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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Set aside adequate interview time

Set aside adequate interview time

Words by Francis Kahihu

Do you remember the unique friendship that existed between you and your phone a few days after the deadline passed for the submission of job applications? Job seekers always have their phones on so as never to miss the all important call inviting them for an interview. Any call received from a number that has not been saved in your phone book is presumed to be the call inviting you for the interview. We all look forward to this experience and would never want to imagine sabotaging an opportunity of a lifetime.

However, in several cases, successful candidates have had to lose out on great opportunities due to poor management of their interview times. The employer sets a program that is to be followed during the actual interview day so as to manage the expected turn-up for the interviews. In some of the cases, the panel communicates well in advance the specific time for each of the candidate, while in other cases, all candidates are given the same hour and the process runs on first come first served basis.

As experience would show it, most of the interviews take more than the scheduled 25 minutes. In most of the instances, the interviews start slightly late and this has a distabilising effect on all the subsequent interviews of the day. As you wait for your chance to get in and have the interaction with the panel, it pays to be in a comfortable frame of mind with regard to time and not to feel under pressure to clear the interview and disappear since you would have exceeded the time agreed between you and your employer.

There are other instances when you attend an interview and the setting of the interviews demand that you avail more time than initially considered. Some of the interviews could be divided into two parts comprising the oral and practical engagements. This tends to take more time and should you arrive having budgeted for only the oral interview, you may be at pains to readjust yourself to fit within the expected interview duration. While at the interview, you are always at the mercy of the panel and would have little influence on the management of the process.

Impatience is one of the most distabilising responses to poor time management on the part of those charged with facilitating the interview process. You would not want to lose your cool when you realize that the time allocated for the process is running beyond what you had budgeted. This response has a way of robbing you of the results of days of preparation for the interview. As much as the interviewers could be the cause of the problem, there are cases where interviewers are least concerned about the inconvenience caused to your program. Some interviewers expect you to be patient enough and available when they are ready to receive you in the interview room, and for the time they consider fit to have you go through the process.

Since we have little or no control over how the job interviews go, it is advisable to set aside adequate time for the process. Instead of asking for an hour of two away from your office, you may want to ask for either a full day’s or half day leave. This helps you manage any unforeseen changes to the interview process. Note that interviews are marketing opportunities for you and you do not want to miss out on a great opportunity just because you failed to provide enough time for the process. Interviews are engagements that require an investment on your part, not just in terms of the suits and motivational talks, but also in terms of time. The worst you would do at an interview is to be physically present but mentally absent to critically engage with the panel.

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