Answering About your Typical Workday

answering about your typical workday, how does a typical workday look like

There are interview questions wherein the purpose of asking is quite clear. Questions like:

It is quite obvious why they are asked. But even these seemingly direct questions have a key to answer, which have charted out in our older articles.

There are interview questions which might feel redundant, leaving us wondering why a future employer would like an answer to this. One such common but interesting question is:

‘Could you describe a typical workday?’

A lot of us might find ourselves wondering at such a question that:

  • What is the use of asking about my typical workday at a job I am planning to change?
  • Which details do they want to know exactly?
  • Why are they asking something which isn’t really related to this new job that I am applying for?
  • How does this question answer anything about why I am a good hire/cultural fit/cultural addition?

Without further ado, let us look into the intricacies of this question and what one can keep in mind when the time comes to answer it.

The Purpose:

Firstly, why is this question asked? What is the purpose of getting to know a candidate’s typical workday?

According to an article on The Muse, the core purpose is that the interviewer wants to know what responsibilities you have at your current or most recent job/volunteer work/internship, how you prioritise and approach those responsibilities. This core purpose is something even interns/freshers can keep in mind and structure their answers accordingly.

Another purpose is that they want to know if there are responsibilities that you have which overlap or match with the job description of this new job you are applying for. They would like to know if you are already doing a task which you would have to undertake at this new job, and to what extent are you ready to take up something like that.

Moreover, the interviewers are often looking to see how your current (or most recent) work environment is like and how you deal with it.

All in all, the overarching purpose is to get to know the responsibilities, environment, approach and priorities based on how the answer has been constructed, and how well a candidate might transfer it all to the new job. This brings us to the next point: how does one answer such a question?

Answering It:

Reading, Listing, Connecting:

  It is always a good idea to read the job description as you are preparing for the interview. The job description will tell you what skillsets would the interviewer be looking to hear about.

The obvious parallel step is to actually refresh and write it out for yourself the responsibilities you have had in your previous/recent/current job, and what you a typical productive day looked like. As you create a list of things you did, your next step is to find if there is an overlap between what you did and what your job description will expect you to do.

This will be easy if you are applying for a similar role in the same or similar field but there are bound to be some differences. But what you will pick on are similarities between tasks and responsibilities in your old typical workday and what you anticipate at your new endeavour based on the job description. This brings us to the next step.

-Chronologise and Emphasize:

Similar but not entirely the same as walking someone through your CV, walking someone through your typical workday will involve telling them in a chronological order about your tasks and responsibilities for the day or week. In case of the CV-story it was advisable to emphasize just on the relevant parts and keep an order that gives a sense to your career narrative. Here, in case of ‘walking through a typical workday’, it is important that you:

  • Maintain the chronology, that is, the correct order of how you chose to do the tasks.
  • At the same time emphasizing on the task(s) which you think was important and why you undertook it the way you did.
  • Don’t spend too much time talking about repetitive tasks and do spend time on tasks which have impelled you to work strategically and creatively.


The catch is, like most interview answers, to be concise, clear and strategic. Strategic how?

There will be times when you might wonder if you should tell something which isn’t really a part of the new job description but was anyway a big part of what you did. Do we leave it out? No, because that would show the gaps in your narrative. Do we dwell on it too much? No, because that would not give you enough time to focus on the more directly related bits. What we need is strategy here where we talk about the ‘different’ responsibility in a way that gives a sense to the interviewer as to how you handle similar responsibilities. This is an especially valuable insight if your workdays kept changing or there was no typical workday as such or what you are interviewing for is a little different from what you did/do.

The Muse article gives a good example:

‘…if you’re in an accounting role where you work on many aspects of a company’s finances, but you’re interviewing for a payroll-specific job, you might choose to describe a typical day leading up to payday when your focus is more on the type of work you’d be doing in this next role. It might even be worth mentioning at the beginning of your response that there’s no one typical day and you’ll give an example of a day when you’re working on payroll or preparing for a big meeting or closing deals for the quarter.’

And finally, remember that an interview is ultimately a conversation of a kind. Leaving space for questions is fine. Adding ‘…is there anything you would want to hear more about?’ at the end of answer to any interview question is a great idea, which helps you to keep your responses concise and open-ended.

Explaining the Pandemic Gap in Your Resume

In our earlier articles, we have charted out ways of hunting for a job during the pandemic, or onboarding yourself when you have been hired and there are limitations with the said process. Realistically speaking, many of us also had to leave our jobs. Many of us might still be on a look out! Worries might be creeping in about explaining the gap in our resume. Circumstances hit us and we had to remain unemployed and maybe we still are.

The unfair situation might be daunting. One might find wondering things like:

  • How can I explain the employment gap in my resume?
  • What to do if this gap keeps getting longer?
  • How do I make sure they know the gap doesn’t overshadow my skillset and competence?

Addressing these questions, let us delve into what one can do about explaining the gap year in the resume.

Be Honest about the gap:

The number one tip is to be honest about it. It might be tempting to cover it up or say something else about the gap. That is a not a good idea.

A lot of people have been affected by the pandemic when it comes to employment, and everyone knows it. Potential employers, hiring managers will understand your situation and it is best the gap caused as a result of the pandemic is made known.

One can add a little note or a small section in the resume letting the readers know the time period of the gap and that the pandemic was the reason of the gap. One can also add a similar line in the cover-letter. 

This brings us to the next point.

Highlighting the Brighter things:

The revelation has been made but how does one make sure that the gap doesn’t simply end up defining the resume?

The key is to making sure your skills, capabilities and certifications are up to date. If you took up some kind of online L&D while being indoors, add it! If you imparted your own L&D in some way, add it! If you attended any webinars, online workshops, training programs, add, add, add!

If the situation didn’t allow you to engage in much L&D then and you can do it now, go ahead and start, and add what you have started, mentioning the ongoing status.

If still your situation doesn’t let you have access to online L&D, make sure your skills and prior experience section are up to date and that you aren’t missing out on anything. You can still update bits about the soft-skills. Note that while additional L&D while staying stuck inside would be a bonus, it is still fine if you were not able to do any of that. Again, remember that potential employers will understand. But wait, we aren’t done yet!

Contacts and References:

Now is the time to use your references well. Talk to your mentors and seniors and ask them if they would be fine to be listed as your references. Potential employers will understand the gap in your resume and they might get in touch with your references. In the absence of recent work experience, a sense of how you are as a learner, how you approach and handle responsibilities will be a good anchor for the potential employers, which they can get from your references.

Make sure you tell the people listed in your references about job-seeking efforts and what you have been up to lately and how you have handled your situation. Keeping this bit about what you have done lately and how you have been handling the job-seeking is also a good thing to bring up during the interview.

And finally, even if you haven’t landed an interview yet, hang on and know that a ton of people all over the world are in the same boat. Keep up the fighting spirit and use the challenging situation to learn, adapt, and persevere more. Remember to keep developing yourself under pressure in whatever way possible, remember to be antifragile!

Experts Talk: All about Working in Africa

working in Africa, working in the African continent

When it comes to working abroad and working in a different culture, there are a whole lot of misconceptions and myths that we carry. On a Mentza discussion on Global Careers hosted by AK Achyut Menon, our recruitment expert from UHR, Nisha Kapoor along with a fellow expert from Africa Tinashe Hove talked about the nitty-gritties of working in the African continent and in the process also dispelled some myths. Below are some key pointers.

So, without further ado let us see what it means to work in the African continent!

Dispelling the Myths:

First things first, Africa is a big continent, with around fifty-four countries, all having a different culture and language. A lot of us think of Africa as a whole country, some even thinking about whole of Africa as South Africa!

Each country has a different set of customs and work culture. The differences can be seen even in the duration of work permits and what each country is seeking to build. We shall take a special look into this aspect later. Continuing on the myths and misconceptions, one more myth that surrounds the African continent is that one perceives it to be a place with poor infrastructure. The countries in Africa have not only great roads but also flyovers crisscrossing. There are rich reservoirs of mineral resources, toll-roads, solar projects to work on. What’s more, over the last few decades, many Indian telecom companies have also been making headways into the continent, all in turn building upon the infrastructure.

Now that the image of the African continent is in place, let us take a look at the opportunities one can encounter!

Opportunities and Industries:

Africa is a continent where one can work across the vertical and horizontal levels. Unlike some countries, the hierarchy is a lot more flexible and one can achieve a high post in a relatively less time, provided the right skills and competence. One can directly access the decision-makers, the owners and the managing directors, proving one’s mettle and keep growing. Again, differing from some countries, where one often finds oneself departmentalised in hierarchies and waiting for promotions, the African continent provides a large canvas with its flexible systems.

It’s a bonus if you are someone who is an expert in the industry and has had experience – African companies put a lot of importance in expertise which can be passed on to through training and experience.

What’s more, the warm and friendly nature of the locals, the multicultural workplace environment, the salaries in US dollars for expats, a respect for expertise, experience and competence, all this makes a wonderful experience. There have been candidates who were so happy working there that they wanted to keep extending their contracts!

Let us take a look at some more peculiarities exclusive to the African continent.

More About Africa:

From manufacturing, IT and non-IT, engineering, the African industrial landscape has a lot to offer. There has been a push towards the entrepreneurial spirit what with one of the youngest set of populations now seen in the continent with an economy for the future. Jobs are being created by emerging as well as established businesses and micro-businesses, all looking to develop further.

Students who are studying in the various African countries have an even greater advantage here- they can interact with their lecturers and other professionals, start networking and create a job for themselves even before a need for the job arises! The older, experienced candidates obviously have their expertise and digital networks to bank on.

Each country in the African continent has a certain need for further development- a Google search for the work-seekers permit would give us a list of the skills each country is on a lookout for. Coupled with this research about what expertise is needed particularly, and a visit to explore the culture and the place should help the individual looking to work in Africa get a sense of what it would be like living and working in this environment. And many happy candidates who were placed as heads-of-department at many of the industries in the African continent, now having risen to GM/MD levels would have a lot to talk about the importance of getting the right consultation!

How to Onboard Yourself at a New Job

onboarding yourself

The pandemic has given rise to occasions where one often finds oneself shuffling between work-from-home and being in office. Such ‘hybrid’ working conditions have given rise to many challenges, one of them being the onboarding process. New recruits might often find themselves on their own to a great extent when it comes to getting oneself familiarised with their new job and the expectations, roles that come with it. Remotely hired recruits might often find themselves feeling unfamiliar with the day-to-day company culture. Essentially, new recruits will end up onboarding themselves.

The Normal Situation:

According to a Unito blogpost, onboarding, generally, is a fairly long-term process which involves the new recruit being familiarised on an organisational, technical and social level. At an organisational level, the new employee gets to know how things work, the company culture, mission and processes. At a technical level, job expectations, goals, definitions of success are explained. At a social level, the employee undergoes a process of getting to know the company community, forge interpersonal connections and building trust.

Unlike an orientation, which is of a very short time-frame, usually a few hours or days, the onboarding process may go on for around a year, and it could start as early as the final interview.

It is true that even in the pre-pandemic situation, the responsibility to assimilate with their new workplace would be as much on the new recruit as much as the company. But now more than ever, one could find oneself bearing the greater share of this responsibility.

Fortunately, there are some tips which can go a long way if you find yourself in a situation where you have to do the onboarding yourself, entirely or to a great extent.

Some organisations don’t have a full-fledged, formally chalked out onboarding process. So, whether you are working remotely or not, it is always a good idea to have some tips handy in order to make the best of the new workplace and assimilate yourself in the new company to optimise your potential.

Onboarding on Your Own:

Drawing on from the three major aspects of onboarding mentioned earlier, there are also three major frameworks of technical, cultural and political learning you can keep in mind when it comes to beginning to onboard yourself at your new company as mentioned in this Blueprintgreen blogpost.

The key lies in knowing which questions to seek answers for. You may ask these questions when their need to be answered arrives to the relevant person, or you may keep this as a mental checklist of sorts, to make sure you are making an effort to ‘get to know’ the company.

  • The Basic Expectations: Gain insight into the fundamentals of the organisation like the clients, audience, technologies used and the everyday functions. Aim at getting an answer to questions like: Who all do I report to for various projects? How am I expected to divide my time? What systems and programs do I need access to do my work, do I have the access and knowledge for it, and who do I consult if I want to know more? What targets am I working toward and how do I know if I am doing a good job, whom should I ask? These include the technical learning aspect.

These might look like basic questions, but any kind of learning begins with asking the right questions at this basic level, and isn’t onboarding essentially a step toward learning more about your new company?

  • The Culture: Each organisation has a certain way of functioning and interacting expected out of its employees. Normal working conditions would give the new recruit an opportunity to observe people first hand, but similar opportunities lack in remote working or within those staggered office hours. And this is where asking yourself questions that follow can help you in gauging the overall attitude and character of the company, and thus manage your interactions accordingly: How does my manager want me to communicate my progress with them? How do colleagues interact with each other? Are we expected to make group or autonomous decisions? How is feedback communicated? How are new ideas received? This is the cultural aspect.
  • The Interactions and Mode of Conduct: Organisations have a certain set of structures of hierarchy and decision-making. It is necessary to know dynamics of positional and personal power. Asking questions such as these would help you approach the right individuals or departments for the right task: Who does my work involve directly and indirectly? What does it take to earn the trust of management? How are new ideas driven forward? What approach does one take if one wants to change someone’s mind? What opportunities exist to take on new responsibilities? What are the best ways to communicate with team members and stakeholders, and in what ways do they vary person-to-person? These questions will essentially help one gauge the subtle codes of conduct and interaction within fellow employees.

Starting to work in a new company can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially if you have been hired remotely or you have limited face time with your new colleagues. To add to it, limited, or no onboarding process from the company’s side can make you feel alienated and isolated even if you love your new job. These questions will provide a starting point in getting to know your new company on the various levels, and thus tailor your tasks and interactions accordingly. The important thing is to give yourself the time to acquaint yourself with the new work environment, real or virtual and keep the learning curve rising, that too at multiple levels.

Fostering Creativity at Workplace

creativity at workplace image

Quick! Think about a place where creativity would be encouraged and nurtured. Did you envision an art studio, a theatre, or maybe a child’s playroom? All those places come to mind pretty easily, but I’m willing to bet there’s one place that didn’t, and that’s the workplace.

This little excerpt from an article by is a great way to start to think about creativity at workplace. We seldom associate being creative with our regular 9 to 5 jobs. In fact, we often have the opposite thought process, so much so, that the idea of a 9 to 5 job itself has become a metaphor for plain work, full of drudgery, boring, mechanical, where everyone lives for the weekend.

‘I beg to differ!’ says creativity.

Creativity is something that can, and is often used in traditional workplaces as well, with great results, once we understand the definition of creativity beyond its typical notion. Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean having the best aesthetic sense which might allow you to make pretty PPTs, or a cool, colourful workspace.

Summed up well by the article cited above, creativity at workplace implies “creative thinking and creative problem solving.” A more nuanced definition of creativity is all about thinking of various solutions, taking steps which:  

  • Involve risk taking and shaking the status quo.
  • Involve accepting the failures that come with risk, moving quickly past them by learning from them and then going right into the next solution.
  • Involve viewing constraints as a way to overcome a problem.
  • Involve finding new connections for a solution to a problem.

So, the thing is, anyone can be creative!

So, what can we do as employees and employers to foster creativity among us? The following points from an article will also give a clearer understanding of creativity and how it has been used beyond theatres and canvases.

Telling the Brain What to do:

Turns out, we have scientific research telling us the optimal neurological condition to think creatively. Neuroscientist Brigid Schulte in her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time tells us that we are most creative/active when our brains are ‘idle’, ‘at leisure.’ It is at these moments that our ‘default mode network’ or DMN lights up, and like ‘airport hubs’ that connect the various parts of the airports, the networks in our brain which don’t typically connect can be connected, leading to us being able to see novel links between a variety of ideas. This ability to see unlikely links between ideas is what drives creativity.  Thus, “…a stray thought, a random memory, an image can combine in novel ways to produce novel ideas.”

The way to bring the mind to this relaxed state consciously is to obviously engage in quick activities that relax your brain.

Where Else:

Another way to foster creativity while looking for solutions is to ask ‘where else?’ This will ensure you see beyond the boundaries, so as mentioned earlier, your constraints become your starting points. As the article sums up, questions such as these can help one look beyond our immediate focus area, which ultimately leads to creative problem solving:

  •  Where else has someone already solved the challenge that I’ve been tasked with?
  • Where else do we see the enthusiasm we want our clients or audience to have?
  • Where else in nature or society does the interaction I’m trying to replicate occur?

The article further gives us an example of how this was applied by a brand tasked with redesigning optimal gear for Olympic swimmers. The company asked ‘where else in nature do objects move quickly and efficient in water?’; they successfully formed a novel connection between nature and fabrics. By asking ‘where else?” they found their inspiration in nature, and thus used fabrics that resembled shark-skin patterns, which dramatically improved the swimmers’ efficiency.

This was a great example of divergent thinking; in other words, finding new connections.


And finally, creativity is also about reframing tasks. Reframing something allows us to turn something supposedly bland and boring into something refreshing and interesting.

Take for example how Disney changed the experience of their guests. We know of Disneyland as a place of carnival, fun and entertainment, and it is the ultimate benchmark for any amusement park to meet. What is it about its model that makes it different from other amusements parks? Or to be more specific, what is it that Disneyland did that set the tone for most amusement parks of the future?

 When Disneyland first opened in 1955, it reframed some aspects of business, thereby redefining the entertainment and hospitality industry itself. “Customers” became “guests,” “employees” became “cast members,” “uniforms” became “costumes,” and so on. “This reframing of the park’s seemingly simple elements set an entirely different tone — one that asked employees not to work, but to entertain, and one that asked customers not to buy a product, but participate in an experience. By doing so, Disney redefined the entertainment and hospitality industry.”

This is a great example of risk-taking, shaking the status quo. The lack of a fear of failure is inherent in most these examples.

To sum it all up, what employers can do to foster creativity amongst employees beyond creating a ‘fun and creative’ stereotypical Google-like office-space is to:

  • Recognise ideas and create an atmosphere where one can freely communicate new and seemingly unconventional ideas and solutions.
  • Make it clear that negative feedback doesn’t mean that the idea needs to be discarded but that it simply needs some redirection.
  • Communicate that anyone can be creative, and creativity is not just limited to the conventional performing and fine arts.

What an employee can do to foster creativity is to:

  • Again, realise that anyone can be creative, and not be afraid to look beyond one’s traditional field boundaries.
  • Not be afraid that your idea might get rejected, and realise there’s a lot more one can think of.
  • Not to get bogged down by setbacks or seemingly negative feedback.