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.
I saw this CNN article and found it pretty relevant to my life because I work in a crisis type of position. You can read the article here. One thing that was interesting was the fact that many social workers and crisis counselors report that they like their job. This wasn’t surprising to me because despite all the craziness and unpredictability of my job, I don’t mind it. People get into a helping profession for a variety of reasons. In my case, I can’t NOT help people and I figured that I might as well have a job that allows me to do that. I’ve had stressful jobs in the field of social work before, but nothing comes close to the emotional drain from crisis work. It’s the kind of job that make you want to take a month long vacation after every shift. However, it’s also meaningful and you get the chance to encounter people from various walks of life and separate those who truly want help from those who don’t want any help. The article noted some great ways to deal with the stress that comes along from constantly working with people who facing some pretty big life challenges. There was an article I read not too long ago about a email that was intercepted from a social worker to another that contained some inappropriate humor that caused a public outcry. While the things crisis counselors deal with is not a laughing matter, sometimes you have to see the humor in things. It’s similar to the whole idea of laughing instead of crying as you see the dark side of humanity over and over again. It’s the kind of job that has really high highs with lows that are just as dramatic. The ability to disconnect is so important in this kind of field and I think it’s the reason why there’s an abundance of impromptu happy hours between colleagues who work in the field. All that being said, it’s a fun but hard job and I honestly believe that to have longevity in this type of field you have to have a pretty effective way of taking care of yourself so that you don’t get burned out.