Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Hidden Message In One Of Work Interview Questions

Applying for a job nowadays is a world's apart compared to 15 years ago, or the year I graduated university and started job hunting. Yes, I'm old. Moving on.

In the past, we typed the application letters, put them and the required documents into an envelope and mailed them through the post offices. Nowadays, we simply log on to our emails, type in a courtesy email, attach related documents and send them off. I can do this during lunch time.

One thing that remains the same in the recruitment process is the work interview part. No matter how good our CV looks, the HR will need to see us in person and decide if we can fit the bill. And it's the other way around. There are many ways we can tell about a workplace from the work interview, the panel and the questions asked during the interview.

A few years ago, I went to a work interview, with the panel consisting of the HR manager, the supervisor and the person whose position was to be filled. There was a question from the HR manager that sounded a bit innocent, but in reality it carried a hidden message: what would you do to solve conflict at the work place?

When that question was dropped, I noticed that the other two panelists dropped their eyes onto the desk. I had forgotten the exact answer, I just said something that crossed my mind at that time about conflict resolution. Long story short, I got the job. And the first thing my new colleagues told me was to be careful and stay out of trouble because my supervisor and the previous person in my position had a conflict. Me being me, I managed to survive the regime, alhamdulillah.

I heard the same question a few weeks ago on a work interview. With my current project to conclude in March 2018, I've been sending job applications since the end of November 2017. I figured that the HR departments would start sorting the applications after New Year. My calculation proved to be quite correct. This January, I got five invitations to job interviews, with one was done over Skype, which was a first time for me. There was also one job interview that I did on Monday afternoon after I sent the application letter on Saturday afternoon. And I went to the interview wearing knee-length hooded dress and white sneakers!

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the conflict resolution question.

Needless to say, my ears perked up while my heart sank. The position was a new role that I'd never done before, so I was certain I would need lots of time to catch up and I was not ready yet to face possible conflicts at the new workplace. I was still excited about the position, though.

After the interview, I checked the fact with an HR colleague, whether that office had a conflict and who was the culprit. The good thing about HR people is they have good network and lots of information on vacancies and people. The HR colleague confirmed my intuition, but she told me not to worry much as she had seen me handling my former supervisor.

Anyway, back to the work interviews. I am still waiting for the results with baited breath. All positions were in the  communications field. The job vacancies on communications are not as much as the operation positions (admin/finance/procurement), so I was a bit worried that I might not secure any job until April.

If everything runs well and with Allah's blessings, I would have a new job before March. But even if it did not happen (me not landing any job until April), then I could always take the time to have a break and explore my interests in other fields. Wish me luck, people.

In the mean time, if you're in a recruitment process and hear that question, brace yourself. I'm not saying that you should turn down the job if it's offered to you. But you need to be more careful.

Which question in a work interview that makes you learn something about the workplace? I'd love to hear.

Just for fun, this was the outfit I wore to one of the work interviews this month. I read the invitation email at 9 a.m., while the interview was scheduled at 3.30 p.m. on the same day. This is the kind of outfit I would wear to office if I work on reports and not scheduled for meetings outside of office.

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