There are many daunting aspects about the recruitment process. In this period of economic recession (which has been forever if you are a Nigerian born after the oil boom years of the mid-70s) applicants for jobs have to get their acts right if they want to land a dream role.
Almost all the professionals in Naija want to work in either banking, oil and gas or telecommunications. Except if you are an engineer, lawyer or IT professional, in which you have the alternatives of an Engineering, Law or IT firm. Doctors are in a lane of their own. The Human Resources executives or top management of these banks, oil firms or telecoms organisations know that they are like the promised land. Their recruitment processes, tests and interviews are arranged in a manner to make sure that many will not enter.
There are also scam artists who put up fictitious job vacancies on even the most respected and well-circulated dailies. If you apply, you enter your personal information at your own peril. There are cartels in Naija who use people’s phone numbers for God knows what. You may be awakened many a night from your slumber by texts or calls trying to entice you into some elaborate scheme or fraudulent“oil and gas” investments. They call you and claim to have met you at an event which you can swear you never attended. I mean, imagine some scam artist claiming he met me at the Argungu Fishing Festival. I have never been to Zamfara, sorry, Sokoto state before. Using your resume, as background info, this tricksters reel out personal information about you to convince you that they know you indeed.
They are still tenacious even when you ‘catch’ them out. One tried to trick a friend of mine by claiming ‘I even met your sister last week in the market’
My friend replied ‘I do not have a sister. I am an only child’
Without pausing, the man insisted ‘I meant I met your sister-in-law’
My friend wasn’t even married and his CV indicated so! He dropped the phone pronto.
Ah, no country for the un-sharp man.
I have been for a few interviews in my life and have been asked different types of interview questions. I have had the HR manager of an oil service firm ( a dark skinned man with ‘tiger whisker’ tribal-marks on his cheeks) ask me what my hobbies were, as he peered down at my resume for cross-confirmation. When I mentioned that I liked hiking, he sneered at my reply with disbelief as he probed “How can you say you like hiking, eh? Where in Nigeria, do you see people going hiking? Abi do you slap on Eko Bridge?”
Truth be told, the resume I had presented was the one I had been using when in England for job applications, and I had not bothered to edit the “Extra-curricular activities” section. I had actually done some small hill climbing/ outdoorsy ‘hiking’ in the English country a few times, though nothing of the Mount Everest summit climbing sort. I remember a HR professional advising that it was always wise to put diverse interests on your resume, as you may have a recruiter at an interview with similar interests. Or so I thought, as I sat facing this one-man army of a panel.
To lighten the atmosphere, I tried to joke lightly “ No, that would be hitch-hiking.”
The HR manager didn’t laugh at all and he hissed loudly. Like I should take a hike.
Why is that in Nigeria, people who conduct interviews act like they do not want you to get the job? They make unnecessary demands, some requiring interviewees to travel across 7 mountains, 7 seas and even past zones known for kidnapping to write very weird tests. Some jobs set calculus type exams for entry-level positions. Some testing areas are over-populated with thousands of candidates even if the positions being tested for are just a few? I know a situation last year, where a whole stadium was used to conduct a test for a few positions in the NDLEA.
In America or England, some companies check applicant’s profile on facebook to discern the type of person applying for the job. While not fool-proof is a fair way means, this may catch out people who have turned Facebook into their village drum or diary.
However, some Naija recruiters discovered their own ingenious means of asessing clients other than facebook. Some look at your face, some look at whether you know ‘book’. The ones that look at face, prefer ajebo looking candidates, especially fresh, light-skinned beauties who they reserve for marketing, front-desk, customer service and any promotion roles. Some look at face, but are more interested in your family’s pedigree. If you are related to a well-known member of society (especially if he is the PDP or AC in Lagos), you may be hired. If you share the same surname with a well-known member of society, you may be hired. I know someone whose surname is Abubakar. This chap really enjoyed himself during the Obasanjo era and got into a top position in an energy firm on the strength of that.
Me, my own surname is Jesus.
Some years ago, circa 2004 friend of mine Jide was invited for a screening for a leading telecommunications firm in Victoria Island. He was ushered into a large waiting area where there were about 30 other applicants. The waiting area had various chaise chairs and a huge magazine rack in the middle, which had different newspapers, journals, dailies, softsells, pamphlets etc. There was also a huge flat screen television showing CNN. On one of the walls was a huge window with an opaque glass.
After waiting for about 3 hours, many of the applicants started reading or browsing through the magazines to pass time, until everyone was reading something.
Then immediately, a man in a black suit burst through doors and announced “All those who are reading The Economist, Smart Money, The UK Times, Newsweek, The Guardian, ThisDay, Time, Forbes, Fortune 500, come with me now.”
With everyone looking stunned he added “Those of you with City People, Cosmopolitan, Ebony, National Enquirer, Complete Football, Ikebe Super, Hints, National Encomium, Ovation…Please leave immediately, we have the selected candidates to go through. Good luck with your future job search.”
Thankfully, my friend had been reading Gaurdian newspaper – the astrology section though. Well his star sign did say today would be his lucky day.
Bosun, someone I know once went for an interview where the man interviewing was an eccentric, clown of a character called Mr. Ralph. This chap wore a brown corduroy coat and a polka dot bow tie to work. He also loved toney red or light brown shoes and spoke a funny kind of pre-colonial type English. All this belied the cruel part of his nature.
The position was for the marketing of the company’s new product – some motor anti-theft device that realistically would not deter any tenacious Nigerian armed robber.
He had barely settled in when Mr. Ralph walked in, with a cup of hot black coffee in his hands. He introduced himself and started to speak:
“Welcome to Dagbolu Enterprises. You have been selected to prove yourself worthy of the chance to be a part of an aggressive market team which I am personally assembling myself, selling an anti-theft device to motorists. There are over 750,000 motorists in Lagos State today. Each device costs about 10,000 naira. Multiply that by the number of motorists, and we are talking about serious turnovers here. I want you to penetrate the Lagos market. We must sell our product to banks, government agencies, leasing companies, families, churches, mosques, NGOs. We want people who can market in Oshodi, that can sell in Ajegunle, that can get supply contracts in Iju…” his words trailed as his eyes were bulging with excitement at the possible huge profits.
With that, Mr. Ralph then started drilling Bosun.
He said “ I will start by asking you a question. What is marketing? Answer correctly and you may get hired.”
Bosun smiled, because he knew the answer from Marketing 101 in LASU “Marketing is the act of…”
Mr. Ralph interrupted him with venom “Zip it you novice!! Marketing can never be an act! What are you acting for? You should be selling and generating revenue. Marketing is all about selling. Simples!”
Mr. Ralph hissed and continued with his interrogation “How will you market our products; what strategies will you employ to meet your sales figures if employed?”
Biting his lip with anxiety, Bosun replied “I will do whatever it takes. In my former job as a Sales Coordinator, I befriended clients, extended them lines of credit, visited them at home. I always try to shadow potential clients, visit directors or supply chain managers at their offices, so build a familiarity. I even once met up with one in his church to…”
Irritated, Mr Ralph interjected “Here at Dagbolu Enterprises, we dont want our employees doing that. Think of yourself as a bee, and our esteemed clients as beautiful flower. Do not pollinate; do not fraternize. Haba!!”
Bosun was weak.
Mr. Ralph continued with his riot-act interview questions, until dismissing Bosun with a promise to be in touch in the future.
On Bosun’s way out, he ran into a former classmate of his from LASU, a chap called Kelechi who up to a week ago was working for the organisation.
They exchanged pleasantries, and when Bosun told him about the just finished session with Mr. Ralph, Kelechi laughed.
Kelechi told him about how Mr. Ralph had sacked an employee (Jaja) who had worked for the company for 13 years just on a whim because he wanted to replace older employees with “world-class” graduates with foreign or Masters Degrees.
Mr. Ralph had called Jaja into his office and spoke of “re-shuffling the office to increase productivity, lower costs and increase the threshold”
Sensing the worst, Jaja asked “Mr Ralph sir, am I being fired?”
Adjusting his bow-tie, and snickering sarcastically, Mr Ralph said “You fired? No, no, no, don’t be ridiculous. You are not being fired, it is your position that is being made redundant. Think of it as a mere ‘repositioning’. You will be fine. Go home, we will call you soon.”
The call never came.
Dont be mad….UPS is hiring/
You should have been a cop/
Notorious B.I.G (Flavour In Your Ear, Remix, 1994)