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Assorted bits

I had a job interview Tuesday.  It was for an institution I really want to work at, and I really need to be employed as soon as possible.  However, I don’t feel I aced the interview.  I don’t really have a lot of experience at conventional job-hunting.  Most of my past employment has either been in college, where it was fairly easy to get a student job, or as a writer, where you rarely have to sell yourself face-to-face.  So I’m not the most adept job-interviewee out there.  I just have to hope they saw something in me beyond that awkwardness.  Failing that, I’ve applied for various other openings at the same institution; hopefully I’ll get other interviews and manage to do a better job.

And it probably didn’t help that I came down with a cold the day before, though the symptoms didn’t really start to kick in until after the interview.  The night before the interview, I strove for relaxation and confidence and somehow managed to find a mental place that let me achieve more serenity and peace of mind than I’ve felt in quite a while.  So that probably helped me do better in the interview than I might have, but I just hope it was good enough.  And since then, I’ve just been feeling icky and sniffly and lethargic.

Not that it’s kept me from getting some work done.  I’ve managed to get another article-writing gig this past week.  It’s my first interview-based writing assignment.  Which means I’ve gotten to be on both ends of that process this week, since I was just interviewed myself for someone else’s article.  More info on both of these when the time is right.

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  1. January 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I’ve been on both sides of the interview table — interviewer and interviewee. It’s funny; I actually miss interviewing applicants.

    I can’t offer any “tricks” to acing an interview. You do kinda know when your interview has gone wrong; if you’re good at reading body language, you can get some pretty instant feedback there. It’s much harder to tell when an interview has gone right, though. I’ve had interviews where I feel like I aced an interview and never got a call back. My current job was like that; I knew I’d aced the interview, but then I didn’t hear anything for two weeks, during which time I was still pounding pavement. For interviews you think went badly, you probably did better than you realize. For interviews that you think went awesome, you’re probably being overly optimistic.

    Interviewers expect a certain amount of awkwardness in an interview. Interviewing is unnatural, you’re out of your element, you’re in an uncomfortable position. It’s okay to feel nervous. It’s okay to stammer. What you need to be able to do is to relate in your answers how your experience and skills fit the job and will make you an asset. It also helps if you can say, “My experience taught me this. This didn’t go right, but I learned from it how to do…” (Of course, if you drove a company into bankruptcy and burned down a building accidentally, you’d want to keep that to yourself.)

    Don’t be timid, but don’t be aggressive, either. Make eye contact, but don’t stare. Be prepared with questions about the job, because a good interview will end with you getting to ask a few questions. Ask about the company’s history and direction, ask about possibility for advancement, you can even ask how they view the position that you’re interviewing for. Do not ask about money, though you will probably be asked about money. (There is no good answer to the money question, unfortunately.) The big question you should ask — ask about the culture. “What is it like working here?”

    Good luck. 🙂

    • January 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Thanks. Thinking about body language, I didn’t notice any worrisome cues in my interviewers, but then, I’ve never been the best at reading body language. I was certainly more awkward than I wanted to be, but maybe it’s good not to be too polished and slick. I think I managed to come up with decent answers to most of their questions, and it was probably pretty obvious to them that I didn’t see the questions coming, so they know my answers weren’t rehearsed. Maybe that’s a good thing. I hope so.

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