Thursday, July 2, 2015

My First Interview, Not Being Interviewed

Blog Post By: Michelle Wong

Sweaty palms, shortness of breath, and losing one’s train of thought are signs of nervousness I usually associate with interviews. As a young student professional, I had fumbled my way through many the nervous interview, from my first time at Chipotle (when I was 17) up until recently (at 22), for my MCLP internship. However, this time was different. This time I was not the one being interviewed. Technically, I was on the interview team, sitting opposite a professional who was surprisingly just as nervous as I had ever been. My job was not to question, but to observe and write down every word from the interviewee’s mouth.

Though it’s hard for anyone to sit in front of strangers and answer questions they cannot prepare for, I was amazed with how well all our interviewees did. It must have been a surprise walking in and seeing not one, but three interviewers opposite their spot at the table. I think it’s also really hard to talk about yourself in general, especially for our candidates, as most of the people who are attracted to the program are used to thinking of others before themselves. Despite all of these challenges, our candidates were impressively resilient. Though anyone would be shy in this interview situation, those being interviewed were ale to overcome these obstacles and inform us why each of them would be good program participants.

Though being an interviewer was a great experience, it did have its own set of challenges. The biggest one being, it’s hard to know someone, really know someone, after talking for thirty minutes and deciphering their answers. If I’m not being clear about the time constraints, picture these interviews as speed dating sessions – without the romance, of course. Now picture that, immediately after one speed dating session, you have to decide if you are going to be in a relationship with that person for the rest of your life or not. In MCLP interviews, we are trying to see who will be a good contributing member of the program for the next eight months, and a proud alumni thereafter. So, who was too humble to confidently talk about themselves, but would still make a great participator? Who is a team player? Who really wants to grow as a servant leader? It’s hard to know.

However, while these challenges for both candidate and interviewer were important aspects to consider, the biggest part I got out of the interview experience was positive. It was amazing seeing who all walked through our door. It could be an old southern gentleman, or a young working professional, fresh out of college. Though each person could reveal only a small snippet of themselves to us interviewers in our sessions, it was encouraging to see the positive impacts they were already making in their families and communities. People who, from all different places, neighborhoods and walks of life, were all at our table for the same reason: to make things better. So, to all those who were interviewed, I wish the best of luck. I was thankful to have met so many different and amazing people, to have been part of a bigger team who searched for the best in everyone, and to have sat on the other side of the interview table, even if it was just this once.

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