Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recruitment and Ridiculousness

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I had a job interview today. Not sure what to call it as it was my 2nd with the actual company, but the 4th in total that I have done for the position.

Towards the end of my interview this afternoon, I got talking to my prospective boss about the rigours of the recruitment process, as he was curious about current trends in the corporate world. I told him quite honestly that the process that I had been through with their company had been pleasant, easy and amazingly stress-free. Yes, I had been nervous but I had not experienced the sheer battering that a poor applicant can suffer during some job hunt adventures.

This position has so far involved a phone interview with the recruiter (more like a nice chat with a mate, she was so lovely), a coffee date with same to discuss the role, a casual interview with two team managers at the company and lastly an even more casual chat with the big boss and the same two managers. Compared to some interviews I had been to, it has been a pleasure.

There was the time that I applied for a "complex" role in my current employer's technical division. I didn't have any experience but I knew the systems, and hoped they would teach me the rest. I got a phone interview then was asked to go into the offices of the recruiter for some testing.


After a problem-solving test, a maths test, an lateral-thinking exam and a psychological test I thought perhaps I was nearing the end at the end of a long afternoon shut in a room with 10 other prospects. But no. Next was a 30min paper in which I was asked to design and schedule a project, something I had never done before. I gave it a shot, but wasn't asked back for the next round, surprise surprise!

Another time I went to the office of a recruiter for a "group interview". Sitting in a room with about 15 others, we were told that over 500 people had applied for the 10 roles available, and we were the last in a long line of groups to undergo their "first round". We did the same sorts of tests that I by then had come to expect - maths, problem-solving, psych... but this place had two bonus rounds. One was being asked to stand up in front of everyone and talk about yourself for about 5 mins. Intimidating, but luckily do-able for me. The second was a group problem-solving activity. We got a scenario then were asked to discuss and present the best solution as a group after 30mins. While we did this, three people stood around us with clipboards taking notes. How the hell do you know how to act in that situation? Take charge and boss the others? Wait your turn then present your logical arguments? Critique others' opinions then point out why yours are better? The only thing I knew wouldn't fly was to sit back and say nothing, so I contributed to the conversation as best I could. Didn't get a callback for that one either.

But my most hated form of interview is the one that contains those awful Business Scenario questions. I'm sure they have a more correct name but that's what I call them. If you've done a corporate interview in the last few years you'll know which ones I mean. The ones that go "tell me about a time that an irate customer came to you with a problem, and what steps you took to resolve it". Or "tell me about a time when you showed initiative by putting forward a new idea that was then implemented into the business". My mind always goes blank at these. I think of brilliant answers later, of course.

So now I wait to hear back about this job. They said they will be deciding within the next day, so fingers crossed until then.

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