provide a great relief.

Types of interviews

1. Telephone Screening: an employer may give an initial phone call. This is used to reduce number of shortlisted applicants.  Candidates that fail to meet essential requirements can be rejected at this point to save time and resources. Needless to say, that this call is often without prior appointments.

Tips: Be up to-date on your job search records. Be phone courteous. If you are not prepared or your present location is noisy, please ask the caller to call you back. Give a specific time within 24hrs! Refer to your resume and be prepared for the second call!

2. In-Person Interview: This is one-on-one interview. This is the most common form of interview. At this stage; professionalism, right attitude, enthusiasm, and confidence are crucial to success.

Tips; Dress appropriately. Make a great first impression. Study your CV or Résumé. Always put your best foot forward!

3. Selection Interview: This requires answering series of questions including Essays, Multiple Choice Question, Personality tests, Psychometric tests etc. It could be written or computer based. The employer is looking to evaluate; level of intelligence, effective job match and best fit for the role.

Tips; Read the instructions carefully. Try and answer the questions as thoroughly as possible. Be time conscious.

4. Behavioural Interview: This is used to evaluate behaviour, attitude, achievements, character and competences based on previous work or leadership experience. It is based on the belief that past behaviour is an indication of future behaviour.


#1 Tell me about a time that you helped resolve a particularly difficult client issue.  

#2 Describe a situation in which an innovative course of action was necessary?

Tips; Share past (relevant) work experiences that showcase your strength and leaves good impression about you. Use the STAR approach -Situation, Task, Action and Results- What was the situation? What tasks were you given? What action did you take? What was the result or outcome?

5. Luncheon Interview: This is also known as ‘The Meal’. This type of Interview is usually conducted in a restaurant to assess social skill. Here, the employer assesses candidate’s communication and interpersonal skills as well as table manners.

Tips; Order a simple meal. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Remember your table manners. Pay attention. Don’t lose focus of the purpose of the conversation 

6. Stress Interview: The interviewer will do everything to frustrate candidate in order to test candidate’s patience during the interview. Multiple questions can be asked at the same time to evaluate how a candidate will handle stress on the job.

Tips; Exercise patience and take your time in responding to the questions. Don’t take anything personal. Be calm.


7. Group or Panel Interview: This will be done in the presence of three or more people whose main purpose is to evaluate candidate’s fit for the role. It may include other candidates for the position. It gives the employer multiple and objective opinions about each of the candidates.

Tips; Direct your answer to the person who asked the question, but try to maintain some eye contact with all group members. If other candidates are present, introduce yourself and be polite. Volunteer to respond first to a few questions.

8. Work Sample Interview: This gives candidate an opportunity to present, demonstrate or exhibit samples of previous work, projects or skills. This is mostly used for Architect, Arts & Craft professionals etc.

Tips; Master presentation skills and show confidence when describing previous work samples. Practice, Practice, Practice!

9. Peer Group Interview: This type of interview includes potential team members or co-workers who will scrutinize and ascertain candidate’s fit into the team.

 Tips; Maintain eye contact with everyone. Don’t be nervous. Smile, it shows confidence. Avoid the use of ‘I’ when responding to questions. Demonstrate team skills.

10. Case Interview: The candidate will be given a business problem or case study to solve. Candidate’s task is to identify the issues, present his ideas and make realistic recommendations. This is to evaluate candidate’s Presentation, Problem-solving and Communication skills including understanding of business problems.

Tips; Believe in yourself. Read carefully. Polish your presentation and communication skills. Be time-conscious. Know how to differentiate symptoms from the real issue.

11. Video Conference: This is an interview using an online video chat (such as Skype or Google Chat). It allows people to interview from different locations.

Tips; Practice before a mirror or a friend. Relax and try to maintain eye contact with the web cam. Ensure the computer and network connections are in perfect condition.

12 Assessment Centre: This involves a series of exercises given to candidates to evaluate suitability for the job through intense tasks and activities which could last up to 3days. In most cases, it combines different types of interviews- case studies, group work, peer interview, selection, panel interview, peer group and so on. This is to allow employers test inherent skills such as; Team, Presentation, Communications, Problem Solving, Interpersonal, Leadership, Social Skills.

Tips; Be active during group discussion but do not dominate the entire conversation. Compliment another candidate’s response and then build on it with your own thoughts. Volunteer to lead and involve every team member during group exercises, if need be.

Therefore, when next you are invited for an interview and you have no idea of the format, please familiarize yourself with various types of interviews as iterated above. Don’t be caught off-guard!

Going for Job Interview Without Permission???

Going for Job Interview Without Permission???

Going for Job Interview Without Permission???

At some point in our lives we all want to move ahead, test some waters, take on new challenges, seek greener pastures for higher pay or benefits, explore other career paths, maximize opportunity for growth, work close to home, relocate to another city/country or for so many other reasons.

However, when the opportunity to interview comes we are faced with the dilemma of whether to ask or not to ask for permission, especially if we are still actively working.

Should I miss work without stating the obvious reason or just lie my way through??

Come to think of it….

How would you tell your colleagues without someone snitching on you? After all we are in this together.


How can you tell your boss you are going for an interview, without him freaking out?!?!

Anyway, you can tell your boss but….it all depends on the level of rapport you have with him.


But in a case where you report directly to the MD /CEO of the company, how would you ask without sounding like a traitor??

 Many employees have given different excuses

‘I feel sick and I’m on my way to the hospital’ [most common line]

‘I ate something that didn’t agree with my tummy’

‘I have an appointment with my dentist’

‘A close relative just died’

‘I need to attend my son’s open day’

Meanwhile, calling in sick has been misused, especially if you were healthy as a horse the previous day, every employer knows that it’s very likely that you have an interview to attend.

While some will give reasons for not coming to work some will just go AWOL or MIA.

We all know some of our colleagues that have perfected the disappearing act and they always, always, I mean always get away with it.

But for some of us that want to do the right thing and not come out as a blatant liar, how then do we ask for permission???…..

 ~Here are some tips ~

 #1 – If possible, take a 1 day leave out of your annual leave.

#2 – If interview venue is close by; go during your lunch hour.

#3 – Ask to be rescheduled to after working hours or weekend.

#4 – Opt for video interview, e.g; Skype.

#5 – Take permission to resume late or close early because you have personal errands to run or personal issues to attend to.

N.B: if you are given the permission, don’t play dress up -if it is unusual for you to put on a suit on a normal day, the day of the interview should not be an exception, you can always hold the suit in a non-conspicuous way.

#6 – It may not be necessary to ask for permission if your working hour is flexible.

And the extreme,

#7 – Ask for permission. In an ideal environment, your present employer can renegotiate your offer and increase your pay or benefits.

(Please and please only do this if you are VERY VERY valuable to the company or else…your employer will even ask if you need 2 days off to attend the interview. That’s because they will be glad to get rid of you).

 Some will be wondering why you have to keep it as top secret.

Hmmm…..”a bird in hand is worth more than a million in the bush”

Thread carefully you don’t know what the new employer has to offer or whether the terms of employment will be favourable or not. Therefore, it will be wise to keep it under wraps until you have accepted the offer and ready to resume.

 I have seen a case where an offer of employment was withdrawn by the new employer because of a breach in communication between HR department and the hiring department. The appointment letter was given to the wrong candidate!

 Please, don’t get ahead of yourself because of an interview, until you accept the offer of an intending employer, your loyalty is first to your current employer.