Job search tips


Common interview types and how to prepare for them.

500 333 Brenda Akinyi

The interview process is constantly evolving and employers are coming up with new ways of assessing a potential hire’s ability before bringing them on board.  This has also become increasingly important to the organization given how expensive the cost of a wrong hire can be to them. As you seek out new opportunities, you need to be prepared for various types of interviews that you may encounter while on the job hunt.

In this blog, we highlight the different interview types you are likely to encounter and how you can prepare and ace them. Read on to learn more.

Screening Interviews

Typically the first interview in a recruitment process, recruiters often use this method to screen and evaluate whether applicants meet the basic requirements. They can be either in-person, phone or video interviews. Communication is largely visual in case of in-person or video interviews, however, with phone interviews, it is critical to have positive and sharp answers ready and deliver them with enthusiasm.

💡Here are some questions you can expect during a screening interview and what a good answer looks like.  A few things to keep in mind with screening interviews:

  • Take this as seriously as you would an in-person interview – one of the ways recruiters narrow down on the most suitable candidates is through initial screening interviews hence you need to bring your A-game.
  • Ensure you are in a place where you can speak comfortably; don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or interviewer to reschedule the call if the proposed time will not work for you.
  • Review the job description and be prepared to show how and why you are a fit for the organization. Be sure to show how your experience ties into the role requirements.

Panel Interviews

This interview typically consists of two or more people from different departments in the organization. For an organization, they use this as an opportunity to see how you will perform in a group setting, and how you react in high-stress situations. Panel interviews are preferred based on the notion that interviewers are able to get a more accurate assessment of an applicant’s fit for a position and improve the efficiency of the hiring process by saving time.

💡Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • If you can, find out who will be on the panel and look them up on LinkedIn This helps you familiarize yourself with who will be interviewing you and may make it easy for you to break the ice when you first interact with them.
  • Remember to address each panellist by their names and engage all of them equally. Each member in the room has a say in the final hiring decision hence be careful not to be dismissive of any member.
  • Bring extra copies of your CV and hand them out to each panellist.
  • Ensure you have questions of your own. Research the organization as well as your role to come up with questions that can help you dig deeper into how the organization operates and what would be expected of you.

Interview questions in this type of setting will include both general and behavioural questions. Check out a few of the questions you can expect and how to answer them.

Group Interviews

Depending on the nature of the role, some organizations will take candidates through a group interview. These are common with entry-level positions and where an organization needs to hire multiple people for the same function/role. Some of the instances where you might encounter group interviews include graduate recruitment programs and some entry-level positions that may involve mass hiring.

💡A few tips to keep in mind should you be invited to a group interview include:

  • Prepare your introduction in advance.
  • Engage with all team members involved in the process. Remember a key success metric for the interviewer is determining how you would handle yourself in a collaborative environment. Avoid trying to outshine everyone as this might come off as aggressive.
  • Answer questions in a confident manner and be yourself.

Behavioural Interviews

It is a popular way in which employers assess candidates based on their past behaviour. The theory being that past behaviour in a similar situation is the best predictor of future performance. This type of interview focuses less on hypothetical questions and more around situational questions. Interviewers will use these questions to get to know you better, hence there aren’t exactly any right answers. The key to acing such an interview is preparation and knowing how to structure your responses.

💡Pro tip

Behavioural interviews will require you to share specific examples of situations you’ve been in that required you to use certain skills. Your answers should show evidence of how you’ve handled issues in the past and what value you brought to the situation at hand.

Here’s a sample question and response structure using the STAR method:

‘Tell me about the most difficult problem you’ve overcome in the last year’

  • Situation: Earlier this year, I was working on one of my firm’s largest clients.
  • Task: Two days before our big year-end review meeting, I discovered that we were analyzing data from two years back. I had to decide what to do about it. If we didn’t fix it, it could have put our whole contract at risk.
  • Action: I quickly set out to make sure my seniors were aware of the problem and presented a plan of action that would allow us to correct the mistakes before our meeting.  I had to recruit my colleagues to work late nights to get it all done.
  • Results: We were able to re-run our analysis and present the correct report to the clients.  After the meeting, they renewed our contract.  The whole team went out to celebrate.  I learned the value of double-checking your work, and of teamwork during challenging times.

As you prepare for different interview formats that you may encounter, don’t forget the basics of interviewing. Take time to remind yourself of the basics of interviewing that you need to apply regardless of the situation. Here’s our guide on how to prepare before the interview, how to act during the interview and how to ace your post-interview follow up.


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10 practical career tips for every new graduate!

4896 3264 Brenda Akinyi

It’s that time of the year when graduation season is upon us. Graduation marks the beginning of a new life for many. With all the great plans you have made on the type of career you will have, you want to make sure you set yourself up for success. With your uni days behind you, it’s time for a new life adventure as you strive to become your best self. In this Shortlist blog,  we are sharing 10 things you should keep in mind as you start out:

1. Your first job as a recent graduate isn’t going to make your career and neither is it your last.

It’s easy to convince yourself that you have to get your dream job right after you graduate and keep it for the rest of your career. As a matter of fact, that is almost unheard of these days. Keep in mind that your first job is your entry point, a chance for you to learn what it takes to succeed in the business environment.

Consider your first job a journey to learn about yourself. The purpose is to discover what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what you dislike. Be open to opportunities, look at the bigger picture and focus on the ultimate goal.  If you are offered an opportunity outside your scope of the study, for instance,  go for it and take the learnings with you.

2. You may not know what you want to do for the rest of your career, and that’s perfectly okay…

Believe it or not, it is completely normal for people to graduate from school and not know what career path they want to follow. You may have an idea based on the courses you studied but oftentimes you find that your goals change as you gain experience in the workplace.

Being open-minded and exploratory will definitely help you figure things out in time. As a new graduate, take advantage of the opportunities around you, ask questions, take initiative and above all don’t be afraid to fail. You will work on projects that excite you and some that bore you to your very core, but ultimately this is what will help you understand your strengths and find your sweet spot.


3. The learning does not stop at graduation….it’s only the beginning

You may not be in a classroom setting anymore but with the world constantly changing and evolving, what you know today could be useless information tomorrow. Even as a new graduate, you’ll quickly realize that there is always more to learn.  If you focus on consistently sharpening your knowledge in your field and honing your skills, you will not only stay relevant but also grow in your career.

Though you’ll have plenty of distractions, don’t be too caught up in life that you ignore your lifelong learning. Making constant progress and being more knowledgeable can increase your motivation and self-confidence. You’ll discover your personal interests much faster by exposing yourself to new ideas, concepts, viewpoints and beliefs. You can also improve the quality of your life with a commitment to lifelong learning.

4. Don’t burn too many bridges

Always remember that jobs will come and go, but your reputation will stay with you forever.  You are free to choose to exit a company for a better opportunity and that is okay. Your boss knows at the back of their mind that this is always a possibility; similarly, this applies to interviews or turning down job offers. Should you come to a place where you want to leave an organization, be careful about how you go about it, think clearly and rationally about the actions you are going to take and how you will end the relationship with your employer at this point.  Remember to be polite, timely, and appreciative in your communications – especially when you’re leaving a job or declining an opportunity.

Our actions can sometimes come to haunt us in the future – remember it’s never about the leaving, it’s about how we leave. Your reputation, work ethic and how you treat people are the things that will define you as a person. So don’t get carried away by how you feel in the moment and think about the actions you are taking as well as the long term effect.

The business community and the world, in general, is much smaller than you think. Chances are you will work with the same people again at some point in your career.  Think about being on your best behaviour (the way you’d behave or prepare for that all-important interview) on your way out of a company as well as on your way in.  Who knows what doors will open up down the line as a result…

5. The secret to your success lies in the person you haven’t met yet

Networking is about building long-lasting relationships with others. It’s about making a deep connection with someone such that if you call them a year from now, they’ll be happy to hear from you. The old adage “ Your network is your net worth”  proves to be true, especially as you grow in your career. People with a solid circle around them can rely on those networks to open doors and help them out. Recommendations and strategic partnerships can accelerate your growth at pivotal times in your career.

Granted, networking doesn’t always seem easy – especially when you’re starting out.  But the good thing is that with constant exposure and concerted effort, you will become more comfortable.  If you are just getting started, go for the low hanging fruit. Start with the people around you. Your old school mate, someone you worked with in the past, your neighbour or lecturers. Start by asking someone for coffee or a 30-minute chat to offer their advice. Here are a few tips to get you started on networking.

6. People will come and go …..learn to adapt

Throughout your career, you will meet new people who will have an impact on your day to day life in different capacities. Your office bestie will move to another organization, and it will suck, but you will have to move on. (And you might find that you stay in touch for many years even after you’ve both left that job!)

You will also love your colleagues but as you grow in your career, you too may have to move to another organization to explore new opportunities for growth. Leaving your colleagues or workplace may be hard, however, you will need to do what is necessary for your career.

Keep in touch with colleagues even after your working relationship ends. This is a great way to build a deep and meaningful network that will set you up for the rest of your career.

7. Patience is a virtue

As a new graduate, give yourself the gift of time. You’re probably not going to be an overnight success, – no matter what some people make it look like on social media. If you’re like most people, you are going to start from the bottom and that’s okay. Put your pride aside and realise that this is just a starting point. As you build your career, you will face varying degrees of setbacks, and your level of resilience is what will help you get through these times and come out better on the other side.

Accept that sometimes delays are likely in a variety of situations but practising patience with yourself will ultimately increase your capacity to achieve long term success.

8. Seek out a mentor

It is never too early to have a mentor, but it is important to remember that true mentorship, like friendship, is a two-way street, you also need to do your part, do the work it takes to maintain the relationship. There are also no rules on who can be your mentor. Peers make great mentors too because they are in the trenches with you and may have skills you wish to learn. So no pressure to seek out a CEO or Director to mentor you.

Mentors can help you avoid the frustrations and mistakes they made and get to the desired outcomes faster. This is because they’ve been where you are and they know what it takes. Finding the right mentors takes time.

9. You don’t have to “fake it till you make it”

Chill out! Nobody expects you to know everything about your job as a new graduate and faking it isn’t going to cut it. Instead of trying to pretend you know more than you do, you can actually get to know more than you do by acknowledging the skills and experiences your colleagues have. Ask questions often, try your hand at new projects, practice more to actually be good at your job.

Get all the advice and guidance you need early on in your career and expose yourself to environments that push you out of your comfort zone.

10. You want to be a part of the Shortlist community! 😀

At Shortlist, we are passionate about unlocking professional potential. From bi-weekly newsletters to career coaching and career success modules. We provide you with resources to help you kickstart your career and guide you on your professional journey. Check out some of the candidate features and resources available to you as a member of the shortlist community.

  •  Looking to spruce up your resume? Check out our CV builder that will help you create one that clearly showcases your skills and achievements to a potential employer. Sign up to create yours today.
  • Career Coaching: Looking to discover your strengths and find some guidance on your career? Sign up for coaching sessions on our career coaching app CoffeeChat
  • Not sure what career path is right for you or are you looking to switch paths? Check out our Career Success Modules. Designed to help you as a graduate kickstart your career exploration journey. You will have different modules to guide you on a self-discovery journey with personality assessments. You will also determine paths you could explore based on your interests and strengths.
  • Are you increasingly coming across job applications that require you to take competency-based assessments? We have resources to help you get a feel of these assessments and practice beforehand. Create your profile and check these out.
  • We go a step further to keep you informed with up-to-date job opportunities. You also get professional development content and any career-related events that are happening in your area. We also give you a weekly dose of Monday motivation to kickstart your week with a bang!

Sign up for our newsletter stay in the know!


What are some of the things you wish you knew as a graduate? Share with us on our Twitter handle with the hashtag  #RisewithShortlist.

Virtual internships- Shortlist

Virtual Internships: The best way to get ahead right now, for employers and interns

1869 1156 Mita Mandawker

‘Virtual internship’ has been one of many COVID-19 buzz words we have become familiar with since pandemic forced many students to abandon their traditional internship programs.

Traditionally, internships are an important way for students to evaluate different fields before making a career decision. For companies, internships are like an extended interview, allowing them to get to know potential hires through practical experience. For many students, such as B-school students (especially in India), internships are a compulsory part of students’ curriculum.

In light of COVID-19, many employers with internship programs are reconsidering their programs and deciding what to do next. Around 10% of employers have cancelled internship programs altogether, or are considering virtual programs.

When students were asked about internship programs, 89% of students pursuing a 2020 summer internship would prefer a virtual internship over a cancelled one.  Instead of cancelling internship programs altogether, many employers are considering virtual internships instead.

At Shortlist, we started hiring virtual interns after the pandemic and are proud to host five interns who work across a host of projects for us.

What exactly is a virtual internship and how is it different from a traditional internship?

A virtual internship is when an intern works remotely for your company as opposed to working from your office. The entire internship is completed online, without the need for interns to be present physically at the job site.
Virtual internships are a great way for students to start their careers and learn the tricks of the trade from the comforts of home. In the age of digital jobs and remote work, virtual internships can be a great way to get that experience early on in your career.

How do employers benefit from virtual internships?

Workers on a need-only basis 

All companies have projects which require grind work and when you have your employees work on those, it often takes away their focus from more important projects. These projects can often be executed by someone more junior, freeing up your more experienced staff to oversee the projects (instead of doing them) and concentrate on important projects. Virtual interns are great talent to plug into projects like this, which give them real-world exposure and help you get important work done.

Virtual internship programs offer employers the freedom to hire interns on a project and requirement basis and for a timeframe they would be comfortable with.

This way employers are not restricted to creating projects for internship programs specifically and benefit from interns the whole year round.

Larger applicant pool

With tradition (on-site) internships, employers have to restrict themselves to candidates who live close to the office or close enough to commute easily. With this restricted talent pool, companies may miss out on great talent that is based out of another city or region.

When working with virtual interns, geographic barriers disappear. Companies can focus on getting the best talent from across the globe to work for them.

Save resources

As virtual interns do not sit out of your office, you don’t have to allocate workspace, and assets (laptop, basic office equipment, etc) to them.

With most remote internships, employers don’t have many expenses for the interns apart from the pay, saving on resources compared to in-person employees.

And, as long as work is tracked properly (there’s software out there to help), interns who work remotely will be paid for actual work done, eliminating hours of unproductive paid work.

In addition to hiring our own virtual interns, Shortlist has recruited over 1000 interns who are available for virtual internships. If your company is interested in setting up a virtual internship program or gaining access to our pool of virtual interns, get in touch with us here.

How do interns benefit from virtual internships?

Intern anytime, anywhere (from the comfort of your home)

A lot of candidates are looking for international work experience during their courses, but landing an internship in another country is not only difficult but also a considerable strain financially. Companies don’t always cover expenses for interns and internships don’t always tend to pay much (at least not enough to cover the expenses of moving to another country to do the work). (Not to mention that COVID-19 has halted most international work and travel plans for the near future.)

With virtual internships, candidates have the freedom to choose where they work. It is possible to get exposure to global teams and working styles from the comfort of your home, without any strain on your finances.

As a bonus, getting global exposure at the start of your career will reflect well on your resume (click for tips on how to put together a stellar resume).

Flex hours with no commute

Timings are often flexible for virtual internships (certainly more flexible than in-person internships). This means that you could potentially do a virtual internship alongside your studies and normal college routines without compromising them.

A lot of candidates also choose to do multiple internships together, utilizing their time to learn tricks of different trades, while they are in student mode. As a result, when they step out in the job market, they have a good idea of what kind of work they would like to do and a well-fortified resume with experience from multiple internships.

Think about all the time saved on a commute – it’s almost enough to get a second internship! Virtual internships can be a great way to save time and money and add to your CV!

Hone important job skills

Doing an internship virtually involves significant use and knowledge of digital skills. Increasingly, digital literacy is an extremely important skill when it comes to finding your first job. Working remotely helps you develop and build on these all-important skills.

They also boost your resume as you are able to demonstrate a variety of skills (learnt from multiple internships) that are valuable to employers.

Anyone who works remotely has to be focused and motivated to work and complete tasks without supervision. Virtual internships inculcate discipline, and ability to work independently early on in the career.

At Shortlist, we believe in the value of virtual internships. We are actively helping students and candidates interested in pursuing virtual internships connect with employers. Are you interested in a virtual internship? You can share your details here to sign up today.

Like any other internship, what you get out of it is commensurate to what you put into it. Virtual internships will continue to grow in popularity in years to come and may serve as a viable, cost-effective way for employers to conduct their internship programs and for candidates to get a far-reaching experience, valuable job skills right at the beginning of your career.

virtual interviews

Virtual Interviews: How to prep and ace them

475 321 Brenda Akinyi

Virtual hiring is set to be a new wave for most organizations in the coming times. With companies working to develop and implement strategies that allow for remote hiring, interviewing and onboarding, as a professional on the other side of the spectrum, are you prepared to ace virtual interviews?

Despite the physical absence keep in mind that with the right tools, recruiters are able to evaluate you just as well as they would during an in-person interview. It’s therefore important to prepare just as much for virtual interviews while being aware of the different challenges and opportunities they present. While you may already be familiar with the common tips on interview preparation and showing up on the d-day, in this blog we share some pro tips to help you shine in your virtual interviews.

#1. Set up your space

If you can, ensure you have a blank background to avoid distracting your interviewers. It might be helpful to move around things in your room to create a more professional environment. Minimize the clutter around you as it can be distracting both to you and those conducting the interview. Be mindful of the lighting in the room. Make sure it shows up well on video.

Just like you would go for an in-person interview, ensure you have a print out of your CV beforehand. You don’t want to be clicking through different tabs on your screen during your interview. Ensure that you are also well prepared, practice your responses to common interview questions without necessarily memorizing them to help you sound more authentic.

#2. Check your virtual interview technology

Whether or not you are familiar with the app in use(e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex, etc.), you should need prep your technology set up so you can ensure you don’t have any mishaps on the d-day. Have a mock interview with another person to test out the sound and video and fix any glitches. Mock interviews will also help you know whether your space is right for the interview.

Practice your responses during the mock interview to get an idea of what you sound like. Your tone of voice says a lot; You want to stay calm and collected throughout. This will help you identify where you might need to make adjustments. Be sure to also mute out any desktop notifications on your computer and on your phone to avoid unnecessary interruptions during the interview.

#3. While you dress to impress…be careful not to distract

When it comes to color, it’s easy to get away with brighter tones and hues while having in-person interviews. However, it’s a tricky balance with virtual interviews as certain colors or patterns show up differently on video. When choosing what to wear, keep in mind that solid colors like grey, black, and navy blue colors show up well while whites, reds, pinks, purples and complicated patterns may appear too bright and be distracting to your interviewer.

Do consider the type of jewelry you choose to wear as well. If you must have jewelry keep it subtle as bright pieces can reflect on camera. For the ladies, pay attention to your make up as well. Much as it will not show on video as much as it would in person, you want to keep it neutral.

#4. Non-verbal cues matter during virtual interviews too

When you sit down for your interview, ensure that your head, neck, and shoulders are visible. Mind your posture, as a slouchy position may imply a lack of interest or that you are a timid person. Fidgeting too much can also reflect poorly on your confidence so be sure to keep this in check. Another thing to pay close attention to is gesturing. While sometimes gesturing can help you emphasize a point, too much of it tends to be distracting.

Remember to mirror your audience as this helps you build rapport by making them feel that there is something they like about you. This can include anything from their posture, gestures, sitting position, tone of voice and talking pace. One thing to note though, avoid mirroring any negative body language as this will just give off negative vibes.

After your interview, don’t forget to seal the deal. You should be as courteous after the interview as you were during the recruitment process. This may help you stay top of mind and give you an opportunity to clarify anything you might have missed out on.

In the market for a new job? Check out some of our latest job opportunities below.


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Interview tips

How to Ace Your Next Interview — Part 1: The Prep

1600 1067 Brenda Akinyi

Shortlist helps candidates find and apply to great jobs, and the best-fit candidates advance to interviews with employers. We’ve written a practical guide for job seekers like you, to make sure you put your best foot forward and feel prepared and confident for the big day! In this post, we share tips for the first step of acing your interview — the preparation.

Congrats on landing an interview! Now, what do you do?

Have you showed up to an interview unprepared and actually thought you could ace it freestyle? I have, and the second I sat in front of the panel of interviewers, I realized it was probably the worst idea I’ve had in my entire career.

Here are seven tips for you to feel fully prepared and confident for your next interview:

1. Read, research…stalk!

Whatever you’d like to call it, do what you need to do to make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the organization is all about. Here are some questions to consider as you research:

  • What is the company’s mission and vision?
  • What are the company’s products or services? Who are their clients or customers?
  • What’s their latest project/product launch/offer?
  • What is the company’s work culture? Will you be successful in that work style?
  • Have they won awards or been honoured for some of their work?

Hosting interviews takes a ton of time and effort on the company’s part, and nothing turns off an employer more than a candidate who shows that they never took the time to learn the basics. It won’t matter how good you are on paper and how well you have presented yourself, you will lose points if you don’t have a solid understanding of their organisation. So do your research! Remember:

“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”

― Idowu Koyenikan

2. Understand the necessary skills and key responsibilities of the role

During the interview, you must be able to show the employer that you have the necessary skill set required for the role. One way you can approach this is thinking through instances where you have utilized them in your previous work experience. If you’ve never done them before, think through how you would approach these new responsibilities.

Also, note the responsibilities that the role would involve and provide examples of instances where you have engaged in similar tasks.

If you’re applying for the role from outside the industry or are pulling off a career switch, make sure to identify transferrable skills and emphasize them during the interview. For example, if you’d like to move from administrative work to an operational role, you could explain how needing to be extremely organised in your past jobs would serve you well in an operations position.

We design our job descriptions to thoroughly explain the role to applicants. Make sure you know the JD from front and back and have thoughtfully considered how you match the must-haves.

3. Prepare some questions in advance

Most interviewers will allow you to ask questions at the end of your session. To avoid becoming flustered and having to make up questions on the spot, prepare them in advance, and write them down. Some example questions might be:

  • I was excited to read that [element of their work culture] is a major part of your company culture. How have you experienced that during your time here?
  • How could I grow and evolve in this role in a way that would support the Organization?
  • What is the biggest priority for your department/company right now? Any challenges?

Just remember — don’t ask questions that can be found on the company’s website. If you followed step one, you’ll already know everything there is to know 🙂

4. Plan what to carry

Ensure you have at least four copies of your CV with you, as you might not know what type of interview you will be having (it could be one-on-one, a panel interview, or something else entirely). It may seem unprofessional to the employer if you come empty-handed, assuming they will have made copies on their end.

You should be sure to carry a pen and notepad to note down information or questions that come up during the session.

5. Before the interview, get your mind in the right place

Before the interview, take some time to self-reflect and consider how you want to frame your past experience, strengths, and weaknesses to the employer. Know your personal and career journey inside out. Prepare your examples and references. And be authentic!

Even though you might be nervous, be sure to get a good night’s sleep! You do not want to find yourself distracted, tired, or yawning!

6. Look your best to feel your best

The right candidate should be hired based on their skills and potential, not their appearance. However, taking the time to look professional and polished can boost your confidence and help you feel at ease on the big day.

Pick an outfit that is comfortable and fits well. Try to learn a bit about the company’s office culture when choosing your interview outfit. In specific industries like finance and consulting, most offices follow a business dress code, and you should as well. But for smaller companies or startups, they may have a much looser dress code in their office. If you show up in a suit and tie for a job at a startup in a coworking space, it could indicate that you don’t have a clear idea of their company culture and expectations.

7. Be on time

Always purpose to begin your journey to the interview location early (even earlier than you think you need to!). Look up the area in advance or if need be, call the organization to confirm to avoid the mishap of missing the location.

If for some reason you are running late, call the interviewer or contact person at the organization and inform them, letting them know when they can expect you. You are better off calling in advance rather than showing up late without having communicated.

If you are unable to make it to the interview or are no longer interested in the position, ensure that you communicate this to the employer immediately upon receiving an interview invitation. Maintaining your professionalism in this kind of situation is always appreciated.

We hope that these tips will be helpful for you as you prepare for your next interview — you got this! Check out our second and third series on interviewing: The interview and How to seal the deal

Hoping to find a job soon? take a look at our current openings with our partner organizations: