Thursday, November 11, 2004

Interview of Death

Oh boy. Where do I begin? This was one difficult interview.. The deadline for application for the position was October 1st, and they didn't contact me until over a month later. Hypothesis: the first round of selected applicants failed to meet their requirements.. I now see why..

So the job entails, among other things, the implementation of programs for all ages in a downtown eastside park, Oppenheimer park for those who care.. And the fact that you're reading this at all leads me to believe you care.. The job would be a challenge no doubt.. not just for me, but for anyone.. Lots of conflicts, verbal and physical, between people who want to use the park to play, and people who are, well, not wanting to play, but won't move. The job description noted this so it wasn't a shock when the guy interviewer (there was a male and two females) gave me a "reality check" about what I would be doing. I didn't have the appropriate experience that they were apparently looking for.. Some questions about my supervisory experience were skipped, and some questions, when I spoke of my limited experience in whatever they were asking, caused the two females to exchange not-so-subtle looks with each other.. "Look assholes, I read the job description and felt that it was a job I could do.. Sure the downtown eastside neightborhood will be challenging, but it will be challenging for everyone, not just me.. and besides, I sent you my resumé and you contacted me, implying that you felt I was a definite possibility to fill the position.. If it's clearly not working out on your side, then cut the interview short so that you can exchange glances on your own time. "

Each interviewer asked many, many questions with each question more demanding than the previous one.. In many of the questions, I was lost before they were finished asking.. Long-winded questions within questions.. No wonder they hadn't found anyone yet, all applicants who came in for an interview had no idea what the hell they were talking about.. After asking them to give me a moment to formulate an answer, I would begin talking in general terms, but then I would have to stop talking, usually mid-sentence. These stops came in two varities: 1) My rate of speech would slow, volume of voice become lower, until I just trickled to silence. 2) Mid-sentence, I would search for the right word to express my thoughts and nothing would come. Nothing at all. I felt as though I had no official language because all that was coming to me, was the sound of a prairie breeze. After a short uncomfortable pause, I would then ask them to repeat the question.. Which they would do.. Didn't help at all.. Here's an example of a question, as best as I can remember it five nights after it was fired at me: "What do you thing the goals and motivations are of a volunteer, and compare it to the goals and motivations of a paid worker?" This may seem simple in hindsight, but in the heat of the moment, not so much.. not for me.. and keep in mind that this is one of the only questions that I can recall from memory. Every other question was far too complicated and wordy to remember.. The evening following the interview I couldn't even remember what had happened.. There was also a question along the lines of: "In the park we sometimes get incidents of violent conflicts, such as people throwing glass bottles. Give us an example of a time you dealt with violent conflict and tell us how you dealt with it.." Me: "Just give me a few seconds please.. (short pause) ..Working as a daycamp leader at Arts Umbrella, we play many active games with kids. During a soccer game, Jimmy will try to kick the ball but sometimes he'll miss the ball and maybe kick Susie's foot instead. Susie will then get upset and say that Jimmy did it on purpose and refuse to play soccer. After telling Susie that I saw the whole thing and that her getting kicked by Jimmy was an accident, we'll go get a drink from the water fountain and, feeling better, she'll start playing soccer again.. That's exactly the type of violent conflict you're looking for, right? Jerks.."

As for the interviewer who assumed the crash position (see previous post), I was in the process of "answering" a question aimed at me from the male interviewer when I looked over and there she was, looking very professional. Other professional interviewing habits: checking her cellphone regularly; looking out the window located behind me and reacting nonverbally to whatever or whoever she saw; as stated before, exchanging glances with other female; being unfriendly in demeanor, attitude, speech, etc.. (began before the interview even started)

In conclusion, you might find it surprising that this is still a job that I would want.. And I feel it's a job I could handle, it would just take some getting used to.. It was the interviewers themselves that pushed me away, not the details of the job.. Unfortunately, I believe the position requires quite a bit of involvement and communication with the "crash-position interviewer". In the end, I feel kinda sorry for the individual who gets hired for this position and must be exposed to such negativity. Of course, this is assuming that they find an applicant who can understand what the hell they are asking. It just occurred to me that at the end of the interview I should've asked them to ask me a simple question such as, "What's the date today?" Then I would've watched as the question became severely mutated and unintelligible right in front of my eyes, until it was no longer even a shadow of its former self. Simply for my amusement of course.

1 comment:

mash said...

Hey Blue, I'm sorry this one didn't work out,

But you can call yourself lucky for not getting hired! Not that the job wouldn't be a good fit for your experience, aptitude, and skills, but rather because you'd have to put up with the almighty interviewers at work.

It's totally ridiculous to need to put up with such blatent immaturity from interviewers; it's their job to respect applicants and provide them the best opportunity to display personal qualaties and the type of character best suited for the position. Interviewing can provide the immature with a venue to exert power over those who they deem beneath them. Indeed they should have power, but only to reject or accept an applicant in a private setting.

You're right to be upset: they looked at you on paper, deemed you had merit for the position, and chose to take a closer look. If they decided a partnership with you wouldn't be possible early in the interview, why waste time babbling just to be heard, and why the disrespect of glances and phone-checking? Immaturity and pride. They might have well asked you to dance around quacking like a duck for their amusement!

You say they acted unprofessional, which is true, but they also defied the accepted and nessecary social custom of active listening! Let's hope they'll learn a lesson or two in respect and humility.

Hope you find an interview and a job where you and your gifts will be valued; you deserve better meal than what this interview cooked up.