I sat quietly at my desk that afternoon; the weather was dry and dusty. My boss had just given me some work to do with very little time to complete and I was seriously struggling to meet up with deadlines. Two interviews had been scheduled for that afternoon and my colleagues were really looking forward to it. I on the other hand was desperate to meet up with deadlines. The time came for the interviews and we got started. One was a guy and the other, a lady. My boss sent the details and CVs of the interviewees to all team members and the interview commenced. It turned out to be something eventful.

Looking at this young man, one could tell he was vibrant; really good looking and quiet. I had already gone through his CV, I was not impressed but seeing him, I had a little hope. My hope was however dashed when he started talking. He could barely answer the No 1 question of any interview; ‘Can you tell us a bit about yourself’. He mumbled between words, trying to find the perfect sentence but failed. When asked about his biggest accomplishment, he said it was his OND certificate. That seemed normal, especially in Nigeria, so we expected a backup story, something emotional, something out of the box, but we got NOTHING! ‘So why is that your greatest accomplishment?’ asked my boss. The question was met with utmost silence. It was very obvious that he didn’t come prepared. Yes, he came in early, and yes he composed himself well but as regards content, it was a big NO. In his eyes, I could see fear; fear of uncertainty, fear of failure. At that point, I lost all hope; and every other team member gave up on him.

She came in looking all tired from the run she took while climbing the stairs in an effort to get to the venue 20 mins before the interview. Sweat trickled down her face as she made her way towards me. I gave her a chair and told her to relax. I was pretty sure it was not her first interview. When she was called upon, she gave a warm smile that could have melted the heart of the devil himself. My boss was calm and so were the team members. We all hoped and wished it was not going to be another wasted time. When she was asked the first question, She calmly responded with the highest form of confidence I had ever seen. My boss became so engrossed that he sat up and listened quietly. The series of questions that followed were not short of impressive answers. We were wowed! Just when I thought it was over, a team member spotted an irregularity on her CV. She was a Jack of all trades. She was called out for this and she said all the jobs were connected. She got us all confused. At this point, my boss asked if she could make a presentation on the board. She stood up, with confidence and walked to the board. I could see a faint form of fear in her eyes, but her confidence level overshadowed it. She picked up the marker, drew arrows pointing to her different interests and then a final line connecting all interests to a single outcome: problem solving. She left us screaming and clapping. She got not just a standing ovation but the intended outcome: a paid internship.

They both came for the interview, they were both asked the same questions, one walked out of the office with advice, and the other walked out with a job. What was the difference? One came PREPARED, the other came UNPREPARED

Successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones. The choice is yours…