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Job Interview Questions: What To Expect

Today, I’ll do a quick one. This blog post provides an overview of the flow and nature of job interview questions in a classic job interview. It is a general guide of what-you-must be prepared to answer, rather than what-you-have to know. Many thanks to frequent readers of my column here, #AskKharunda, for your useful feedback that inspired this blog post.

What I offer here is not a substitute for professional career coaching advice or HR expertise. These are notes from personal experience: either as the interviewer or as a job seeker, who has failed a fair share of job interview questions.

Question One: First of all keep time. Time keeping is the first job interview question. It’s a question that’s not vocalized when asked, but rather observed. It is part of the larger question about your punt for the job: Are you dressed appropriately? What vibes does your body language speak? How well do you communicate?

Question Two: Every interview of begins with greetings. Be proactive with the greetings. Spread the love, but as in every social situation, be astute in recognizing situations that require you to be the dove rather than the hawk – You can greet the panel or can wait to be greeted.

Question Three: I like to call this the listening test. It is designed to test your ability to take instructions (train-ability) and to allow the interviewee gather their wits before the questions roll (ability to work under pressure). Often, after the salutations, the interviewers might offer an introduction of the organization and position.

It often includes the organization’s history, vision, mission and culture. Possibly an overview of the advertised vacancy background, expectations and duty station . If this is the path chosen, do what’s expected of you to ace this and the coming job interview questions- listen!

Interjections or other forms of negative vibe like twitching, coughing or turning the session into a show of your clumsiness is a fail. Then one of the panelists will then shoot the first “straight’ question.

Question Four: This is often a straight question gleaned off information that you provided in your resume. It can be anything as awkward as , “Tell us about yourself”. This looks like a very simple question. But it is the question that can make or break you. Mentioning that your father was once a seminarian or that your mother is the chair lady of the local chapter of women in entrepreneurship probably isn’t the best use of this opportunity.


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This question guides subsequent questions, often to clarify, unless the interview is very structured. If too many clarification questions are asked, it might mean that your credentials don’t add up. That you are a fake. Or have some other serious flaw for the interview panel not to have heard about your career exploits. Often it’s just a cue that it’s about time to get a professional resume done. 

Question Five: This is the billion dollar question: What are your salary expectations?  Lets clear the first misconception about this most laden of job interview questions. It does not mean that you have gotten the job. Far from it. Often, the panel is weighing your offer as a surrogate of your greed or modesty. The figure you mouth could at best be useful in  providing a base to counteroffer to the best candidate.

Cynicism aside, what if you are best candidate for the job? If you did your background search well, then you’ll comfortably answer this. It is wise to give a salary range. If you do not have an answer, express to the interview panel your comfort in fitting within their salary scales.

5 Quick Tips To Ace Job Interview Questions

  1. Posture is power. Sit upright, head high, shoulders up. Feet flat but not crossed. Look at the panelists straight in the face as you talk. Do not fidget with anything.
  2. Talk confidently. Practice before a mirror, in front of a spouse. Take up roles at your local church/community that demand effective communication.
  3. Tactfully avoid areas of competencies that you are not very good at. Remember to highlight special encounters in your previous duties that closely tie in with the current position.
  4. Gracefully link your answers to the job interview questions to your CV. Do not take too  long answering questions. Practice being succinct. Let the panel know when you are through with your answer.
  5. A good number of questions will then come from the job advert. These will mostly query your competencies. If you read the advert well and incorporated it in your CV by using it as a guide in crossing t’s and doting the i’s then this part will be a walk over.

Finally, when the interview panel asks if you got a question for them, you can decline the offer if the interview process gave you sufficient reason to. Normally though, this is an opportunity to find out how long it will take to hear from them if you are he successful candidate.


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Ask Kharunda: How to Find Internships in Kenya

Finding internships in Kenya is no mean feat. Jobs are hard to come by let alone internships. But there is hope! It is always good when the private sector sets the pace and even better when the government steps in to set the standards. I believe that recent happenings in Kenya’s public sector demonstrate a similar pattern of evolution. For a long time, the private sector in Kenya has been at the forefront in availing internship positions to fresh graduates. Now with the public service commission publishing the internship policy for the public service, thus in effect articulating minimum standards, finding internships in Kenya may be on the path to becoming a better experience

Hi Anne,

Please may I inquire from you if there are job opportunities or internships within your organization for information technology guys?  You can email me. My email address is xxx or get me on 07xxxxxxx7

Samson. (Name changed to protect identity)

Hi Samson,

I like your go-getter attitude. If there’s one lesson that we can all learn from you is that of knocking on doors in search of opportunity. Really, there is no other secret to finding internships in Kenya other than aggressively seeking opportunities wherever they may lie. I will endeavor to match your spirit by shedding light on the various opportunities available locally. After all, targeted efforts are better than broadcasted will, especially in the search for an internship position in a competitive market such as Kenya.

Secondly, I admire your self-awareness. I understand the burden of frustration that leads many job seekers to reach out to prospective connections with the blanket  aspersion: ” I’m looking for a job.”  A toothless request that has no specifications on the area of expertise neither of the desired position. Your request narrowed down to IT and specified for an internship position. With this information it is easy to deduce your reference to the availability of a job vacancy as probing the availability of an entry-level job. Once again, I’ll supplement your efforts with valuable pointers on the applying for internships in Kenya

WHERE TO FIND INTERNSHIPS IN KENYA: IDENTIFYING VALUE

Kenya’s public service internship policy identifies the value of internships as programmes providing youth with vocational, leadership and entrepreneurship skills to enable them acquire practical experience by bridging the gap between academic knowledge and the world of work.

I sought out this definition primarily because employers, including the government, have been accused of unfair labor practices by fronting pseudo-intership programs whose output serves only the narrow interests of the employer, at great social, economic and psychological expense of the intern. My bias as a health care professional , and on account of the bite of recent nurses and doctors strikes that highlighted failings of the Kenyan public health system, I always believed that intern health professionals have it worse.

I now recognize that this exposure is just but a surrogate marker for a rapidly disseminating cancer. A cancer that I hope to remedy by highlighting the core purpose of any internship program as above. My belief here is that those seeking internships in Kenya, Samson and others, will be better equipped to flag out bad deals dressed as opportunity.

Examples of shoddy internship deals include:

  • Sales jobs with minimal qualification requirements and shoddy training offered as a gateway to internships that lead to jobs
  • Internships that solicit for money from the applicant inform of ‘finders fees’, ‘connectors fees’ and application fees.

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Matching your Needs when Searching for Internships in Kenya

Now that we have learned what a good internship programme is and how to spot a sham. It is incumbent on all those seeking internships in Kenya to match their needs with these value propositions. As we discussed at length in this blog on finding nursing degree jobs in Kenya, an approach such as the PDSA used in Quality control can be invaluable in identifying and pursuing your career goals. Finally, make effort to fully flesh out opportunities in your field as extensively as possible. A good example of how wide a field can be, can be appreciated in this blog on opportunities in Kenya after pursuing a Bsc in Nursing.

Type of Employer offering internships in Kenya Best fit if your needs are:
Public Service
  • You need vocational experience after graduating as a requirement for registration with your professional body
  • You aim to build expertise as a way of fulfilling minimum requirements for qualification for government grants for entrepreneurship e.g what used to be known as the youth fund
Non – Governmental Organizations
  • You harbor an interest of working in the third sector. The goal here is to network.
  • Do not make the obvious mistake of openly soliciting within the organization that engages you on internship. The value here will only be unlocked by how well you network.
Private Sector (Big Organization)
  • Work experience. Kushikilia as you job hunt as we love to call it. Yes, it possible to rise through the ranks, but the private sectors hiring cycles are complex informed by how well the business/economy is doing and their strategic plans.
  • One to watch out for if the government does make good it’s threat of enabling private sector contribute more internships in Kenya through tax breaks and direct funding.
Private Sector (Mid, small and Very Small Organizations)
  • You want to be your own boss. Nothing sets you up for entrepreneurship like being part of a startup. Not only is it likely that you will be stretched beyond your core capabilities, but your depth will truly be tested.
  • The opportunity to work with a mentor.
  • As part of schema in place for shifting the stewardship of family business to the next generation.
Voluntary Service Organizations
  • You are gearing up for public office. I won’t delve into the ethics of this but it should look good on your public profile.
  • Your passion lies in serving the undeserved in society or uplifting the community that you come from.

Tips on Applying for Internships in Kenya

  • Have your CV and other academic and professional certificates ready.
  • Even at this early juncture in your career, you can still have a professional resume if you follow these 3 commandments of great resume writing.
  • For a truly professional CV, don’t forget these killer tips on tying loose ends.
  • Once the rubber meets the road, my experience shared here on job hunting should make you streetwise if not humor you.

All the best.

Ask Kharunda: What is the Salary Scale of Credit Control Officer in Kenya Private Hospitals?

Entrepreneurship is tough business. Tougher if you are a Kenyan startup whose five year survival rate is one in ten. Gargantuan if you have taken up the challenge of delivering healthcare as your entrepreneurial quest. Whatever your entrepreneurship goal, to achieve sucess building a business in a frontier market such as ours, you’d best be advised to hire a credit control officer. Even wiser souls have elected to make a career out of this niche in Kenya’s booming health sector. For entrepreneurs, the rewards of investing in the business of credit control are plain. Something that can’t be said for those who chose this path as a career. We sought answers…

What is the Salary of Credit Control Officers?

Hi Anne,
Could you be aware what the salary scale for Credit control officers is at the best five private hospitals in Kenya? Asking for a friend. Thanks in advance (edited for clarity)

Hi, Moses (name changed)

My apologies for the late reply. It is not for the lack of trying, but it is almost nigh impossible to supply you with a one off answer to your query. Nonetheless, I believe that the information that I have gathered here will prove its worth. We’ll make your quest of finding out the salary scale applicable for a credit control officers in leading private hospitals in Kenya, easier.

First, by virtue of their legal status as privately held organizations, private hospitals are not obligated law to publicly disclose certain information. What this concession in our statutes does is that it makes comparison of remuneration across different sectors/employers in the private sector for most jobs a difficult undertaking. Nonetheless, our digging around the dynamics of staff remuneration in Kenya’s health sector is indeed illuminating. So let’s “follow the money”

HOW YOU GET PAID WHEN WORKING FOR A PRIVATE HOSPITAL IN KENYA

In Kenya, as is the trend globally, most leading private hospitals are registered as non-profit organizations. What this means is that they benefit from certain tax concessions. These allowances are meant to allow them to scrape the thin margins of whatever they can make as revenue from providing a service of social benefit.

The realized gains — together with monies raised through donations, and other revenue begot from non-core activities like parking fee, vendor machines, restaurant services, m-pesa — are used to finance the work of the hospital in the community.

Such work may include: outreach services, emergency care and health promotion. This revenue should also be sufficient to reward those who have invested time, effort and skill in making these private hospitals execute their primary mandate to stakeholders.

Ask Kharunda- Credit Control Officer salary kenya

How the ‘core’ staff of private hospitals earn their keep

The management of most private hospitals, unlike in your typical private company, draw their compensation primarily in the form of salaries. Most don’t earn dividends as shareholders or bonuses as company directors. This is the observed trend dominating the compensation of healthcare executives both locally and globally.

A fraction of health professionals working in these private hospitals – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory staff – the likes, draw a monthly salary. In Kenya, this salary is not always  better than what their peers earn in the public sector as it is commonly assumed. (This was famously confirmed by Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary during the 100 day, 2016-2017 Kenya doctor’s strike.)

However, the majority of core staff earn an hourly wage paid out as locum fees. Contrary to popular opinion, in Kenya, locum rates in the Kenyan private sector often result in a lower take home packages than fully salaried positions.


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Locums

Besides, earning one’s keep as periodic, contract staff makes for an unpredictable income. This is because the availability of locum positions is dependent on a health worker’s networking skills, the town they are domiciled in, the demand and the ability to pay for the health professional’s services in those areas among of a myriad of other difficult to control factors. Furthermore, aside from the expected distress of a not so sure income, under such an arrangement, without astute personal finance planning, when retirement inevitably comes, it can be such a pain.

On the other hand, bereft of a system wide collapse, and in a country such as ours with such a high demand for health care services, and given that the money to pay these ‘core’ hospital staff largely comes from patient premiums — with insurance companies pooling risk through selling health insurance — the keep of these ‘core’ staff is largely assured.

Unless of course the hospital they work for made some bad business decisions — such as not hiring a competent, CEO, accountant or even a credit control officer. Now that we have established the integral role that these non-medical core staff play in the health of private health establishments, how then do they fit in the whole shebang? The precise question is:

How does the credit control officer, accountant or even CEO earn their keep in private hospitals?

Have you ever taken time to keenly study the items on hospital bill? From the invoice of your health bill, it is often easy to tell what a certain radiological or laboratory test cost. In some cases, even what the doctor’s fee was. Supplied with this information, natural logic informs us that whatever it is that we paid for lab fees. For instance, a breakdown of what was used to take care of the needs of the hospital lab:  staff, reagents, equipment and so on.

If that holds, then who speaks for the hidden costs of running the hospital? Such as the salary of the hospitals’ CEO? How does the accountant get paid?  How about the credit control officer?

The answers to these questions lie in the second reason at to why it was such a challenge answering your question, Moses. Because the truth lies in mapping the bolts and nuts that make private hospitals in Kenya run. We have to get our noses into other people’s business. Their private business…..

healthcare enterprise offers diverse opportunities to entrepreneurs
The spectrum of health entrepreneurship spans health services, waste, water & sanitation.

THE PRIVATE BUSINESS OF HEALTH CARE, AN OVERVIEW

Private organizations often employ various business strategies in order to navigate the often stormy waters of entrepreneurship. This reality is especially true for a majority of leading private hospitals in Kenya who have to project an image of being non-profits (lest they suffer the current fate of non-profit US hospital chains facing public backlash over how much they are making.)

All this whilst still remaining viable business attracting key talent who offer strategic business advantage as credit control officers, accountants and lawyers. Over and above that, these private health organizations have to observe certain contractual obligations on privacy.

Trade Secrets

Taken together, these considerations make it difficult to know how any particular private health care organization elects to reward its employees. In fact, in such an environment, otherwise mundane information like pay-scales, becomes a closely guarded trade secret.

You also have to keep in mind that private hospitals are not immune to discriminating HR practices. Most unfortunate of these ills may manifest as pay discrepancies nee by race, sex and even tribe. With an increasingly litigious environment in Kenya, most private entities assume a safety first approach. Most private hospital’s management adopt a less is more mentality when it comes to whatever is publicly known about their operations.

Finally, ‘best’ may mean many things in Health care.

Some hospitals excel in staff training for example, Nairobi Hospital and Mater Hospitals have robust Nursing Schools, whilst Kijabe Mission Hospital stakes claim to this crown it being a teaching hospital.

Others lead in health infrastructure and health technologies, Aga Khan having put up East Africa’s first PET Scan ought be considered here.

Yet others aim to lead vide offering a wide menu of specialist care are like Kisumu Specialists Hospital and Oasis Group of Hospitals.

Still others push the envelope in their approach to health care by being advocates of cutting edge approaches to health care like value-based healthcare  and evidence based health care.

What’s certain is that any of the leading private hospitals in Kenya are complex organisms with intricate, far-reaching credit relationships. My hope here is that i have painted the outlines of what to expect when tasked to be the credit control officer of any leading private hospital in Kenya.

Salaries are after all a product if negotiations. Therefore, understanding not only your role, but where you fall in the hierarchy of the animal farm that you elect to be part of is vital. But before you go, some figures, finally….

CREDIT CONTROL OFFICER SALARY SCALE, PRIVATE HOSPITAL, KENYA

One more thing though, as you go about advising your friend, encourage your friend to be on the look out for other employee benefits offered as a take home. In the current landscape I’d advice for one to be on the look out for employer offered health insurance offerings beyond NHIF.

Be also on the hunt for other sweeteners like group life cover. All the same, my contacts inform me that for a BCOM graduate working in the credit section of a mid to large-scale (turnover at least a million dollars) private  hospital in Kenya the starting salary ranges between 70,000 to 120,000 Kenyan shillings per month.

All the best.


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African