“So, tell me about yourself.” “Why should I hire you?” “How does your experience meet our needs?”
Have you ever heard these questions during an interview? I guess that depends on the type of position you were interviewing for. If, for example, you were called in for an interview as a fry cook at a fast food joint, then these questions probably never surfaced. However, it is true that employers want to know about you as a person and as a professional. They are interested in how you feel about yourself and why you think you are deserving of the position. They also want to know if you are confident and have what it takes to be successful. There is such a thing as employer standards, and maybe asking these questions of a person interviewing for a fry cook position is a bit extreme. But let’s say you are interviewing for a tow-motor operator at a local factory. The company is stable, has a proven track record of growth, and looking to expand its operation within the next year. The employer may not expect, you as a blue-collar candidate, to know these little tid-bits of information. On the other hand, letting the hiring manager know that you have done your research on the company would be a huge advantage for you. You don’t have to own a computer or have Internet access to get this information. These services are free at your local library. If the Internet intimidates you, there are classes held at the library and this service is also free of charge.
What blue-collar workers should know is that most interview advice is targeted toward young, white-collar professionals because that’s who is most representative of its audience, everything from dress codes to post interview follow-up techniques. I believe the difference between the two is relative. Surely, a blue-collar, semi-skilled tow-motor operator can oblige by the same basic rules of interviewing as a candidate interviewing for a white-collar, number crunching position, right?
The blue-collar interview may differ from the white-collar interview for two reasons. First, the quality of the position for which you are applying. Typically, blue-collar positions are those that include some sort of manual labor, and are usually positions that are open in factories and warehouses. Sometimes you find these positions open in the most exotic of places, this job advertisement was taken from the Club Med website:
As a Club Med Plumber, you will repair and maintain all drinking water systems such as pipes, water softeners, leaks, etc. You will also be responsible for the repair and maintenance of waste water systems, kitchen burners, hot water production, and supervision of swimming pool filters and the sprinkler system. Qualifications: Vocational diploma or minimum one year work experience.
Pencil pushers across the country would kill for this position simply for the chance to see hot babes on the beach everyday.
The second reason why the interviews may differ is the depth of the employers question asking. During a white-collar interview, the hiring manager may inquire about the candidates “vision,” or “leadership abilities.” They may also require an extensive conversation about the candidates’ education, experience, or other relevant qualifications. To be considered for most blue-collar positions, as we saw from the Club Med job posting, candidates usually just need to have a basic education. Ultimately, I think the reason why the two interview situations differ is because employers interviewing candidates for white-collar positions are looking for an individual who fits into the grand scheme of the company’s objectives, a person who can help the organization reach or maintain a certain standard of success. A person the company can brag about for the sake of highlighting their own competencies. Imagine the company newsletter:
“Our newest addition to the staff is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, a Rhodes Scholar, and ten year executive level manager at JP Morgan Chase and Company. Who is also a Six Sigma black belt and has additional federal tax law training. Aren’t we lucky to have found such a wonderful candidate?
Employers looking to fill a blue-collar position are trying to find a person who simply meets their labor needs.
So, making interviewing advice relative to your job situation is up to you. While it sounds like a huge task, doing your research is indeed a great advantage for both you and the employer. You demonstrate your commitment to work for a top company, and the company will demonstrate it willingness to employ knowledgeable individuals. I want to
highlight other job interviewing tips that would make for a dynamic blue-collar interview experience.
Next, don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. For individuals interviewing for white collar, executive level positions, this is an opportunity to rattle on about their degrees, corporate accomplishments, and personal accolades. They may even be compelled to discuss hobbies such as golfing or white water rafting if they know that the employer shares the same interests. Blue-collar candidates may not have the same advantage, so it is a good idea to underline specific training especially if it is relevant to the position. Also, don’t minimize your own accomplishments. For example, if you have a perfect attendance record, or an employee of the month recognition. Furthermore, be willing to discuss why you are seeking another position. If asked, let the employer know if you have worked the same position for several years and that you want a more challenging position, different hours, or a change of scenery. Be cautious though because you don’t want to give the impression that if hired, you would jump ship at the next great opportunity. Nonetheless, you do want to demonstrate your desire for growth.
Third, while it sounds corny, dress for success. There are all sorts of rules for appropriate interview attire. Everything from the number of accessories one should wear, to the length of your fingernails. Most job seekers are taught to believe that a suit is the only proper interview attire, which may be true for most white-collar positions. But the truth is that most companies are a lot more casual then they were even ten years ago, and therefore don’t require all of their employees to wear such a uniform on a daily basis. Make sure your clothing is clean and fits well. If you own a decent tie wear it. Otherwise tuck your shirt in, wear a belt, shine up your shoes, and most importantly wear a smile!
Two other important interview tips to remember is to answer the employers questions honestly and not to act arrogant. Portraying confidence and assertiveness are surely the most important parts of an interview. The employer wants to see that the applicant is sure of himself, and that his high confidence is a reflection of his abilities. Typically, blue-collar candidates are not confident and assertive during an interview because of the nature and skill level of the position for which they are applying, for example, a lack of mental stimulation. Your work routine will most likely be repetitive; the flip side is that you don’t have to face the same mental stress as a white-collar worker. It’s no secret that blue-collar positions are not the most glamorous, and that they are usually associated with starting at the bottom. For some, these positions are a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling “less than” and dealing with social prejudices. Like it or not, many people look down on blue-collar workers. If you choose this career path, be aware of this injustice, ignore it and make enough money to afford a bigger house, better car and nicer appliances than the ones you renovate, repair or maintain. That will shut mouths and changes minds fast.
The point is that there are a ton of inherent rewards in a blue-collar career. Keep this in mind when preparing for your interview, and be proud of the career path you have chosen for yourself.