If you were reading the blog yesterday, you’ll recall I had a mock job interview myself with the job search class I’m facilitating acting as the interview panel. Today I want to share what happened which was very interesting.
The group had to first meet and decide what questions they would pose, who would ask what and in what order, take note of my answers, act like professionals themselves, arrange the room for the interview, and one of them had to come out and introduce themself to me and then upon arrival the entire panel introduced themselves. Lots of work for a group and lots of learning.
So upon arrival, I gave a solid handshake, repeated their names as I was introduced, and sat down in front of them with my best posture, documents neatly in-hand including resume, cover letter and questions to pose myself. I offered to provide all the panel with a copy of my cover letter and resume which they readily accepted and quickly scanned. I didn’t get asked the standard, “Tell me about yourself” which I had anticipated. Instead I got asked how my previous work history prepared me for a Sales position at Target. Great start. So I related a past sales position I’ve had, and in my answer demonstrated how that experience and the other jobs I’ve had in Social Services working with people gave me a great deal of experience dealing with the public.
Then I was asked why I wanted to work for Target. I had really hoped they’d ask this question. I said, “I don’t actually want to work for Target” and then I paused long enough for the stunned faces to appear. Just when one of them appeared ready to talk, on cue I continued and told them that I want to work for Target’s customers, whom they call guests, and while I would like to be EMPLOYED by Target, I was only interested in working FOR their guests and that’s what would ultimately separate me from all the other applicants whom I believed would tell the panel why they wanted to work for Target. They ate it up.
So on it went, and I was asked an interesting question which was to describe a time as a Social Services Caseworker when I had a looming deadline of some kind and how I met it and by doing so, was noticed by Management. Another great question which showed me they really prepared. So I answered that too by recalling a time when I returned from a three-week vacation and was expected by Management to have a backlog of appointments. However, I had prepared in advance by seeing clients earlier than they were due to be seen, and hence I returned to a manageable number of appointments and continued to meet Management expectations.
Then about half way through the interview, a very interesting thing took place. One of the panel said this; “I have a question for you – Kirk or Picard?” What a quirky question and totally unexpected! So I answered, “Picard”. The rest of the panel was surprised too so it hadn’t been shared that this question would be asked. His question was designed to see how I’d react to something unexpected, and would have only been improved had he then followed it up with, “Why?” Then I would have had to weave my answer to getting around to how, “Picard” would relate back to the job I was being interviewed for – as in maybe his communication skills etc.
I was also asked if I’d relocate and again I went with something they didn’t expect by replying, “No actually. I currently have a one hour commute to work, and I used to have a two-hour commute to work for six years. Over that time, I have been late by twenty minutes on one occasion, and knowing where your store is located, I am confident my attendance will continue to be excellent”. Later I pointed out that if you are going to say no to this question, you have to defend your decision or otherwise you might look confrontational or disagreeable if the REASON behind the question is to make sure you will be reliable.
In the end, I got the job! We then broke down the answers, debriefed the entire process, and they all said it had been beneficial to see the interview done by someone who does it well and is a professional. I pointed out too that the interview had gone very much like a conversation back and forth and to this they agreed. All in all, it was a great exercise, and I encourage other Facilitator’s out there to consider this approach and try it out. Put the responsibility on the group and it’s a great learning opportunity for them. I was very proud of each one of them for putting in the effort.
Today the group ends. Two have already got hired in the two weeks, and others have further interviews ahead and all are awaiting a response from jobs applied to. Each member has moved forward in their capacity to job search and has improved or corrected a job search issue in some way over the two weeks. I’m hopeful that our time together has enabled them to start new habits and build new patterns of behaviour that ultimately will help them gain financial independence through employment in the near future.
All the best