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!!

How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) in 2022

How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) In 2022

Your CV is the first impression you make on the employer. Therefore, you want to write what makes you the best fit for the position without overwhelming or losing your employer’s interest. It’s almost an art – to convince with words and facts.

But it’s easier said than done. How to write the perfect CV? This article will guide you through how to write a CV to land your dream job. Let’s begin.

What is a CV?

A CV is your curriculum vitae (Latin for “the course of your life.“) It’s a brief summary of your academic journey, professional career, and personal information that helps companies decide whether you are the best fit for the position.

How Long Should a CV Be?

The first piece of advice, and the most important one, is to keep things short and succinct. The perfect CV or resume is typically one to two pages long depending on your experience level. You want to avoid information that does not serve the purpose of your job application.

To narrow your CV’s length, include only the most relevant parts of your education and work experience. There’s no need to mention that 2014 summer camp unless it adds value.

That said, include relevant accomplishments that help you stand out among other candidates in the job market. Did you exceed your former company’s KPIs as a manager? Did you lead a team to success? Your prospective employer wants to read that. 

How to write a CV

1. Describe Achievements, Not Tasks

The employer already knows what a social media manager or software developer does, so it defeats the purpose to describe tasks instead of relevant accomplishments in your role. Say you used to be a marketing manager – Then a good example of achievement is: “consistently met and exceeded the KPIs and growth goals by 12%.”

As an employee, you want to bring value to the corporation. You need to stand out and let the company know what you can do for them. If you only include information about tasks, such as “supervised reports and designed new strategies,” you’re wasting your CV potential.

2. Include Keywords

You want to highlight your skills and competencies using keywords, as most CVs go through an initial ATS screening process. A good idea is to use some words already included in the job description.

If the company is looking for “an experienced accountant with a Business Administration degree,” you want to include your Business Administration degree and 3 years of accountancy experience. The program will probably recognize these words as desirable, and you’ll move forward in the recruiting journey.

3. Include Only Relevant Information to the Job

You may have an English degree and a Computer Science degree which is great, but recruiters are looking for relatable skills and experiences for the position.

Following this example, if you’re applying for an editor role, you may want to leave your computer science degree out. It may sound counterproductive because the more educated you are, the better, right? Yet, the truth is that most companies seek well-trained specialists for the advertised position.

There are exceptions to this rule, for example, a business administration degree may complement the job you are applying for. This means that on top of fulfilling your job requirement you can grasp how the company works, and thus implement changes that lead to success.

4. Identify the Right Interests

Some people include an “Interest” or “About Me” section in their curriculum vitae. This can bring value to your CV or, on the contrary, make you sound unprofessional.

Don’t write about generic interests such as being social or traveling. Most employers won’t be impressed by them, and you may look like you’re trying to make up for lacking other valuable interests that suggest you are a good cultural fit.

Real, valuable interests are those that complement your education and abilities. For example, if you want to become an editor, writing your own blog or publishing an e-book are interesting details. If you’re a programmer, having an app of your own with over a thousand downloads is an advisable interest to include.

5. Use Active Verbs When Possible

You want to present yourself as an active employee who takes the initiative and makes game-changer adjustments. Use verbs like “achieved,” “led,” “analyzed,” and “implemented.”

It’s also a good idea to avoid using “I.” The employer already knows it’s your CV – Everything on that document relates to you. Instead, use the active verbs mentioned in the previous paragraph.

6. Tailor the CV to Each Job

Although this is time-consuming, it shows interest and effort on your side to tailor your CV for each job. It’s easy to send the same CV to a hundred companies, but will you stand out in any recruitment processes? Narrow down your search and target your CV to specific jobs. This is a more thoughtful approach to applying for jobs in Kenya today

Additionally, writing a cover letter accompanying your CV or resume demonstrates interest and adds value to your professional statement. Unless the corporation specifically asks you not to include a cover letter, it’s advisable to attach one to your curriculum vitae.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, this article helped you see the bigger picture of a well-written CV. You’re never putting “too much time or effort” into it, as it’s what makes the difference between a hired or rejected employee.
Take your time, tailor to each job you are applying for, and carefully describe your skills and experiences to be on the path to success.

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.