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CAREER CORNER: Winner-Tips For Job-Seekers



Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike

So, many of us have seen this same scenario over and again: great resume, smart and seemingly intelligent job seeker, alright (ish) interview, but no call back.

What gives? Let me share some of my thoughts on what-not-to-do at a job interview and hopefully, it will help prepare for the next one. Here’s a small note to help the job seeker along the way:

We love to hear you go on about how well you did at school and your amazing awards received from all 10 Ivy League type universities, but if we ask what value YOU can add to us, please do well not to re-hash your qualifications again. We can read. We have your resume.

In fact, it’s because we can read and have your resume that you have been asked to an interview – we know your academic qualifications. Now…go on, tell us something about YOU that will ADD VALUE to US.


If you have heard this many times, then you have not heard it enough. PREPARE for the interview. So if you have read my point No. 1 and understand it, then you have arrived at an opportunity, while getting to this point, to sell yourself.

Please do not go into an interview, sit on the all-leather sofa, place a copy of your resume on the leather-covered table, and glance over at the only framed photo on the wall made up of a leather collage and then say, “I really think I will bring value to the manufacturing arm of this establishment, especially because of my background in structural design…”, and continue on that trend, without mentioning the one obvious fact about the company manufacturing leather. Be observant.

Read up on the company. Find out what their last failure was and how you would do it differently – even if it is a hit and miss idea, trust me it will be noted that you are at least thinking.


Also try to say something you like about the company – anything at all – even if it is the layout of the new website, just something that tells the company that you noticed them.

It certainly all adds up. So go on then, tell us how you can add value to the style and/or quality of our LEATHER (for example). Get it? Great!

We will love how creative your resume looks and all the effort you took to spell out every transaction you have worked on, but ….did you really do everything you say you have done?

There is nothing worse than not being able to defend an item on your resume – at a job interview – before the management team that you will likely be working with – and at that time when the conversation was just going so well. If you do not know every part of your resume, how can we truly trust you?


So, please take a few minutes to ensure that you HAVE NOT copied someone else’s expertise (believe me when I say that working within a team that did the work does not mean you actually learnt or acquired sufficient expertise and knowledge from that task – cut your losses early, do not add that transaction to your resume).

Also, do take a few minutes to go over your resume and refresh your memory on older transactions that you may not readily remember.”Integrity is the ability to say no!” – I coined this saying a few years ago while on a weight loss mission and trying to fight off those coca-cola cravings at midnight.

All my friends and family knew this saying as I repeated it often to myself and would laugh at myself when I failed at being able to say “no”.


So what has this to do with your interview, you ask? Easy. Learn it. If you do not really know something, do not be afraid to say “No, I am afraid I cannot speak to the mechanism behind flying an Airplane, I am a lawyer.”

OR if you are in the Airplane industry, then say “Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to that question but I can certainly find out.

My area of expertise has not brought me that experience but it is something I am certainly interested in knowing over time.”


Do not be under too much pressure to know everything and in that process run the risk of fumbling all over the place; being upset with yourself because you know you just sounded like a complete idiot and then fumbling some more over the next few questions. Remember, if the Kings men could not put Humpty-Dumpty back together again after his fall, we are likely to fail at trying to get you re-composed after many-a-slip-ups.

We are more likely to just look into our folders and see if we have other candidates on the list with equal or better qualifications.

So, do learn how to politely say “No”, during an interview; who knows, it could very well be the right answer to an offer of a poor pay package!


Fially, please do not forget to J.U.S.T B.R.E.A.T.H.E. No matter how desperately you need the job, grabbing at the ankle of the Manager when he attempts to leave the room or attempting to seduce the interviewing officer, will not get you anywhere.

Okay, I exaggerate – both may get you somewhere but it is highly unlikely to happen in a company that takes itself seriously (and please tell me that is the kind of company you applied to), and certainly not with the respect that should come to you personally as you start up new employment.

So do breathe, be calm, do your homework and bring your A game to this interview.


I hope this helps. Do write back and tell me of some of your experiences at interviewing/being interviewed for a job, especially the lessons learnt.

Culled from LinkedIn

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