The Job InterviewJun 28, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line The willingness to learn from one's mistakes is an important quality
The young man squirmed in his seat. After glancing one last time at the resume in his hands from over his bifocals, the wizend human resources director regarded the youth across the table from him. "Well, I think that covers most of our questions," the older man said genially, "But I'm sure you must have some of your own."
Terror siezed the mind of James Shiftt, recent graduate of the University of Michigan. I don't have a question, he thought, you're always supposed to have a question. Aw, Hell with it, he decided. Might as well go for broke, this whole thing has failure written all over it anyway.
"Well, Mr. Brookings, is it? Why don't we just come out and tell it like it is."
"Come again, young man?" He did not like the sound of that. Then again, the youth of today. At that age, he would never even dream of daring to show this kind of insolence to an elder in a position of such great power.
"Well, look, I mean no disrespect here. It's just, it's just--look, this is the fifteenth interview I've been on since I graduated last May, and it's been the fifteenth disaster. I mean, no way your firm is going to be offering me a job, right?"
Brookings felt defensive. How did these tables, actually, to be specific, how did his old, venerable walnut desk get turned around on him? "Mr. Shiftt, we are interviewing several candidates, it is true that..."
"Look, you don't have to humor me. I suck, I know I suck, I'm awful at interviews and I know I wouldn't hire me after that interview. And I'm not asking you to."
Where could this boy be going with this, wondered Brookings, suddenly less defensive and almost curious. It was true what he was saying, after all. The boy had performed wretchedly in the interview. He cleared his throat, then replied. "Well, son, what in God's name are you asking me then?"
"I'm asking you to help me out here. I know it's too late to change your mind, but I don't want to keep repeating the same mistakes everytime. I just want to know what I'm doing wrong. Please, can you help me?"
Brookings whistled. "Well, OK, sure. Give me a second here." He regarded his interview notes. "I don't even know where to begin. Let's see. Question number two: 'When is a time that you have failed?' While I could give you some points for being emotionally open here, I really wasn't looking for a recitation of your childhood traumas and how you don't feel adequate in the eyes of your father. You should have gone with something related to your schoolwork or, better still, a job experience where you made the most of a difficult experience. Frankly, your answer in this instance was just disturbing and I think you might consider psychotherapy.
"What else? Oh my, yes. Question number four: 'List three words that describe yourself.' Again, I admire your honesty, but I can't imagine what compelled you to respond with 'Bipolar, alcoholic and passive-aggressive.'
"I could go on all day, but I think I'll make this the last one. Question number seven: 'What are your weaknesses?' You, as all throughout the interview were painfully honest here, but I cannot imagine the prospective employer who would be encouraged by the response of 'Young girls, strong drink and cocaine.' You might rather have tried to give a work or school related example of a situation that which you would handle differently were it to occur again, explaining what your initial mistake was and how you would go about things differently were a similar situation to arise again. As I say, I could go on but I trust you have the idea by now."
"Yes, sir, yes I do thank you very much. I think you've helped me out quite a bit here." He stood up. "Well, I don't want to take up any more of your time."
"Not at all." Brookings extended his hand. The younger man shook it and turned around to leave. As his hand reached the doorknob, he heard the older man call to him. "Shiftt, one more thing."
"Welcome to the firm, young man, you start on Monday."
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