Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rescued from the Trunk...

I just had to post this, for old times' sake. Back in the day, doing lectures for the SHARE guys was an exercise in pompousness - I can't believe I originated most of the statements here. But then again, we did take the process seriously, or at least that was our verbalized intention. Those were the days I was the resident factotum of the organization - doing the write-ups, etc. etc. so stating the obvious was just par for the course.

(Small voice: You had no life then, Chief. Um, oh yeah, you still have no life now.)

And yes, of course, I miss SHARE. It's celebrating it's 25th anniversary on the 15th.

Glad to have been part of it. Still hope it was around...

And on to the lecture:


A. Interviewing Purpose

The purpose of any interview is to get as much information as possible from the subject in relation to one's need. This is why there are job interviews, news interviews for coverage and for features, interviews for surveys. The bottom line of each interview, then, is information. No matter what kind of impression the interviewer may have of the applicant, if there is no supporting information, then the interview is insufficient.

B. Interviewing Personnel

The personnel involved in interviews really depends on the balance of people who need to draw the information from the subject, the nature of the decision to be made on the matter, and the actual number of people available for, and capable of, administering the interview.

In SHARE, the normal procedure is to have three people per applicant. This makes sure that there are several views available of the interviewee and at the same time, there will be no deadlocks should the interviewers disagree. This also removes the need for another interview and deliberation follows after the interview. However, in the absence of people available to interview, the two-member approach is preferred. Interviews done by one person are subject to debate, no matter how the rest of the organization trusts the judgment of the said interviewer.

C. Preparations Prior to the Interview

The interviewers must understand the kind of standard to be used in the interviews. In this manner the interviewers may place additional emphasis on particular matters, such as communication skills, time, etc. This would also affect the duration of each interview.

The panel must also have a set-up as to who will be in charge of the interview and be responsible for keeping it organized. The rest of the panel will be there to support the main interviewer's goals. The interviewers must also agree on their roles, i.e., who will draw out, who will throw the main question, etc.

It will also be helpful that prior to the interview, the interviewers would have already reviewed the applicant's application form. This will be vital in drawing up the interview approach and will also give the panel ideas on what questions to ask.

The panel must also be prepared to take down notes. This will assist other SHARE members during deliberation in evaluating the participant. These notes will also serve as reminders to the interviewers of their impressions of the applicant. Each interviewer must take note of his/her impressions immediately, even if they don't come out as organized as one would like it to be. While the panel may assign someone to be secretary, each interviewer must still take down notes.

C. Interview Approach

When interviewing an applicant for SHARE, there are no axioms or fixed formulas involved in the procedure. The interview may choose any approach; i.e. being poker-faced and strict, being friendly and accommodating, being terse and distant, etc. Take note, however, that one's approach constitutes about 50% of the effectiveness of the interview. The applicant must appreciate the importance of being at one's best during the interview, and at the same time, be as open and sincere as possible. It is the main interviewer's responsibility to create this kind of atmosphere. He/she must discuss this with the rest of the interviewing panel.

D. Interview Format

The interview may be divided into two parts. The first is information gathering, where the entirety of the applicant's pertinent information is reviewed. The application form's format is already covers a lot of the information needed for the interview. All the panel has to do is explore such information. This will then lead to validation, which covers going in-depth into the answers of the applicant. The interviewer is advised to exercise his/her critical thinking/analysis of the answers and how they relate to one another and to the whole of the impression that the applicant is making. One may be wrong, which is why it is important to write down both what the applicant is saying and what is one's impression of the applicant. These are two different things. While the deliberating panel will respect the interviewers' impressions, being there on the scene, there must be proof of these impressions.

E. Some Guides for Deliberation

These are some of the guides/important things to take note of:

1. Interest

1.1. The applicant must have interest in the organization, either through this application or through previous associations with other organizations. The primary related fields the interviewer should look through are the following :
1.1.1. facilitating in seminars
1.1.2. counseling/self-help
1.1.3. teaching/tutoring
1.1.4. outreach/community development
1.1.5. religious groups

1.2. Involvement in performing (singing, acting, etc.) groups is also positive, but is not a primary consideration. We must see the participant in the short-term, because a long-term involvement is not dictated by any forces but that of the individual's interest.

1.3. An applicant with no experience whatsoever but has the sufficient interest and willingness to invest in S.H.A.R.E. is also very welcome. In fact, these applicants are more welcome than those who have prior experience and were referred to us but don't really have the necessary interest in the organization.

2. Time

2.1. Gets there on time for the interview. This is a good starting point to see how the participant is taking the interview seriously. At least he/she has managed the time well enough to be there for something important.

2.2. Has time to devote to the organization. The ideal would follow this situation: is not a major officer in another organization, no pressing academic or professional requirements, no major commitment to be with the family on weekends, no major relationships/commitments. The ideal of course has exceptions; the balance must weigh out in favor of participation in S.H.A.R.E. While we must respect an individual's credentials with other organizations, it is with S.H.A.R.E. that we should see these credentials validated. A non-participating skilled member will be negative in the short-term and may not mature in the long-term.

2.3. Knows how to manage time well. This is where we see how the individual manages his/her time among all the many commitments he/she may have. What is a good measure? See how much the individual gets time off to attend to hobbies and other pursuits. If the applicant is interested enough, S.H.A.R.E. can squeeze into this free time.

3. Willingness to be trained. The applicant must have the willingness to have another point of view presented to him/her. This especially applies to those who have received training in our kind of work (i.e. from the LSGH Peer Counseling Organization) or have a different frame of reference that we have (those who come mainly from non-Lasallian schools). The applicant must have the kind of openness to the training method, meaning he/she can maintain attentiveness throughout a set of lectures, and also be willing to undergo structured experiences.

4. Communication skills. The applicant must have the capacity for self-expression.

4.1. He/she must be capable of verbalizing his/her ideas and feelings; if necessary, to carry on and gets his or her message across. Fluency in English is a plus, but not a prerequisite, since we also conduct our activities in Filipino. Fluency in both languages is ideal. Academic excellence is not an automatic precursor of verbal skills.

4.2. The applicant must also know how to listen. Though listening skills will be part of our training program, the applicant must also evince these skills. At least we wouldn't have the problem of maintaining the applicant's attention during the training. Listening skills also enhance the applicant's ability as a facilitator and most especially as a counselor.

4.3. Third, it would also be advantageous for the applicant (and for S.H.A.R.E.) to have writing skills. This is an asset since we need creative minds in developing our programs. Other artistic skills are also a plus.

5. Stability in personal and family relationships. The applicant must have a considerable amount of stability; meaning he or she must enjoy healthy heterosexual relationships, and have a stable circle of friends.

5.1. Though the presence of a fixed peer group (barkada) is not necessary, it can help in the applicant's emotional maturity. This, however, may result in a set of conflicts/freedom of identity once the applicant becomes a member. The interviewing panel must be wary of this.

5.2. In family relationships, the applicant must have a healthy relationship with parents and brothers/sisters, because this helps in forming a well-adjusted and integrated personality.

6. Work ethics and etiquette

6.1. Humility. Can work with others, is a team player, knows how to live up to a certain role.
6.2. Professionalism. Can differentiate personal and work issues; adheres to conventions agreed upon; can accept constructive feedback and criticism.
6.3. Service values. Is willing to give of one's time and ability for no reward of personal popularity or material gain. S.H.A.R.E. will not be a group simply to make friends or to have people for leisure activities alone.
6.4. Diligence in preparing written work.
6.5. Can maintain seriousness. Can distance oneself from one's emotions from the work at hand, stays in focus.
6.6. Ability to empathize. Related to service values. The applicant can see it from the other person' side.
6.7. Flexibility. The applicant can adapt to different kinds of people and situations, and if necessary willing to get his/her hands dirty in order to accomplish the job.

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