Top questions to ask in an internship interview

If you’ve ever been interested in gaining abundant professional experience with a company, an internship is a perfect way to get started. Before we discuss why internships in Kenya are crucial to jump-starting any career, here’s what an internship entails.

An internship is a short-term work experience offered by an employer (or organization) to a student (or trainee) to get some entry-level exposure to valuable experience and pertinent industry knowledge. Ideally, interns spend their time working on relevant projects, learning about the field, building professional connections, and developing both hard and soft skills.

Whether you are applying for paid or unpaid internships in Kenya, the interview process provides a unique opportunity for you and the company to learn more about each other. It is perfectly suited to help you understand what you are adept at and what career prospects you might be interested in. If you’re lucky, an internship can ultimately be your golden ticket to a fulfilling full-time job.

In this article, we will cover significant items you can ask your hiring manager to make a lasting impression during your internship interview.

Company Culture

Firstly, inquiring about the company culture builds on what it would be like working at the firm. Understanding the company values, goals, ethics and working environment will give you a clear picture of how your personality, values and goals fit into the culture for the best internship experience.

 Typical questions include:

  • What are the company’s core values?
  • How would you describe what it’s like working at this company?
  • Might you give me three words to describe the firm’s culture?
  • If you had to choose the company’s motto, what would it be and why?

Main Responsibilities

In order to get the full scope of the internship, you’ll be curious about what an intern’s workday looks like. Having a detailed account of your regular tasks and responsibilities will help you make informed decisions about the position and how it relates to your skills and interests. A few to consider:

  • Can you please elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities of the job?
  • What are my main responsibilities with this internship?
  • Are there other duties that might be expected of me?

Success Parameters

Everyone wants to be successful at something, which is no different for internships in Kenya. This line of questioning displays your positive and proactive attitude to growing professionally and your focus on the right performance criteria for the company as well.

Are there weekly or bi-weekly feedback meetings with your supervisor? Are there specific criteria on which you will be evaluated? And how exactly is the feedback process structured? Some questions to consider are: 

  • What are ways in which I can guarantee success in this role?
  • To be successful in the position, are there specific goals I should consider?
  • Are there regular team meetings to ensure feedback for success in the position?

Main Challenges

Every job comes with obstacles and these questions show that you are realistic and prepared for problem-solving challenges. You will be able to have a well-rounded approach to executing your duties and managing common challenges in the position.

Here are ideas to ask on that topic:

  • If you had to name one major challenge in the role, what would it be?
  • What are the main difficulties past interns have faced within the position?
  • Are there any particular matters I should pay extra attention to in this role?

Mentorship / Career Growth Potential

This is a smart approach for any career-minded individual but when asking questions on career mobility, be careful not to sound too aggressive but rather communicate a willingness to learn, improve and grow. Moreover, it points to your long-term interest to devote more time to the company beyond what they require for your internship.

Try these:

  • Once I have established considerable capabilities within the role, what would you suggest as ways to obtain further knowledge?
  • Working within the expectations of the internship, are there any special projects I could offer to help with?
  • I believe that building a strong and diverse network is helpful in any capacity, does the company encourage team-building opportunities and mentorship programs?

Evaluation

As an intern, you obviously want to know how your work will be judged or assessed. This goes back to the company culture, does the company value timely feedback and improvement? Questions to think about:

  • In this role, is performance assessed on a regular basis?
  • What can one expect from performance evaluations?
  • What does success look like in this position?
  • Does the internship factor in multi-team member evaluations? Is it peer-reviewed or strictly done by the manager?

Career Advancement

This swings back to the mentorship/growth item above. Additionally, these questions will help you get a peek into further growth and learning opportunities that the position might link to. Other ways to ask questions:

  • When considering ways to continue working within the organization, is full-time employment viable?
  • Does the company offer resources for career advancement?
  • How can I proactively add value to the company (once the internship is completed)?

Next steps

These questions are indispensable for wrapping up an interview. The feedback offers you structure on what to expect after the interview and presents a great opportunity for your hiring manager to address any pending concerns. Such questions include;

  • Do you have additional questions or concerns regarding my background or qualifications?
  • What are the next steps after this interview?
  • If I’m considered for the role, what should I expect for the onboarding process?

Now that you’ve got a solid idea of how to frame your questions when seeking internships in Kenya, you should be one step closer to getting your foot in the door. Finally, remember to stay focused, interested in what you bring to the organization, and confident, but not overly so.

Go for it!!

Top skills for job vacancies in Kenya today

Top 7 Skills Hiring Managers are Looking For In 2022

Are you looking for a job in Kenya today and are unsure of where to start? You might have a resume ready with your most relevant qualifications but even then still unsure of how to sell yourself for the position. With tons of job vacancies in Kenya, here are the top skills potential employers look for in applicants and how to effectively communicate these skills in an interview.

Problem Solving 

This unique skill expresses your ability to handle challenges, take up risks positively and come up with thoughtful, creative solutions. It is especially important when working with a team. If you are good at brainstorming, then definitely put this on your resume and talk about it in an interview with a potential employer. Highlight a significant event in your past job where you handled uncertainty tactfully and successfully.

Flexibility

Hiring managers are going to want to see that you are able to adapt quickly to any situation. It could be something as simple as being willing to cover someone’s shift for them, or maybe something more complex like being able to shift gears in your thinking about a certain project. The bottom line is that flexibility shows you are open-minded and a team player. Employers are looking for this skill when building their teams.

Creativity

Creativity and problem solving go hand in hand. Oftentimes some problems require creative solutions and this means “thinking outside of the box.” Here is another area where the ability to brainstorm new ideas comes in handy. Hiring managers definitely appreciate creative solutions.

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills hiring managers are looking for. The ability to speak clearly, listen actively and present yourself efficiently is essential in almost any job. Good written skills are also a huge bonus and what potential employers may be looking for depending on the job description. They are especially important in fields such as marketing, advertising or sales, but they can benefit you in a variety of different industries. Honing in on your verbal and written communication skills and being able to communicate these to hiring managers is key. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill that might come off as trivial but is very crucial in the workplace. It is the ability to separate your internal feelings from getting the job done. Not everyone is born with this skill, but it can be developed over time with practice. Employers don’t want employees who will react emotionally at work impeding performance and creating a toxic work environment. Emotional intelligence shows that you are a professional and can handle interpersonal relationships positively.

Leadership

You don’t have to be the president or CEO to be a leader. Leadership starts with integrity and doing the right thing even when you think no one is looking. You can be a leader in an entry-level position. This involves being supportive, empathetic and fair to others. Taking initiative is another sure way to express your leadership qualities. It can be shown through pitching in to help someone at work or managing a team project. Being a self-starter and also developing others is one of the most satisfying and noble attributes recruiters value.

Responsibility

Being responsible builds trust. Responsibility may mean getting your work done properly and on time. It also means owning up to mistakes you might make along the way and taking the necessary steps to correct them. An extremely powerful skill that all hiring managers are looking for. 

Next Steps

There are so many skills you could incorporate to make yourself more marketable. Once you take a good look at these skills, do a self-evaluation to determine which of these are your greatest strengths. Pick at least three skills to list on your resume when applying for job vacancies in Kenya and align them to specific situations in your job history or even in your everyday life where you have utilized these skills for success. Being able to effectively convey these skills to hiring managers in an interview is going to be key to landing the job. 

For more tips and to view current job vacancies in Kenya today visit https://www.elevolt.co.ke/jobs 

Man looking at documents during an interview

10 Job Search & Interview Documents Explained

Everyone’s job search begins differently. However much the resume plays a big part in your job search, it cannot cover all the information companies hiring in Kenya are looking for. Knowing what documents to include and how to include them will help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

Job seekers can get entrenched in the complexities and seemingly unending search for their next best careers but one thing to keep in mind is that preparation meets opportunity. There is no particular document that doesn’t qualify as a supporting document for your job search but here are my top recommendations to kick start your hunt.

The Resume

This is by far the most important piece to any job search or interview process. It is the document that carefully aligns your skills, knowledge, and experiences and how they match specific job requirements of various companies hiring in Kenya.  

Additionally, you must integrate keywords into your resume. Most companies hiring in Kenya use ATS systems to scan and select candidates directly before enlisting the remaining to the final interview process. We don’t want you automatically disqualified for employment because you don’t have the right keywords included in your e-resume.

Cover Letters

The perfect cover letter intends to grab attention and inspire interest from your prospective employer. It can be used as a lead-in attachment to your resume, an introductory message for email applications, or an overview of your portfolio.

A well-crafted cover letter can stand in for your resume by introducing your most immediate, relevant, and specific qualifications and experiences for various job opportunities. Additionally, just like the resume, an e-cover letter should highlight keywords that are relevant to the job you are applying for. 

Work Portfolio

This document demonstrates the quality of your work to hiring managers. It is a collection of your best work samples or what you are most proud of in your career. For example, a writer would present some of their best articles or a web designer would showcase samples of their best websites. 

In today’s job market we can develop online portfolios with individual portfolio websites or third-party sites like LinkedIn. The idea is to continually update your work profile for better visibility from companies hiring in Kenya.

Certificates of extracurricular activities

These documents are a clear indicator of your strengths and overall personality which could be an asset to your potential employer. They determine how well you fit into the team dynamics and what external projects would be a good fit.

Reference List

A reference list is a great addition as a supporting document. It is imperative to have a current and accurate reference list upon request from your hiring manager. 

Typically, companies hiring in Kenya request a minimum of three references. If the references are requested before an offer, the list can be sent following an interview as an attachment to the thank-you letter.

Pro Tip: 

  • Get permission before adding a contact to your reference list.
  • Include appropriate contact information i.e. Name, company, address, phone number, and email
  • Select references who are able to speak specifically about your qualifications for the job for which you are applying
  • Request a recommendation letter from your references e.g a colleague or supervisor.

Recommendation Letter

Recommendation letters aren’t always required, but they’re a good piece of supporting documentation. A recommendation letter is typically written by an employer, professional business connection, client, teacher, coach, or someone who can attest to an individual’s work or academic performance.

Always take the opportunity to ask for letters of recommendation when you can. You never know when you may need them.

Educational Transcripts

You should have copies of your educational records upon your interviewer’s request either as PDF files or hard copies. In cases where companies hiring in Kenya expect certain qualifications, having these documents ready will give you a competitive edge.

Thank you Letter

A thank you letter is very important for matters networking to the post-interview stage. This vital piece of document not only demonstrates professionalism but also creates well-needed rapport with your connections or hiring managers. 

Companies hiring in Kenya will not outrightly point out they expect a thank you letter, who would? It is your chance to restate your gratitude for the interview opportunity, confirm your interest and leave a roadmap for follow-up.

Confirmation Letter

This little drop of gold maintains communication between you and your hiring manager during the onboarding process. It can be used to understand the next steps and follow up on necessary details and requirements.

Job- Declining Letter

Once you understand your job search goals and your professional value, it is normal to have a ready-made template for this type of communication. The best candidates get multiple job offers from companies hiring in Kenya and therefore, this piece of document politely declines an offer and provides a reason as to why. Instead of disregarding prospective companies that are bidding for you, this is how to leave a positive mark and an opportunity for future considerations.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, ensure you label your documents appropriately. Follow a consistent naming pattern across all your documents. This will make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers and give a more professional first impression. 

Once you have all supporting documents ready, you must follow the employer’s instructions by carefully reading the job description and understanding what documents are required and how to submit them. Additionally, make sure to always carry printed copies of each of the required documents to an interview to leave with your hiring manager.

There is no hard and fast rule as to what career documents should be in your toolkit. Simply understand what documents are important for your job search or career growth strategy and have them readily available.

Tap Into A Recruiter’s Psychology And Get “Noticed”

Job seeking is not the most automatic and easy of processes but to be at an edge as you look for your next ideal job, consider a recruiter’s psychology and try to use it to your advantage. Don’t overthink it, just stick around and discover what recruiters really look for when hiring. First and foremost according to research, it is estimated that a recruiter will take only 8 seconds on your resume, the big question is how do you get their attention within such a short span?

Most job seekers want to share everything about themselves in their resume; therefore, their resume becomes cluttered and overwhelming for the recruiter. Moreover, the resume lacks a clear purpose making the recruiter confused about how a candidate’s skills will translate to the role in which they’re applying.

The career site discovered the resumes where recruiters spent the most time and focus had

  • an overview or mission statement at the top of the first page
  • a clear flow with title headers and marked sections supported by bulleted lists of accomplishments
  • relevant keywords presented in context throughout the resume

Take away Tips

Simplicity is your strong suit

When we talk of simplicity we don’t mean have a flat resume! The fact is the person hiring you for the position has probably not been in that position and therefore a cluttered resume does not paint a clear mental picture and will automatically get you into the rejected pile. Being clear, concise, and to the point by pointing out your marketable skills and relevant management experiences will put you at a better advantage.

More to that cutting off extra information like experiences that are not relevant to the position you are applying for will allow you better chances at the job opportunity. This puts greater emphasis on the information that actually matters to the recruiter. Secondly, keep your resume “short and sweet” try to keep your resume to one page, but no more than two pages.

Last but not least, avoid repeating information as it paints your resume redundant. Another pro tip is to ensure that your resume is up to date while you maintain 5 to 10 years relevance.

Key words are ‘key’

Job seekers often complain about not getting their resume past the applicant tracking system (ATS). The reason being is because the ATS looks for specific keywords that are already in the job description. As a job seeker, it’s important to tailor your resume to include those keywords that are relevant to your experience.

Read through a job description thoroughly and try to align your skills and experiences to the particular key words reflected. You can do this by supporting those keywords with professional experiences that demonstrate you are knowledgeable. The worst thing you could do is lie about or exaggerate your experience.

Tailor Your Resume To The Position

Most job seekers have multiple resumes. Each resume is tailored specifically for the role in which they’re applying by using the keywords in that job description. If you have a broad background and are applying for various types of positions, it’s important you tailor your resume to speak to the skills of those positions.

For example, if you’re applying to a developer position, you would want to move non-relevant positions to “Additional Experience”, personalize your summary and skills section as well as the bullet points from your current and previous positions.

Most recruiters appreciate a carefully crafted resume that shows the job seeker took time to fully understand the job description by demonstrating what’s unique about them that will bring value to the job.

Focus on specific accomplishments

Do not be vague when it comes to describing your skills. Use specific examples that point to what you have accomplished rather than what you have done. Candidates that stand out are those that supply a sample of their work. Be it writing, design, marketing or something else. Those that go an extra mile to show what they can do land interviews.
NB: Everyone can write a good resume but a sample will prove you can actually do the job.

Play Your Cards Right

Being a job seeker you have to think strategically like you would play a game of cards. Let’s be real, you can’t keep applying for different listing and coming up short only to consider yourself out of luck. No! You create your own luck! If you are looking at a potential employment opportunity somewhere, do not just wait on a job board to submit your application.

You should network to find someone who knows a person within the company that can be sent your resume to forward to the recruiter or hiring manager. Referrals have a much better advantage of landing interviews as opposed to non-referrals. Connecting with a person who can put you forward for the position is critical to your job search.

Look at platforms i.e. LinkedIn to help you build a network that will work to your advantage.