I Interviewed at the Home Depot

I arrived at the Home Depot in Salinas, Calif. 10 minutes prior to my interview appointment time and checked in at the Return Counter as I had been instructed. I was a bit nervous, of course -- I hadn't interviewed for a job in over 30 years.

A former self-employed general contractor in my first year of retirement, I found (like many new retirees) that I still craved the daily routine of getting out of bed and heading off to bring home the bacon. So I had applied at the Home Depot, in search of gainful employment. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a phone call inviting me to interview.

-- See average salaries for workers at Home Depot.

Youthful interviewers

I went to the interview dressed business casual, sans the tie: polished black Florsheims, clean, pressed Dockers and a nicely ironed sports shirt. Being a little old-fashioned, I had considered wearing a suit and tie, but I thought that might be a tad over the top. After all, I was applying for an entry-level position, not to be president of the corporation.

Home Depots are busy places. I waited several minutes past the scheduled time of my interview for someone to come and meet me. I was finally greeted by a nice young woman -- the personnel director, I soon learned -- who led me through the expansive building to a tiny, windowless office far in the back of the facility. There I met the store manager, a fellow much younger than myself. It was actually an eerie feeling, to be offering up myself to review and approval by these youthful examiners, one young enough to be my son, the other my granddaughter.

But they were both friendly in a businesslike way, cordial but not overly familiar, and I was soon at ease in their presence. After a little introductory chit-chat, we got down to the brass tacks. I was encouraged by their description of the day-to-day functions of a Home Depot employee and the advancement and profit-sharing opportunities available to the staff through the corporate policies. It was an excellent presentation of the benefits of working for one of the largest debt-free companies in the world.

An experienced candidate

Then the conversation turned to me and my qualifications to join the Home Depot Associate Team. I outlined my long years as a builder -- and the familiarity with tools, materials, products and systems that accompanies such a profession -- as well as my previous experience as a retail hardware clerk back in my early 20s. They asked me many very general questions about building, remodeling and building repairs (to satisfy themselves that I was being truthful regarding my professed knowledge, I presumed) and a few specific ones about my personality and work habits, all of which I answered as truthfully as I could.

The interview lasted about 30 minutes, after which I was confident I had presented myself well. They both thanked me and I was dismissed with the promise I'd be contacted by telephone regarding their decision. I drove home eagerly to await that call. I didn't have to wait long. About three hours after I got back to the house, the store manager phoned to offer me a position as a kitchen designer in their Kitchen Cabinet department. I happily and thankfully accepted.

I'm sure all the factors (punctuality, dress, experience, eagerness and truthfulness both in the application and interview) that I presented added up to the successful outcome, but I'm betting the deciding factor was my professional and sincere demeanor -- reflecting their own -- that made them think I was Home Depot material.

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