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Q. Tell me something about yourself.
My name is Seunghee Joh. I was born on 8th January 1984 and brought up in Seoul, South Korea. Right from my formative years, I have had a deep interest in art and all its forms and sought to develop my skills in this subject. I attended Kaywon Art High School and enhanced my knowledge of western art, water painting, drawing, and carving among other artistic subjects. I had all along aspired to join an art college but was unable to due to unforeseeable circumstances. It was an incredibly depressing period for me. My devoted mother saw the angst in me, but she would not allow me to indulge in self-pity. She pushed and cajoled me to enroll in a course that made use of artistic elements in some capacity. That was the genesis of my time in the food industry, which lead to other pursuits such as the one I am attempting now.
The studying and work practice involved in this course will take four years. This does not intimidate me, as I am a very energetic and hardworking person. I would like to set up my own international restaurant business someday. This course will lead towards realizing this desire, as I will be exposed to international levels of excellence in the culinary industry. I have a deep interest in this and am excited just to talk about it.
Q Why do you want to join this institute?
I studied art, food, hospitality, and nutrition before and would like to take my knowledge of these subjects to the next level. I have always had a lot of enthusiasm for food related subjects. My 2-year experience at the Chinese Cravery Café and the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort enhanced my interest in the hospitality industry. In joining this institution, my skills will be enhanced in the industry and this will make me more marketable.
Q What do you consider your biggest failure?
That would have to be my repeated failure of the University entrance examinations. I felt discouraged, and my self-esteem took a nosedive. My entrance to the Han Yang women’s college to study food and nutrition checked my self-doubt. I was able to transfer my interest in arts to a similar field. In working with colors and shapes, I felt that I was pursuing my dream once more.
Q Talk about why you have chosen this career.
My experience in cookery classes and the restaurant business in Adelaide convinced me that the restaurant business is a worthwhile endeavor. I experienced thrills when taking Chinese and Japanese culinary classes and found that my interests are not only limited to art subjects.
Q Where do you perceive your will be in the next ten years?
I will own my own restaurant by then! I foresee a homely though international, fusion style food outlet where patrons enjoy a cozy atmosphere, which inspires fond memories.
Q Who is your role model?
That would be Nick Vujicic. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to survive without arms and legs, but he makes it seem somewhat easy. His willpower and inner strength give encouragement to those who have more than he does. He has publicly discussed his desire to commit suicide when a child and his subsequent conversion to Christianity and trust in God. He can write, use the computer, and attend to his own personal needs just by the use of two toes on his left foot. He also has double degrees in Accounting and Financial Planning. His achievements are inspiring.
Q What interests you in the course you have selected to undertake?
First, I love developing warm connections with others. I am an extrovert and love meeting new people. I also enjoy the appreciation of good food in others, especially when I have done the cooking!
Q How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
I love the internet and am constantly chatting with friends and acquaintances on Facebook. It helps me to relax after a strenuous day.
Q What are your weaknesses?
I am obsessed with chocolate. I cannot resist it, and it gives me issues when I need to diet. I am also very dedicated to my work and often do other’s work when they fail to fulfill their obligations.
Q What makes you feel that we should hire you?
I am highly motivated to work in the hospitality industry and find the courses I am to undertake both challenging and refreshing. I also have a background in art and food management and feel that my drive to excel in my field would contribute to the overall achievements of this institution.
Q How do you manage your pressure and stress?
I honestly do not view deadlines and complaints on my job as stress factors because I enjoy learning more about my work. I do take time off just to breathe in and relax if I happen to get overwhelmed at any instances. I also regularly exercise in the gym.
Q Tell us about an incident where you were forced to manage a difficult customer. How did you manage it?
When we serve our customers, we ensure that the main dish and then the dessert follow the entrée. The waitress has to ensure that she has removed the dishes that held the main course before the dessert can be served. During training, I delayed in removing dishes of the main course for a customer who worked as an engineer for the hotel that I worked in. Luckily, he did not complain unduly. I was very remorseful, however, and that is a day I wish to forget. I came to learn that it is a common mistake made by trainees.
Q What are your expectations of this programme?
I want to turn my aspirations into reality. I want to thrive in my chosen subject. I plan to open my own international restaurant in five years. I feel that the studies that I acquire at your institute will make me a better entrepreneur through a well co-ordinated study course.
Q How do you plan to use your degree?
I plan to be an expert in the hospitality industry. I am going to create an institute of international repute. Investors will be able to trust me to deliver an outstanding enterprise because of the skills I acquire at your institution.
Q Tell us about your resume.
I worked in an internet café while studying Food and Nutrition at Hanyang Women’s College. My cookery study course followed at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney where I was also student chef at Blaxand hotel. A spate in waitressing followed in a café where I also made sandwiches for the clientele. My placement was at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working in a five star enterprise. I especially loved the reaction of customers who were moved by the dedication and skill with which we served them.
Q Give me an example of a time that you demonstrated leadership.
There is a company named Ford that needed its workers to stage a ball for important guests that were flying in. They did not have any idea as to how to go about it and came to us for advice. Being the only worker that would assist them with no monetary gain, I gave advice on how to set up a ballroom and foods to serve.
Q What are your greatest strengths?
I excel in serving tasty foods that do not compromise nutritional balance. I can also multi-task. Many bosses abhor this practice as they feel that doing so many things at the same time will produce shoddy workmanship. This is not the case. I find that I can produce exemplary dishes while at the same time satisfactorily completing my other tasks if I concentrate on what I am doing. That kind of concentration also assists me produce my best work as it is a type of creative and beneficial stress.
Q What is the definition of teamwork?
It means that everyone works towards a certain goal. I experienced this in Port Douglas. There were a surplus of bananas which we were all aware would rot if left over the weekend. This would result in an unacceptable loss. We had to come up with a way to serve them in such a creative manner that our regular customers would presume that we had introduced a novel dish into the menu. Workers in every department came together to find creative ways of selling bananas that could spoil over the weekend. After throwing around a few ideas, we settled on dessert. We concocted banana fritters with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce and were able to realize our goal.
Q How do you establish a working relationship with new people?
I try to befriend them in a forthright manner. This I do by engaging their interest in their hobbies and communicating honestly. I find that I do not necessarily have to go drinking and partying with them to capture their confidences. I just communicate honestly with them and am considerate of their mistakes. When I was new, I remember that I made my fair share of blunders and only got through because of the assistance and thoughtfulness of my fellow workmates. I extend the same concern to my new co-workers.
Q How would your colleagues describe you?
They claim that I am very flexible, easy to work with and generous. I got tips even in the Australian culture, which does not embrace that practice. They also say that I am very mild and do not like to cause offence to anyone.
Q What attracts you to an occupation with us? How do you see your lessons, expertise, familiarity, and individual qualities adding to the labor of the organization?
I have a background in studies and subjects that indicate my eagerness to thrive in the hospitality industry. My knowledge from various schools and industry placements will assist me in establishing an outstanding enterprise. Sometime ago, I realized that the hospitality industry was about more than service. That was an epiphany for me. It was a moment of truth that would influence everything I would do henceforth. I also found that customers appreciate it when you do not look upon them as a continuous change but actually enjoy serving them. That is when one establishes a real relationship with one’s customers.
Q Illustrate a time, when you had to handle divergent demands. How did you handle these circumstances and what was the product?
In serving the aforementioned Ford customers, I had to deal with an intoxicated client. Ford employees are mainly foreigners and so are unaccustomed to the norms of South Koreans. They also did not seem to be aware of how the hospitality industry functions. Guiding them through everything proved to be time consuming and taxing. The hotel regularly served alcohol to its customers but expected them to partake of it in a responsible manner. It was embarrassing because I had sold him the alcohol in the first place but did not expect him to take it all at once. I had to guide him to his room and ensure that he did not disturb other customers. I later reported the incident to my supervisor who thought it was hilarious.
Q How do you establish a working relationship with new people?
I try to assist them fit in to the establishment as well as reassure them when they make mistakes.
Q Tell me about a difficult state of affairs that you have faced. What was the position and how did you muddle through it?
Working in Australia and Seoul, I had become accustomed to making coffee in a variety of ways. I was unprepared, however, for clients who wanted weak coffee, black coffee with skimmed milk or clients who did not appreciate sugar. There were times when I would go to other eateries to purchase coffee. It was difficult and embarrassing to do because I was the one meant to do all this. I was unaware of how to formulate what had been requested and did not want to make a mistake. Slowly, I began to learn how to cater to everyone’s tastes.
Q Talk about an accomplishment that made you proud. What is it and why is it momentous?
In applying for a permanent resident visa, one needs to pass a general IELTS examination with a score of 6.0 or more. I sat for this test and scored a 6.5 grade without even revising satisfactorily for it. I was ecstatic and more than a little proud of myself.
Q What questions do you have for me?
What qualifications do those who apply to your institution have to have in order to be accepted?