Center yourself, Don’t be self centered

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The lady sits on a folding chair inside of the Turtle Bay Cafe conference room. The space also serves as a classroom for the Turtle Bay Jobtec Program, and a meeting area for various recovery based support programs. She is wearing everyday attire, white pants and a black t-shirt. She looks decent and normal if you met her two storefronts over at the Transitional Living Center Recovery, or even the dining area of the cafe itself. However she is severely under-dressed for any normal employment interview. The TLCR dress code is casual, the employees are required to wear company polos and given free choice on the rest of their outfit. So maybe she is making a bold entrance, showing her awareness of the company dress code. Or maybe she is showing a softer side of herself, allowing the interviewees to be more focused on her words. “I am so sorry I am not dressed up for the interview! I did not know it would be today!” she says and chuckles nervously. Well. Never mind.

The hiring committee this day consists of one female and two males. The older of the two men, who is an active member of the hiring committee, asks the usual interview questions. What can you tell us about yourself? Do you have a driver’s license? And then there are the odd questions; What is your favorite topping to put on a sundae? What is your favorite type of gecko? The last thing TLCR needs is an impatient, harsh personality riling up an already tense setting. So as she answers the questions, you are taking notes and listening critically. How quickly does she respond to questions? Does she take a second to think about what she is asked, how she will answer, or does she fire forward with her responses? You personally feel suspicious when someone always has the answer straight away. Does anyone remember speed reading? This is speed listening. The person listens to enough of the sentence to get the gist of it, and then is able to start working on their response in their head before the question is fully asked. Some people are so good at this they can start formulating their retort after only hearing three words! While others more well versed in the art of speed listening are seemingly able to know what the other person’s question/ statement is before they even say it; allowing the speed listener to not be hassled by any of pesky words coming out of the other person’s mouth.  

The panel style interview is not new to you, but when you have participated in similar interviews in the past you have always been the one in the hot seat, trying to impress the interviewers. This can be nerve racking, attempting to show your best qualities to a group of strangers while trying not to waste time guessing what they are thinking about you. The Turtle Bay Cafe offers a mock interview class to members of the Jobtec. The atmosphere is light and upbeat. Everyone in the room speaks freely and there is no real pressure. Not like today. For the lady to be able to proceed on to the second interview she will need a majority of the member’s votes. As she speaks she is fully aware that the TLC members are scribbling notes that will impact the next step in her career path. So as much as you try to be objective and critical, you cannot forget the human side of all of this. You have been where she is sitting and it is not always the easiest to remain calm, cool and collected during the hiring process.

The woman answers all of the questions. “All right you are free to go. Have a good day. This is the point where we talk about you,” the older man  tells her lightheartedly, with a playful smile on his face. She apologizes again about her attire and gets up to leave and this is when you understand why she has been so uncomfortable about her clothing. As she heads to the door, you and the hiring committee are able to see the back of her shirt for the first time. It’s an ordinary t-shirt that has been modified in the back with large strips cut out of it revealing much of her back. It takes all your will power to remain quiet and not laugh out loud. Yes, her outfit is wildly inappropriate for an interview setting, but you also have to factor in how the hiring committee is dressed. Everyone is in plain street clothing and you, yourself, are wearing basketball shorts. Similar to her, you did not know there would be an interview today.

As far as your decision process goes, she did not have a tail, her skin was not covered in translucent scales, she did not breath fire or have another other attributes commonly associated with dragons, you decide to vote that she go on to a second interview. This is the first time meeting her; you do not really know what type of person she is. She could be an amazing addition to TLCR staff, or she could be the reincarnation of Hitler for all you know. All you can do is hope for the best and like the peer support Mike has said to you in the past, “If hope is all you have, you can’t afford to lose it.” So the woman leaves hoping to be hired, and the members sit hoping they made the right decision in giving her the green light.

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