Interview Tales – The One With Allergies

From my iPhone via Camera+

Interviewing is one of my favorite tasks. In staffing two greenfield facilities in my career, the interview process served as the basis for culture. It is part of how candidates get to know you, and once hired, becomes the basis for their first interactions with managers and with each other.

Bobby was one of the biggest people I had ever met. Big in stature, but very quiet and reserved. It was kind of a tough interview for me, in part because he was a very respectful southern boy, not missing a chance to say “yes sir” and “no sir” to questions that were simple, and very soft spoken in his longer answers. Like many candidates I meet, he had trouble thinking about how to answer some of the questions. Like very few candidates I have met, he was a policeman, interviewing for a position in our factory.

“You’ve gone through a lot of training to get where you are, haven’t you?”

“Yes, sir. I took several courses in criminal justice at the Junior College, and then a lot of training once I got on the force.”

“And it looks like you’ve been there a couple of years now. Why are you interested in such a career change?”

Bobby looked straight at me and uttered a single word. “Allergies”, he said.

“Really? That hadn’t come up before? I mean, does that not allow you perform your job?”

Without missing a beat, Bobby said “I can do my job. But I don’t want to. I’m allergic to bullets.”

We hired Bobby, and he did a good job for us. No one could assure him that he wouldn’t find bullets in the workplace (sadly) but it was far less likely than if he stayed with law enforcement.

Interview Tales are inspired by one of the first HR blogs I discovered, written by Kerry Scott. Kerry blogs at Clue Wagon, which is now a blog about genealogy and not Human Resources, because she finds dead people more interesting.

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