Out-of-work Indiana woman keeps on truckin’, beats out 500 others for $13-an-hour job
BY Edward Glazarev
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, October 22nd 2009, 4:48 PM
In a sign of how tough the job market is, an out-of-work Indiana woman beat out about 500 other candidates to snag a position that pays $13 an hour, The New York Times reported Thursday.
C.R. England, a nationwide trucking company, needed an administrative assistant for its bustling driver training school in Burns Harbor, Ind. Responsibilities included data entry, assembling paperwork and making copies.
It was a bona-fide opening at a decent wage, making it the rarest of commodities in northwest Indiana, where steel industry layoffs have helped drive unemployment to about 10%.
When Stacey Ross, C. R. England’s head of corporate recruiting, arrived at her desk at the company’s Salt Lake City headquarters in July, she found about 300 applications in the company’s e-mail inbox. And the fax machine had spit out an inch-and-a-half thick stack of résumés before running out of paper. By the time she pulled the posting off Careerbuilder.com later in the day, she guessed nearly 500 people had applied for the $13-an-hour job.
“It was just shocking,” she told The Times. “I had never seen anything so big.”
Just before the advertisement was removed, a standard one-page résumé arrived from Tiffany Block, 28, who lived in nearby Portage and had lost her job four months earlier as an accounts receivable manager at a building company when it closed its Indiana office.
Over the course of four days, Ross whittled the pool down to 61 résumés and forwarded them to Chris Kelsey, the school’s director. The overwhelming response astonished him. He asked Cheree Seawood, one of his current assistants, to go through the résumés and help pick out several to interview. To make the task easier, he decided they should be even more rigorous in ruling out anyone who appeared even slightly overqualified.
The company eventually settled on eight people to interview, inviting in the first two just five days after the job was posted.
In the past, Kelsey had mostly ad-libbed interviews, but this time he asked his company’s human resources department for help. They sent him a list of 13 questions, as well as an eight-page packet with 128 questions grouped under 50 “competencies.” He decided he would ask them all.
Before Block's scheduled interview, she had been getting increasingly depressed.
“I felt like, I’m 28 years old, and I don’t have a job,” she told the paper. “What am I doing with myself?”
But Kelsey was immediately impressed when she came in on the second day of interviews. Dressed in a conservative business suit, Block patiently answered all of the questions. Kelsey liked that she remained consistent in her answers and showed independence.
Kelsey called Block for a second interview after another candidate didn't pan out. He marched through many of his questions again. Then, trying to gauge her ability to be assertive among truck drivers, he added a new hypothetical: If she were in the stands at a baseball game and a foul ball came her way, would she stand up to try to catch it or wait in her seat and hope it fell her way?
The other finalist had said she would wait. But Block said immediately that she would jump up to grab it.
Kelsey decided he had found his hire.
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