Monday, October 21, 2019

Things I NEVER Want to do Again!

Interviewing for a job heads the list.

Now, it turns out that I'm good at getting jobs:

  • In my cover letter, I always check off all the boxes listed in their requirements - that has me making the first cut.
  • I dial back my weirdness when I'm called for an interview.
  • In the past, I would color my hair a noticeable red - I was normally a reddish brown - because I learned that, when interviewing, people often became interchangeable, but they always remembered the One with the Red Hair. Recently, I've made some comment about my grey hair, and referred to myself as the Silver Fox - one of many reasons I'm glad I married my husband was acquiring that cool last name.
  • In most interviews, I had something tangible - an example of a program I wrote, a training manual I created, or - when going for a science teacher position - a prop, like a toy used to demonstrate a science topic. Reminders like that separate you from the pack, as well as give them something to discuss after you're gone.
As a result, my job searches generally don't take that long. Of course, it did help that I had marketable skills, pertinent job experience, and a willingness to adjust my expectations to the market at that time.

If I was ever so cursed as to have to do it again, I would have one non-negotiable demand:
No Scripted Group Interview
What is that?

It's a type of interview that was popular in some organizations in the late 1990's and early 2000's. A group would be assembled to interview you, and each would have a few questions. When they read the questions (EXACTLY as written on the paper), I would sometimes have a hard time understanding what they wanted to know. Yeah, the questions were that badly written.

After floundering in a few similar interviews, I learned that HR (that source of all evil) had imposed their "fair" interview demands on the staff, and put the fear of HR in them all. In most cases, HR was actually sitting in the interview room, watching like a hawk for someone foolish enough to deviate from the mandated procedures.

These weren't the questions, but they were around the same level of "Huh?"

So, the first couple of times, I asked for clarification. They very carefully explained that they couldn't provide more information than what was on the paper; at that point, they repeated, word for word, what they had said before.

Well, that was a lot of help. I tried to answer, as best as I could. It didn't help that the interviewers had been instructed to provide NO feedback - verbal, facial, or otherwise.

These types of structured settings work poorly to select employees who have to use creativity, personal initiative, or out-of-the-box thinking. They work well to select rule-followers and drones.

And, maybe that's the best outcome - if a company so little values individualism, perhaps they aren't a good fit for people like me.


Cliffdweller said...

I interviewed for a position at a fairly large airport. The interview team behaved much as you describe, and it threw me off for a few minutes. Then I tailored my responses to intentionally shake them up a bit. One interviewer asked whether I would be willing to work the midnight shift. I HATE mid shifts, but I responded, “Eagerly!” She was a bit flustered, and she repeated, “Eagerly?”
I did get the job, but I lasted only three years. Crap job.
Next interview I examined all the requirements and presented the interviewers with a spreadsheet showing how my experiences did or did not match. Told them it was probably a weird way to present myself. They disagreed saying it was creative and very clear. Got that job, too.
Find a way to be remembered.
No more interviews for me either. Aged out of the market....

Linda Fox said...

One wonderful thing about getting older.