Professional Development

Candidate Spotlight: Meet Samson, Credit Officer at Lendable

900 776 Olivia Wold

At Shortlist, we’re constantly amazed by the talented, passionate candidates that we meet through our platform.

Today we’re kicking off Candidate Spotlights, a Q&A series to learn a bit more about the professionals who’ve found jobs on Shortlist. Follow the series to learn new job search tips, advice on professional development, and all about the positions and companies we’re hiring for on Shortlist. First up is Samson Wawire, Credit Officer at Lendable, the first debt platform designed specifically for African alternative lenders.

What is your professional background, and what were you looking for when you started to apply for jobs on Shortlist?

I have worked as a financial analyst for four years now. My job is all about understanding a company through numbers — we typically do this to highlight key issues facing a potential investor or financier that would affect performance of their investment in the company.

I was looking for a financial analyst role at a challenging and dynamic company so I could continue my professional growth. Thanks to Shortlist, I was able to attain my current role at Lendable!

Lendable is the first debt platform designed specifically for African alternative lenders.

Tell us about your new job — what is your favorite part?

In my new job, I get to meet exciting alternative lenders that help uplift the lives of ordinary people. Most of the companies we engage with provide loans to people looking to start or grow their business so they can create and improve their livelihoods — from motorbike financing to dairy cows funding.

My favourite part about the job is visiting the branches of these alternative lenders and going to the field where you really see the impact on customers. It’s one thing to read on a company page that they have a certain number of customers and they have provided a given number of loans; it’s another thing entirely when you meet these same people and see how they have benefitted from the work that the alternative lenders do and how their lives have been transformed.

How would you describe your team at Lendable in three words?

Creative, fun and easygoing!

What’s your professional superpower?

I’m amazing at crunching numbers! My job is all about finding the story behind the numbers so this is something I’m particularly good at!

What’s one professional development or networking tip that you’d like to share?

You should always look for traits that you admire in your colleagues and try to nurture this same attribute in yourself. Everyone is typically eager to give advice on how they excel at something, so you can get their own personal feedback on how they excel at that one thing you admire the most. This way, the whole team can be your mentors!

What advice would you give to current jobseekers?

Know your worth and what you’re bringing to the table. Once you’re able to communicate this clearly to your future employer, it becomes easier for them to say yes and hire you. In the words of John F. Kennedy, modified slightly, ask not what your organisation can do for you — ask what you can do for your organisation. This way, your employer will be glad to reciprocate after you demonstrate your value proposition to them.

What’s the most surprising or interesting question you’ve been asked in any job interview?

The most interesting question would have to be one that I was asked four years ago when interviewing for my first job: “What would you do if you were awarded 100 million shillings to spend?” That was an interesting question because it was fun to ponder and at the same time the interviewer got to understand my view on money and whether I would spend it responsibly.

Interestingly, my answer has evolved as I have grown as a professional and I think right now I would spend the money way better than I would have 4 years ago!

Thanks so much to Samson for sharing his insights and tips for our very first Shortlist Candidate Spotlight. Want to find a great job like Samson did? Visit our job seekers page to learn about open jobs at leading companies (like Lendable!).

Check back soon for new posts in the Shortlist Spotlight series!

ace your interviw

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

1200 900 Brenda Akinyi

In my role as Applicant Care Associate in our Nairobi office, I’m here for candidates from start to finish of their applications — answering questions over phone and e-mail, and always making process improvements to make sure the Shortlist platform is candidate-friendly. I even offer advice on how to ace your interview when we find a job opportunity that’s right for you. 

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, I’ll share tips for the first step of how to ace your interview — the preparation. 

Congrats on landing a job opportunity! Here’s how to ace your interview.

Have you showed up to an interview unprepared and actually thought you could ace it freestyle? I totally 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 to show you how to ace your interview by being  fully prepared and confident:

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 honored 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 the research if you want to ace your interview! 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 thoughtfully 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 give you an opportunity 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. Get your mind in the right place – to ace your interview

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 ace your interview by feeling 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 certain industries like finance and consulting, most offices follow a business dress code, and you should as well. But for smaller companies or startups, it’s possible that they 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 plan to begin your journey to the interview location early (even earlier than you think you need to!). Look up the location 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 on how to ace your interview will be helpful for you as you prepare for your next job interview . Here are the second and third posts in the series, about what to do during and after your interview!:

We would love to hear from you! Share your tried-and-true interview tips in the comments, and please let us know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.