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September 6, 2006

Training Is Never Wasted and The Best Interview Question

September 6, 2006 | By | One Comment

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest said Ben Franklin. And sometimes learning a skill will pay off in ways unintended and unanticipated.

My favorite interview question is to ask candidates what their high school dream was. What did they want to do, what did they want to be. The best candidates — by that I mean the most contented candidates, have a thread in their lives of what they wanted to do back then and what they are doing today.

An expert interviewer, like Your humble Business Blogger, can discern the contentment and the fire in the belly of the job candidate, by analyzing any gap between high school plans and the current stage in life — I find that the larger this gap, the more unhappy the candidate. Unhappy candidates make for unhappy employees.

Critics of this crazy question accurately say that technology, markets, the world have changed since we were in high school, back in the day. And they are right: the material world changes. Less so people. And what people love to do, and how each individual candidate would like to make a difference.

Here is my favorite example.

She was a competitive swimmer in her youth. And wanted to be a life guard. Her dream job that would make a difference. She trained, studied and was certified.

She found her calling; her vocation but she never found that job.

A disappointed teenager, she took a position as an Assistant Cashier in the athletic center at Camp of the Woods in Adirondack Park of upstate New York in June of 1982. She didn’t get what she wanted, but at least she was near the water.

One afternoon while ringing up a sale, the young girl heard a commotion from the pool behind her across the hall.

A woman was just pulled from the pool. Limp, on her back turning blue. Not breathing. Stunned on-looking bystanders frozen. Inaction.

The teenage girl darted to the woman. Started mouth-to-mouth. The woman moved, struggled, gagged, puked and breathed.

Our teenager never got exactly the job she wanted; that job she trained for.

But her education did pay off. Expecially for one swimmer visiting Adirondack Park.

Training is never wasted.

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Today that teenage girl, now a mature woman, lives out her high school dream making a difference in a big, dramatic vocation before an on-looking crowd of millions. She wanted to make a difference in a unique way. And does so today.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

The management at the resort was concerned that the near death by drowning would cause adverse publicity, I suppose. The life-saving event was never reported. Bad for business, you see. Our young heroine was never thanked.

And she doesn’t want to be thanked now. And really doesn’t want this blogged. (But that’s what husbands do.)

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