Britney or Christina? How my preference in pop stars determines whether or not I get a job.

You may be surprised to hear this: I love job interviews. I mean, I don’t enjoy the hours of anxiety, the sleepless nights, and the shaky hands that usually come with preparing for a job interview but in general I find the actual interview process quite refreshing and positive. Even if I don’t get the job I take it as a learning experience, a way to develop my interpersonal skills and to challenge myself to become better. That, and I have some pretty cute interview outfits so that’s always fun.

But outlook on interviews is changing, and not for the better.

As I explore my way into a whole new profession, throwing resumes in all directions, I have come across various different forms and structures of interviews. I’ve had phone interviews, Skype interviews, the online ones where you’re awkwardly talking to no one, and then of course your typical in person interviews.

Since I am delving into new territory a lot of the jobs I’ve applied to are non-traditional start-up positions. Many of the companies are young and have therefore steered away from a lot of your conventional hiring practices. I’ve had a job interview in a room with a William Shatner cutout, one that was a written test that you could never actually get through in the allotted time limit, and one that was in a giant ball pit. I actually got a kick out of these experiences, while they were a bit odd they challenged me in new ways.

So where did everything go wrong?

It’s the interviews that focus soley on favourite movies, tv shows, and books rather than your job qualifications. It’s the ones that ask you how you would most like to die or which villain you’d like to be instead of talking to you about your skills.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think adding in these random, quirky questions like “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” or “If you were a type of jello what kind would you be?” into interviews is a great idea. The interviewer can gauge a person’s comfortability with innovation and creativity, in addition to seeing how that person’s personality might fit within the company. It’s about comfort, charisma, and general personality, all important things to take into consideration when hiring a new employee especially when it comes to customer service positions like the ones I’ve been applying to.

It’s when the whole interview consists of these questions and nothing else that I find it problematic. This was actually what my ball pit interview consisted of but I had no complaints because I had already gone through a more traditional interview about my work experience. I had been able to show the hiring manager that I was suitable and qualified for the role based on my previous experiences and they’d moved me to the next round where they evaluated whether or not I’d be a good fit for the company personality wise.

Since then I have had interviews that only ask you the weird questions and I’ve come out feeling a bit ripped off. Can these ‘this or that’ questions really tell you if I’m going to be able to do a job well? Can my favourite book series tell you if I’m going to show up to work on time? Will you know if I’ll be able to work well under pressure if I tell you a certain tv series that I like to watch? Does Downton Abbey say I’m stuffy and uptight or does it say I’m classy and academic?

Maybe I don’t sound very ‘fun’ right now, or you’re thinking I need to relax and just go with the flow. But here’s the thing: I’m not bothered by the unconventional interview questions, I’m bothered that no one bothered to ask me about my work experience or the skills I have that directly relate to the job. But my job history is on my resume so maybe you shouldn’t have to ask me about it.

No, stop! Of course you should!

My resume tells you that I worked at Walt Disney World, that I served popcorn and made sure the guests has a magical day. It does not tell you about the time our computer system went down and I led my team in manually selling products to dozens of hungry guests, avoiding a huge customer service problem for our department completely.

My resume tells you that I was a Corporate Events Coordinator at Canada’s Wonderland, working with clients and assisting staff to run catered events. It does not tell you that one morning I got a call on my way across the parking lot from the Sales Rep that she wasn’t coming in and that she was trusting me to cover her 1,00 person event from start to finish.

My resume tells you that I was a teaching assistant at my university. It does not tell you that I managed this job while juggling a full course load and maintaining a high academic average. It does not tell you how I improvised in the middle of my lessons when the students weren’t following the lesson plan, or how I made the material more engaging and accessible in different ways to suit the diverse learning styles of my students. It does not tell you that I worked with students with disabilities, students with mental health issues, students who were shy about talking but blossomed throughout the year.

It doesn’t tell you any of these things because there’s just not enough page space.

But my interview would’ve told you all that, it would have shown you why I’m a valuable employee, how I can benefit a team, lead when I am needed to, and what skills I’m bringing to the table. You would’ve known it all, if only you had cared about more than who I liked better: Britney or Christina?

In better news, I have two more interviews coming up this week. Here’s hoping they go a little smoother.

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