My big day on display.

Yesterday was my first big interview. Let me start by saying that I’m fairly confident in my abilities. I’ve been building roads and bridges for 20 years. I’ve seen the industry change and I’ve been able to embrace most of those changes.

I’ve won awards, been asked to help write specifications for materials and even taught classes to those new to this field.

That being said, yesterday threw me. I got to my appointment about 10 minutes early. I was directed to wait in their breakroom until I was called. When I got in there, 2 others were also waiting to be interviewed.

Shortly after I got there, one of the men was called back. It took another 40 minutes for me to be seen. Yes, it was a little unnerving because it felt like we were on display. Employees were coming in and out, getting snacks, eating lunch and watching “The young and the restless” on the tv in the corner. Each one would look at us and size us up.

I wondered what was going through there minds. They knew that one of the people coming through, would eventually be their boss.

An hour after I arrived, I was called back. As I walked upstairs, I stepped into the conference room to see a panel of men sitting behind a large table. There were 5. The first was a husky, blonde young engineer about 28 years old. The second was a nondescript gentleman in his early forties. Third was a man that was older. He had gray, thinning hair, looked as if he hadn’t shaved in several days and wore an expression of pure boredom. Then there was the African American gentleman. He was dressed more casually, but smiled eagerly when I came in. Last was the Hispanic man who was clean cut, looked very professional and put together and also seemed pleased to meet me.

As with most government positions, they had a list of questions already prepared for all of us to answer. They explained how the interview would be conducted and began.

The first question? “Can you define what FMLA is?” Ok. A labor law question. I knew the answer because being in a supervisor position for several years, I had to be familiar with them.

In all, only 2 questions were actual engineering questions. Most were like the first. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get them sued. A few asked about my supervisory style. How I treat employees. How I’d react if I had to enforce a policy I didn’t agree with. How would I handle situations with irate citizens.

Lastly, I was asked to write a brief paragraph about the last vacation I took. This one actually made me feel a little more comfortable. I used to do a similar test to my perspective employees. Only I’d ask that they describe their first pet. The reason? I wanted (and they did too) to know if the person can effectively communicate in the written form. Can they spell? Can they get their point across?

During the course of the interview, most of my questions were answered in their questions. That made me feel a sense of relief. I didn’t have to whip out my long list and start firing off my own queries.

All in all it went well. I noticed a stack of applications, so obviously there’s a healthy amount of competition. Being “attacked” from all angles by a panel made me feel a bit intimidated but after a few minutes, I settled in and proceeded.

How did I do? I think I did well. By the end, the surly older man was smiling and heartily shook my hand.

I know I’ll hear back, because it’s policy to at least tell you that you weren’t chosen.

If I am chosen, it could still take several weeks for me to start.

Until then, I’ll continue to submit resumes. Fill out applications and search for jobs that I think I could be happy with.

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