Friday, July 29, 2011

Hell hath no fury like a group interview

“Hell Hath no fury like a group interview”

Public speaking is often the number one fear of most people. When you combine this with another mode of humiliation, the job interview, you get the group job interview, an event surely created by the devil himself. If you ever go through the retail avenue you may apply for a large company during the Christmas period. Instead of wading through hundreds of applications, the clever/sadistic human resources of these large groups like to conduct one huge writhing beast of recruitment.

So I'll put the tridents and spears in the middle,
and last one out alive has a future!

I recently turned down a group interview after a few nights of feverish flashbacks, remembering the awkwardness that one must push through when commencing such a thing. For most people, a job interview places you in a tender enough position. You’re hopeful, poor and, depending on the job, this could be a huge part of your life. Your clothes are the perfect blend of neat and casual as you sit stiffly in the chair, trying hard not to sound vain as you list your strengths. The whole affair may be 5 minutes waiting in a small room, then an interview with one or two people for 20 minutes or so.
Now imagine that whole experienced but surrounded by 6 times more people. Just like you. Like child beauty pageant contenders, your smiles and courtesy’s are even more strained, all of you hustling for attention. And, like most beauty pageants, the evening ends in a incoherent mess of tears as your friends medicate you with liquids and rub your back soothingly.
As I entered the large conference room I had the distinct feeling of attending a children party; the excitement, the vying for attention, the possible reward of a lolly bag in the end.

The next hour was a horrible mix of cool laid-back HR people, throwing obvious hypothetical questions as we elbowed our way to sounding fun, vibrant and responsible. Sounding both “Vibrant” and “Responsible” is possibly the hardest emotional state to portray. I spent the night biting my tongue as the area manager sat backwards on his chair, just being one of the dudes whilst simultaneously talking of sales targets and KPI’s. The sheer numbers also put the odds against you; for the spot of about 25 positions within a bunch of city and shopping centre stores, I was in a group of 50- which was one of 6 different sessions being run on the day. I’ve heard some horror stories from other survivors, including two hour-long interviews, theatre sports games and acting (literally) like a dog.

I’m not too sure what parting words of advice I can offer for those attempting to engage in the cluster-fuckery of the world of the group interview. Just realize what your going into, and be sure to save what measly sheckles you have for post-interview drinking money.

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