Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What do you excel at?

            I am pretty good at a lot of things, but I’m not that great at job interviews.  I had one yesterday.  It was a phone interview.  I was on speakerphone on the other end so I had trouble hearing.  And the interviewer talked a lot less than I did.  I think I might have been over-caffeinated. 
I have another interview tomorrow.  In person.  Which is better even though it means I have to shave.  And wear a suit. 
            Some people are really good at interviews.  I know this because I have interviewed people for jobs.  And the problem is that a lot of the people who are good at interviews are complete jackasses.  And a lot of the people who are bad at interviews would do really well in the position in question.  It is an interesting social conundrum.
            I also know from doing interviews that I have pretty much made up my mind within the first minute.  This makes me a little optimistic since my interview yesterday lasted half an hour.  But it also sounded like the woman on the speaker phone was more bored than I have ever been in my entire life.  Much like I sounded when I did interviews.
            It’s kind of like being a department store Santa.  You are talking to someone who desperately wants something that you have to offer, and there is a good chance they aren’t going to get it.  It must be depressing to work in HR. 
            I said ‘um’ too much.  This is better than saying ‘like’ too much, but not all that much better.  The problem is that you say ‘um’ and then think, ‘crap, I shouldn’t have said that’ and then you focus on it and end up saying it more and becoming distracted and it is a wicked spiral of stuttering disaster. 
            The interview yesterday was delightfully free of the ‘what is your worst quality’ type of questions.  These don’t make sense to me and I never used them when I did interviews.  Because it is inviting someone to lie.  Or to spin something that sounds negative into a positive.  Like: “I put too much of myself into my work”.  Blarg.  Or you can be honest: “I’m selfish”.  But that will likely lead to awkward silence and make the interviewer wish they hadn’t asked the question…which they probably shouldn’t have.
            It is frustrating to know that you could do a job well, better than most of the other applicants, but that the job might go to someone who is a better actor.  Someone who says ‘um’ less frequently.  It is a highly inefficient means of sorting out potential applicants. 
            I don’t have a better solution, however.  Being able to see the person work would be preferable, but that would be immensely time consuming and expensive. 
            It is also hard when the economy is bad because you know there are other people just as desperate for the job you are applying for.  So, if you win, a bunch of other people lose.  Maybe I’m a sap, but I feel bad about that.  Not bad enough that I don’t want the job, though.  Because, you know, I’m selfish.  And I put too much of myself into this article.  

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