As everyone on earth can attest, job interviews can be stressful. Between the best dressed presentation clothes, the traffic to get to the company that you are interviewing at and of course, the waiting after having checked-in with the receptionist, who has taken a serious look at you to size you up.
Having lived most of my life in the large corporate culture, it was never really a shock to see a parade of people walking through the door, bright-eyed, cheerful and excited about the prospects of obtaining a new job at a better company; more than likely, a perception of a better place to come to do the daily grind.
Outfitted with the latest and greatest clothes, polished hair and a sparkling, newly revised resumé, thoughts rained in their mind that surely the interviewer would be impressed.
From my office window, I was able to observe the cheerie-eyed applicants coming through the large glass doors. I myself, along with the eagle-eyed receptionist and a dozen cameras would be able to size up these prospective applicants in a matter of seconds, as if to say it was like a fascinating psychological hobby – more than likely, just large corporate culture boredom – or maybe a friendly competition to see who would come up with a better perception, leading to the possible outcomes of the person in question.
At times, I remember thinking to myself if it would be possible to get away with setting up a football betting pool, only appropriately naming it “which one is going to make it to the second interview.” Surely there would be enough merit to sell the idea to the rest of the expressionless faces of the large corporate co-workers. If only to be able to get to see the cameras replay in slow motion to make the call.
Once these applicants had sat in the lobby waiting for 30 minutes for their interviewer to come get them, walking them down the hall like leading a prisoner to death row, it was just a formality to see how long the interview lasted.
With the cameras having had their turn at observing the applicants nervousness and frigidity facial expressions, the real game of mental hop-scotch would commence to ensue every ounce of collective pressure in ones mind to stay calm, not showing how much they hated being in an interview, much less the interview process, and of course, the questions that were being ask of the interviewee.
On one cloudy afternoon, there was one applicant that I could never get figured out. I remember thinking that I needed to ask the receptionist her take on the matter. What was it about this one person that stood out from the rest of the crowd that seem to parade through the doors on a weekly basis. If only for a matter of one minute could the cameras talk to give me a clue.
Unlike all of the rest of the applicants, he calmly walked up to the receptionist, handed her his resumé, stating that he had an appointment with that days interviewer and with almost slumped shoulders, walked over to the couch to pull up a seat. As if to say “I know what’s going to happen.”
This was by far the most interesting candidate that I had seen in the years of looking out my office window. I felt that all of my psychological mind reading training skills; arm-chair-general large corporate culture certificate, had now all of a sudden become worthless. I couldn’t stop thinking “what could possibly be going through this mans mind?”
Knowing that the human resources department were not the ones to ask the tough questions, I continued to ponder “how bad could the first interview be?”
It wouldn’t be till the second interview that an applicant, feeling more confident would be ask to tougher questions, having gone through the interview process myself, I knew that the second interview would be the one where a vise president of whatever department the applicant was applying for would be the one to fire-off the questions that would stump everyone coming through the door.
As with all large corporations, this one was no different. The vise presidents had made their way up the ladder for being sharp, quick thinkers, thereby helping the corporation pick only the best talent and of course, improving profits.
I also remembered being ask the following questions during my second interview and being completely dumbfounded to find an answer.
- If a coin was flipped 1000 times and there were 560 heads. Do you think the coin is biased?
- What would you want to do if you didn’t have to work?
- If you could be remembered for one sentence, what would it be?
- Do you prefer earning or learning?
- If your pet were a person. How would they navigate a derisive business meeting if they were a CEO?
But none the less, this man was only here for his first interview, an orientation of sorts to determine his demeanor, clarity of speak and ability to get along with others. Would he or did he pay attention to the human resources department personal during their speech about the corporation history. Would he remember names, faces and other relevant information that would be presented to him during that interview.
The minutes had ticked by, the clock struck 30 past the hour, it was time for the first interview, or as myself and the rest of my co-workers would say “the hour of reckoning had come.”
It was now 3:15 in the afternoon, my curiosity in heightened awareness had gone over to chat with the receptionist to enquirer about this man after being led down the hall like so many before him. The receptionist had stated to me that his resumé looked fine, nothing out of the ordinary. I explained to her my odd sense of feeling about him, to which she replied that she too had wondered between the three million phones calls that had plagued her since he had walked in the door.
Moments after returning to my office, the curious man was walked back to the lobby – a standard procedure – with the same slumped shoulder look, without the cheerful exit greetings as so many others would do – regardless of how bad they failed the interview in a moment of saving face – he walked out the door.
The next morning, after retrieving all of my voice mails, looking over the thousand emails that needed answering, I once again thought about the curious man. So much so, that I had to find out what happened. Would he be coming back for a second interview?
I took a stroll through the halls of the second floor, making my way to the human resources depart. I had to know. I had to get this oddity over with. What had happened to the curious man.
My timing happened to be perfect. I entered the HR department while only one secretary was present. I inquisitively ask the secretary about the curious man of the day before. In a stroke of great luck, she stated that she didn’t know if he would be coming back for a second interview, but that it didn’t look good. “Why? I ask.” I had to know. She stated that she felt he was more interested in the pay and didn’t seem to have remembered much about the exchange of emails and phone calls that took place before being invited to come in for the interview. Almost like there was a grave amount of family troubles that consumed him more than anything else.
After I had retreated back to my office, I remembered that there was some information that needed to be remembered before attending my first interview. Company history, the people that I would be interviewing with and of course, would I be ok with the pay that was stated on the job listing in the first place.
But that did not seem like a lot of information to remember, as after all, the HR department would have gladly excepted a quick summation of all of that information as a sign to state that the applicant had actually paid attention when they reviewed the job posting in the first place.
It is without saying, and by far in the best interest of a perspective job seeker, weather it be a permanent position or that of a contractor, spending a short amount of time to prepare, putting your best foot forward will always yield not only the best results, but often times, a possible dream job come true.