I recall once coming face-to-face with a horde of badly-attired foul-tempered ill-mannered old men for a pre-employment interview. The venue was a hall housing anxious job seekers in their multitudes. You see, this employer in its wisdom (or idiocy) never advertised its interviews. Nor did it communicate that fact to applicants. Words were to go out that so and so date has been appointed as the interview date and applicants were supposed to pass the word round. Any candidate unlucky enough to miss such guarded info did so at his own peril! This particular employer was so drunken with the fact of huge response to its job openings that it simply tended to misbehave. So, we had gathered on several previous occasions in response to rumours of holding the same interview, waited for hours after which we quietly dispersed. As such, we were pleasantly relieved that the famed interview were to hold at last! Now back to the interview hall: after what appeared like an endless wait, pot-bellied old men suddenly materialized, took their seats, introduced themselves and then we were informed that the interview proper would start in earnest. And the interview format? One of the panelists would throw a question to candidate number one....and if the candidate was not prompt enough in supplying answers in the opinion of his "assailant", the latter simply yelled "next!" to prompt candidate number two to take his chance.....and so the mess continued till a candidate would provide the type of answer using the type of words beloved by the panelist. For the candidates so "passed on/ by", they were simply recorded as having failed the interview! Never in my life had I witnessed such charade prior to that day. Luckily, I scaled this "interview" and was employed as a house officer. Several years later, I was again lucky to "pass" the same format of interview by the same employer and was appointed as a medical officer. I have just descibed the Lagos State Hospitals Management christened the Lagos State Health Service Commission. I recently passed by the building housing this agency and again saw a huge number of applicants waiting to be "interviewed" as locum casual workers!

My travails under the employ of the erstwhile board confirmed that a sloppy employer is easily discerned by the wary interviewee on the day of interview. This parastatal of the Lagos State government surely lived up to this bidding. So, it was usual for us to scurry out of service after severe frustration and burn-out! And the very fact of placing undue emphasis on casualising the medical profession is a clear indicator that this government has not changed its ways!

Yet new thinking indicates that employer mannerisms, temperament, bents and idiosyncracies must matter to the upwardly-mobile employee. Authors now admonish applicants/ interviewees to pose such questions to their interviewers as to unravel the type of work environment they are getting into. They are advised to ask: Why the need to fill the post? Is it an old post or a new one? If an old post, how did the previous officer fare? Did he meet his stated goals and got promoted? Or did he fail to meet such objectives and got fired? Did he resign honourably or was he ingloriously flung out? If the previous holder of the office is still around, was he part of the interview panel? Would he be available to mentor the new officer? As could be gleaned from the body language of the panel and parley with previous employees, is this a company that appreciates the value, worth and input of its employees? Or is it an outfit that throws out employees after thorough frustration and burn-out? What are the odds for career advancement and professional fulfilment? Does it look like a company that is well run? Is this a responsible employer?

Dr Tosin Akindele is a Lagos-based Medical Practitioner, a former Secretary of AGPMPN Ikorodu zone, a former Secretary of the Quackery Committee of AGPMPN Lagos State Branch, founder of Analytical Minds, a good health advocate and social critic.

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Articles by Tosin Akindele