Part 4. The Shortlist

animal blur chameleon close up
Photo by George Lebada on

Finally, the advertisement for your dream job pops up. Those 2 little words: “Zookeeper’s Wanted”. So you send off your application with all 10 fingers and toes crossed… and guess what, you’ve been short-listed! It’s a huge accomplishment and a big congratulatory moment in getting this far. But let’s not celebrate too prematurely. Remember the reality check; there’s still a long way to go.

Being shortlisted inevitably means some sort of group assessment day. Now, calm down. I can see you squinting your nose up, turning the corners of your mouth down… even having mild heart palpitations. Relax. Breathe. I get it. You’re  a friendly, hard-working , good-communicator… but the idea of performing (or out-performing) other people in a group activity seems a little nauseating. Especially when you’re being judged on it. Extra-especially when you’ve possibly waited 2 years, volunteered countless hours and worked shitty jobs to get to this point. Feeling a little pressure? Well like I said, relax and breathe. Not everyone will make it, sad but true. But don’t worry about everyone else. Just worry about you.

An important internal question (and answer honestly, this is not being assessed); are you any good at talking to people? I’m not saying are you the life of the party or do you have 500 friends on your facebook account. What I’m asking is, are you- even when feeling a bit nervous or stressed- able to speak (with a clear and fairly calm voice) to people you have never met before, in the most awful of job interviews? If you know you are the type of person who freezes up and doesn’t dare make eye contact with someone that just said “Hi”- you’re either going to need to work really really hard on that, or accept that maybe this isn’t your career path afterall. Working with animals is not mutually exclusive to working with people; you need to be able to do both.

But this doesn’t need to be some crazy big stand out moment. The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil. Sometimes the people that exude the most confidence, the ones that are the loudest and have the most suggestions in the group… sometimes they can be the exact type of person assessors DON’T want to hire. Remember- don’t worry about other people, worry about you.

So, what are they looking for? Believe it or not, they’re probably looking for you. Assuming you are fairly “normal” in most contexts of the word. That is, if you are friendly, able to hold a rake the right way around, have a shred of confidence and an ability to work with other people… you’re it. So, how to make them realise it?



* I am posting in a personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed are my own and do not represent those of the organisation I work for.

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