Technical Human Resources – a Nigerian perspective.

I have been enjoying myself ever since I was tasked with conducting technical interviews for new applicants in my present organization. The first time, my boss had to go for a meeting so he asked me to sit and chat with the first applicant while he rounded up his meeting and joined us. The second time, I gave the applicants an initial interview, and then based on my recommendation, he (my boss) chatted with them one by one later on.

I have been steadily conducting technical interviews for almost a year now, and yes, I have learnt a lot. In fact, I can say a big thank you to my boss for the opportunity. My eyes have opened to see the actual Nigerian University graduate from a top, front and rear view. I have come to realize that our University educational system needs a total revamp. Past Educational leaders should be made accountable for some rot of graduates our Universities produce, and no wonder, everyone wants to study abroad. Even the CBN topnotch could confidently say that  Nigerian graduates are not employable. I have realized the importance of a good English diction and expression, self-confidence, personal worth and value etc.,

The following is just from my personal experience. It is not and cannot be generalized. I shall be sharing the kind of applicants that have come my way so far:

1) Holy Applicants – looks deceive:
These are the group of applicants that come with a religious appearance. It doesn’t matter if they are Christians or Muslims. They might have had a serious prayer bout before the interview, so that once they step in, their religion is plastered all over their faces.

An example: A guy I interviewed sometime ago, looked very saintly as his tall and large physique walked into the office, sat down, smiled, and answered all questions with his arms clasped together in a praying manner. All I thought of was Pastor E. A Adeboye, of the Redeemed Christian Church of Christ. I thought within me, ‘indeed, this one is a true Christian’. I was taken away by his show of humility and polite speech, even in admitting he didn’t know this and that, and was willing to learn. Less than a month after he started, complaints started flying left and right from over 15-staff. This guy always had a suspicious look even after dressing formally, as if he did something wrong during the night.

Even with an impressive CV, our guy could not follow a simple instruction from start to finish successfully. He always left the major part undone. He could not walk across the hallway silently without making noise with his feet; he could not close the door gently – he always slammed it; he could not even answer a phone-call in a polite and reserved manner. He soon caught for himself a bad reputation from customers. This guy was seriously complicated, so when he dropped his resignation letter 2-months later, everyone was like…..its right about time.

2) Political Aspirants, beware:
These are the group of applicants who answer questions with a Nigerian political undertone. I have observed that most of them are from Oyo and Kwara states. They never say ‘yes’ and they never say ‘no’, even when asked questions that are answerable by ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You might even have to remind such to answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, before such can understand the question they were asked. Their lack of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ might sound humble, the truth is that they have no clue about whatever they are talking about. Political aspirants are always in the ‘maybe’, and ‘should be possible’ department, even if what you enquired their opinion about was totally false. They can however explain themselves out of any topic. I usually ask these aspirants if they are interested in going into politics at a later stage of life. Most times, their answer is ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’.

I pay attention to myself when talking. This helps me to know when I am making sense or not. Besides listening to myself, I watch the attention others are paying to my conversation, thereby allowing me to know if I am sustaining their interest or not. Political engineers do the exact opposite of the above. They neither pay attention to themselves or others, and would rather explain what they have no clue about, even to the point of sounding ridiculous, funny and totally stupid. I often ask myself if such are aware they are making sense or a total nuisance. A common trait of political applicants is their use of excessive body language to describe the simplest of things. To quickly fish them out, watch how they answer the question: what is your name? Political aspirants would use their hands to even try to describe their name and surname. In this group also are those who answer the question: ‘what is your name?’, ‘my names are……’

3) Upper Class engineers
I call them upper class engineers because they have an Upper Class University rank, and they never fail to mention and ride on this achievement even as they introduce themselves. They however fall short when it comes to defending their know-how. I usually probe and ask such some fundamental engineering questions in their field of study, which I believe they are supposed to know. For example, its quite surprising that computer / electronics / electrical engineering graduates, even with 2-years related experience cannot define electricity in simple terms without trying to define the formula. I wonder how such got their upper class rank as they fail to answer the most basic questions related to their area of study.

I once asked a computer engineering graduate, who holds a CCNA certificate, and has 3-years I.T experience if there was an alternative to using a physical keyboard on a computer running Windows XP Professional. The guy replied: ‘No’, and went ahead to define a keyboard and mouse as human interface devices necessary for the proper operation and use of a computer system. I was like…duh! His answer sounded like he had a flash back recall of whatever he read in some 20-Naira all-you-need-to-know-about-computer-science pamplet. I had been expecting him to say something in the vicinity of ‘on-screen-keyboard’ or even ‘remote system administration’ etc. The guy just blew me off with his upper class.

Now, this one is funny: he has a bachelors degree in information systems from one of our new generation universities, and with an upper class. I asked him what his course really majored on etc., and he replied that his degree was a combination of the following B.Sc degrees: physics and mathematics, computer science and engineering, electronics, electrical, communications / telecommunications engineering, computer design and manufacture. I smiled. I asked our guy to differentiate computer science and engineering by using an example and he goes: “computer science is the science behind the computer, I mean the underlying science, while computer engineering is engineering and computer put together”.

4) Sharp CV, the owner doesn’t look like it:
The CV is sharp, interesting, and very impressive and you might think you have found the guru employee you are looking for, however, the owner of the CV is the exact opposite of what he has on paper – both physically and academically.

5) ‘Do you understand me?’
I really don’t understand why some people can’t admit ‘I don’t know’. This group of applicants are closely related to political aspirants, who have an explanation for everything. Rather than admitting ‘I don’t know’, they would rather explain what they clearly don’t have a clue about. The funny part is pausing in their explanation (perhaps to think of the next dribbling strategy), and asking you, the interviewer: ‘do you understand me?, are you following me?’ Should you(interviewer) affirm their conversation with a not of your head, such think they are making a point and then continue foolishly, incriminating themselves. I usually remind such that they should not forget who came for an interview.

6) Marketers
I say marketers because they are just selling themselves, and they do it at the cheapest price, making them sound ‘too ridiculous to be true’, and a little suspicious as well. They always say ‘yes sir’, and are in the ‘ok, ok’, ‘approved’, and ‘confirmed’ department. One way of fishing marketers out of the flock is asking them to explain the ‘why’ for one of their ‘yes’ answers. They can’t. The major strength of a marketer lies in praising you for ‘your wealth of knowledge’; answering: ‘I don’t know’, for what he/she should obviously know, all in an attempt to create a ‘willing to learn’ impression. They could even tell you that your company is the best company in Africa, as they had been hearing for the past 5-years of your achievements etc. What do I ask such? Are you a marketer?

I’ll be back much later with the success stories.


3 responses

  1. […] with Nigeria is that employers are more concerned with paper work /certificate holders, even if such people/applicants cannot defend what they have on paper. This is very bad and does not encourage aptitude and productivity. I would rather go for someone […]

  2. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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