Sunday, April 10, 2011

Career Advice: Applying and interviews

Yesterday while I was eating at a local restaurant, a beautiful young lady walked in and stood around waiting.  She was well dressed in clean and comfortably fitting clothes and had taken the time to make sure her hair was done up and that her make-up was just enough to accent her natural beauty.  She looked so pretty that the young lady I was having lunch with commented about how pretty the newcomer was.

Soon the general manager came out and asked her to "Pop a squat" at a table near us.  (That made me cringe, especially with how well dressed and professionally groomed he was.)  It rapidly became apparent that the young lady was there for a job interview.

Here are the good and bad things that I noticed:

1- The managers wording of "Pop a squat" had immediately thrown this nervous young lady for a loop.  An expression of "What?!" flashed across her face.  She masked it quickly, and he didn't see, as he was paying attention to his chair.
2- Her appearance was perfect for a job interview.  She dressed slightly higher than what they would expect her to wear while working there.
3- His first question to her was: "So what brings you here today?"  What she should have heard in her mind and answered was: "Why are you applying with MY Place of Employment?"
4- Her answer to this VITAL question ensured that she did not get hired.  The very first thing out of her mouth was that she had lost/quit a job a few months ago after she had a seizure - the first one in her life.  She went into the tragic tale of the process of getting back on her feet, and she assured him that she was okay and had a car and could drive.
5- The manager sat back while she went into this tirade... a non-conscious move to distance himself from her unexpected response.  He expected "I really would like to work here... I eat here all the time... I love the food..."  Etc.  His arms crossed briefly as he sat back.  Another way to distance himself from her.  Not good.
6-  He let her finish and then went into some generic questions.  He had already made up his mind, but had to play the interview game.  You certainly cannot tell someone 'thank you for your time' after they tell you all of their medical issues.
7-  She had some pretty good answers to "What motivates you", and "How do you learn from your mistakes". 
8-  Eventually he ended the interview with "Well, thank you for your time.  I'll let you know if we can use you down the road."
9-  She could hear it in his voice - she needed to keep looking.

The sad thing about this interview is that she would have been hired immediately if she had answered the first question differently.

Here is how she should have handled things:
1-  "I'm here today because I love ______ - the food and people here are awesome!  I am a full-time student and I know that you are looking for sharp people to work here, so I thought this would be a perfect place to be!"

2-  She should have waited for him to ask about what happened at her last job, and why did she leave it to explain the new medical discovery.  But keep it brief and positive - not a sad tale of discovery and woe...
(a)    "It was kind of weird.  I started to have ______, a sort of mini-seizure -which I've never had before- and my parents and I decided to get things checked out, and decided it would be best that I focus on school until we knew for sure what was going on.  My doctor quickly figured it out and now I'm good as gold!  I can do everything like I always have - sports, dance, drive - I'm good!"  All said with a smile, not a pitty party frown.
(b)     Employers can't usually ask questions about health, unless it is something that could interfere with your ability to perform a job, or could be a danger to others.  If she really was good - it needed to be kept short and sweet.

3-  When he asked his other questions, she needed to make sure that she discussed OTHER obstacles / mistakes / learning lessons that she has overcome.  Those stories need to have positive outcomes with the lesson learned.

4-  Just those simple things, along with her appearance would have ensured that she was hired at the end of the interview.

Be the applicant that you would want to hire!

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