Operation Smile Virginia Beach
When they invited me for the final interview, they made it clear that it would be a whole day affair. A few days before the interview, I asked for an agenda/schedule and was told "All I will share is that interviews will last from 8:30 am to at least 9:00 pm, and you will have individual interviews as well as time to mingle with fellow candidates during the day." When I arrived at the interview, I was given the schedule for the day, which included five individual interviews and said that from 5 pm onwards, there would be a group activity. At 5, they simply announced that our group activity was to shop for and prepare a meal for 40 with entertainment, to be served at 7:30 at the director's house. We were given a budget of $350 and information about food allergies in the group. No other information was given (we even had to figure out the director's address) and they didn't give any sort of reason/context. It wasn't clear if it was supposed to be an evaluation of our skills, but the senior staff spent the majority of the night drinking and dancing. The evening didn't end till 10:30 pm, when it moved to a local bar.
In the comment section of the post, it was revealed that the organization in question was Operation Smile, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. And the salary of the job that all of these people were competing for? Less than $25, 000 per year.
To recap: after several initial interview stages, 20 candidates for an entry-level job traveled at their own expense to Virginia Beach, VA, where they endured a full day of five separate interviews, and then—to their surprise!—were ordered to shop for food, plan a menu, and cook a meal for the same people that were interviewing them. All of this for the prospect of maybe getting a job that pays an extremely low salary.
I would just stress that even on the day of the interview no questions would be answered about what the 'group activity' was or even how many positions they had available to fill.
The group activity was not strictly mandatory (at least, I don't think it was - evidence itself of how little information was provided) but our attendance was "encouraged". As I mentioned in the post, we were not told whether or not this activity would impact their hiring decisions. Drinking was optional but I think many felt the pressure to drink to conform to social norms. I left after the event at [Operation Smile founder] Bill Magee's private residence (with his entire family in attendance) ended but many went out with the staff to the bars. This was explicitly optional but, again, I know of at least one person who felt compelled to go for fear of being 'marked down' by the senior staff...See also:
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