My Turn: Landing My Dream Job
Thank you, Toastmasters!
By Timothy J. Matson
A year ago my father asked me to speak about my job as a U.S. Air Force pilot at his Rotary club. I accepted, and – because I wanted to do a good job for my dad – I joined Toastmasters.
That speech went very well, but little did I know that my first year with Toastmasters would also help me land my dream job. I’m retiring from a 20-year career with the Air Force this summer. For the first time in my adult life, I had to compete for a job in the civilian market. I researched a number of airlines and decided to apply for a pilot position with the Denver-based Frontier Airlines. The airline called me for an interview on March 5. It was an all-day affair, consisting of three parts: a traditional panel interview, a scenario-based interview assessing the candidate’s leadership and decision-making skills, and a group interview where we had to give a five-to-seven minute speech.
My Toastmasters experience helped me in two ways during that challenge. First, we had a tremendous amount of time during the day to mingle. Even though we weren’t always formally interviewed, people from Frontier were with us. Because the airline prides itself on its customer service and “going the extra mile” for its customers, I knew they wanted outgoing people who could comfortably interact with customers. In November of 2006, the Toastmaster magazine published a great article by Katherine Meeks on the art of mingling. When I first read it, I thought, Wow, this is some good stuff! On my flight from Washington D.C. to Denver, I re-read the article and applied some of its suggestions. I really enjoyed mingling and getting to know my fellow job candidates and the interviewers, and I think that worked to my benefit.
The group interview is where my Toastmasters training really paid huge dividends! In the morning of the interview, we were given two questions to think about so that at the end of the day we could stand up in front of the all the interviewees and interviewers and answer them. The first was, “If you could have lunch with three people, living or dead, who would you choose and why?” The second was, “Why do you want to fly for Frontier?”
Before I joined Toastmasters, I would have dreaded this – public speaking with very little preparation in an already tense situation. However, this time I really looked forward to it! My Table Topics experience and newly earned Competent Communicator award prepared me. Combine that with the fact that I had taught history for three years at the Air Force Academy and had thoroughly researched Frontier Airlines. Answering their questions was easy!
When the group interview began, I enthusiastically volunteered to go first. In response to the first question, I picked George Washington, Margaret Thatcher and General Jimmy Doolittle. I made and held good eye contact throughout the room. I purposely injected dramatic pauses into my presentation. I used hand motions to emphasize my points. I was very conscious not to use filler words, thanks to all of the Ah counters at our meetings. I couldn’t help but smile because I was having a great time! This was really my favorite part of the day; it was a great opportunity for me to wrap up what I thought had been a strong interview.
Two days after I returned to my home in Washington D.C., I received an e-mail from Frontier informing me of my selection. Needless to say, my family and I were thrilled! When I joined Toastmasters I never thought it would help me land a dream job, but I am convinced that what I have learned in the meetings played a large role in the success of my interview. Thank you, Toastmasters!
Timothy J. Matson, is a member of SAMFOX Toastmasters Club at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland.