A better job interview

The job interview for the part time interviewer job happened last week. I think it went well, although I can’t really trust my gut feeling on these things. I’ll know in a week’s time whether I got the job.

I feel that I ought to write about this interview too, which went better than the last one – just to show the difference.

 
Good job interview preparation

My preparation was leagues better than for the previous interview.

I had been told in advance that I didn’t need to bring anything, but that they expected me to read the job information and that there would be a practical task.

The ‘job information’ is a comprehensive, detailed 15 pages+ guide. I read it twice and tried to memorise key details. I also downloaded the actual survey guide used by the interviewers from the organisation’s website and filled out some of the fields to familiarise myself with the codes and categories.

 

mouse facing mousetrap with helmet on

 
I visited the project’s client’s website, skimmed some of the publications there and skimmed the organisation’s reports and facts sheets from other surveys. I read their corporate profile, took note of the team profiles of the persons I guessed would interview me (turned out to be correct), and looked them up on Linked In. I also prepared the drive to the venue and looked up the place on Google Earth to prevent surprises.

The best interview preparation ever is, however, that I had been interviewed for the survey myself – that’s how I found out about the job. This means that I know the survey visit procedure from the inside… as interactive real life observation. Quite an advantage. I had the lady who had interviewed me in my home for the survey as one of my referees on my job application.

 
‘A bit expressionless at times’

On the morning of the interview date my husband said something that made me think. I worried about non-verbal aspects of the Interview: ‘will I be able to smile enough, at the right times, look enthusiastic (apparently I didn’t in my last interview), sit right, be socially interactive enough, build rapport with them – make them like me?’

My biggest worry was ‘how can I know?’ (whether I do it right or not). My husband said that I can ‘seem a bit expressionless at times’ and suggested that it can make me appear unenthusiastic to a prospective employer. He said that when he first met me he thought I was stiff and somewhat expressionless, and concluded that I maybe didn’t like him. He advised to tell them directly that I want the job and admire their organisation (I forgot to do that, of course).

 
In the crossfire

The organisation had hired a huge room on the top floor of a sports club* and had two exam-like tables in there. While I waited outside for my turn, they handed me a psychological ‘assertiveness’ mini-survey which was apparently just meant as entertainment (so they said).

Two ladies interviewed me. The team leader for the project (direct boss) asked most of the questions, while the project manager (superior) listened from the side line. The project manager came across as a mature, friendly and humorous lady with a relaxing smile; I quite liked her. The team leader was younger and looked slightly hostile, or maybe just task-focused or tired.

The interview resembled an exam: the team leader questioned me about all details of the job information down to the sequence of actions in each household visit, what to leave and in which order, how many visits before and after the target date, client information and what the statistics are used for. In addition, they asked ‘typical’ job interview questions, such as my career goals and previous positions.

The second part of the interview was the practical exercise. They handed out two case stories with related survey guides and told me to finish both tasks within 10 minutes.

A creepy stop watch starred at me and counted down with merciless green digital numbers while I read the instructions. I knew the set-up would make anyone nervous (including me) and realised that it probably gave me a relative advantage, because: I understand written instructions well and easy, systematise and categorise well, and I had practised the task… and seen it done in real life. An almost unfair upper hand.

 

Silhoute from test taking girl from behind, artified with green neon pattern as brain and a digital watch in front in same colours

 
I finished before the time was up and was busy checking my results when the stop watch alarm sounded. They checked the result in front of me and found one mistake, which was more an uncertain guess on how to categorise a kid’s reply when none of the categories for adults seemed appropriate. The project manager said that most of the applicants don’t finish the tasks on time. She looked impressed or amused, while the team leader still looked sceptical (or tired? I think she did smile a bit).

By the end of the interview they asked if I had anything more to say. I remembered my husband’s comment from the morning**, and said:

I’ve had the feedback that I may look a bit expressionless when nervous. I just want to let you know, if that is the case, that it doesn’t mean that I am not motivated… I am very motivated!

The project manager laughed and said that they do count on people being nervous at interviews.

 
Evaluation

I think the ‘hard’ aspects of the interview went well: I showed I had prepared well and knew what the job involved, and did fine in the practical test. Psychologically and non-verbally I think it went OK too, and if it didn’t, then I safe-guarded myself with my comment by the end of the interview.

I fared more mixed with the general career questions. On ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’, I told about things I would like to do and forgot to target my objective to working for their company.

One of the biggest jokers is what my referees (former employers) will say about me. Being a research organisation, the company said that they will call my referees, and they wrote down their phone numbers.

I am particularly nervous about the office where I worked for several years; my last permanent full time job. I found the team of bosses unpredictable, illogical and impossible to gauge, except for my direct boss who I suspect doesn’t work there anymore. I never knew what they were up to and how they saw me, and have no clue what they’ll say about me.

In conclusion: the interview went much better than expected but it can still go either way. The ‘moment of truth’ will happen next week… I hope for the best!

 

___________________________________________________________________

* Australian sports clubs are community clubs which usually relate to a rugby team and are located in big complex buildings with restaurant facilities, pub, gambling machines and various other entertainment and/or fitness facilities. They serve the local community and typically sell very cheap food subsidised by the gambling activities. They always have a reception and require sign-in and membership (temporary membership is OK).

** He isn’t the first to say something like that, but the most specific

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