Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Perspectives from an interview process

Posted on February 29, 2016 in Community
By USM Free Press

Thomas Fitzgerald

By Thomas Fitzgerald

While in college, it is easy to lose sight in the end goal: Finding a suitable career that connects to your study, and keeps you happy. For the first three years of my college career, that did not seem like the goal. Instead, I was just going to school, working part time, and doing whatever it took to stay busy in a positive and productive way. Reaching the end felt like it was so far away that there would be nothing to worry about for a while.

Now that I am graduating this upcoming Spring, the future has a sense of uncertainty that intimidates me due to the unknown, but also leads me eager to realize that my future is going to have an array of changes because come May 14, I am no longer a student, and more like an adult. With that title of adult, I have built an expectation that I am going to find a job that is going to make me happy, but a better question I had to ask myself after that is: What job does make me happy?

Without having much idea about the concept of connecting a job with happiness, I went to the career fair that USM held in the Sullivan Gym recently, and found many employers. I kept advising myself that although I had a general idea of who I wanted to speak to, I should still find new organizations that are out of my consideration just as a way to expand my networking,

Much to my own surprise, the individuals who were representing Hannaford supermarket were the standouts to me, as they had a program designed for college graduates that could give them a way to rise up within the company quickly, manage hundreds of people and within no time, become a worker with a salaried position.

It felt perfect to me. The representatives were incredibly friendly to me, I had organized a first interview that went so well I had glowing confidence in myself, and next thing I knew I was invited back for what I was expecting to be a second interview with an executive. I did not realize it was going to be a seventy-two hour period of observation.

What I had thought was going to be a second interview, turned into a half week of commitment that I had very short notice for. Excited by the opportunity, I scrambled to let my current employers know that I had to rearrange my schedule, and spend most of my time committed to a job that I had not gotten yet, I had to be prepared for a business dinner on Monday of last week, a full day of tours on Tuesday with a second business dinner to follow, and then seven different interviews that were forty five minutes in length as a conclusion.

The thought of this entire sequence was a bit exhausting, as I was wondering exactly why they were spending so much time and commitment to people they had yet to make business decisions on, but I then realized there must have been an agenda to these methods.

The business dinner on Monday night was the first time I got to meet not only the President of Hannaford, but every candidate that was applying for the job. 200 individuals had originally interviewed for this position, only nineteen had been invited to this dinner, and ultimately, to interview for the job. During this dinner, I had quickly realized that this was instituted as a way for my potential employer to see me interact on a different level. A social one. It is important to get to know someone on a social level, just as much as a professional level if they are being hired to manage people. Being social, and well liked is a part of being a manager, and I quickly realized that this dinner was not a reward for my success on being qualified, it was my first test.

During the dinner I had noticed that there were two representatives of Hannaford that were always the center of attention. One table held the President of the company, and the second table held the man in charge of talent acquisition. Immediately I felt nervous to make my impression, because what kind of impression is a person who does not immediately ask questions about the company, and seem more interested than the others around them.

With my nerves, came my id. My inner thoughts and feelings coming to mind telling me that I should not pretend to be interested in asking questions, because I should not apply for a job while not being myself. Regardless, I continued with the charade and sat obediently, and intent on every word coming out of the mouth of an important individual. I felt like I was being watched as free alcohol was served to the candidates, and grew weary that observation would only get stronger the more factors like alcohol came into play.

Regardless, I felt as though I represented myself incredibly well. I was outspoken, impressionable, and overall felt like I had just as equal of a shot at gaining this position than anyone else.

The second day consisted of touring facilities of the company. it was exhausting. We went to multiple different locations to see every little piece of how Hannaford was run. From the deli, to the pharmacy, to the distribution center, there was never a missing piece of dense information that I was not sure I needed to know before interviewing. I felt like I was in the midst of an interactive test as I was being pumped with information that may, or may have not been relevant to the position I was interviewing for, Needless to say, I was awake at 5:45 am looking through my closet to determine what exactly a contradictory phrase such as business causal truly meant.

Once all was said and done, I was on time at 8:00 a.m. to start the tour, and was still on my feet at 4:00 p.m. when the last piece of information given. However, that did not end my night. Naturally there was a second business dinner, where I felt like i was going through the same routine again. Being watched while also being encouraged to let loose.

The night continued as you could sense nervousness, and excitement as the interview process was beginning to near. As hours passed at this event, I could not help but to feel anxious that the night was getting late, and my alarm would ring at 5:45 regardless of the impressions that I make at the dinner, and being fatigued at the most important aspect of this process struck a small chord of fear within me.

Should I ask to leave? Will it speak to my character if I don’t seem involved in staying up all night to socialize at a dinner that has eclipsed three hours? There were so many factors behind this entire process that I found myself second guessing every decision I made in fear of not being impressionable enough.

I made a decision for myself that my preparedness for the interview process the following morning was more crucial to my evaluation, excused myself and left.

The following morning was the moment that all applying candidates were waiting for. It was finally time to interview. This procedure was nothing like I had pictured it, as we were interviewing in groups of three. As opposed to feeling like I was competing for my position, I was now working interactively with two other individuals because I felt like it would be counterproductive had we not worked well together while interviewing for a position that requires leadership.

I had heard the life story of the two candidates next me to a total of seven different times by the time the interview process was over after rotating to seven different groups of executives, and they had heard mine. It was exhausting feeling like I had to formulate a similar, yet different answer to a lot of questions I had already elaborated on. I could not help but to wonder if my answer that impressed one executive might not be considered as impressive to somebody else. In short, I felt that these interview questions did not have a right answer, and my personality was being evaluated more heavily than the content of my responses.

I was so happy that I was potentially finding a direction after my college career, it dawned on me that I had lost sight of one important question to ask myself: Is this the job that I will enjoy doing? Sure being able to make salary immediately after college is appealing and a fulfilment of the prophecy behind the “American dream.” However, what is money when misery is the only company? I thought that this was going to be the biggest opportunity of my life, but when the next day came about, I was not upset to hear that the last three days of full commitment to Hannaford did not result in a job. I felt that I would not gain much perspective on what job is a good fit for me without being able to see what job isn’t.

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