The Interview Process
One of the toughest things about changing jobs can be the interview process. You want to make a great first impression, appearing professional, but also approachable; knowledgeable, yet humble; a geek in your field, but also the most popular kid in class. Preparing for one can be nerve-racking, especially with the variety of interview styles out there.
Firstly, there is the non-interview. My first boss didn’t even bother to interview me. Or my friend. We were packers. This does not mean that we wore yellow helmets and ate candy while colourful ghosts chased us around a maze. (That only happened once, and we don’t like to talk about it.) We packed groceries into bags at a convenience store on the weekends. We were at high school at the time. To get those jobs, we submitted very brief résumés, and were called in to work within a few days.
My most recent employer at the call centre also chose to forgo the interview process. With the high staff turnover, who has time to conduct interviews anyway? I completed the tests, submitted a résumé, and after a background check, I was hired.
Some years ago, I applied for a sales position at a camera store. I was interviewed by two people. It was a good-cop, bad-cop scenario. I thought the interview was going well, until the other guy took over the proceedings and turned my qualifications into accusations. I didn’t get the job.
The strangest interview I ever had was when I applied for the prestigious position of Cashier. The interview seemed to go well until the interviewer asked if I’d be prepared to take a polygraph. I laughed. He didn’t. I then realised he was serious. I agreed to the polygraph, and apparently passed. A week later, the job was mine! As a cashier, I got to roll in the dough. The cash wasn’t mine, and I didn’t get to keep any of it, but still.
Finally, after years of studying, I applied for an IT position. I arrived for the interview and was told to wait in the company’s impressive lobby with the other candidates. Everyone was pretty tense. Had I accidentally wondered into a dentist’s waiting room?
While contemplating oral hygiene, my name was called. This was it. One of the receptionists led me to the lion’s den.
The interview was held in a large boardroom. At least twelve seats were arranged around a strangely-shaped table, only three of which were occupied. I was told to take a seat. Which one? Was I expected to lie across three to demonstrate that I could do the work of three ordinary people? Or should I remain standing to allow for a quick getaway? After analysing the panel’s seating arrangement, I picked a seat.
Surprisingly, choosing a seat was actually the hardest part of that interview. At first, I felt a little out-numbered, like one scrawny vegetable man taking on an entire rugby squad, but once the interview started, the panel was very friendly and welcoming. A week later, I received a call. I had been selected!
During an interview, I believe it is best to be to be yourself. Some will go well, others might not. I am often nervous during interviews. I’m not sure why. But being nervous will do nothing to improve the interview. Especially if you are expected to take a polygraph.