I work in a human resources firm. The company deals with recruitment and human resources outsourcing for more than 60 clients. I am employed as a Business Development Manager, tasked with bringing in new clients. However, I also deal with recruitment. My role within recruitment is helped by previous experiences as well as courses I have taken. Within recruitment, I conduct interviews almost daily to fill vacant positions. Conducting these interviews I’ve learnt some of the common elements of successful interviews, as well as the marks of bad ones. But does God have anything to say about job interviews?

We can apply biblical principles and wisdom to job interviews.

As far as I can tell, there aren’t any job interviews in the Bible. But this doesn’t mean we cannot apply biblical principles and wisdom to job interviews. I will do that below, providing three tips from the book of Proverbs for job interviews. These are all fairly obvious and we must remember that the wise living prescribed by God is both a means of our flourishing and glorifying God.

1. Only Interview if You’re Qualified for the Job

A lack of qualification for the position is a common challenge. Due to a lack of job opportunities, many candidates apply for jobs they’re not qualified for. But without the qualifications, you will not be considered. Thus you will waste the interviewer’s time. So, let’s apply for jobs we have the required education, experience, and qualifications to perform well. As Proverbs 22:29 says: “Do you see a man skilful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men”. This person is honoured in their work, because they perform their job excellently. Such excellence requires both diligence as well as skills and expertise. We must interview for jobs that match our experience and education.

Performing well means that we can offer the best service to others. This is important. For the Christian life is lived for the service of others.

It is essential that we develop skills and education in our desired field. Qualifications are not something we are born with. Rather they are something we develop and earn. Some ways in which we can build our skills is through internships, volunteering, or free courses online. Some of these courses can be found at the University of Illinois, Saylor Academy, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. There are also multitudes of paid online courses such as Coursera and Udemy. We can also network with others to find opportunities that match our skills. Africans can capitalise on our strong social bonds in doing so.

We must interview for jobs that match our experience and education.

2. Be on Time for the Interview

Another issue I usually face is lateness. Not being on time has an equally negative consequence. In Ethiopia, and Africa in general, being on time is not considered essential. However, lateness impacts careers. I am hesitant to hire a candidate who is late for their job interview unless for a good reason, because many managers would fire a candidate who is consistently late to work. There is even a provision in the Ethiopian Labor Law that allows firing for consistent tardiness.

Proverbs is not silent regarding this. Like rushing through a task, not working on time shows a lack of diligence. Proverbs 20:4 reads: “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing”. Though most of us are not farmers, the principles still apply. The sluggard has time to plow during autumn, but he does not do so. Likewise, those who are not on time fail to take advantage of the time people give them. So, we should be on time. By being on time, we also show the gospel in our lives. Not being on time is being inconsiderate of others. We would be wasting the limited time that others give us. On the other hand, being on time shows selflessness, graciousness, and kindness.

Being on time shows selflessness, graciousness, and kindness.

Calendar tools can help in this regard. I use Google Calendar, since it can be linked up with email and with notifications for each task. But, there are many great tools. I also outline my day and tasks from the time I wake up to the time that I sleep. Although I don’t always perform accordingly, it does help in keeping me on track.

3. Don’t Rush Job Interviews

Being on time is linked with affording ourselves the opportunity to be deliberate, thoughtful, and measured in interviews. For a common issue I find is candidates rushing through their job interviews. A candidate who is hasty during an interview might also do the same while performing a task. We should keep in mind that rushing is not the same as efficiency. Instead, it compromises being thorough, resulting in ineffectiveness and poorly done tasks. Such interviewees rarely give sufficient answers to the questions they are being asked.

The diligent don’t rush. They take their time to complete a task.

Proverbs gives an antidote to this character. Proverbs 21:5 contrasts the hasty with the diligent. We can therefore conclude that one of the antitheses to diligence is hastiness. The results are also contrasted: abundance and poverty. The diligent don’t rush. Instead, they take their time to complete a task thoroughly.

This principle also applies to working on the job. Take your time. But do so to focus and complete it thoroughly. One way to do this is not handing over a task until the specified time has lapsed. The same can be said about a job interview. I say this because it is still a task, and Proverbs has much to say about how we work. So, applying it to Proverbs, it means listening carefully, taking the time to craft our answer appropriately, and responding satisfactorily. In addition, if there is a written exam, it means taking the time given to focus on the task.

God’s Wisdom for Gospel Living

Taking care of time demonstrates that we care about the time of others.

In sum, we can glean some tips and guides from Proverbs for a successful job interview. The three things we considered are: be qualified; take your time; and use your time well. While these are important for a successful interview, they are also essential for gospel living. They are all ways in which we can live for and serve others. Being qualified means that we can present our best to others, while taking care of time demonstrates that we care about the time of others and our own.