In forcing job candidates to run a rather daunting gauntlet, renowned chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay always tosses in an extra monkey wrench. As his reality TV series Hell’s Kitchen winds down, the final two contestants invariably confront some culinary horror for which they have never bargained — or been warned.
Is Ramsay a sadist?
While his public persona seems to invite debate upon that very issue, I see Ramsay as a savvy employer. Management of a prestigious restaurant and a $250K per annum salary are what are riding, literally, on the line. Choosy about the candidate he selects, the chef has every right to test how applicants react to an unforeseen event. And if you think this scenario occurs solely on reality TV, think again. With so few positions available, many employers like to play mind games with job hopefuls.
Why? Well, beyond the contents of your resume, the manner in which you, the candidate, address these circumstances gives the employer a wealth of information about your character, including your emotional intelligence and innate problem solving skills.
One of the more popular tests is to keep applicants waiting beyond the usual few minutes prior to an interview. If you are one of those applicants, know that the interviewer will be aware, or informed, of your behavior in the reception area. Perusing your resume, reviewing the company’s literature, or whipping an industry publication out of your briefcase all constitute good uses of your time. Complaining to the receptionist, plugging in your iPod to boogey to hip-hop, or sharing some gossip on your cell phone are not.
Baptism by fire is another monkey wrench for which you had best be prepared. Any information that appears on your resume, any claim to owning a particular skill, may be challenged — right on the spot. How well we remember several of our own clients who were: a.) commanded to speak Spanish fluently to the staff, b.) asked to demonstrate use of a new software program, and c.) taken to the plant to observe operations for all of five minutes and then told to provide recommendations for improving efficiency. Stand ready to support anything and everything that you state on your resume and/or in the actual interview.
Even if the employer deigns not to trip you up, sooner or later, you will become your own worst saboteur … if you so choose. Checking out the route to the interview well in advance and leaving plenty of travel time on the day of the interview will avoid tardiness on your end. If you hit unexpected traffic or are diverted due to an accident, no employer wants to hear such excuses; he will expect you to have planned ahead for unforeseen delays.
Conversely, if you are very early for the interview (more than the customary and advisable ten minutes), do not request to be seen before the appointed time. You will be perceived as having no consideration for the employer’s own time, and you may even be seen as desperate.
If the employer or the subordinate who set up your interview informed you that the work environment is casual, do not take that advice to heart as you dress for the interview. Our best and unwavering advice is to wear a suit. However, if you insist upon arriving in “casual dressy” mode, don a clean, wrinkle-free coordinating blazer, and this goes for both men and women. Your future boss may sanction jeans in the workplace, but if you show up wearing your 501’s before you’ve been the offered the job, you risk never receiving that offer. Look like the professional that you are and maximize your chances!
Once seated across from the hiring authority, do not give in to your nerves, base instincts, or other temptations by indulging in one or more of the following distracting/disgusting acts:
- Picking your teeth, a scab, or any other part of your body.
- Biting your nails (this habit is particularly nauseating for those who are forced to witness it).
- Dragging your children along for the interview when the babysitter bails on you at the last minute (always have a back up sitter).
- Checking your appearance scrupulously in the mirror; retouching your make-up.
- Lighting up a cigarette if the employer gives you the okay to do so.
- Stinking of cigarette smoke: your own or via some second-hand source.
While these caveats may seem to be simple common sense, they are not always, judging by the horror stories we have heard ad infinitum from those in positions to hire.
If you wish to make a great impression on your future boss, sidestep the monkey wrenches. And for the sake of your future career, don’t toss any wrenches into your own path!
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