The 37th revision of my résumé combined with a smooth and confident demeanor gleaned from a multitude of prescreening phone calls finally hooked an interview invitation. I’m exaggerating my coolness, but if I think about how suave I’m not, I may never have the nerve to squeak out interview answers.
When I lost my job six months ago I knew the job market was competitively fierce. I can read. But, knowing and understanding to the depth I do now are different and worlds apart. My belief that perseverance can overcome any obstacle was wavering and The Maker and I were having some serious discussions after six months with no interview offers. And then, in typical fashion, He threw me a bone. Someone was finally intrigued enough to want to examine me for defects in person.
I had been so focused on the interview invitation benchmark that I now felt like a prepubescent boy shown a big set of boobs for the first time. I was quite excited, but ignorant of what was expected in a 5th dimension job interview. Was, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” still a standard query? I have always hated that one because I want to answer, “Oh, writing my second novel (the one I got a huge advance for) in a secluded Irish cottage by the shore”, but instead I feel I must offer up the standard, “Working in a position like the one I’m interviewing for at a company as great as this one.” My research assistant, Google, helped me compile a list of interview questions that make the “where do you see yourself” query seem elementary, and I mean public-school elementary. My daughter is much more hip to the interview scene so I tapped into her wisdom, much of which consisted of warnings about talking too much and having specific work product examples at the ready. My husband’s advice was to replace my usual meandering anecdotes with examples of professional wins. If I did not practice this foreign language, I knew I’d leave a prospective employer entertained, but unsure of my qualifications. If enough people say you have hay in your teeth…maybe I do talk too much.
In a concerted effort to create succinct and relevant answers to questions such as, “Tell me about a conflict you had at work and how you handled it”, I spent two full days composing more acceptable answers than, “I just accepted that she was a bitch and ignored her”. Then I practiced what I hoped were appropriate answers out loud until the “ums” were gone.
On the day of the interview I followed my kid’s advice to think of the interview as good practice. Remembering that this professional, well-adjusted woman who now advises me on professional matters used to eat ants lends to the whole 5th dimension surreal experience. Considering that my interviewer was not much older than my kid made her somewhat less intimidating, despite her high-anxiety persona. Or perhaps that was just the pregnancy hormones. I understand that after being out of work for six months I am beholden to feel grateful for ANY prospective job, but guess what? I don’t. I have over 20 years left to work and I’m tired already. So when she told me, “it’s crazy here every minute of every day; everything is always changing”, I probably visibly cringed. It’s why I have never been chosen to sit on a jury, and may be why I did not hit the next benchmark – a second group interview.
It was good practice, but she did not ask most of the questions I prepared for. During another phone interview last week I was asked specifically how my past experience could be transferred to this retailer, not exactly what one thinks of as a prescreen question. But thanks to the previous week’s interview, I was prepared. Now I wait. If I make it past the first interview, then there’s a group interview with the Vice-President. Welcome to The 5th Dimension. It seems I’ll be here for a while.
- Don’t Kill an Interview with These Blunders (money.usnews.com)