Friday, January 31, 2014

Explaining Organization Design

Happy New Year 2014 to you all!  Tobi is back to blogging! Yipeee!!!! :)

I've just been selected to be a presenter at the Organization Design Forum's (ODF's) 2014 Conference schedule for Charlotte, NC, United States in from April 29-May 1, 2014. Having commenced the writing of my first book sometimes last year with its first Chapter titled "The Concept of Organization Design", I decided to share an excerpt of this chapter of my book with you. Hope you find it to be an interesting and insightful read. Peace!

During the pre-colonial era, the rural and traditional economy of the Yoruba people—an African tribe that inhabited the West African rain forest—was centered on farming, hunting and fishing. These were the major activities people engaged in to earn a living. Due to the difficulty of cultivating land in the rain forest thick with roots and the strain of clearing trees held in place by jungle vines, it was common to find the Yoruba people practicing cooperative farming among extended family members. Thus, families located their plots of farmland side by side in order to maximize available manpower by working on one another’s farms together.

Not all the men were farmers as some took on other professions including hunting and fishing. The hunters were known to be the area experts due to their exceptional familiarity with the remote rainforest locations and were also experts in forest vegetation. Because of their knowledge of the forests and their vegetation due to the large amount of time they spend in the deep forests, hunters often doubled as herbalists, medicinal specialists, protectors of the village and border guards[1].

The women had their specific role as well. Their duty was to clothe the family, complimenting the men’s role of feeding the family. Thus, women and their daughters would spun raw cotton, dye the resulting threads and weave them into cloth for clothing. However, in times of imminent famine or related instances necessitating the need for more hands, women were often called to help with farming.

Bearing on the narrative above, one can infer that the setting or structure of the Community’s workforce is tailored to meet the various needs of the Community as a whole. By structuring their local economy in a way to achieve desired results, these locals seemingly took into cognizance the abilities and interests of the different individuals—thus, there were farmers, hunters and fishermen. Remarkably, those with additional skills (in this case, the hunters) filled other roles that were of importance to the Community—including being herbalist, medicinal specialists, protectors of the village and border guards. Thus, the Community had found a way to organize such that all basic societal needs—food, shelter, health and security—are met, guaranteeing the continual survival of the Community for many generations to come.

As crude as the setting described above is, it exemplifies the Concept of Organization Design. Organization Design is narrowly defined as “the process of reshaping organization structure and roles, or….the alignment of structure, process, rewards, metrics and talent with the strategy of the business”.

Jay Galbraith and Amy Kates built on years of work by Galbraith and affirmed that attention to structure, process, rewards, metrics and talent with the strategy of the business, is necessary to create new capabilities to compete in a given market. This systemic view is expressed in Galbraith’s original work called the "star model"[2].1

Figure 1: The Star Model

The Business Dictionary explains that “organization design is the manner in which a management achieves the right combination of differentiation and integration of the organization’s operations in response to the level of uncertainty in its external environment.” It further expatiated by stating that “differentiation”, in the definition above, refers to the process of subdividing functional or departmental units, with each of them focused on “a particular aspect of the organization’s operations”. Whereas, “integration” happens when the previously-identified differentiated units are linked in a bid to achieve unity of effort in working towards organizational goals.[3]

Therefore, in doing organization design, a step-by-step methodology is followed with the basic intention of “identifying dysfunctional aspects of work flow, procedures, structures and systems, realigning them to fit current realities or goals, and the development of plans to implement the new changes”.[4]

Future of Organization Design: Organizing Driods

Organization design would hardly achieve the desired result unless it is able to translate the strategic goals of an organization into an array of effective organizational structure and culture, implemented by the right people, in the right position at the right time. Since it is intended to achieve the alignment of structure, process, rewards, metrics and talent with the strategy of the business, the process of any organization design project must consider external influencers (industry best practices, emerging trends etc.) alongside the internal needs (structure, culture and processes) in order to attain gainful outcomes.

In his book titled “The Future Is Fluid Form”, Ord Elliott described the process of creating an organization capable of outpacing the competition. He named it “the Fluid Organization”—where the right people are in the right place at the right time—a new way to organize the organization’s people, its business and its future.

Elliott downplayed the traditional conception of organizational structures as the pyramidal charts “with ever increasing boxes as you move downwards”, with work “seen as a set of activities that belong to an individual or to a unit/department”.
Canvassing for a new way of conceiving work, Elliott painted a scenario.

Suppose you started a new business. Instead of hiring humans as employees or contractors, your organization would be populated by Driods[5]. Think of Driods as employees that perform only the work required when it is needed. What sort of organizational structure would you require to support this? Would a traditional hierarchal system make sense?”
Humans are different from Driods. Yes! Humans have emotions—they feel the need to move-up the hierarchy as a sign of progress or success— Driods don’t. Human have societal needs—feed self and others etc.— Driods don’t. So, it’s insensible to compare Driods to humans? No, it’s not! Why? The Workplace is evolving.

The future workplace will be mostly populated by a generation of workforce who is more task-oriented and less concerned about hierarchical progress. In fact, these new crop of workers (also termed “knowledge workers”) have less emotional ties to the organizations they work for, having greater ties with tasks contracted to them within the agreed time-frame—quite similar to how a “Driod-staffed” organization would function.

The implication for Organizations Design Experts of the future lays in the need to increasingly consider networked rather than hierarchal work relationships within organizations. Expectedly, this will lead to more vertical than horizontal relationships. Interestingly, work processes are conventionally vertically charted processes, signifying the ease of creating network-type of organization flat structures.

[1] Source:
[3] Source:
[4] Source: Centre for Organization Design: What is Organization Design;
[5] Driods are robots or could refer to a person regarded as lifeless or mechanical.

Monday, April 1, 2013


It's stale news that the major factor that gives companies the competitive advantage is the quality of their people. It's certainly no more news that majority of the global workforce are knowledge workers. The organization's people, rather than the hugeness of capital owned, is what makes the difference.

Ever wondered how many versions of the iPhone 5 Apple churns out in a year? Just few weeks after purchasing the iPad 3, I felt slighted when I learnt that Apple was about to release the iPad 4 and indeed phase-out iPad 3. "What effrontery!", I'd thought. But really, who cares? So it's obvious that organizations that would survive the fierce competition in the global market are those that are able to attract, retain, develop and engage the smartest crop of employees who have the ability to anticipate the future desires and aspirations of customers and deliver just-in time products that would wow these customers.

What is new, however, is the fact that the way people learn is now different and we cannot continue to depict significant energy in the former ways of learning. Here is what I mean: Some ten years ago, there was a big hype on facilitation as a more effective approach rather than instructor-led learning (often referred to as " Classroom Learning"). Experts emphasized the need to allow learners gain knowledge at their own pace and "teachers" were advised to "guide" the process. It then became usual to go for training sessions where there'll be group discussions, group presentations etc. Teachers prided in being seen as Facilitators rather than Instructors. They were happy to emphasize the phrase "we are all learners as well as teachers".

Organizations went ahead to bring technology on-board and the expression "e-learning" was birthed. Using technology, learners could learn anywhere via their devices. Courses were designed to be taught through computer systems. Individuals could go through an entire course, attempt assessment questions to test for knowledge-acquisition all on computers. More recently, mobile learning (or m-learning) came along as a version of e-learning on mobile devices.

Whereas "Classroom Learning" is also known as Learning 1.0 and e-learning as Learning 2.0, the newest form of learning is Social Learning, alias Learning 3.0.

In their book "The 2020 Workplace", Meister and Willyerd (2010) defined Social Learning as "the acquisition of knowledge and skills through methods that are collaborative, immediate, relevant, and presented in the context  of an individual's unique work environment". They went ahead to explain the distinctions among the different evolutions of learning stating that "whereas Learning 1.0 relied heavily on classroom learning and Learning 2.0 added computer- and Web-based training, Social Learning incorporates social media, gaming, real-time feedback, and advanced on-the-job methodologies.

A significant lesson to learn, in my opinion, is that learning seemed to have gone "wilder" by the years. It's no more confined, it is boundless. And therefore, the approach to making Social Learning happen and ensuring it thrives has to be totally different from previous approaches to Learning 1.0 and 2.0.

Mere facilitation of learning is insufficient in a sphere where learning is in itself without borders. In Social Learning, learning in its entire process (from comprehension to application of knowledge and skills) is largely unstructured and not confined to a particular environment, set of individuals. It's wild, boundless and uncontrollable.

So what is the ideal approach to promoting social learning amongst employees? Is it enough to create social media apps, games and the various social platforms? I doubt if that's sufficient. It is important to creat the social learning culture amongst employees.

My Master's degree was taught using an Action Learning approach--a process that aided my appreciation of taking responsibility for my own learning and the learning of other "fellow-travelers". One of my Professors (Judi Marshall) wrote a book titled "Living Life As Inquiry". The book emphasized the importance of sense-making our life-experiences in order to maximize the learning opportunities therein. 

Thus, it appears that in "facilitating" and promoting Social Learning-considering its "wildness", realizing it is not restricted to a physical gathering, walled up in a particular setting but occurs via mobile devices, among several people (colleagues, friends and strangers alike), day or night-the role organizations have to play is in culture building. Whereas we once had the opportunity to physically facilitate learning, the necessary approach now is promoting the ideal learning culture of sense-making in our employees.

When employees learn to make sense of their experiences, the ideas they stumble at or share with others on Social Platforms, learning opportunities are unleashed.

Thus, promoting sense-making is the new way to facilitate Learning 3.0!

Sent from my iPad

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tyranny of Job Search in Nigeria

A few weeks ago, I asked a number of young people (on National Youth Service Corps programme a.k.a. NYSC) who currently work with me how long they think a job search takes in Nigeria. The question emanated from my probing into knowing if they currently have updated CVs, realising it’s just a few months to the end of their “service year” and invariably, the end of their contract with the organisation I work with. They, thereafter, will be job searching probably for the first time in their lives!

In response to my question, each of these young people gave the duration they thought it takes to get a job in Nigeria—ranging from a few weeks to maximum of about two months. I further enquired how they came about the duration they estimated, making them describe the process of job search using the scenario of a fresh graduate who commences his/her job search right after the completion of NYSC. Their responses all sounded like a movie script to me: You get your CV ready, search for job in the company you like to work in, they get back to you in a week to invite you for an interview and bum! you get the job in a few weeks. “Seriously?”—I’d thought.

Then, I asked another question: “How many jobs (on the average) do you think someone will typically apply for to get a first invite for an interview? “A few jobs, I think!”, “Maybe five”, “Why won’t they get back to you when you apply for a job?”—where some of the responses I got.

I then had to share a few examples of job-seekers I knew. The first is a friend of mine who at the time of his last job search, has had six-years of quality work experience in Nigeria and Europe. He’d worked with a top-European Bank in The Netherlands, worked at the Nigerian operation of one of the world’s biggest breweries and also worked at a leading Telecommunications in the United Kingdom. On his return to Nigeria after the stint in Europe, he had to job hunt. The process from job application to obtaining his offer letter took the duration of approximately four months. This was someone we could consider a high-profile candidate!

A second example is someone closer to me. On completion of his NYSC at an international organisation, he worked with one of the world’s biggest Information Technology Consultancies in India for one-year. Since returning to Nigeria four months ago, he’s been on a job search and has not clinched an offer letter as yet (although he has participated in a number of selection processes).

These examples and the reality they point at, simply indicate that many job seekers have the wrong perception of how long the job search process actually takes.
Many job seekers are disillusioned about how long a job search quest could be. Worse still, many are clueless about the actuality in organisations with regards to their pursuit to attract and select the right people into job roles in a bid to grow their enterprises. That is why job seekers fail to prepare appropriately to fit the profile of that “exceptional candidate” that is able to prove why he/she is the right one for the job amongst many others.

Let me share a few facts that could help job seekers realise the possible reasons the job search process usually takes long. More importantly, I will also mention a few leads to how job seekers can ensure that the efforts they invest the job search process are not rendered futile in the end.

·         The Increasing Hunt for Talents….Looking Beyond The “Graduate” Title.

What do companies want in the first place and who are they looking for? …A graduate? I beg your pardon! Not just a mere graduate. Companies are interested in succeeding amidst a fierce competitive environment where they contest for market share—and if they must succeed, their huge capital and assets alone cannot achieve success…they need the RIGHT people. So, in simple terms, to keep surviving, companies only need and are interested in the right people; and if you do not appear to be one of those, they would not waste their time to get back to you.

·         Increasing Tediousness of The Selection Process: Companies Increasingly Under Pressure to “Get it right!”

Lately, many companies do more than interview in a bid to select the right candidate. With the ethics and competency issues that have recently emanated from the leadership of some large organisations including Fortune 500 companies, the Human Resources practice has adopted other methods of predicting future performance of potential employees. Thus, companies have introduced multiple selection tools. These include psychometric tests, competency-based selection and Assessment Centres—comprising a mix of selection methods, amongst others.

To ensure, therefore, that the candidates who eventually get the job offers are the best in the skills and attitudes required to succeed in the job, companies are ready to “do it properly” and this invariably makes the process pretty long.

·         Recruitment is not all they do!...Companies Have Their Core-Work.

Why do they often keep you waiting, even when you’re their right choice? Job seekers rarely remember that recruitment is not the core work of many of these companies. They have their core business and recruitment is only a way of bringing in new staff into the company to contribute to the core business. When job seekers pass through the individual stages of the selection process, they often expect an invite to the next stage as soon as possible. However, the Human Resource teams in those organisations have other things to attend to besides the logistics of recruitment in itself.

·         Global Financial Crises Resulting in Increasing Over-Head Costs. Yes, we need you…but can we pay you?

Would you be surprised to know that there are companies who take a number of candidates through the selection process, choose the best candidate from the lot and at the point of giving the job-offer, management announces a freeze on recruitment! Oh yes! Such incidence occurs quite often. Thus, the Human Resource teams are usually forced to keep the offer letter till the freeze on hiring is lifted.

My little advice to job seekers:

·         Make sure you’re the right person: Stay focused on a particular career path, gain quality experience as much as possible, related the experience in the most explicit and captivating way on your CV (For tips on CV writing:

·         Prepare to prove yourself: Get to know about selection methods and their purposes. Find out what Competency-based Interviews are, research how Assessment Centres are run and get to know the tricks to do well in Aptitude Tests.

·         Prepare to wait: More often than not, it takes a long while for companies to make the right decision, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When You Are "Under-utilized" At Work

She looked back and said good-bye, “see you next week, sweetie”. “Sure, we’ll see on Monday”, her colleague replied. However, deep down inside, these two ladies knew they won’t be at work for the next couple weeks. Agor and Sandy work for a consulting firm and have been on a project at a client’s office for the past three years. The consulting firm recruited both of them as members of the Project Team for this particular client. Due to administrative bottlenecks, work at the client’s has slowed down in the past months. There has been little or no work to be done and of course this “questions the relevance of coming to the office at all”—they thought. As they individually got into their beds after an eventful Friday evening, Agor and Sandy wondered about their plan for the coming weeks. “No work, anyway—so what do I do?” The immediate reaction to keep busy [while the client and their employer sort themselves out] was to spend a lot of time at the mall, meet with friends, simply have mad fun—"until they’ve got work for us again"…“Until we are no more under-utilized at work!”

In order to get my point across, I refer to “under-utilization at work” as a situation where your  work responsibilities are not in sync with your innate areas of interests; and as such, the knowledge you possess [or desire to possess], is not directly related to the work responsibilities you are saddled with. A range of factors may lead to under-utilization at work. You may not have enough to do at all, or you may have enough to do but not have enough relevant tasks to do in relation to your innate areas of interest.

A nice gentleman wrote me an email about a week ago seeking for career advice. He believes there is a huge mismatch between his area of interest and the responsibilities he has been given at work—and that has “almost killed” him. In diagnosing his situation, I realised there is a little difference between him and someone who loves what she does but has not got enough work responsibilities due to varying reasons. And so, they wonder how this free time can be appropriately channelled to other relevant and profitable activities that would give them a greater advantage in our increasingly competitive work-world.

Having pointed out these unpleasant situations, the most pressing question is often: “what do you do when you are under-utilized at work?” The workplace is changing and so is our response to the various challenges we face at the workplace, this inclusive. 

Let me share a few views that might help you to rightly respond when you find yourself in a situation similar to this.

“Knowledge is power”: What happens to a club-house bouncer who stops to eat well and get built-up? One important thing to note is that organisations who seek talents, in actual terms, seek knowledge in talents. What makes talents who they are is based on what they know! So, if my advantage lies in what I know, the right question to ask is: “how do I ensure I keep knowing what I need to know in order to remain competitive as a top-talent?” Seeking and getting knowledge these days is no more far-fetched. There is a huge knowledge resource right on your hand. Yes, I'm talking about your internet-enabled mobile phone! You can learn from your social-network friends, connect with people around the world who do the same thing you love to do. Do you have a Twitter account? Ever seen the UberSocial Twitter App? Ever explored its "channels" and you'll find-out that it is possible to search for people based on your areas of interest and also connect with them instantly? As “texting-like” as Twitter is, people tweet many links that can be viewed on your phone (and of course, computers and laptops too)—and these are great learning resources. So, build your knowledge about what you love doing. Therein lies your competitive advantage!

    “Translate your knowledge into work experience”: You got me wrong! Yes, I'm sure you did! I am not necessarily referring to you getting the traditional work experience [getting employed by a company] because this is perhaps difficult to come-by these days [following economic recessions and down-turns in employment rates]. Let me share with you another way of translating your knowledge into experience. Start by transforming your knowledge into a virtual learning project. You can do this by getting involved in blogs, wikis and other learning community platforms, to share the knowledge you possess while contributing to other people’s posts and views. Remember, we learn more when we share what we know and open up our minds to other arches of learning. As you gain more knowledge, you can use social networks to build virtual communities around your area of interest—run a Facebook campaign around your area of interest and seek people’s views; run advertisement of products using social network platforms to build your sales skills etc. These do not only help you turn your knowledge into experience while gaining more knowledge, it also helps to promote your personal brand within global communities of practice.

     “Showcase your new experience”: Do you know that your involvement in virtual learning projects and communities of practice is not inappropriate when it appears on your résumé? Of course, yes! You need to showcase these [virtually acquired] experiences and successes on your résumé. The 21st Century fact is this: when companies source for knowledge-workers, they only need people who can apply their knowledge and experience in a bid to give the company competitive advantage regardless of how the knowledge and experience is gained (whether through physical or virtual learning environment). And for all you know, gaining that work experience through a virtual rather than physical learning environment might be your competitive advantage in getting a new job opportunity.

In conclusion, there is a constant need to keep inquiring and responding to these two questions: Do I know the new global best practices in my area of interest? In what new ways are people doing the things I do [or wish to do]? And how much do I know about these?

Our new work-world now reveals that we are not rewarded for the time we spend at work; we are rewarded for the value we add. Time is cheap, but knowledge is power!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Your Future Employer is now #ffing you!

A few days ago, I was speaking with a good friend of mine who works in a Senior position at GE. We were talking about the impact of social network and GE's use of these to build a Talent Community. Then he mentioned: "...this guy is one of the global leaders in GE. He recently started following me on Twitter! I have to be extra cautious of what I tweet in there".

Welcome to the new world of our integrated social network; a world where our social activities is being viewed by others to make an impression of who they think we are--and these "others" cover a wide range of nodes within our network--friends, family, colleagues and even strangers!.

It's no more news that many of the common social network platforms have features that help you integrate your different accounts. You can make your tweets can appear on Facebook as well as on LinkedIn in real-time, although most of us did set-out to use the different platforms for distinct purposes--LinkedIn for professional networking, Twitter for real-time "reporting" via short messaging and Facebook for sharing life experiences in pictures, videos, notes, connections etc. with our network of contacts. What we seem not to realise however, is the ease of accessibility that so many "strangers" have to the loads of information we place on social network platforms--and these, they feel, could give them an idea of who we are.

These are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Increasing integration of social networking platforms is gradually eliminating the "one platform for one purpose" arrangement we usually keep on the various social networking accounts we have. The only exception (as it stands) are Instant Messaging (IM) platforms e.g. BBM, WhatsApp, gtalk etc. that give a higher level of privacy.

When you tweet via Twitter (or any of its related Apps), it could appear on your Facebook page (if you so choose under the settings). Many people see the integration of social network platforms as advantageous in that, one would not need to repost messages on different, sites keeping in mind that we have varying audiences in our different social networking accounts. The danger, however, is in what we share and the impression that people form based on how our "updates"/"tweets" portray who [they will think] we are.

2. Your "follower" on Twitter might be your prospective employer. Better still, your prospective employer may find your "handle" [and thus, view all your tweets] after searching a particular "hashtag". How many [more] organisations will be using social network platforms for recruitment purposes INCLUDING BACKGROUND CHECKS by the end of 2012? Yes, its no more news that companies use social network sites to brand themselves as employers of choice, attract and select the scarce talents they need to ensure they stay afloat the competition; however, it may no more be news in the next year, that companies now use social networking platforms for some form of background checks at any stage of the hiring process [which could also be just before the final decision]. Would a candidate whose Twitter handle reveals her frequent participation in #tweetfights have lesser chances of getting the job? Would hiring managers be able to determine the candidates' areas of interests from what is contained in their social networking accounts?

This could bring up the debate of "privacy features" and one could argue that if these features are well used, "strangers" would hardly have access to your "privacy" [FYI: this is hardly possible on Twitter. You cannot restrict views on "mentions"]. Albeit, it is important to note that putting the "good stuff" that creates the right impression of you via social network is increasingly becoming advantageous. People who have shared their skills, appropriately branded and marketed their competences on social networks have landed amazing jobs! Rather than not add, you'd better of adding the right stuff that sells you.

For all you know, your future boss might be the last guy that's just started to #ff you! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just before that Interview (II)--What Happens Backstage

The Interviewer

When preparing for interviews, most candidates wonder what goes on in the minds of the interviewers. If only they can perceive the expectation of the interviewers, it will be a lot easier to know how to answer the interview questions. For this reason, this post will enlighten you on the preparation process taken by the interviewer and the intent of the interview.

The Interviewer’s Objective

For most organisations, the interview panel is drawn from employees of the hiring department and representatives of the Human Resources department. More often than not, the HR professional’s role is to help the hiring department use job-related interviewing techniques to find that right individual who fits the current job-opening.

Owing to the fact that people are different in their perceptions about other people and their abilities, managers approach the hiring process in different ways. Mike Deblieux explains that managers use either traditional or inventive approaches in selecting the right candidate to join their team.
The traditional manager is one who goes by the book. He writes a job description and bases the interview questions on that description. Every candidate is asked the same questions, and the best candidate is the one who can do the job described in the job description.
The inventive manager, on the other hand, doesn’t have a job description. In fact, she may not even have a job opening. She just wants to talk to people to see if they have something unique to offer to her team. If she finds someone, she’ll hire him. If she doesn’t, she won’t.
However, on the long run, both types of managers are particular on getting the individual that can carry out a set of tasks effectively in order to obtain the desired results. “A task is a process that includes following the steps that need to be followed to get the job done. These steps may include drawing an engineering schematic, building a spreadsheet or making a sales call.
Tasks are important. The successful candidate must be able to perform them and the interviewer must ask questions about them. But in today’s world, results are more important than tasks.
A result is measured by the success of the effort, not by the steps involved in getting that result. Many employees, for example, are required to answer the phone. Answering the phone is a task. A few people can answer the phone in a way that makes the customer feel wanted and appreciated. Making the customer feel wanted and appreciated is a result. Interviewers often assume that a candidate who has performed certain tasks can also produce the desired results, but often they are disappointed”. (Deblieux, 2004 –SHRM)
Therefore, the ultimate aim for the interview panel is to plan an interview that focuses on the candidate’s ability to perform not only a set of tasks but the tasks that produce the desired results.

The Interviewer’s Checklist

You might be surprised but interviewers do also prepare for interviews—they have a checklist of things to do to ensure they carry-out a good and fair interview. As a candidate, being aware of how interviewers prepare for the interview can help you anticipate questions that could be asked and for what reasons they could be asked.

Below is a sample of the recommended checklist for every member of an interview panel (Source: Society of Human Resource Management-
ü  Familiarize yourself with the duties and requirements of the job you are filling.
ü  Make sure you can answer general questions about the company and the benefits provided.
ü  Formulate questions that will focus on job-related aspects such as asking about situations that may have occurred in previous positions (see reference form for ideas).
ü  Write down and organize the questions in the order you will be asking them
ü  Review applicant's resume and/or application:
o   Review the job description(s) for the position(s) you are attempting to fill. Note minimum requirements needed and refer to them often as you review resumes/applications.
o   Check work experience for applicability to the position for which they are applying, length of time in each position, promotions or awards received, reason for leaving each position.
o   Note gaps in employment but do not assume they were caused by negative reasons.
o   Check educational background for qualifications necessary to successful job performance.
o   Note special skills (i.e. computer software, office equipment).
o   Note on a separate piece of paper any pertinent questions that arise when reviewing the resume/application
o   During selection, screen the top group to further narrow down the candidates. On average, about 10 resumes per open position should be sufficient.

Typical Interview Questions and Why They Are Asked
For every question an interviewer asks, you can be sure that it is meant to find out something about your competence or personality, both of which are important to your performance on the job. The reason why most seemingly qualified candidates fail interviews is however centered on the fact that they do not know what questions to expect at interviews and when the questions come, they do not know for what reasons the questions are asked.
This chapter elaborates on why some particular types of questions are asked and what the interview could likely be out to know when such questions are asked.

Categories of Interview Questions:
I.      Behavioral: 
These types of questions are asked by the interviewer with the intent of perceiving the candidates personality and values. The questions are mostly situational questions that are posed to know how you behave in certain circumstances or conditions.
In answering this type of questions, there is never a right or wrong answer. Remember that the intent of the interviewer is to find out if you have the right behaviors that fit the job-role you are applying for, the company’s culture and values. It is important you know the type of individual the company is seeking to recruit for that job so that your answers shows that you have the required behaviors to thrive on the job.
The best approach to answering behavioral questions is by sharing past experiences. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations.
Although it will be more difficult to prepare concrete answers in advance to these interviews (as opposed to traditional ones), you can and should take some time to review your understanding of yourself, your past successes and concrete examples of your accomplishments. Work on honesty, sincerity and candidness. When you start to tell a behavioral story, the interviewer may try to sort out the details by understanding your behaviors. 
The interviewer will probe for more depth, detail or understanding with questions like: “What were you thinking at that point?” or “Tell me more about what you discussed with that person.” If you’ve told a story that’s anything but totally honest, your response will not hold up through these probes
Examples of Behavioral Questions:
                            -      Describe what you would say if asked to talk about yourself in a group of 15 people
                            -      If someone told you that you had made an error, describe how you would react and what you would say in your defense.
                            -      If someone asked you for assistance with a matter that is outside the parameters of your job description, what would you do?
                            -      You are a committee member and disagree with a point or decision. How will you respond?
                            -      Describe what you would classify as a crisis.
                            -      You are angry about an unfair decision. How do you react?
                            -      Suppose you are in a situation where deadlines and priorities change frequently and rapidly. How would you handle it?
                            -      How do you know when you are stressed? What do you do to de-stress?
                            -      Tell me about a time when you were a part of a great team. What was your part in making the team effective?
                            -      It’s 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Your supervisor gives you an assignment that needs to be finished by 8:00 Monday morning. You have already made plans to be away the entire weekend. What would you do?
            II.      Interpersonal:
When interviewers ask this type of questions, the intent is to know more about the candidate’s competencies by hearing from the horse’s mouth.
The mistake most candidates make is that they try to over-sell themselves by exaggerating and trying to paint themselves as perfect people. What you must know is that interviewers already know that you are not a perfect person who makes no mistakes; you are human and so they are not surprised when you express your human limitations. Always remember that for this type of questions interviewers know when you are exaggerating or telling lies- your answers will be illogical.
You should however be cautious of being seen as having a nonchalant attitude towards your weaknesses, therefore, whenever you talk about a weakness whilst describing yourself, make sure you also talk about the steps you’ve taken to improve yourself (i.e. overcoming the weakness).
Below are some examples of interpersonal questions:
                                  -            What are your strengths?
                            -                  What would your last boss say about you?
                            -                  Describe how you like to be managed, and the best relationship you’ve had with a previous boss.
                            -                  If I asked your previous/current co-workers about you what would they say? 
                            -                  Describe what you see as your strengths related to this job/position. Describe what you see as your weaknesses related to this job/position.
                            -                  Explain the phrase “work ethic” and describe yours.
                            -                  What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with? For example, assume you are in a situation where you have to deal with a person very different from yourself and you are finding it difficult. What would you do?
                            -                  What methods do you use to make decisions? When do you find it most difficult to make a decision?
                            -                  Describe a difficult time you have had dealing with an employee, customer, or co-worker. Why was it difficult? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
                            -                  What do you do when others resist or reject your ideas or actions?
                            -                  What do you think are the best and worst parts of working in a team environment? How do you handle it?
                            -                  Under what kinds of conditions do you learn best?
          III.      Creative Thinking:
These questions are asked to examine the candidate’s intelligent quotient (IQ) level, his/her thought-process, and the mind-set, perceptions of issues and how conclusions are reached. It is simply to know how smart the candidate is.
Like the behavioral questions, there is no right or wrong answer to Creative Thinking questions. In answering the questions, you need to be objective about the issues discussed, however, be cautious of drawing conclusions that makes you look dogged to your perceptions and views- It is better to show a bit of flexibility here.
Some examples of Creative Thinking questions are:
                                  -            What's the best book you've read in the last year? Please take a minute and tell us what you liked about it.
                                  -            What was the most creative thing you did in your last job?
                                  -            What is your interpretation of “success?”
                                  -            Describe an ideal work environment or “the perfect job.”
                                  -            In what way(s) do you express your personality in the workplace?
          IV.      General:
This category of questions is mostly job-related questions. They are meant to check up the candidates’ understanding of the responsibilities that comes with the current job-opening and how it relates to his/her past job experiences (if any). The object is to know if the candidate is aware of how he fits the job and the culture of the organization.
The key to giving the best answers to these questions is for the candidate to know as much as possible about the company as well as the job he/she is being interviewed for. He/she should be able to explain how the job fits into his/her career path and what skills, knowledge and abilities he/she possesses which can ensure high-performance on the job.
Typical examples of General questions are:
                            -                  Could you share with us a recent accomplishment of which you are most proud?
                            -                  What would you have liked to do more of in your last position? What held you back?
                            -                  Tell us a bit about your work background, and then give us a description of how you think it relates to our current opening.
                            -             What are your qualifications in your area of expertise, i.e., what skills do you have that makes you the best candidate for this position? Include any special training you have had (on-the-job, college, continuing education, seminars, reading, etc.) and related work experience.
                            -                  Why have you applied for this position?
                            -                  What skill set do you think you would bring to this position?
                            -                  Tell me about your present or last job. Why did you choose it? Why did you/do you want to leave?
                            -                  What was your primary contribution/achievement? Biggest challenge?
                            -                  What are your short-term and long-term goals?
                            -                  In what areas would you like to develop further? What are your plans to do that?
                            -                  What are some positive aspects of your last employment/employer? What are some negative aspects?
                            -                  What are your career path interests?
                            -                  What do you know about our company?
                            -                  Why should we hire YOU?
                            -                  If the position required it, would you be willing to travel?
                            -                  If the position required it, would you be willing to relocate?
                            -                  If you were offered this position, when would you be available to start?
                            -                  After learning about this opportunity, what made you take the next step and apply for the job? 
                            -                  If you are the successful applicant, how would you expect to be different after a year in this position?
                            -                  Tell me anything else you would like us to know about you that will aid us in making our decision.
                            -                  What questions would you like to ask me?

FOR MORE GUIDANCE ON PREPARING FOR INTERVIEWS, I WOULD RECOMMEND: amongst other resources you can find on-line.

All the best!