Between jobs, I once had the misfortune of attending two group interviews. Both for a permanent part-time position. Let me tell you about the first one. I was pleased to be called in and keen to get the ball rolling until after an hour I realised the whole process was degenerating into tedious insincerity.
Fellow jobseekers and I played mind games with shapes and symbols, wrote clues on butcher’s paper and on each other’s backs (with our finger) and sat down to interview the ‘buddy’ seated next to us. We then introduced each other to the selection panel which was a trick because what was told to us privately was then asked to be broadcast across the room. And, most outlandish of all, we formed groups to invent a new company motto and present it. Then we were gathered into teams to construct a workable bridge from scrap pieces. During discussion time, one person endeavoured to take control of our group, effectively making it a one-woman show. Another broke away from his group to talk to me separately so I’m sure that would have been a black mark against him.
Most applicants ‘talked the talk’ although whether they actually meant it or not remains to be seen. The extroverts did their best to outshine the other applicants with their superior customer service line but when pressed, many hadn’t even checked the company website. Basically everyone was mouthing the same tired old phrases about equality, fairness, safety, courtesy, teamwork and how good they would perform in the job. Lines which they had obviously rehearsed at home. Which in itself is good but it wears everyone down, especially when juniors kept referring to their notes.
By the time my five minute one-on-one interview took place, over three hours later, I was lacklustre. The questions asked were the same as those I had already addressed in my selection criteria which tended to make me more repetitive than I should have been for such an important occasion. My past experience and references were scrutinised without a word.
I tried to pull my thoughts together and keep a glazed look out of my eyes but regrettably enthusiasm had started to wane. It appeared to me that the HR department was trying to justify its own position within the company by orchestrating an overly long interview process and my respect for its staffers dwindled during that period. It was held at an awkward time of day too, so I left the interview feeling hungry which did not help my mood. For those nervous yet bored candidates waiting to be called, surely a beverage wouldn’t have been too much to ask? At the end of this interview process, we were instructed to leave by the side door. I hoped the other applicants were more upbeat than me, or at least better actors.
Another point which I found interesting was the amount of young first-job attendees who wore jeans and casual tops. In a job where presentation is important, I failed to understand their choice of clothing. Especially considering there were 75 applicants, hand-picked from hundreds, for only 25 job vacancies. Apart from a good resumé, I think your eagerness to get a job should include upping your appearance.
A considerable length of time, and another job, has passed since then and I still have not been informed of the outcome. I seriously question the usefulness of such a long drawn-out exercise. ‘You either got it or you aint’ and I think a good personnel department should see that a mile off without all the frills.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward