Monday, June 20, 2011

Group Interview

Last week I had an interview for a position as a Staff Probation Officer with the City and County of Denver.

I had already made it through the testing round with a passing score, which I was very happy with as I had found the test to be much harder than any of the others I've taken thus far.

(Although it may have just been that the test required a functioning brain to complete, and I've grown so accustomed to leaving mine on screen saver that the need to have sharpened analytical thinking skills seemed harsh.)

And next came the Group Interview.

It was a bit strange, as neither I nor anyone else in that room (nor anyone else who I've mentioned doing this to, for that matter) has ever heard of an interview process quite like it.

There were 10 candidates there, and we were divided into two groups.
It was like this. But with more people. And no doughnuts.

After a little intro by the Chief and the introduction of the other half dozen Senior Parole Officers who were going to be interviewing us, we started in on the first group exercise.

The first exercise required us to come up with a new name for "Parole Officer", and it encouraged the combining of words to make something truly unique. 

My group eventually settled on MotiCater, a combination of motivator and educator, although I had also suggested Mentisour as a combination of mentor and resource (plus it had a really cool dinosaur sound to it, and brought about visions of a cute little icon of a brontosaurs as a logo on business cards) which the group was not particularly impressed by.

It was remarkably similar to some group assignments I had back in high school, and came complete with rainbow markers and big poster sized pieces of paper to stick up on the wall with our final creation.

(I helped by making it purdy. I'm sure they were all very impressed by my mad doodling skills.)

The interviewers kept walking around the room, observing and listening to us, hurriedly writing down notes.

It was a bit intimidating, as I have no idea what exactly there were looking for beyond everyone having equal participation.

But so it passed.

Then we had a short break where the interviewers all closeted themselves off in another room, undoubtedly discussing our merits thus far. And upon their return our groups were shuffled around.

(Sadly, I never did get to work with the really friendly woman I was chatting with in the waiting room. I liked her a lot. But then, I usually like most people who smile welcoming at me.)

Another (much less fun) exercise outlining a plan to straighten out a faltering parole case followed, with more presentation and questions to answer afterwards. And more big pieces of paper to make pretty with outlines on them.

After some more information about the program at hand, formal disclosure about the grant funding of it, and a comment by one of the interviewers about the unit being close knit and not taking themselves to seriously (it gave me great hope, as she had been watching out group and laughed at my name suggestion/dinosaur comparison back in the first exercise), we were given a final individual exercise.

We were to write up a history of what had transpired in the interview that day.

I was a bit surprised by the other people at my table, the assignment was on an 8x10 sheet of paper with the instructions at the top and an imposed limit of the lined space provided on the front and we had 15 minutes to do it in.

The second the Chief said "Begin", everyone else began frantically scribbling out notes and outlines on scrap paper.

After a brief moment of surprise at their behavoir, I simply took a minute to think through what needed to be said, and then it down. It didn't take up the whole space (although my hand writing is certainly smaller than some of the other women's) much less the back that some of them spilled onto (tsk tsk, not reading the instructions very well now are we?), and I was the first one done writing.

And I'm substantially more worried about how I did without spell check than about whether what I wrote was decent.

I did have the thought that keeping the blog may have helped with that ability to just write. Although for the record, I never could manage outlines in school either. When they were assigned as a "turn it in" assignment, I would always just write the paper and then go back through and make an outline off of it.

However, the strangeness of the group interview wasn't quite over yet.

They started pulling us off one by one to the other room, where they then posed the question "If hired, who would you want to be hired with you?"

Ah crap, names! Umm, let me see here, that blond woman next to me was pretty good, was her name Amy? Or maybe that was the name of the one on the other side of me... uh.... oh wait, the guy was named Matt! That'll work, right? I suppose "because I could remember his name" isn't the BEST reason to want to work with someone. But hey, there's probably worse ones. Right?

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