I wear my feelings on my sleeve, so when I trip over my words or say the wrong thing, it weighs on my mind for a long time. I was going out for a promotion and the job is decided by three interviews. The first is with the department manager, then with the manager in charge of security, and finally an interview with the store manager.
My first problem was that whenever new positions would become available in the store, I wouldn’t be interested in the position, so I wouldn’t apply for it. I knew I wanted to stay with the company, but the positions that opened up weren’t appealing. I was always told to go out for positions when they opened, even if I wasn’t interested in them, because it would help me get used to the interview process. So when that position I wanted finally opened up, I’d be used to the process and my nerves could be better held in check. Well…I did not heed this advice and payed the price.
The position I wanted finally opened up. I finally went out for a promotion. I went in absolutely blind to what was expected in a promotional interview and was mad at myself for never attempting an interview before.
I was called into the office where the department manager waited. When I entered the office, she was seated behind a desk looking through paperwork. Even though I was a by-the-book employee, I still feared for what may be on my record, which I assumed was the paperwork she was leafing through.
Basically, what transpired in the next 68 minutes was a bunch of questions that could be construed as blatantly obvious, but I was so caught up with failing the interview that I over thought it beforehand. Questions that came at me were, and in no particular order: “What are your expectations for this company?”, “what traits can you bring to this position that we don’t already have?”, “what is, in your eyes, your greatest accomplishment?”, “Name your least successful moment, and tell me what you would have did differently?…how did you make it right for the customer?”, “what does this position mean to you/what do you think this position requires?” “what is your greatest strength/where do you see yourself needing improvement?”
Suffice it to say, I was nervous, my palms were sweating, I’m sure I was fidgeting, and I think the manager was watching my every move and enjoyed pulling the ropes and watching me twitch.
I made it past the first round of interviews and then came the next shocker: the same questions were asked, but in different order and were worded differently. The manager had it on record of what I said and was going to compare what I said in the first round of interviews. Worst of all, he was an ex-cop, so it felt more like an interrogation even though he was nice. I answered to the best of my recollection except for one where I couldn’t remember my first answer and was honest about it, and on top of that I couldn’t come up with an answer I considered good enough to answer it.
The question: “Name a moment where a customer was upset, and what role did you play in getting this customer taken care of? Turning a bad moment into a world class experience…” Now, in retail, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with aggravated customers. Unfortunately, most of the time it was too late to do anything, and the customers experience was already ruined. I nailed it on the first interview, but the time in between interviews screwed me up and I forgot that moment by the time the second interview came around. I looked awkwardly at the ceiling. Closed my eyes, and dug into the deepest part of my memory with no answer. Finally, I let the manager know to come back to it, but we never made it back to it. I did so well apparently, that we went on to the third round of interviews without having to think of an answer to that question.
The third interview was basically an acceptance interview and some really formal questions were asked. By the time I made it to the third interview, the rest of the applicants were eliminated. The first two interviews mattered the most and the third was more of just meeting the top manager and letting him know what I intended to bring to the table.
Remember…just because you put in for a job, doesn’t mean you automatically get the job. So you are more than welcome to apply for a new position, go to the first round of interviews, and decide whether or not you want it. It will also make for good practice and was probably the best advice I could have ever received that I never heeded. Another bit of advice: be honest. If you blow smoke going into an interview, there are chances you won’t remember how you responded and get caught in your own lie. Also, if you don’t mention an honest fault (mine being tardiness), there are chances they have it on record and ask you about it. If you bring it up, then it avoids the awkwardness of the manager asking about it.
Interviews are never easy, because everybody you are trying to impress is in those rooms. Just remember to sell yourself to the best of your abilities and be honest.