Column, Movie Diary

Holding court

By Dom Cioffi

Over the course of my business career, I have often been in the position of hiring people. Being interviewed for a job is certainly an anxious experience, but conducting an interview also has its own unique pressures.

First, whenever you’re hiring, your goal is to find the best person available to fill an open position. That’s not always easy (and sometimes impossible) and often you’re forced to put someone in place who has partial experience and then hope they are savvy and motivated enough to get where you need them to be.

And then there’s the concern about a new addition being an aid or detriment to the overall atmosphere in your workplace. To me, this carries as much weight as the skillset of a prospective employee. I don’t care how smart you are or how much experience you have, if I don’t feel like you’re someone the rest of the team can roll with comfortably day in and day out, then it may not be the best fit for any of us.

We generally spend five out of seven days a week working with colleagues at our jobs. That’s a lot of time together so it’s important to nurture an environment that is both positive and comfortable for everyone. In the times where I’ve been hiring, I keep that thought forefront in my mind.

I usually start my interviews by meeting the person in the lobby of our building before walking them back to my office. In those first few minutes, my goal is to relax them. I always want to get people as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible because that’s how you get to know the genuine person.

I start with basic questions pertaining to the position and their experience. After so many years working in my field, I can tell within minutes if someone is legit. If you can’t talk-the-talk comfortably or aren’t aware of certain buzzwords, then you’ve likely modified your resume with experience you don’t have. In other words, I can smell a fake a mile away.

If the candidate is legit, I’ll move on with more questions. If they’re not, I’ll find a way to comfortably move things to a conclusion.

Before ending any interview, I always ask if they have any questions for me. The fact that I’m asking means that it’s important and yet, I’m consistently shocked by how many applicants fail to respond with a well thought out question.

Once I’ve learned everything I think I need to know, I will either walk the candidate out or I will ask one last question. Hearing this last question means you’ve done a good job in the interview, and I’m interested in you as a prospective employee. If you don’t hear this question, I’ve likely determined, for whatever reason, that you’re not qualified for the position.

The question is this: Tell me your three favorite musicians or bands.

This query usually catches people off guard while also bringing a smile to their face. Afterall, it’s a question with no wrong answers (even though I can tell that some people try to answer with what they think I want to hear).

It’s a playful exercise but it also reveals a little more about the person. Luckily, I love all genres of music, so it doesn’t matter to me if you answer with three rap artists, three heavy metal bands, or three classical composers.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all. Some people’s answers don’t surprise me while others downright shock me. I had a shy, demure young woman apply for a position years ago who said she mostly listened to gangsta rap. On another occasion, I had a middle-aged man admit that he was a crooner himself and regularly visited karaoke bars to sing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Sometimes, the applicants ask about my three favorite musical artists. My responses have changed over the years, but I’ve basically hovered around some combination of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, and Billy Joel. And I’ll bet if you asked any of those musicians who one of their biggest influences was, it would likely be the man at the center of this week’s feature: Elvis Presley.

“Elvis,” starring Tom Hanks and Austin Butler, is the life story of the “King of Rock and Roll” told through the eyes of his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

The complicated relationship between Presley and Parker is at the heart of this film, but the numerous other influences that shaped one of the most iconic figures in pop culture history, also adds a magnitude of dimension to this picture. Throw in a highly stylized cinematic approach, immense attention to detail, and a soundtrack for the ages, and you have one of the most enjoyable films in recent memory.

Give this one a shot whether Elvis is in your top three or not – his unique life and career are certainly worthy of review.

An exhaustive “A-” for “Elvis,” now playing in theaters everywhere.

Got a question or comment for Dom?
You can email him at [email protected]

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