Monday, December 27, 2010

Things an Employer Should Not Say

Not so long ago, I went for a job interview with a company located at Harbour Front. It was the second time I interviewed with the company, the first when I was a fresh graduate. There was the usual written tests and involving verbal and mathematical ability. It was followed by a panel interview of two – a director and the HR Manager.

Since leaving university two years ago, I consider myself a veteran when it comes to interview. For those leaving school soon, you should always do some research about the company you are interviewing with and try to establish connections. This tells the employer that you are interested in working for them.

But more importantly, you should be able to tell them about yourself. You should be able to tell them about your strengths and weakness, why you are here for the interview and how you feel you can contribute to the team. It would be best if you can give examples from your resume and life experiences.

The interview went on smoothly but the director was very keen on breaking me down. He wanted me to keep telling him what the “real” me would think about certain things and situation. He said he did not want me to give him the politically correct answer. The politically correct answers were answers to the questions I earlier raised, that I have rehearsed very often in front of the mirror.

It was only the last part that I would say despite my preparation and past experience, I was taken aback. He asked if I felt the allowance given by my parents during my university times was enough. I told him that it was not enough but I made do with it.

“I think you are lazy,” said the director. That really shook me because I was in a catch-22 situation. Even if he was naturally blunt, it was not something you say the first time you meet someone, regardless he is a jobseeker. Moreover, however I explained myself, I would be just tying myself in knots or appear unable to take criticism.

Lemons and grapes

Maybe he was expecting me to say that it was not enough and so I took on part time work on the sides. I did actually do that but it was not sustainable closer towards the exams. And I did not mention it because I did not realize it was the answer he was looking for. So much for stress-testing

Stress-testing is the act of agitating the interviewee to see how he or she responds under pressure. During the first interview with them two years ago, a member on the panel of four ask me what I thought about a particular issue and subsequently challenged me. Subsequently, I learnt that when asked a difficult question that would offend people, it would be good to just agree or acknowledge the person asking it. That was what I thought.

Needless to say, I did not land the job and received the rejection letter 3 month later or so. Fortunately, I was able to get myself hired at my present company, which was much professional in handling the interview process.

It did leave a sour taste. After all, you do not take leave to attend a job interview, only to be labeled lazy by someone whom you only met for under an hour? This person drew on the assumption that if I felt money was not enough, I should work for it. Then what about my studies?

I guess he must be a difficult person to work with. When I applied for the position, I was to fill in for someone who left the job only 3 months in. Just recently, the same position was open 3 months after being filled. Lucky me.

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