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How many jobs have you applied for and not heard from the recruiter? Next question….What job search methods are you using? If you been job hunting without success it could be because of you are using one of these outdated job search techniques that are hindering you from getting invited for interviews .

Here is a list of some of the outdated job search techniques

1. Relying on just one job search technique

In this digital era it is very foolish to think you will find a job using one technique. By there are so many places you can find job adverts such as, Facebook , Twitter, Linked in, company websites, job websites, and Recruitment agencies.

This is because just because a company is hiring does not mean they have put it up on their website. Most organisations are using Recruitment Agencies to hire people anyway. Therefore vary your options you may be surprised.

2. Having only one standard CV and Cover Letter

We have heard this so many times but for some reason people still make this mistake

You cannot assume that the cover letter you wrote when applying for a job at company A one year ago, can still be used to apply for a similar position at company B.

This is because every position varies no matter how similar the titles. This is due to different company policies as well as expectations.

A generic Cover Letter or CV will be obvious to spot and the recruitment manager will most likely throw your application out.

Sit down and write a specific cover letter for every job you apply for and tailor your CV to highlight the requirements of the job as well. You could also have these professionally written and save yourself the hustle.

3. Applying for advertised jobs only

Most people assume that because an organisation has not advertised a position then there is no opening available.

Do not limit yourself by believing that the only jobs out there are the ones advertised. Sometimes companies may not know they need someone with your skills and your application may show them that you will be a great addition.

4. Applying for many (or just any) jobs to increase your chances

Why do you need to apply for over 20 positions? Most people believe this will increase their chances of getting an interview. Sadly this is a misconception.

While you are applying for all these jobs, you are probably sending the same CV and cover letter. This as discussed earlier will not add any value. Instead pick a few jobs you truly are interested in and fit your qualifications and spend all your energy and time on them.

Zeroing in on a specific target offers you a better chance as opposed to applying for every job you see. Not to mention this can even lead to demoralization especially if you do not get any interview.

5. Not applying for jobs during the holidays.

We all assume that during the holidays no one is hiring. Which is mostly true, however if you happen to apply for a job when a majority of people are not doing the same, you increase your chances of getting picked.

Think of it this way, if you apply during the holidays, then there is minimal competition and your application will definitely get looked at. But if you wait to apply in January, there will be hundreds of applications and yours could get swallowed by the rest.

Do not take a break just because it’s a holiday. That is the perfect time to apply.

Landing a job might be as simple as you changing your ways. All the best in your job search.

By Michelle Wanjiku

Most people do not know what to say when asked this question; they don’t know how to start or what to talk about. Sadly this is one of the questions you need to answer well if you have any hope of landing the job. After all, if you do not know anything about the organisation, then why should they even hire you?

Researching and finding out more on the company before the interview will show the employer that you take initiative which will give you an edge in the end.

According to Perminus Wainaina Head of Recruitment at Corporate Staffing Services,

You should avoid giving visions and mission of the organisation. Pointing out the mission and goals is not important and adds no value. So, there is no point in cramming them because it shows you didn’t really take time to learn about the company but instead just copied what was on the site.

How to Answer the Question

Talk about products and services

Take this opportunity to show you are well versed on the products and services offered by the organisation. Before the interview, take time to study what the company does. The employer wants to know that you are both interested in and conversant with the company.

Being able to talk about the company’s products and services will make a good impression on the employer which then increases your chances of getting the job.

Talk about management

You can even go further and talk about the management of the company. What you found out about its management in terms of style. This not only proves that you know about the company but it also shows that unlike others who skimmed on the surface you took time to learn more about the organisation which is a great way to show that you are a fit for the position.

News items

If the organisation has been in the news for good reasons, you can mention a few stories you came across. For example, if the company recently won an award you can mention it briefly. This shows the employer you are truly interested in the organisation which will come in handy when they are selecting a candidate.

Talk about being a customer.

If you happen to use one of their products or have been a customer at a certain time then this is a good time to mention it. Keep in mind that you should not lie because you might be asked questions that you cannot answer on the product which will ruin your chances at getting the job.

Talk about why you use their product and why you like it. This will build more faith in you.

Remember the more you know the better however, there should be a balance, you cannot spend more than three five minutes talking about the company. Keep your answer brief but detailed. In order to answer this question well you need to have done a lot of research on the organisation and not just going through their website.

By Lilian Wamaitha 

Are you attending an interview soon? Looking for tips or advice on how to prepare for an interview? Whether you are a fortnight away from your big interview, you can still beat the competition through preparation.

When it comes to interview, this is your one chance to shine and convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate. Preparing for any interview is therefore key to succeeding and finally landing a job.

Mistakes job secrets make when preparing for an interview

There is never a second time to make a first lasting impression. You therefore need to keep the interviewer hooked from the moment you enter that room to the minute you leave.

These mistakes can kill a job interview and they are common among Kenyan job seekers.

1. The dressing

The first impression an interview gets from you before you even talk is the way you are dressed. If you dress in shady outfit that proves that you never thought this through, you have already killed the interview before it even starts.

If nobody has ever told you, t-shirts, short skirts, jeans, sandals, hats among others are never acceptable in an interview. Ladies, that kinky latest hairstyle that seems like you spent an entire day in the salon doesn’t do well for you. It’s an interview not a socialite audition!

2. Coming unprepared

Lack of preparation is an automatic opportunity killer. Think of an interview as an exam. Research the company; go over the job description again. This way you won’t appear uninterested in the interview.

3. Getting angry

Sad to say that, angry people are not what employers are looking for. Yes the interviewer may have gone overboard in the questions by bringing in some personal issues (but rarely will this happen). Don’t show him/her that you are annoyed. Instead if you can’t answer a question give them a reason why and let them move on to the next question (not clear consider revising). Getting angry will only cut your interview short and you won’t get the job.

4. Negative body language

Body language determines to a large extent whether you get a job or not. Let your actions portray what a positive person who is interested in the job and what the interviewer is saying.

5. Sharing too much

Some job seekers tend to think of an interview as tell the truth and nothing but the truth sort of situation. So they end up spilling their guts and sharing too much unnecessary information. Not useful or relevant in any way!

Ways in which smart job seekers prepare for an interview

Smart hob seekers know that an interview is a do or die kind of situation. This is why they go a notch higher when preparing for an interview. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for an interview that will guarantee you the job.

1. Prepare good responses

Most interviews involve basic questions based on your CV and some behavioral aspects. Knowing how to answer basic questions that interviewers ask before the interview is vital if you want to move past that stage.  This is where interview coaching comes in. Interview coaches prepare you by giving you responses to different interview questions in Kenya.

2. Prepare what to wear

As we mentioned what you wear portrays a lot about the inner you. What kind of an interview are you attending? Is there anything you can find online about what to wear to an interview at such a company? If not, dress very formally and make it simple.

3. Plan what to bring

This is one of the biggest challenges to most job seekers. Basically on the day of the interview, you are supposed to have an extra copy of your CV and documents. Don’t just assume that the interview already has your documents which you used to apply.

Make extra copies in case it’s a panel interview. Knowing what to bring and not bring beforehand will save you a lot of stress and embarrassment of explaining to the interview why you don’t have a copy of your CV when they ask for one.

4. Research the company

When asked ‘what do you know about us’ in a job interview’ what do you say? Don’t just walk into an interview room, not knowing anything about the company you want to work for. Nobody wants to hire a person who is not interested in their company.

The moment you get that call or email to attend an interview, go online. Learn everything you can about the company– their culture, their vision and setbacks they have had in the past, their employees and so on.

5. Analyze the job description again

How much do you know about the job you are interviewing for? A smart job seeker will analyze in depth the job description paying attention to the skills, knowledge and competencies required to perform the tasks. Determine where the job fall in the hierarchy or the company – managerial or supervisory.

Compare your qualifications to what the employer is seeking for. This will help you maneuver questions like ‘why should we hire you’ or ‘why do you think you are qualified for this role.’

When you know how to prepare for a interview, the interview stage becomes less stressful. If you put into consideration the tips discussed above, you are on your way to landing that dream job.

We are all blessed to have the internet today, where we can access all the information and help that we might need, including jobs.

The traditional way of looking for jobs 10 years ago was through Newspapers and you will admit that the competition when applying for jobs posted on the papers is very high because many people get to see these jobs, right?

Thankfully, we now have online media platforms that make it easier for you to get a job with different companies and organizations.

So, how can you become successful in your online job search? What must you take into consideration when hunting for your dream job?

Here are 5 great tips for a Successful Online Job Search

1.Choose job sites carefully

Even as you look for jobs online, you have to be careful about which sites you are using to conduct your search. Now that many people are using the internet to source for jobs, others are taking advantage of this by posting jobs that either don’t exist or jobs that require you to cough large amounts of money to secure a place.

With that in mind, ensure that you research on the companies advertised to be hiring. You can also go ahead and send an email to the company to confirm if indeed they are hiring.

Also, use your discretion when you come across a job that requires you to pay certain amounts of money. The majority of companies in Kenya do not ask for any fee to interview with them. Therefore, choose sites that have a good reputation online, sites that are known to post jobs that are true.

2. Set up Email Job alerts

Since vacancies are advertised everyday from different companies and organizations, you should subscribe to job email alerts.

This will make you automatically know of new job listings every day.  Another advantage of setting up job alerts is that you will have the advantage of applying for jobs as soon as they are posted.

This is bearing in mind that employers interview candidates on the basis of the applications made immediately. It’s always done on a rolling basis. The faster you submit your application, the better.

3. Keep your job search focused

To avoid getting frustrated in your job search because you are not receiving any feedback from the applications you have made, ensure that you only apply for jobs you qualify for.

Majority of the time, job seekers apply for jobs they are not qualified for and unfortunately, their job search becomes very stressful and unsuccessful because they fail to get any interview invitations.

With that in mind, be focused on jobs that you are 100% sure you qualify for in terms of working experience, education qualifications etc.

4. Write a Customized Cover Letter

It’s so important to write a Customized Cover Letter that shows how you will effectively deliver and perform in the roles outlined in the job advertised. This, you can do by providing information about your skills and expertise that will enable you to be the suitable person for the role.

5. Clean up your CV and Cover Letter

Having an excellent CV and Cover Letter is the most important aspect of job search. Use your CV to shine and make an excellent impression when the employer looks it.

Before you submit your application, make sure that there are no spelling mistakes and that the font type and size are the same for all the sections of your CV.

Have a clean and presentable CV that will make the employer want to interview you.

Also, update your CV with all the relevant information, including a short part time job you had, a volunteering activity you were involved in, or a short certificate course you enrolled in.

The goal here, is to make sure that you send a great CV with all the information up to date.

Searching for a job online should not be difficult. The internet has made it easier to land a job and all the information you need with writing your CV or Cover letter is available. With the above tips, you can make your online search a great experience and ultimately secure a great job.

By Susan Gitonga

Receiving feedback at the end of your interview is a good way to gauge your performance. However, not all feedback ends up being good. With that in mind, here are 5 things you don’t want to hear at the end of an interview:

1. “I called company ABC and they have never heard of you.”

Imagine the shock you will receive when your prospective employer tells you that they one of the Companies you had indicated in your CV and they said they have never heard of you.

It is possible that the people who knew you and worked closely with you in that company left, but in most cases the interviewer will not take that as an explanation.

The obvious reaction and assumption from your interviewer is that you lied. In an interview, lying is one of the character traits an interviewer is wary of. At the end of the day, they want to give the job to someone who is honest and is full of integrity.
To avoid this from happening, ensure that your seniors at work know you enough to remember you.

2. “I’m concerned about the spelling errors and mistakes on your CV and cover letter”

Spelling mistakes might mean that you rushed through when writing your CV and Cover Letter and you did not put much thought and care into the writing process. On the other hand it might also tell the interviewer that you are not good in English which might disqualify you from getting the job.

In order to have a good CV and Cover Letter to show the interviewer, ensure that you are keen when writing. You can also ask a friend to go through your documents and correct any errors that may appear on them.

3.” Are you sure this is the right opportunity for you?”

What the interviewer is trying to say is that after looking after your CV, they feel like you might not be a good match for the position.

When this happens, however, give the interviewer confidence to hire you by telling them past work experience and roles that are related to the position you are currently hiring for. This is your opportunity to say what you can do for the company once the opportunity is given to you.

4. “Actually my name is…”

It could be that the interviewer said what his name was at the beginning of the interview and because of how anxious you were, you happened to forget.

At the end of the interview, you might think that thanking him referring to his name is a good idea that will make you both appear to be friends and you end up calling him a different name that is not his.

E.g. “Thankyou so much Mr. Kamau,” you tell him. And he responds by saying, “actually my name is Wambua.”

This is something you don’t want to hear because the interviewer will assume you were not paying attention, so much so that you forgot his name. To avoid putting yourself in this position, avoid referring to his name, or better still, ensure that you not down his name to avoid forgetting.

5. “I was looking at your Facebook page and noticed…”

Do you remember the Social Media information you added to your CV? Well, believe me when I say that most of the time your interviewer will spare some minutes to see what you share online.

Imagine the interviewer saying that they noticed you are a party girl based from the photos of you drunk on Facebook. The interviewer might also comment about any negative information you have shared online which might make you appear unprofessional and questionable when it comes to your character.

That said, ensure that your social media profile is clean and simple. Remember that anyone can have access to the information you share online. Therefore, keep it clean.

I hope you enjoyed the tips and the enlightenment on the things you should ensure you don’t hear during your interview. All the best!

By Lilian Wamaitha

Change is inevitable. And the same case applies when it comes to writing compelling curriculum vitae. Have you had the feeling that you will get that shot listing only to be rejected by hiring managers? Well, as the corporate world changes so do the ways of writing a CV. You can’t keep using the same old CV year in year out. There is a need to change and keep up with the curriculum vitae trends as they come.

That said, in order to avoid your CV ending up in a trash bin somewhere, there are certain trends as a job seeker you must be aware of and implement to increase your chances of getting jobs.

Curriculum Vitae Trends Job Seeker Must Pay Attention To

1. Old is no longer gold

Any professional CV writer will tell you that, the ages of putting together your names, age, telephone number email address followed by a chronological order of education, work experience, conferences and seminars attended followed by a list of referee is long gone. That was a CV for another age, not for today’s job market.

A resume is supposed to sell you to a potential employer. The chances of getting shortlisted with such a CV are very slim in today’s job maker where everybody is competing for the same limited vacancies.

2. Renewing the identity

CV writing has changed over the past years. It is no longer just a document you present to a recruiter. Instead it is the number one marketing tool. The Kenyan job market today requires one to stand out from the completion. And this said, the focus now is on your work history mostly so that a hiring manger can be able to determine if you are the best fit for a certain position.

3. What comes first matters a lot

While the traditional name and address still remains at the top of a CV, what follows next is what matters. It is no longer a question of education followed by work experience. What follows instead is a profile summary of who you are. It’s like summarizing your entire CV in one paragraph.

With a profile summary, you explain your experience and what makes you the best candidate for the position. With this the recruiter is already sold and will want to go through your entire CV.

An example of a profile summary is

“I am a Biomechanical and Processing Engineering graduate with attachment experience under machines maintenance. I am well versed in the principles and practices involved in engineering tasks including; project management, maintenance and servicing, food processing, hydraulic and pneumatic systems and computer aided drawing and design. With my training in Biomechanical and processing engineering and my attachment experience, I am looking for entry level positions as a Maintenance Supervisor/Engineer or a Processing Engineer, a post that will expose me to the industry where I can gain more skills and experience needed.”

4. Elaborating your work experience

The current curriculum vitae trends demand that a job seeker elaborates on their work experience. Instead of just writing worked as a clerk between this period and that, go ahead to explain the duties and roles you were tasked with as a clerk. This is what the employer is looking for. With a detailed work experience he/she will be able to determine whether you fit the role as described in the job description.

Curriculum vitae trends If your are a 21st century job seeker, you must keep up with the said curriculum vitae trends to increase your chances of getting a job. This is what will set you up from other job seekers.

By Lilian Wamaitha

So you have gone through all the hustles of a job search and have finally landed your dream job. How do you move on from here? How to you grow your career to rise to a management position? All these are questions everyone needs to ask themselves. Basically, the main reason we chose our careers wisely is so that we may end up doing what we love. That way, we may wake up every morning looking forward to another day in the office because that’s simply where you would rather be. Nobody wants to be the only person in the office who will never get a promotion.

Having the right attitude to succeed cannot not only take you far in your chosen career path but can also be a door to so many other opportunities. You may even end up working for that multinational company you have always dreamt of. Wouldn’t that be nice? Here are therefore a few tips on how to stay ahead in your chosen career path and to keep growing in general.

1. Having the right mindset

Making clear career goals will enable you forge ahead in your career. Having the knowledge required to perform your duties to the best of your ability is the first step towards career growth. For instance you may have extensive knowledge in finance making you the ideal candidate when a finance position comes up in your organization. You need to go out of your way and gain more knowledge in your industry. Don’t fall into a comfort zone expecting things to happen their way. The current corporate world we are in does not work like that. Your actions indeed need to speak louder than your words.

2. Positive emotional outlook

Any career expert will tell you that holding on to your past does more harm than good. If you are the kind of person who holds on to things that happened in the past, you end up translating the same thing in your job. Say for instance you used to work in a company where the good things you need were never recognized but only the wrongs. This is not the time to decide to be arrogant and not make any effort in your current jobs since you feel that there is no need to try and you end up lagging. Instead be diligent in what you do, and who knows, someone will notice your effort and you may end up being the department head.

3. Have a mentor

One other way of making it in your chosen career path is to have someone you can look up to. Mentors go a long way in shaping who we become in future. You need to get someone in life you can look up to who has made it in their chosen career. This might be a professional contact, a family member or a friend from campus who has made it in their career.

4. Take failures as challenges to grow

Naturally no career is a smooth sailing all the way. Along the way you will encounter failures and disappointment. You will encounter rogue bosses or supervisors who make your life a living hell or that colleague at work who seems you can’t get along with. But do you allow anyone to define your life? Many of us are in the habit of treating failures as setbacks in life. We end up getting discouraged and not putting in as much effort in our jobs as we used to. When you chose the career you are in it’s because it’s what you wanted to do with your life. So what is the right way to deal with setbacks and failures? Always treat failures and setbacks as opportunities to grow and improve yourself. In short have that mental attitude that you can do anything no matter what comes along your way and who knows how far you will go in your career.

5. Have a thriving social life

Don’t be too stuck in your career that you forget yourself. There are instances when we are so much focused in our work that we end up messing up our social life. A little fun along the way has never hurt anyone. Learn how to make friends and have an amazing social life. After all, you need to think about other things rather than just those reports on your desk. Take time to have coffee with friends, cook yourself a delicious meal while sipping a glass of wine. Go and have mad fun with that gang of friends who are always asking you to loosen up. Go out on a date and meet the love of your life. It is only this way, you are able to face that weekday ahead with so much enthusiasm and strength carry out your duties diligently.

We all want to have a thriving career path. To have that managerial job and enjoy better benefits like a company car, travel allowance or good medical insurance. You can only grow in your career by having a holistic life and practicing all those tips mentioned above.

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Peering out of the window of a skyscraper in New York City at the people hurriedly rushing to their jobs, I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. Just moments ago, I was one of them, and this had been my routine every day over the course of my career: dash to work to do a job that, even on the best days, felt like I was spinning my wheels. Deep down I knew something needed to change; I just couldn’t put a finger on it. I sat back in my chair, looked around at the white walls of my office, then back toward the window again. I thought: Is this really all there is?

At that point, I had a secure job in advertising backed by advanced degrees, I was making a good amount of money, and I was positioned to keep moving up within my company. To others, I had “made” it—but to me, I felt disconnected and disappointed day after day.

Wow, I thought. I was only five years into my career, and I could already sense that I was headed for crisis. Perhaps you can relate? Or fear that one day you’ll find yourself at that point?

Many of us start out our careers with lofty ambitions, high expectations, and optimistic pursuits, yet somewhere along the line we hit a lull of confusion, frustration, and feelings of failure. Although the stereotype is that this crisis hits folks in their mid-40s, it is also known to happen (as was the case for me) in your 20s and 30s. As a career coach to people of all ages throughout the years, I have seen this happen many times to individuals who were able to successfully navigate their way through it.

If you’re feeling on the brink of a job crisis or in the midst of one right now, you’re definitely not alone, but there are things you can do to help prevent or mitigate the event. No matter where you are on your professional journey or what age you happen to be, here are four steps I’ve found that will help you avoid the dip or get you through to the other side.

1. Take Time to Build Your Foundation

The best careers are built on a critical foundation that will stand the test of time and can weather the inevitable pitfalls you’ll encounter—things like your core values, passions, and strengths. Unfortunately, many of us dive straight into a job that we think looks good on paper and don’t take the time to build this foundation, which can lead to upset down the road.

But it’s never too late to go back to the basics. If you’ve never gone through this process or it’s been some time since you did, start by blocking out some quiet time to hone in on or revisit a few important things about yourself:

  • What are your core values? Or, in other words, what matters to you most in life? Identifying your values can feel overwhelming, but there are plenty of resources to guide you along the way. Two of my favorites: the free core values workbook offered by Dawn Barclay of Living Moxie and Danielle LaPorte’s resources for finding your “core desired feelings”—essentially another way of identifying the same thing.
  • What are your strengths? Sure, you probably know some of these offhand (hello, interview question prep), but sometimes it can be most helpful to get other people’s impressions of you. Try asking 10 friends, colleagues, or mentors what they think your three greatest strengths are, and you’ll likely start to see some patterns. And, truthfully, the answers might surprise you—often our strengths are the things we do so innately that we don’t even recognize them as something special.
  • What are your passions? For some, this might seem like the easiest to answer, but a lot of people struggle with it. If you’re not 100% sure, ask yourself questions like: When do I find myself in the zone, both at work and in my personal life? What skills or talents come most natural to me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? What did I love as a child that still excites me?

Collect your answers to these questions in one central place so you can start to see a clear vision of yourself. Consider your current job satisfaction (or lack thereof), and see how this foundation relates. If you realize that key aspects of your situation aren’t aligning with your values, strengths, and passions, that’s a clear sign that it’s time to start making some changes. On that note:

2. Make Choices Based Off Your Core

Whenever you find yourself at a crossroads in your career—be it about accepting a new job, taking on new responsibilities, handling a conflict at work, or anything in between—remember to return to your foundation to help guide you. This way you’re not making decisions based on whims or out of stress, but on how you intentionally want to build your career for the long haul. Here are a few questions worth asking before you make a choice:

  • How does this decision align with my core values, strengths, and passions?
  • How do I truly feel about the decision I am about to make?
  • How would the person I want to be handle this situation?
  • How would I feel tomorrow if I make this choice today?

For example, I worked with a woman who was offered a promotion at a higher salary, but the new position would increase her already intense travel schedule. While she was excited about the idea of moving up, she was conflicted about spending more time away from home. She was able to assess her decision more thoughtfully, with her values and professional aspirations as a guide, and decided to negotiate the terms of her promotion to an arrangement that was mutually beneficial. She is much happier with her decision, and her employer gets to grow the company. Win-win!

Without this level of clarity, you may make a decision that will disappoint later on. When making choices from your core, you can even start small: As you face day-to-day decisions, like whether or not to delegate a task, do a quick gut check about whether it aligns with your core before proceeding.

3. Find Ways to Follow Curiosities

Even if you’ve chosen a career, a job, and a company based on your foundation, it doesn’t mean you’ll always feel like that’s the only gig for you. In fact, you’re bound to have other things pop up that spark your interests, and I always encourage people to find ways to pursue them.

After all, we tend to want what we don’t have, and ignoring these curiosities or letting them fester could leave you with a sense that there is something missing and cause you to make some drastic career decisions. But by giving them a little bit of attention, you can quiet that sense of FOMO and maybe even become more inspired at your day job. For example, early on in my career, I became curious about photography and took some lessons on evenings and weekends. Picking up the camera and tapping into my creative side satisfied a need I didn’t even know I had. After a couple of months of playing with the camera in my spare time, my co-workers even noticed a change in my mood and overall energy at work. I felt more inspired and less stressed because I had other interests in addition to my main gig.

So look for opportunities to explore other interests in your free time. Whether it’s picking up a book, taking an evening class, attending a meetup group, or starting a side project, a few hours each week is usually all the time you need to dip your toe in. Or, you could look for opportunities to bring these activities into your job by taking ownership of special projects and initiatives. If you have an idea for a new sales strategy or a women’s leadership program, for example, follow it! You never know where your curiosity might lead you.

4. Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Even if you’ve built your career based on your foundation, you’re making core-based decisions like a boss, and you’re following your side interests in your spare time, don’t stop there! When things are going well, it’s easy to coast and get a little too comfortable. While you should enjoy the ride, it’s equally important to resist the urge to become complacent and continue to seek out opportunities that will stretch you and keep your mind fueled with inspiration.

Continually checking in on your career journey allows you to stay on track or course correct if necessary, as well as explore the areas you want to push yourself to grow in. I recommend bi-annual career check-ins (put it on your calendar to stay accountable!) to think about:

  • Your long-term goals, how you’re progressing toward them, and what next steps will get you even closer
  • Your accomplishments from the past six months
  • Areas or skills you’d like to learn or develop in the next six months
  • What’s working in your career and what’s not (and how you can change that)

Of course, even if you’re doing all of the above, you may still find yourself in a place of uncertainty or unhappiness. If this happens, think of this as a great opportunity to slow down, reflect, and re-evaluate some things in your life and career. One way to move through this time is to revisit your core values. You may discover that somewhere along the way, you’ve drifted away from them—or that they’re actually not your values anymore! Set aside time to do a quick inventory: List out what is going really well and what is missing. For the items in the latter category, see if you can create mini goals that will allow you to actively address them.

Going through a professional crisis happens to the best of us and is just a sign of being human. For better or for worse, the pain brings with it an incredible gift to re-examine our lives and make better decisions. So while we do our best to avoid pitfalls in our career, rest assured that this period in time is a sign of better things to come.

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Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what a hiring manager would be asking you in your next interview?

While we unfortunately can’t read minds, we’ll give you the next best thing: a list of the 31 most commonly asked interview questions and answers.

While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every interview question (in fact, please don’t), we do recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for in your responses, and what it takes to show that you’re the right man or woman for the job.

Consider this your interview study guide.

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Start off with the 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences that you most want the interviewer to know about, then wrap up talking about how that prior experience has positioned you for this specific role.

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2. How did you hear about the position?

Another seemingly innocuous interview question, this is actually a perfect opportunity to stand out and show your passion for and connection to the company. For example, if you found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, name drop that person, then share why you were so excited about it. If you discovered the company through an event or article, share that. Even if you found the listing through a random job board, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role.

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3. What do you know about the company?

Any candidate can read and regurgitate the company’s “About” page. So, when interviewers ask this, they aren’t necessarily trying to gauge whether you understand the mission—they want to know whether you care about it. Start with one line that shows you understand the company’s goals, using a couple key words and phrases from the website, but then go on to make it personal. Say, “I’m personally drawn to this mission because…” or “I really believe in this approach because…” and share a personal example or two.

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4. Why do you want this job?

Again, companies want to hire people who are passionate about the job, so you should have a great answer about why you want the position. (And if you don’t? You probably should apply elsewhere.) First, identify a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you (e.g., “I love customer support because I love the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone solve a problem”), then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education, and I think you guys are doing great things, so I want to be a part of it”).

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5. Why should we hire you?

This interview question seems forward (not to mention intimidating!), but if you’re asked it, you’re in luck: There’s no better setup for you to sell yourself and your skills to the hiring manager. Your job here is to craft an answer that covers three things: that you can not only do the work, you can deliver great results; that you’ll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates.

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6. What are your greatest professional strengths?

When answering this question, interview coach Pamela Skillings recommends being accurate (share your true strengths, not those you think the interviewer wants to hear); relevant (choose your strengths that are most targeted to this particular position); and specific (for example, instead of “people skills,” choose “persuasive communication” or “relationship building”). Then, follow up with an example of how you’ve demonstrated these traits in a professional setting.

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7. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

What your interviewer is really trying to do with this question—beyond identifying any major red flags—is to gauge your self-awareness and honesty. So, “I can’t meet a deadline to save my life” is not an option—but neither is “Nothing! I’m perfect!” Strike a balance by thinking of something that you struggle with but that you’re working to improve. For example, maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but you’ve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you be more comfortable when addressing a crowd.

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8. What is your greatest professional achievement?

Nothing says “hire me” better than a track record of achieving amazing results in past jobs, so don’t be shy when answering this interview question! A great way to do so is by using the S-T-A-R method: Set up the situation and the task that you were required to complete to provide the interviewer with background context (e.g., “In my last job as a junior analyst, it was my role to manage the invoicing process”), but spend the bulk of your time describing what you actually did (the action) and what you achieved (the result). For example, “In one month, I streamlined the process, which saved my group 10 man-hours each month and reduced errors on invoices by 25%.”

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9. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.

In asking this interview question, “your interviewer wants to get a sense of how you will respond to conflict. Anyone can seem nice and pleasant in a job interview, but what will happen if you’re hired and Gladys in Compliance starts getting in your face?” says Skillings. Again, you’ll want to use the S-T-A-R method, being sure to focus on how you handled the situation professionally and productively, and ideally closing with a happy ending, like how you came to a resolution or compromise.

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10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals, but consider this: A hiring manager wants to know a) if you’ve set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition (a.k.a., this interview isn’t the first time you’re considering the question), and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. And if the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations? It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.

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11. What’s your dream job?

Along similar lines, the interviewer wants to uncover whether this position is really in line with your ultimate career goals. While “an NBA star” might get you a few laughs, a better bet is to talk about your goals and ambitions—and why this job will get you closer to them.

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12. What other companies are you interviewing with?

Companies ask this for a number of reasons, from wanting to see what the competition is for you to sniffing out whether you’re serious about the industry. “Often the best approach is to mention that you are exploring a number of other similar options in the company’s industry,” says job search expert Alison Doyle. “It can be helpful to mention that a common characteristic of all the jobs you are applying to is the opportunity to apply some critical abilities and skills that you possess. For example, you might say ‘I am applying for several positions with IT consulting firms where I can analyze client needs and translate them to development teams in order to find solutions to technology problems.’”

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13. Why are you leaving your current job?

This is a toughie, but one you can be sure you’ll be asked. Definitely keep things positive—you have nothing to gain by being negative about your past employers. Instead, frame things in a way that shows that you’re eager to take on new opportunities and that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit for you than your current or last position. For example, “I’d really love to be part of product development from beginning to end, and I know I’d have that opportunity here.” And if you were let go? Keep it simple: “Unfortunately, I was let go,” is a totally OK answer.

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14. Why were you fired?

OK, if you get the admittedly much tougher follow-up question as to why you were let go (and the truth isn’t exactly pretty), your best bet is to be honest (the job-seeking world is small, after all). But it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Share how you’ve grown and how you approach your job and life now as a result. If you can position the learning experience as an advantage for this next job, even better.

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15. What are you looking for in a new position?

Hint: Ideally the same things that this position has to offer. Be specific.

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16. What type of work environment do you prefer?

Hint: Ideally one that’s similar to the environment of the company you’re applying to. Be specific.

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17. What’s your management style?

The best managers are strong but flexible, and that’s exactly what you want to show off in your answer. (Think something like, “While every situation and every team member requires a bit of a different strategy, I tend to approach my employee relationships as a coach…”) Then, share a couple of your best managerial moments, like when you grew your team from five to 15 or coached an underperforming employee to become the company’s top salesperson.

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18. What’s a time you exercised leadership?

Depending on what’s more important for the the role, you’ll want to choose an example that showcases your project management skills (spearheading a project from end to end, juggling multiple moving parts) or one that shows your ability to confidently and effectively rally a team. And remember: “The best stories include enough detail to be believable and memorable,” says Skillings. “Show how you were a leader in this situation and how it represents your overall leadership experience and potential.”

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19. What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?

Everyone disagrees with the boss from time to time, but in asking this interview question, hiring managers want to know that you can do so in a productive, professional way. “You don’t want to tell the story about the time when you disagreed but your boss was being a jerk and you just gave in to keep the peace. And you don’t want to tell the one where you realized you were wrong,” says Peggy McKee of Career Confidential. “Tell the one where your actions made a positive difference on the outcome of the situation, whether it was a work-related outcome or a more effective and productive working relationship.”

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20. How would your boss and co-workers describe you?

First of all, be honest (remember, if you get this job, the hiring manager will be calling your former bosses and co-workers!). Then, try to pull out strengths and traits you haven’t discussed in other aspects of the interview, such as your strong work ethic or your willingness to pitch in on other projects when needed.

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21. Why was there a gap in your employment?

If you were unemployed for a period of time, be direct and to the point about what you’ve been up to (and hopefully, that’s a litany of impressive volunteer and other mind-enriching activities, like blogging or taking classes). Then, steer the conversation toward how you will do the job and contribute to the organization: “I decided to take a break at the time, but today I’m ready to contribute to this organization in the following ways.”

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22. Can you explain why you changed career paths?

Don’t be thrown off by this question—just take a deep breath and explain to the hiring manager why you’ve made the career decisions you have. More importantly, give a few examples of how your past experience is transferrable to the new role. This doesn’t have to be a direct connection; in fact, it’s often more impressive when a candidate can make seemingly irrelevant experience seem very relevant to the role.

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23. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

“Choose an answer that shows that you can meet a stressful situation head-on in a productive, positive manner and let nothing stop you from accomplishing your goals,” says McKee. A great approach is to talk through your go-to stress-reduction tactics (making the world’s greatest to-do list, stopping to take 10 deep breaths), and then share an example of a stressful situation you navigated with ease.

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24. What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?

Start by explaining what you’d need to do to get ramped up. What information would you need? What parts of the company would you need to familiarize yourself with? What other employees would you want to sit down with? Next, choose a couple of areas where you think you can make meaningful contributions right away. (e.g., “I think a great starter project would be diving into your email marketing campaigns and setting up a tracking system for them.”) Sure, if you get the job, you (or your new employer) might decide there’s a better starting place, but having an answer prepared will show the interviewer where you can add immediate impact—and that you’re excited to get started.

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25. What are your salary requirements?

The #1 rule of answering this question is doing your research on what you should be paid by using sites like Payscale and Glassdoor. You’ll likely come up with a range, and we recommend stating the highest number in that range that applies, based on your experience, education, and skills. Then, make sure the hiring manager knows that you’re flexible. You’re communicating that you know your skills are valuable, but that you want the job and are willing to negotiate.

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26. What do you like to do outside of work?

Interviewers ask personal questions in an interview to “see if candidates will fit in with the culture [and] give them the opportunity to open up and display their personality, too,” says longtime hiring manager Mitch Fortner. “In other words, if someone asks about your hobbies outside of work, it’s totally OK to open up and share what really makes you tick. (Do keep it semi-professional, though: Saying you like to have a few beers at the local hot spot on Saturday night is fine. Telling them that Monday is usually a rough day for you because you’re always hungover is not.)”

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27. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

Seemingly random personality-test type questions like these come up in interviews generally because hiring managers want to see how you can think on your feet. There’s no wrong answer here, but you’ll immediately gain bonus points if your answer helps you share your strengths or personality or connect with the hiring manager. Pro tip: Come up with a stalling tactic to buy yourself some thinking time, such as saying, “Now, that is a great question. I think I would have to say… ”

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28. How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?

1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Seriously?

Well, seriously, you might get asked brainteaser questions like these, especially in quantitative jobs. But remember that the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number—he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you, and that you can set into motion a systematic and logical way to respond. So, just take a deep breath, and start thinking through the math. (Yes, it’s OK to ask for a pen and paper!)

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29. Are you planning on having children?

Questions about your family status, gender (“How would you handle managing a team of all men?”), nationality (“Where were you born?”), religion, or age, are illegal—but they still get asked (and frequently). Of course, not always with ill intent—the interviewer might just be trying to make conversation—but you should definitely tie any questions about your personal life (or anything else you think might be inappropriate) back to the job at hand. For this question, think: “You know, I’m not quite there yet. But I am very interested in the career paths at your company. Can you tell me more about that?”

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30. What do you think we could do better or differently?

This is a common one at startups (and one of our personal favorites here at The Muse). Hiring managers want to know that you not only have some background on the company, but that you’re able to think critically about it and come to the table with new ideas. So, come with new ideas! What new features would you love to see? How could the company increase conversions? How could customer service be improved? You don’t need to have the company’s four-year strategy figured out, but do share your thoughts, and more importantly, show how your interests and expertise would lend themselves to the job.

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31. Do you have any questions for us?

You probably already know that an interview isn’t just a chance for a hiring manager to grill you—it’s your opportunity to sniff out whether a job is the right fit for you. What do you want to know about the position? The company? The department? The team?

You’ll cover a lot of this in the actual interview, so have a few less-common questions ready to go. We especially like questions targeted to the interviewer (“What’s your favorite part about working here?”) or the company’s growth (“What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?”)

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One of the most dreaded interview questions by Kenyan job seekers is; Why did you leave your last job? Most people are not sure what to say because the answers given can change the interviewers perception of you either for better or worse.

No one wants to loose their chances at interviews because they did not know how to go about a certain questions. In this light, here is how you should go about answering the question.

How Best To Answer; Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?

“The first thing you need to know when answering this question is not to lie. We always do a follow up with the previous company to confirm the grounds of a candidate leaving, so it’s best to always tell the truth.

While saying the truth is important in answering this question, people leave jobs because of different reasons and some could put you at a disadvantage and end up losing out on the job. It could be that you resigned because you hated your boss, or your job was too much or maybe the new manager made life difficult for you or you were fired for one reason or the other.

Whatever the reason, you will have to give a believable explanation if you really want the job and to guide you for your next interview, here is how you should go about answering this question.

How To answer If you resigned;

“I realized I had learned about everything in my position and was open to change. For this reason, I did not want to lose focus from my job so I decided it was best to leave and refocus on my career. I needed to find a job with more growth potential.

This tells the interviewer you are not only applying for the job because you are jobless, but because getting that job now is part of your well laid out plan. Find here common interview Questions and Answers in Kenya

How to answer if you were fired;

“The way I envisioned my roles and the overall direction of the company was in contradiction to that of my manager/boss. So, after a number of meetings and talks, we decided that it would be best to part company.”

This answer does not lie, it tells that you were fired but also communicates that you know what you want in your career and are willing to work for it.

However you decide to go about this question, make sure it does not open up grounds for more questions from the interviewer. You do not want to say something you never planned to. Want to pass any job interview? This article demonstrates how.

Learning to negotiate salaries during an interview can be quite a daunting task. Most people dread it since you don’t want to aim too high and lose out on the job or aim to low and risk selling yourself short.

Speaking to Mr. Tom Kamaliki HR Manager at ICAP Kenya, he shares some of the best tips on what these right ways are and what mistakes should be avoided.

To begin with, he states that all salaries are negotiable. “People have this mentality that it is only people in senior positions who can negotiate yet I myself have had to negotiate with people like drivers and cooks. So long as a job is salaried there is always room for negotiation. The only people that I can think of who don’t have the capacity to negotiate would be entry level job seekers or the likes of graduate trainees.”

In regards to what factors determine the need for salary negotiation, off the top of his head he can think of five.

One, the most obvious one is education and experience. “That will never lack in any negotiation and is a key determinant of the amount you will get”.

Two, cost of living. Should the cost of living be high, most definitely people would want a higher salary to cushion themselves.

Three, salary history. “As an employer I would want to know what you have been earning in the past so as to determine what amount would be appropriate to offer you in the future”.

Four, rare skills and industry. If you have a skill where only you and a limited number of people in your industry can perform such as nuclear physicists then that will work to your advantage.

Five, responsibilities and scope of the work. If you have a lot of duties or your job duties are major that would be a good reason for salary negotiation. For example if you have a high risk job that may involve you putting yourself in harm’s way and really adds to the value of your organization, salary negotiation would suffice.

What about mistakes? He says that,  “I have seen instances where people go out and get masters degree and then approach me that they want a salary increment since now they’re over qualified. This never ends well in their favour since I can’t give such a person a pay rise.” If you want the salary increment, that Masters degree that you’re flaunting, has to first add value to the organization. If it doesn’t, then my friend you will end up talking to yourself.

Two, people need to check the requirements of the job they have before going for further studies. “There is no point in you getting a masters in a field where an employee with a diploma can get the same job. As an employer I wouldn’t give you the pay rise you requested but would rather hire the person with a diploma. More so if he’s more qualified and experienced then you are.”

Three, the wrong perception of an organization. “Some employees leave smaller companies for bigger ones thinking they will earn more since the organization is bigger. For example if a person leaves telecommunications company A for B, since B is bigger and it made let’s say 3.5 billion before tax, it doesn’t necessarily mean that now company B will be able to offer you 1 million.”

So what tips would he give an employee negotiating their salary? One, be confident in yourself, your experience and your skills. “Don’t be desperate and blurt out that you will take any amount since the economy is bad or that you have so many problems and need the money really badly. Stay professional”.

Two, do a proper survey of how much the pay is for people in your capacity and with your skills. That way you’ll be able to gauge your range and determine your worth.

Three, don’t ignore job interviews simply because the salary they’re offering isn’t what you think it should be. “After all, isn’t that why it’s called a salary negotiation? Just attend the interview and listen to what they have to say and who knows you could get a bigger and better job with a better salary than originally offered.”

His parting shot? Be confident and be flexible. Know your worth as an employee and what you’re willing to take. If there’s some room to flex, do so and don’t be too rigid.

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