Putting Her in Her Place: Making the Workplace work for Working Mothers

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Ann* did not understand what her boss meant when she was warned of “wavering” commitment during the last trimester of her pregnancy. She had been an award-winning salesperson for the five years she had worked for the organization.  That month had been hard for most enterprises because of a global financial crisis. Her entire team had had a difficult time. Ann was not the only one who was struggling with clients who were barely able to keep afloat. Ann did not understand why she was the only one who got a verbal warning for her performance. When she went for her maternity leave, she had to attend meetings over pending matters in spite handing over prior to her maternity leave.

Ann’s case is just an example of the subtle microaggressions that working mothers have to put up with in Kenya. With an increasing number of women joining the workforce in Kenya, one would expect that working mothers would have a supportive working environment regardless of the industry they work in. The Employment Act of 2007 recognizes that a working mother is entitled to 90 calendar days as maternity leave. A female employee should not be asked to forfeit her annual leave in lieu of maternity leave because the Act has clear provisions for annual leave for all employees. As compared to Tanzania which only has provisions for an 84- day maternity leave if an employee has been working for an organization for at least six months, the provisions for maternity leave in Kenya apply to all mothers who have a valid employment contract in spite of the duration they have worked for an organization.

Organizations in Kenya have strived to provide supportive working environments for mothers but there are gaps that have not been fully addressed. For instance, mothers who have children with special needs or premature babies are not catered for by the provisions for maternity leave. A study carried out in 2016 by Orion Foundation showed that 91% of the caregivers of children with cerebral palsy are mothers. These mothers have to consider quitting their jobs or take on fewer responsibilities at work in order to continue taking care of their children. Similarly, mothers of premature babies often find themselves taking unpaid leave in order to continue catering for their children’s needs. The “motherhood penalty” is particularly severe for these mothers because they miss out on opportunities for career advancement or risk losing their jobs. Some of the mothers we spoke to while researching this article spoke of the difficulty of getting their bosses to give them time off to attend to a sick child. In some cases, mothers reported that they ended up being late for appointments because of the fear that has been instilled by their bosses.

The Health Bill of 2015 which was sponsored by MP Rachel Nyamai requires employers to set up nursing stations in workplaces to enable lactating mothers to express milk and store it. The implementation of the bill by organizations in the country has been slow but some progress is being made. Some of the companies that have provisions for lactating mothers as outlined in the bill include: Oserian Farm, Safaricom, National Bank of Kenya, Kenya Red Cross, Intrahealth International, PWC, Oxygene MCL, CIC Group, Liberty Life Assurance, Heritage Insurance Company, Webtribe Lt/Jambo Pay, DPO Group, Eka Hotel, Airtel Kenya and Nestle Foods, to mention but a few. Over the years, there has been an improvement in the number of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their children for six months as recommended by the World Health Organization. The National Demographic Health Survey carried out in 2015 indicated that 61% of mothers in Kenya breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. In Eastern and Southern Africa region, it is estimated that 51% of women exclusively breastfeed.  To sustain this progress, organizations who will ultimately rely on the young ones as their workforce in the future should be supportive of nursing mothers once they return to work after maternity leave.

Most working women struggle to exclusively breastfeed their children after going back to work due to lack of lactating facilities and the demands of their jobs. For this reason, there has been a proposal to increase maternity leave to 6 months, but this has not augured well with the Federation of Kenya Employers which argues that this would be counterproductive.  This provision would particularly benefit mothers who have premature babies. Premature babies have to be hospitalized for longer periods as compared to babies born at full term. By the time the mother leaves the hospital, she has very days of her maternity leave left. Most mothers end up being stressed as they try and keep up with the delicate demands of their young ones. This is compounded by the fact that most organizations do not offer flexible working arrangements.

Below are some of the steps organizations can take to make the workplace a better place for working mothers:

Identify and confront biases towards working mothers

The biases towards working mothers can be subtle but they are alive and well. It is a well-known fact that children need their mothers often but this can easily be ignored at expense of the organization’s bottom-line. These biases are supported by outdated management principles that focus on one aspect of an employee’s life at the expense of all other important aspects. An organization seeking to promote work-life balance must confront its biases towards working mothers and begin to address them

Make room for flexible work arrangements

Technology has made it possible for meetings to held using virtual platforms by people in different continents. A mother who needs to attend a sales meeting can make a phone call and conclude the sale. The changing nature of work should be embraced by all organizations for the benefit of all employees, particularly working mothers.

Support and promote working mothers

A woman does not become less competent because she is a mother. On the contrary, being a parent equips one with skills that are useful in the workplace such as empathy, ability to handle tense situations and patience.  If a promotion opens up within the organization, working mothers should have an equal opportunity for promotion.

Are you a working mother looking for a better company/organization that supports the careers of working mothers? Then do reach out to us as Crystal Recruitment Ltd is a leading recruitment agency in Kenya and we do work with amazing clients who support working mothers.

TO HIRE OR NOT TO HIRE? HERE IS YOUR FOOLPROOF CHECKLIST

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Sometimes, hiring a candidate can seem like rocket science before the era of Google. You hire an experienced sales manager only for you to realize that the manager cannot handle the changes in market dynamics. You hire a candidate who seems to have immense potential as an executive assistant only for you to realize that the assistant is tardy and untidy hence he can hardly keep up with the demands of the job. What are the indicators or clues that an employer should be on the lookout for before hiring a candidate?

Hire a candidate who has the right potential

Potential is often defined as the ability to grow and adapt to different working environments. It is easy to weed out the candidates who lack potential during the preliminary stages of an interview. However, determining whether the candidates possess the right kind of potential takes skill. Globally, jobs are increasingly subject to change due to the fast-paced nature of advancement.  A good employer knows that uncertainties are a part of the future hence he or she hires with that in mind. Look for interview questions and assessments that bring out a candidate’s inquisitiveness. Ask candidates about practical steps they have taken to learn something new and apply it in their field. Having the right potential is demonstrated through one’s eagerness to learn in order to reach one’s full potential. A candidate with the right potential is competent, curious, insightful and engaged. A candidate with a few years of experience may have more potential than a candidate with many years of experience. A candidate with the right potential does not want a new job because he/she “can no longer learn anything from their current job”. Instead, he or she wants a position in your organization because it is in line with his or her career goals.

Hire a candidate who understands their career trajectory

Some candidates are one disaster away from a career head-on collision. Their career journey is a random doodle with no goals, ambition or direction in sight. Other candidates know where they are headed, why they want to head in a particular direction and how they are going to get there. Job hopping might look like it is in vogue but from a recruitment perspective, it might also speak of indecisiveness and red flags in one’s character. There might be a shortage of permanent jobs in this economy so it’s okay for one to have some temporary jobs in one’s resume. However, if the stories behind the departure from one organization to another do not add up, then there is a problem.

Hire a candidate who can ask good questions

The wise man, as it is often said, poses the right questions. A candidate who asks questions for the sake of asking questions might be a disengaged candidate who is not curious. A good interview is engaging because it is a two-way conversation. Be prepared to answer a candidate’s questions with clarity and honesty. A candidate’s questions can be an indicator of the candidate’s ability to think creatively and learn. It is also an indicator of whether the candidate is eager to join the organization and bring new ideas.

Hire a candidate who is passionate and determined

Does the candidate have new ideas that can be applied in solving problems in your organization? What practical steps would they take to bring that idea to life? How would the candidate counter the legal/ economic challenges that might be encountered in the course of the implementation of their idea?

Sometimes, the most determined and passionate candidate who would be the right fit for the job does not have the academic skills required for the job. A good programmer might have coding skills that he or she learnt through open courseware on the internet while he/she was working at a restaurant to make ends meet. Such a candidate might lack some of the technical skills but their passion and determination makes them an excellent fit for the position. A good project coordinator might have the right skills and attitude but he or she studied biology as their first degree then took online courses in project management.

Do not hire a candidate who is overconfident and proud

Confidence is essential in successfully executing any role. Overconfidence, on the other hand, is a success killer. A candidate who is overconfident does not understand the importance of taking calculated risks. He or she does not know the limits of what they know and the importance of acknowledging that there is a lot to learn. Such a candidate will overpromise and under deliver, take unnecessary risks and constantly pass the buck to others instead of taking responsibility for their mistakes. Ask questions that will help you determine whether a candidate knows their limitations and is willing to seek help where it is necessary.

Do not hire a candidate who brags about other job offers

If a candidate is bragging about other job offers, then he or she should probably be allowed to pursue other job offers. A candidate who brags about other job offers is manipulative and greedy. He or she is probably trying to arm twist the organization into offering more in terms of monetary benefits by overstating the value that he or she would bring to the organization. Bragging about other job offers is also an indication that the candidate will accept other job offers using your organization’s offer as leverage.

 

Are you looking for talent with the above qualities? Do talk to us.

Crystal Recruitment is a leading Recruitment Firm in Kenya, with presence in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda and a reputation of getting the right people for your open vacancies.

New Job Offer but Low Salary? NEGOTIATE!

We all get excited at the prospect of a new career and the benefits that come with it.

So, you go through the interview stages and finally they say they like you and want to make an offer. However, when you hear the offer your heart sinks as is not per your expectations.

What to do? Negotiate.

We negotiate on a daily basis whether we realize it or not and so you do not have to be a Master Negotiator to get the salary you desire or benefits package you hoped for.

Before turning the offer down or accepting the job offer to quickly, here are a few things to consider;

Your initial salary will determine your subsequent increments;

imagesnegotiateIt is commonly agreed that you would rather get a good package at the beginning than try to negotiate for a change half way. At the onset of making a hire, the Employer wants you on board and hence they are more flexible to your demands.

Most companies offer yearly salary increment based on performance and if you are to negotiate a better salary at the beginning of your employment, it would lead to increased earnings as you progress with your career and continue being a performer.

Look at the whole package

This is very crucial when it comes to jumping ship. Do not be too fixated on the base salary that you forget to put into consideration all other benefits such as medical cover, insurance for self and family, pension, allowances, bonuses etc.

There are also other nonfinancial aspects to think of when negotiating such as the work culture, flexi-working hours, the career growth prospects, training and development and company values in general.

You want to work in a company where you are excited to be in everyday being that we spend more of our time at the work place.

Project into the future

Put your imagination to use.

What will you gain having that company in your CV in let’s say 2-3 years time?

Does the opportunity provide a spring board to propel you further in your career?

Are there new skills that you will acquire in the new job?

What type of problems are you going to solve and how will this impact your career?

These are questions to generally ask when changing career so as not to make a plateaued kind of move where you find yourself stagnated, just a different location.

In essence, if the career benefits are overwhelming, and you accept the Job Offer,  you will have positioned yourself at a place that future employers fight for your kind of skill-set.

Watch out for ultimatums

Avoid giving the Employer ultimatums and also watch out when such is given.jumpship

Don’t be rushed into accepting a job offer because they said for example, “the offer expires in 1 day”. Ask for more time. And if they are not willing to give more time, then, in my opinion, they perhaps don’t deserve you?

The negotiation period should be a time where both parties are exploring best possible compromises and as much as time is of the essence, it shouldn’t be a ridiculous ultimatum.

Talk to Someone

As much as changing jobs is an individual decision, sometimes it does help talk to those who have gone before you. If possible, a mentor or a peer or a close friend who actually knows you well especially when it comes to your career.

You could use platforms like glassdoor and pay scale to gather intel but these alone can be misleading as could be an aggrieved employee writing negative material.

Have the Employer’s Needs in mind

Different companies have different pay scales and this is determined by several factors. Some could be at the start up phase, some are medium sized, others are restructuring etc. Hence is important to do your research to know the Employer’s current position when it comes to salaries and compensation and how that compares to their industry. This means then that you have to know the Employers needs and their priorities and if their priorities do fit with yours.

To note, a company can pay high salaries but their employees operate in a high pressured environment, or a company pays relatively average salaries but with a relaxed work environment.

I usually tell candidates that I work with that choosing an Employer is the kind of relationship that you want to be of value beyond monetary gains.

In conclusion, therefore, when evaluating what you are offered, visa-a-vi your current job, compare them from all possible angles before saying a quick Yes, or a regrettable No.

 

NB// We at Crystal Recruit work with candidates by connecting them to great career opportunities with Potential Employers. Reach out to us via Email and let us talk about your next career move.

Age is a Number, not a Sentence

One of the questions that was raised following the tragic accident involving a bus at Fort Ternan, Kericho was the age of the driver. According to reports in the newspapers, the driver of the ill-fated bus was 72 years old. He had, according to his employer, been a competent employee until then. Questions as to whether his age affected his capacity to perform his duties will remain unanswered. Every organization has to consider the age of its employees. Section 58 and 59 of the Employment Act of 2007 recognize that the minimum age for any industrial undertaking is 16 years. Most employees are required to retire by the age of 55 years but in some instances, an employee can continue working up to the age of 70 years.

As technological advances shift the nature of work, jobs are continually evolving. There are jobs such as digital asset manager which did not exist twenty years ago while there are others such as typists that have become obsolete. The ratio of Kenya’s youth to the population stands at 20.3%, which is above the world’s average of 15.8%. A 2016 World Bank report stated that the unemployment rate in Kenya among the youth stands at 17.3%.  This is higher than the unemployment rates in Uganda and Tanzania which stands at only 6%. It is against this backdrop that organizations have to find the right balance in order to attain diversity in terms of age in their organizations.

There are stereotypes that are associated with both the young and the old that do not necessarily apply to everyone in these groups. Many hiring managers consider millenials a good fit for certain roles because it is often assumed that they are “energetic,” “digital natives” and “agile learners.” These assumptions have driven a shift in terms of considering the criteria for labelling an employee as “too old.” In certain industries, anyone above the age of 40 years is considered “too old,” hence certain roles are reserved for employees below the age of 40 years. In other organizations, those who are below the age of 40 years do not stand a chance because most positions are occupied by those who are 40 years and above. Both extremes create an imbalance in the work place and stifle the rich experiences that would be created as a result of having a diverse workforce comprised of workers of different ages. Organizations can take the following active steps towards ensuring that they create a diverse workforce:

Have a talent acquisition strategy that spells out skills/background required for each role

Having a talent acquisition strategy ensures that you hire the right talent for the right job. It forecasts the organization’s need for talent in line with its growth strategy and helps in planning in advance for talent acquisition. Having such a strategy in place can help in eliminating some of the age inclined biases because the skills and background of the required talent is clearly outlined in the strategy. Some cliché words used in describing talent are regarded as ageist. For instance, “highly energetic” is regarded as a euphemism for “young”.  Avoid using such words in your strategy. Instead, focus on attributes that would make a candidate valuable regardless of their age. The talent acquisition strategy should be shared with external recruiters to ensure they understand the organization’s needs when it comes to talent.

Create interview templates that are related to candidates’ skills and work experience

A good interview should be an opportunity to delve deeper into a candidate’s competencies and work experience. All the questions that the interview panel intends to pose to the client should be geared towards ensuring that the hiring team has a clear picture of the value that the candidate would bring to an organization if given an opportunity to do so. Experience is valuable and it often comes with age but this does not mean that a candidate who does not have many years of experience would not be of value if given an opportunity to put their skills to use.

Make training opportunities available to all employees

Learning, as they often say, is the only way to avoid rusting. Training is an essential part of your organization’s growth hence it should be offered to all employees on a regular basis. Organizations often assume that they will not benefit much by offering their older employees opportunities for training since the older employees are on their way to retirement. This assumption results in a huge skills gap between the older and younger employees.  Training offers an opportunity for the older employees to share the wealth of the experience they possess with the younger employees. It offers the younger employees an opportunity to share the new developments in the field with older employees in an environment that is interactive and friendly.

There are three ages to consider according to psychologists. Which age are you focusing on?

Psychologists argue that there are three “ages.”

Chronological age is determined by one’s date of birth. It is subject to the clock and seasons on earth hence there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Biological age is determined by one’s lifestyle. A 20 year old can have the heart of a 90 year old due to bad eating habits, lack of exercise and a bad attitude towards life. A 60 year old can have the heart of a 30 year old due to proper eating habits, regular exercise and a good attitude towards life.

Psychological age is determined by how an individual views himself or herself as he/she advances in age. As Henry Ford, the American business magnate and founder of Ford Motor Company rightfully observed: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to talent acquisition? We at Crystal Recruitment make it our business to find the right talent for your company as we are a leading Recruitment Agency in Kenya. Talk to us today and let us help you find the right talent.

7 Intelligent Steps Towards Gracefully Quitting Your Job

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For every story about a successful transition from one job to another or a business opportunity, there is another story about a stressful job transition. Contrary to popular belief, quitting your job is not as easy as the movies make it look. It can be terrifying, exhilarating, uncertain or all of these at the same time. Sometimes it is the product of days, months and years of agonizing over whether the decision to quit is the right decision. For other people, it can be the product of a whim, a gut feeling that the grass is greener on the other side. There is no right or wrong way to arrive at that decision but there are intelligent steps you can take as you work towards your transition. The key thing is, that once you make up your mind to leave the job, have the courage to follow through with your decision.

Find your “why” before you leave

Difficult bosses have been known to be among the leading reason as to why people quit their jobs. While it is true that there are bosses that are impossible to work with, there is another side of the coin. Some employees place unreasonable expectations on their bosses making the work environment stressful. Before you leave your current position, you need to ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Why do you want to leave your job?
  • Are your reasons detached from any pending emotional matters that you have not dealt with?
  • If there are steps you could take towards improving your experience at your current position, would you take them and evaluate the outcome before making your decision?

Draft a transition plan

I have met candidates with noticeable gaps in their CV’s which is often as a result of leaving a job without having a proper transition plan in place. A typical transition plan answers the following questions:

  • Are there any pending projects/ tasks you need to complete before your final day at your job?
  • When will each of these projects or tasks be handed over to your successor?
  • What are opportunities are you eyeing after you leave?
  • Do you have a proper plan with clear objectives and set timelines to help you pursue other opportunities?
  • Do you have a financial plan in place to cater for your pursuit of other opportunities?

You may not be able to cover all the bases but you can anticipate as much as you can and plan ahead. If you have a mentor, let him or her help you with this process.

pexels-photo-796602Give notice to your employer

If you have a contract with your employer, go through it and find out if you are supposed to give a certain amount of notice before you quit your job. In some organizations, failure to serve sufficient notice can have a direct impact on your terminal benefits. It is important to serve notice as it allows your employer to have sufficient time to find a replacement. If there are specific skills you acquired through experience, the notice period allows you to transfer those skills to your successor.

Hand in your resignation letter

Forget about those cheesy videos of employees who made emotional videos and sent them to their bosses as a resignation letter. They only work if you are out to become an internet celebrity after you quit job. Your resignation letter should be a precisely drafted legal document that informs your employer that you will no longer be offering your services to the organization after a certain date. You do not have to delve into the details as to why you quit your job. Keep it short, polite and formal. Outline any transition plan you are willing to make and implement. Express your gratitude to your boss for the opportunity.

Schedule a meeting with your boss about your exit

This may be the most difficult part of exiting from your current position but it is necessary. Have a short meeting with your boss and inform him/her that you will no longer be working for the organization. Future employers may seek a recommendation from your former boss so it is important to leave in good terms.

Handle pending administrative matters

If your organization has a well-established HR department, you may be required to attend an exit interview. Attend the interview and keep your criticism concise and constructive. Fill in the paperwork that you may be required to fill in to cater for things such as your retirement benefits and your health insurance. Clear with all the departments you need to clear with. Let your colleagues, particularly your successor, know that you are leaving. You may not have a good experience at the organization but that does not mean you cannot positively influence those who still work for the organization. Share the lessons you have learned from your job with your colleagues.

pexels-photo-704767Forge ahead!

The only way to move forward is to step forward. Once you have left your job, embrace what’s ahead of you. It will be terrifying at times. It will be heartbreaking and exciting at other times. It may not work out after the first, second and third attempts. However, it pans out, embrace it, learn from it and go for it. There is no loss in trying and failing but failure to try due to fear of loss is the biggest loss.

Good luck with your exit!

Do you mind taking a short survey about your previous exit from your job? It would mean so much to us. Click the link below and answer the questions.

Survey on Leaving Your Job

If you are on verge of changing careers, do check out our website, Crystal Recruitment a leading recruitment agency in Kenya for opportunities that we have and apply today!

Top five questions you should stop asking candidates during interviews

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An interview is, in simple terms, a question and answer session between the employer and the candidate who is a potential employee. As an employer, an interview is an opportunity to determine whether a candidate’s qualifications are a good fit for the organization. An interview enables you to sift through the fine list and get the finest candidate for the position you are seeking to fill. Candidates, on the other hand, spend hours preparing for the interview and work even harder to deal with the anxiety that comes with being interviewed.

With today’s cut-throat competition for talent among employers, it is only natural that an employer would go out of their way to prod the candidates and find the best. However, this enthusiasm can easily be tainted by biases which come to the fore in the form of questions posed to the candidates. As a best practice, it is advisable to avoid posing the following questions to candidates:

“Where are you from?” Or “You have a strange accent. Where are you from?”

This may seem like an innocent question but it is laden with hidden meanings. This question boils down to a candidate’s ethnicity or first language. It can mask underlying biases towards candidates on the basis of their ethnicity. Unless the candidate’s ethnicity has a direct impact on the candidate’s ability to perform the job, it is advisable to steer clear of a candidate’s ethnicity during an interview. Instead of asking a candidate why he or she has a strange accent, you can pose the following questions:

  • This job requires you to speak ______ fluently. What languages are you fluent in?
  • This position requires you to represent the organization in forums with audiences drawn from different ethnicities. Are you good at handling such audiences?

We have always had a man/ woman for this role. Can you handle the challenges that come with this position?

images (6)Men and women possess different abilities which enrich the workplace in unique ways. For decades, ill-informed notions about what a woman can do have been used to lock out women seeking certain opportunities. The effect of this discriminatory practice has resulted in huge gaps between the number of women and the number of men in certain fields. Fortunately, most organizations are beginning to recognize the critical role played by women in the workplace and are taking active steps to close the gaps. Your organization will benefit immensely from providing both men and women with equal opportunities. Do not lock out women on account of their gender. Open the field for them and level the playing field for them.

“Are you married?” Or “Do you have young children?”

As the workplace is changing, young people find themselves committing to their careers in favour of starting a family early. Unlike in the past, marriage is delayed as one pursues higher education, career opportunities or business opportunities. A good employer recognizes that a candidate’s marital status is an important part of his or her life but does not use this against the candidate. Some jobs may require a candidate to work overtime or work long hours but this should not be a reason to lock our candidates who have families. An employer’s working hours or policies should support work-life balance because studies have increasingly shown that employees who have a balance in their lives perform better. Instead of asking about a candidate’s marital status, the interviewer can pose the following questions:

  • This job may require you to work overtime hours. What days/hours are you available for work?
  • Are you available for work-related travel occasionally?
  • This job may require you to relocate to another city or country. Would you open to this?

“Which religion do you practice?” Or “Who is your religious leader?”

pexels-photo-1407278.jpegReligion is increasingly becoming a dicey topic. While we cannot ignore the role of religion in one’s life, it can be a hot button topic in the workplace. Asking about a candidate’s religion can open the door for discrimination on account of one’s religion or lack of religious affiliation. Organizations that are religiously affiliated may find this question necessary when determining a candidate’s alignment to the organizational values. However, given that religion is deeply personal and private, it may be hard to determine if a candidate’s convictions are actually as stated. To avoid this, it would be better to determine if a candidate’s religious affiliation has a direct bearing on the position. If not, it is better to steer clear of this question.

“What is your greatest weakness?”

As an employer, you know that candidates invest a considerable amount of time in preparing for interviews. Asking a candidate to tell you about their weakness may not be useful considering the candidate has already rehearsed an appropriate answer that gives the best impression. If you are keen on finding out about a candidate’s weakness, talk to their referees. No one can openly admit to being addicted to social media or online gambling during an interview. Alternatively, ask the below questions;

  • When was the last time your Supervisor/Manager gave you constructive criticism with regards to your job? Tell us more.
  • What areas are you working on for Personal Development?

Do you need help with recruiting top talent for your organization? Crystal Recruitment is a Leading Recruitment Firm that specializes in targeting the right people for open vacancies. Check out our website today and get in touch with us.

 

Top six questions you need to ask an employer during an interview

pexels-photo-355952.jpeg“Do you have a question for us?”

This is a common phrase from interviewers during interviews and the expectation is that the candidates will have prepared several questions for them. Asking questions in an interview is an indication that you did your research and are well prepared.

Most candidates have great answers to the questions posed by interviewers. Some of them have great CV’s and a track record that cannot be ignored. However, they go under the seat when their turn to ask questions comes at the end of the interview. From my interactions with candidates, many of them confuse this with an opportunity to sell themselves to the hiring team. Others do not ask questions because they do not know whether their questions are appropriate. This boils down to anxiety, lack of confidence and poor preparation. Fortunately, we have done interviews for so long that we have developed a cheat sheet for you( do not tell anyone about it).

Here are our top six  questions you need to pose to interviewers during an interview:

1. What would I be expected to do on a typical day/week/month if I was hired for this position?

It may seem like an obvious question but it is absolutely important to find out what your interviewer expects from you. Having an employer lay out what you are expected to do ensures that there are no nasty surprises once you get hired. A candidate who successfully applied for a position as a personal assistant quit her job after a week after being told by her boss that she was supposed to pick up his laundry and supervise his children as they did their homework in the office. Upon further inquiry, she was told that the previous personal assistant used to perform those duties in addition to her daily duties. Having expectations laid out for you during the interview process helps you decide whether you would like to take up the job or not.

images (23)2. Would I be undergoing any form of training after getting the job?

An ambitious candidate not only applies for jobs because he or she meets the criteria but also because he or she wants to grow career wise. If you lack some of the skills that one is required to have in order to perform well, this question helps you determine whether there is an opportunity to acquire those skills before embarking on the job. It also helps you gauge whether your potential employer has opportunities for you to develop professionally. Some companies have an initial training period of up to three months. If you have another job and you require to serve a notice of a similar amount of time, it may be wise to state so during the interview as you pose this question.

3. What are the performance expectations for this position?

It may seem obvious that anyone who gets the position has to perform but the performance expectations may not be that obvious. Posing this question helps you set your mind and attitude towards the attainment of targets as per your position. If the performance expectations are not commiserate to the resources provided by the company, then this question would help you determine whether you still want to take up the job. Moreover, this question will help determine what sort of salary you should accept  should they extend an offer if successful through the selection stages.

4. What are the next steps after the interview process?

No one wants to wait to hear from an employer forever. This questions helps you to have realistic timelines in mind as you await to hear from your employer. This question helps you know what to expect and when to expect it. It is also a way of getting some reassurance from your employer after the interview. You can also check with them what sort of medium will they use to provide feedback.

pexels-photo-66134.jpeg5. Will I be working with a team? If I am, could you tell me a little about the team?

Everyone indicates that he or she is a team player in their CV’s. The true test of this attribute is when you are actually introduced to the team. Candidates have been known to quit their jobs after a short time because of teams that were impossible to work with. Find out who you will be reporting to. Find out whether there are any challenges that the team has been dealing with. Find out how the organization has been building the capacity of the team and promoting team work within the organization. Find out about the work culture among the teams in the organizations.

6. What sort of advancements can I work towards while working in this department?

This question will give you a glimpse into opportunities for mobility within the company. The last thing you want as a candidate is a dead end job that leads you nowhere. Your ultimate goal as a candidate should be to grow in your career path. Advancement may in form of training opportunities, promotion and mentorship opportunities.

Do you want to change careers? Crystal Recruitment, a leading Recruitment Agency in Kenya works with Employers and we may have your next career on our Job Board. Be sure to check it out.

NO! Recruiters will not Read your CV/Application

pexels-photo-128421I was to write about interning after we posted 2 intern opportunities with our clients. However, as we shortlisted, we were appalled and I felt I must write this as a reminder and more for those who may be wondering they have sent out 200 plus applications with no response.

I know, even a ‘regret’ is better than never hearing from the companies you applied to.

If you do not hear from us or do not hear from recruiters after you apply for an opportunity, this could be one or all of the reasons!

Shoddy CVS. 

This cannot be overemphasized.

See what we shared earlier about having a great CV.

So let us say it again, take your time. Write a great CV even for an internship. Sell yourself. How do you stand out from 800+ applications, like what we received for the Office Assistant Intern position in just a week?

The only thing standing between you being shortlisted for an interview, getting a regret or never hearing from the Recruiters is your CV and application letter where applicable.

Google is your friend, if not, then you better start making it your close ally.  Know what to avoid, and do exactly that.

Not Following Instructions 

If a job is for a certain nationality, please do not apply. It is not funny when a recruiter scroll down CVs to find a +254 yet they want a +255. Unless of course you are a citizen of that country and want to go back home.

If you cannot follow basic instructions in the job application process, why should the hiring company think you would follow instruction once hired? And trust us, there are so many instructions to follow.

Sending CV to multiple Employers on the Same Email.

Deadly sin here.

But why would you send your CV to 10 companies on the same email?

Not Including a Body on the Email. 

This is another that actually tops the list where if you have a good CV but do not have time to write something about yourself and the job you are applying for, how would we know? The chances of a Recruiter opening that CV is pretty slim unless of course, they have some extra time or they did not get enough applicants for the specific job.

We repeat; pay attention, someone will pay attention too.

It is simple; You don’t want to put in time when applying, why would someone else spend their time checking your CV trying to figure out what sort of job would be of interest to you or what skills you have, yet you can simply include that in short paragraph?

No Subject, or the subject line, “CV” 

My guess is as good as yours, ‘hit ignore button’.

No one will even bother responding to this. There is a reason people study Coms 101? And letter writing and there is a reason the emails have a subject line?

So let us get something straight.

Junk In, Junk Out.

You do not expect to get a call for an interview with either a junk CV or a junk application and especially not in a market where Recruiters have deadlines, KPIs and pressed for time to sieve through all the CVS. Yes, some must go through all CVs to create longlist before creating a shortlist because of audit purposes.

downloadResults.jpgParting shot:

When you are a job seeker and you include a phone number, email address or skype ID, be sure to be available on those channels. Do check your emails on a regular basis. If you don’t and you miss a deadline, you have yourself to blame.

We as a leading Recruitment Agency in Kenya have several assessment stages and for large volumes of applications, we rely on provided email contacts to reach the applicants.

Be Intentional in your Job Search and see the rewards.

 

Do you know what sort of Interview You are Attending???

 

Interviewing is a skill that one perfects over time. Not only do you need to prepare, but you need to find out what sort of interview you will be attending. Knowing beforehand means you get to prepare well to ace the said interview. If you are working with a Recruitment Firm, always ask them to specify the kind of interview you have been invited to, the Hiring Company’s expectation and who will be the panelists.

There are various types of interviews:

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  • Phone/Skype Interviews
  • Structured Interviews
  • Unstructured Interviews
  • Stress Interviews
  • Behavioral Interviews
  • Competency Based Interviews
  • Case Studies
  • Panel Interviews
  • Group Interviews
  • Simulation Interviews
  • Lunch/Dinner Interviews.

Today, we will to focus on the Structured Interviews and incorporate a format of how that would look like.

Structured Interviews are very consistent in nature as they ask the same questions and they have preempted answers in the case of a competency-based module.

They have a grading system and are scientific in nature.

They are majorly done by a panel of interviewers as they would want to get the average points on the candidate’s performance.

Companies are adopting this interview style due to its consistency format. Some will mix it with case studies for senior roles.

How would a Structured Interview look like, especially sample of a type of a Competency-Based One?

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The first section would be about yourself: This is more of your schooling, the grades, any awards, any professional qualification related to the job etc.

For example, If we have two candidates for a Marketing Job; Both have undergraduate degrees in Marketing with First Class Honors and one of them has the CIM Certification; the one with the extra certification automatically scores higher in this section of Academic Professional qualification.

The second section is usually created to determine your competencies;

Sticking to a Marketer Role: Some of the Competencies they may want to interview on are;

  • Technical Knowledge (Marketing)
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Financial Literacy
  • Team Leadership / Collaborative

Once they establish the relevant competencies, questions are set around the same with the generally expected answers. The best way to answer them is always linking the answers to your actual experience.

For instance, if asked about Commercial Awareness in Marketing – You would answer then demonstrate that by giving previous examples of projects worked on.

Keep in mind that it is not the length of your answer, but the content as the Interviewers do have a guide on what to expect for set questions.

This part is very important as is the only way the panel can determine if you really can do the work or not. They will be basing their decision on your ability to demonstrate the competencies from your previous experience.

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Third Part would be a Behavioral Component.

Each job usually has a behavioral component and some companies even adopt specific behaviors they want to be exhibited by their employees. E.g Friendliness, Team-spirit etc

Most of this questions would seek to understand how you did react in a certain situation. E.g if they want to check friendliness, they may ask “Tell us a time that you used your friendly nature to calm an irritated customer Or to influence a team member”

If you are well prepared, you will have several examples.

It is advisable to think through your career history and in line with the Job Description, write down examples for each of the competency components of the expected behavior trait that you feel may be asked. This way you will be ready when the questions are asked.

 

images (6)The fourth Part would be where you get to ask questions:

Yes, they do grade this!

So have your questions ready. Otherwise, you will lose points and even a 0.5 mark makes the difference on whether you move to the next stage or not.

They will want to know, were your questions thoughtful? Relevant? Did you do your research about the Company? Are your excited about the Job and more so joining the Team?

The final part is where they ask about your salary expectation, notice period and if you have any benefits you would want to be matched. This is not graded.

This process is repeated for all invited candidates, and each Interviewer does their own grading. They may want to compare notes once done e.g if there is a big disparity and get to discuss why someone gave higher marks and another gave way lower marks for the same question answered by the same candidates. They will then hand over the individual results to the HR department who will tally and prepare a final report. Based on the final report, the highest scoring candidates move to the next stages i.e Reference, security vetting and background checks if that was the interview or to the next interview stages.

Other candidates who did not make it will receive a Regret email or call as a best practice in Recruitment.

In our next articles, we will look into the Common Behavioral Questions and how to answer them.

We at Crystal Recruit do walk with our candidates and make sure they are well prepped for interviews with our clients.

You can check our latest Jobs Here

 

Is your CV selling you? Try These Tips!

First, the basics – Correct Contact Details.

Your contact details must be up to date, and correctly spelt. Remember that errors can cost you  a Job?

It is not uncommon to get CVs of candidates whose contact details are incorrect or the emails are miss pelt hence bounces. That is a straight ticket to missing out on an interview.

Furthermore, when job hunting and you get a missed call of an unknown number, please do call back. Sometimes, when there are so many job applicants, the recruiter moves on to available candidates. A call back also means you can make follow ups which is a plus in itself.

 

Second: Read the Job Specification then respond like for like

Are they looking for a Customer Service Executive? Do you have have similar skills? Any achievement around retaining a client or up-selling through your outstanding customer service? Highlight that.

Use keywords specific to that job you are applying for.

That means if you were to apply for an Account Manager position, then you would rewrite your CV to capture your Client relationship skills.

Basically, one CV is not one fit for all jobs. And if it is not an entry Level position, then be selective in putting your energies in positions that you are confident if hired, your would excel. What we mean is, if you are sending out your CV to 5 different jobs with different job titles and you have the right skill set thus are sure you can do either of the job, then you will be writing 5 cover letters and 5 CVs highlighting why you are best suited for the different roles.

 

Third: Beauty lies in the Eyes of the Beholder

This is all about formatting, spacing, fonts, layout and length. We did share a few fonts that are most attractive in the last article.

Your CV body font should be between 10 and 12 points and the headings to be 14 and 18 points. When it comes to margins, a 2.5 cm is decent enough. The right spacing does bring out clarity and professionalism.

We have seen CVs that are 16 pages long. The common rule of the thumb is that your CV should be at a maximum of 2 pages . If possible one page.

What is the length of your current CV?

To let you in on a secret, a CV gets on average a 90 seconds view and from there it is either, “Trash, Consider Later or Good to Shortlist” . So next time you are writing your CV, try picture where you want your CV to land and what you can do about that

It is advised to save your CV in a PDF format unless advised otherwise. This is because a PDF document will maintain its formatting no matter the device used to open it.

Furthermore, another reason to save your CV in PDF format is that most PDF files can be easily opened online thus you get a faster view visa-a-vi a word document file that must first be downloaded before viewing. When recruiters are working against time and they get great pool of applicants from those already viewed online as their CVs are in PDF files, the rest may have to wait for another day.

 

Fourth: The Content

This is where the rubber meets the road. The meaty stuff in your CV will get you the well deserved interview.

Your CV should be written chronologically including both years of graduations and work experiences.

If you have been out of school for 5 years and less, then you start with your education then go to experience.

If you have been working longer, then the experience takes precedence and later include your education details.

Do not exaggerate or falsify information for either the work experience or education. The best of recruiters will sniff you out once they do their reference and background checks.

Do highlight your honors and key achievement.

Focus on your wins. Think through your career as you write your CV and do put effort into demonstrating your most significant achievements that could have led to getting awards, recognition, rewards etc.

Avoid too many bullet points and listing “your previous job description word for word”.

When talking of your work experience, try to think numbers and metrics. Be clear on the measurable and the quantifiable e.g, Instead of saying you were a Regional Manager at Company Y,  you could say you were Regional manager implementing new systems across 3 countries while managing 6 cross-cultural teams.

As for extracurricular activities, do focus on those that are most relevant to the job, in that they will add a special touch to show you can indeed do the job. It is a nice to demonstrate that you can manage a team as you hold office in a Not for Profit Community Organization and you have been instrumental in implementing the organization’s mandate even if you may not be in a managerial role in your current employment.

 

Final: References

Unless asked to include, you can always write a line, “To be Availed Upon Request” or remove the line altogether if you no longer have space.

Bonus Tip;

When submitting your application via an email address, please remember the following:

  • The Subject Line should be the Title of the Job you are applying for.
  • Do not send blank emails – share a little bit more about your suitability for the role on the body of the email
  • Follow instructions – if told to include a cover letter, do include a cover letter.

If you are working with a Leading Recruitment Agency, do ask questions about the potential employer and their expectation of interested candidates.

CV Writing? The Absolute DONT’s

“Have a better CV”.

“Change the titles”. 

“Make it shorter”.

“Use an attractive font”. 

These are common phrases I use in my day to day work as a Recruiter after speaking with a candidate who has great potential but sometimes, not such a good CV. The advantage they would have is that the Hiring Manager would listen to me since I have done the initial screening. However, were we to base our decision on the CV alone, the candidate wouldn’t stand a chance.

The reality is that not all companies use Recruitment Agencies and sometimes candidates must follow the application procedure set down by the Hiring Companies, meaning their CV will either be the tool to give them an interviewing opportunity or not.

So what are these mistakes that could be your downfall in a job search?

Typographical Errors (Typos, grammatical errors)

Spelling

I think this tops the list of the No-Nos when it comes to your CV. Such a mistake will take your application to the trash/reject folder faster than it landed in the inbox folder. Some of the things to do to avoid this deadly mistake include;

  • Proof read the CV.
  • Print out and check again.
  • Have a friend check for you because, let us be honest, it can be hard identifying your own mistakes.
  • Use other tools like Grammarly.
  • You can create your own resume proof reading checklist, or you can use this one that I found pretty interesting. In simpler terms, there is no excuse for such an error.

Lack of Consistent Formatting

Once you have made sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors, then you need to check your formatting.

Have a  form of consistency. From the font used, sizes, headings etc. Let there be a sense of a flow.

When not sure, look for templates online. There are a thousand of them that you can customize. Let the Recruiter want to read through your CV at just a glance of the CV.

Some of my favorite fonts that I have used so far include;

  • Gill Sans
  • Cambria
  • Garamond
  • Calibri
  • Georgia

This goes to show you there are fonts that are not as attractive; rather they would dull your CV. Take time to research more and also remember that a Photographer’s CV would be very different from an Accountant’s CV.

Customize the format to your line of career and craft.

Gaps in your CV 

GAPSIt is encouraged that you write your CV in a chronological order including the years and months of the start and end of each employment.

Whether you took a sabbatical leave, time out to raise family, to venture into business, to do certain projects, take care of sick family member/relative etc, find ways to explain the same in your CV so that there are no gaps.

When you have gaps, it tends to leave an impression that you could be hiding something.

Irrelevant Information

It is advised that you do try as much as possible to keep your CV sweet and short yet giving a clear picture of who you really are.

Some of the things that are considered irrelevant:

  • Personal Information (Age, Marital Status, No. of Children, Gender, Religion etc).
  • Career Objective/Vision (Can only be useful if changing the industries completely hence a short summary why).
  • Copy pasting your current job description as tasks/responsibilities
  • Your Interests/hobbies (Unless it is in line with the position you are applying for).

Cliches and overused words

Instead, do find action words to use to display your competencies.

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Exaggerated information aka lies in your CV

Those who exaggerate or tell lies in their CV do somehow get caught.

My main question though is; why let a lie be the end of your career in the long term as your integrity comes into question?

Basically; what else have you/will you lie about??

There are other things to avoid such as listing too many jobs, too many bullet points, CV lacking sense of direction and progression of skills, qualifications not clear etc but I think they may not be as suicidal as those mentioned above.

A parting shot; when you get to the interview panel stage, make sure you can explain your CV in detail. Lack of doing so may just mean the end of the interview in that very moment. Master your CV, know it, every little detail and defend what you have written. 

For those in the job search, check our page for latest jobs and hopefully, with your great CV you get yourself an interview?

Do come back soon for the “Must to Do” for your CV to stand out.