The Interview Experience

Over the past few years I’ve been to numerous job interviews. There’s something to be said about the excitement you feel when you get the email or the phone call that you’ve been selected out of the many applicants for an interview. It means that you have a chance to get the job. They’ve reviewed what you wrote and sent and deem you worthy of further communication about your worthiness for the position. I remember one of my coworkers telling me that one should always be telling their current employer “thank you” while simultaneously searching for a new opportunity. While I don’t necessarily agree with that, I do think that there’s something to be said about being aware of what’s going on in your field and how that translates to the current job market and the positions that are available. It’s just a good practice in my opinion. Needless to say in my years of job searching I think I’ve been to at least 30 or more interviews for various jobs in the area. Due to a very large amount of people in my field, it’s actually a success to even get an interview. People are clamoring for jobs and only the most qualified get call backs. The one’s who aren’t so lucky don’t usually have the luxury of being told they weren’t selected–they just don’t hear back. Job interviews are basically the same. You try to get there early to put your best foot forward but many times you don’t know exactly where you’re going. You give your name to the receptionist and either fill out an additional applications or try to amuse yourself with the boring reading material in the lobby while drinking a sip of the bottled water you brought along so you won’t sound hoarse. Then some random person comes out of a hidden door and greets you shaking your hand. This is usually followed by some offer of water or coffee. You follow them to their office or the nearest conference room. I remember once I had an interview in the company kitchen. The interview is usually panel or one on one. Personally, I’ve always preferred panel interviews because it always makes the dynamic in the room more interesting. You’re asked questions from a group of people and have the opportunity to sell yourself. They inevitably ask the same questions in different ways. In fact, I’m convinced that there is some giant “interviewing questions” book somewhere they every picks their questions from. You talk about yourself and your background. Look around the room and use humor to put everyone at ease while remaining professional and on task. You remember not to stutter, talk calmly and use as many key words as possible that relate to the description of the job. This usually involves some type of case scenario questions and then some question about how you handle conflict with others. I’ve noticed that most interviewers don’t ask a lot about your education because they want to know that you’ve had on the job experience and have demonstrated a significant level of competence while doing so. You know that you only have a small period of time to make a big impression and in order to do this you have to be “remember-able.” This wasn’t really a hard thing to do in my experience with interviews because I was often the only minority applying so that work was already done for me through a miraculous thing called genes. The interview finishes and you shake everyone’s hand before you leave. I think the hardest part is waiting. I personally prefer not being called back so that I can just assume I didn’t get the job instead of being personally told that I wasn’t selected. I remember standing in line to graduate for my masters degree when I got the call saying that I had not been chosen for a job I had recently applied for and it was a small let down. Needless to say, I think that the interview process could be so much more efficient but it is what it is.

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