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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Job Interview

I was answering a question for daughter the other day when it dawned on me that I have quite a storehouse of information which readers might find interesting on either side of the desk that they might reside.

I have had the pleasure of being in the Operations Managers position of a large Tire Wholesaler in the middle of the country for several years to say the least.  I have hired and fired more people over the years than I can remember.  One is because I am getting older and some memories fade, and the other is because it has been quite a large number people.

So you have a Job Interview! 

Now is the time to do some homework.

Do you know who is interviewing you?  If you do research them on-line.  Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
See if you can find out things they are interested in you could work into the conversation.  Everybody has hot buttons that if you get them on something they like to talk about or are passionate about they may feel they have made a special connection with you.

What about the company you're applying with?
How many offices do they have?
Corporation?  Partnership?  Family owned?  Who owns them?
Do they have any lawsuits pending against them?
Have they been in the news?
What is the company promoting, selling, making, distributing, etc.?
How many employees do they have?

Get permission from the people you are putting down as a reference.  Choose carefully who you ask to put down as a reference.  You will be surprised what people who are listed as references will say about you over the phone, or an e-mail questionnaire.

Possible questions:
Is this a long term position for you or just something until you get out of college?
Did you finish High School?
If you could do anything in the world, disregarding money, education, or where you would have to live to do your dream job, What would that job be?
What experience do you have in this field?
Why do you think you would be a benefit to our team?
What kind of extracurricular activities do you participate in?

An interview could go one of millions of directions, depending on the person who is interviewing you, what kind of day they are having, and their experience at interviewing other people.
If they know what they are doing they will try and find out as much about you as possible in the least amount of time as possible.  How their day is going shouldn’t be an issue but many times it is.
You don’t know if they have one or ten positions to fill.
You don't know if they want to really hire someone or are being forced to hire someone.
You don’t know if the third person before you in the office was already selected because they were awesome!  Now your interview is just a formality, unless you happen to be better than the creation of sliced bread.

Personal note:  These days the interviewing process is usually a multi-stage process.  Application, Interview, check out their references, Background check, Drug Testing, comparing applicants against each other based off of the information collected, and finally hiring the most qualified person for the job.  Don't give up through the process.  I have thought I had an employee, three different times for the same job only to have them get knocked out of contention at one of the various parts of the process.

Interviewing is a two way street, so practice the questions, have your friends ask you off the wall crazy questions and get your stalling techniques ready to give you the couple of moments you need to formulate a good answer.  Avoid yes and no answers!  But don’t be too chatty.

Do not let on that you researched the interviewer if you do, might come off as creepy!
Do let it come out you checked out the company, it shows you took the time to prepare and thought enough about the job to check them out.

If you can be that bright spot in that persons day and make their week, make a connection with the interviewer and come off as intelligent, and fun to talk with, it will go a long way to helping you land the job.

If you do get nervous make light of it.  “Have you ever been so nervous about something your all thumbs?”  Let them try and relax you and you make them feel important because they think they are intimidating to you.   Always make them feel important.  If it is a nice office maybe comment on it, compliment them, remember their name, say their name, and people love hearing their own name unconsciously.

Dress nice and conservatively.  I always have a better impression of someone if they took the time and effort to dress up for the interview.

If it is a hard job (like moving tires by hand), I always like to find out if the person is single or has a family at home they are trying to provide for.  A person who is working to support their family will take more shit and work through harder stuff than a single person with no responsibilities beside themselves.  But I can't ask that!

This is a good spot to point out that Interviewers have long lists of rules they have to follow in order that they do not get sued or open up a liability for their company.  They can't ask anything that relates to age, sex, or racial background.  They are not allowed to ask anything that might be used to say that the prospective employee didn't get the job because of one of those reasons.  It's illegal!

Interviewers can take classes, read books, and study on the subject of interviewing people.  Nothing beats hard real world experience!

You would be surprised the tricks and gimmicks, if that's what you want to call it that interviewer's can use to disarm potential candidates, get them to drop their guard, and relax.  Figuring out how to relate to people in a way that gets them to open up and spill their guts.  I have had people confess things during an interview, break down and cry, and others who would swear we were new best friends.  As a prospective employee, if you run into a seasoned experienced interviewer you will not be able to hide very much at all.  Your only hope is to be a genuine good person in need of a job, and be able to fly through all the required steps flawlessly.

If you have something to hide during an interview, take care of it somehow so that it is not a concern and will interfere with the interview and background check process, or you will just be needlessly wasting your time and those of the potential employer.  You won't hide it.  Not in today's age of technology where information rules supreme and trumps damn near everything.

For those who are really interested in the process of interviewing, check out a gentleman named Admiral Rickover!  He was the grim reaper of Interviewers of all time!  For too many years Admiral Rickover was in charge of interviewing potential Captains for commanding submarines in what he considered his private fleet!  His antics and tactics are legendary to say the least.

One prospective Captain was commanded, "Piss me off right now, in less than thirty seconds!"
The Captain swept everything off of Admiral Rickover's desk and all over the floor of his office without hesitation.

By the way that Captain got Command of his own Nuclear Submarine!

Rickover supposedly had a chair for prospects to sit in which had legs of differing lengths.  He would change the location of the interview at the last minute so the prospect would be late to the interview.  He reportedly locked prospects in closets to see how they dealt with the situation.  He wanted innovative, quick thinking, committed, highly motivated men to command his submarines.  The horror stories abound about how he weeded them out of all the potential candidates.

Good Luck, Interviewing whichever side of the desk you happen to be sitting on!

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