Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Takin' Care of Business

The job interview: is there anything more awkward, more stressful, and more uncomfortable? And no, I am not just talking about the outfits you wear to them. Sitting there, answering questions about your strengths and weaknesses. Why you are leaving your previous job and what you hope to gain from this one. It's just painful.

Question: So what interested you in this position? Interviewer #1 leans forward expectantly, one eyebrow raised in premature disbelief.

Answer: Well, I hate my current job, so I wanted a new one. I was looking for something where I could sit around most of the day, with higher pay. This seemed to fit, so here I am!

What I Told Them: Well, I've been looking for a position that would assist me in my major. As an English Teaching major, I thought it would be perfect to be behind the scenes and learn more about how the technical details of the program work. Helping others prepare to graduate, finding scholarships, etc., will better prepare me when I go through those processes myself. Also, I am hoping to work more hours winter, and this fits perfectly with my schedule. All said while looking interviewer straight in the eye, adding charming little smiles at appropriate times, and using my hands not excessively, but just to highlight certain points. Oh look how passionate I am. You should hire me right away.

I see. As an advisor, we would require you to interact with students. Is that something you are comfortable doing? Interviewer #2 blinks several times, squints eyes, and looks at a spot on the wall just over my shoulder. What is he doing?

Answer: Oh, I am really good at faking emotion. You can trust me when it comes to pretending I actually care about a problem, even if I don't.

What I Told Them: I consider myself a social person, and I think those that know me would agree. I believe that a job isn't fulfilling unless you are interacting with others, and I find that helping people is one of my strengths. Now the real big smile breaks out. My eyes sparkle, as if I am talking about something I am in total awe of. Man, my cheeks are beginning to hurt. Is it just me, or is this chair really low? Anyway.

Question: Multi-tasking is an enormous part of this particular job. Would you consider yourself able to complete several tasks in quick succession? Interviewer #3 looks down at the sheet she is holding, then stares at me. #1 looks encouraging, but #2 looks like he is slowly drowning. Um... what did they just say. #3 is glancing through some papers. Is that my resume she's holding? Is the font OK? Focus.

Answer: Well, if it gets too stressful, my head might explode. Or I could escape to a corner and assume the fetal position. But overall... I might be able to do more than one thing. I'll most likely end up neglecting one of the things.

What I Told Them: I can absolutely multitask. I think every student has to develop that ability. How would we get anything done otherwise? Crack an adorable half smile, pause and wait for laughter. I earn a couple smiles. #2 gives a panic filled expression. Moving on...

Question: We use specialized computer programs. Are you able to learn new programs, and if so, can you give us an example of a time, either in school or in a past job, where this has occurred?

Answer: Well, yeah, I can learn new programs. But if I don't use them regularly, I forget them. Like there was this time in sixth grade, where we made the switch from those old school Macintoshs to desktop computers. It was a little traumatizing to get used to having a mouse and clicking icons, but I caught on after a few months. I still miss those green screens sometimes. Oh, and the way the printer paper had those serrated edges you could make boondoggles with? Classic. Ah, school days. What was the question?

What I Told Them: I am a quick-learner, and generally find that it only takes one lesson for me to catch on to a concept. For instance, with my last job, I would sometimes cover the cashier. It only took a quick run through of the system before I was adept at it, and my supervisors acknowledged that and knew they could rely on me.

Question: Why did you leave your last job... at the Cannon Center?

Answer: Because I hated that job with every fiber of my being, and knew that if I stayed there any longer I would get sucked in forever and slowly lose my soul, along with my will to live, and become a mindless zombie, automatically wiping tables and filling napkin holders and syrup bottles with no intelligent thought.

What I Told Them: As I stated previously, I am hoping to take on more working hours next semester. Because I will be working more, I wanted to move on to a job that was more challenging, and once again, would help me with my educational goals.

Question: Well, that sounds good. We don't have anything else to ask. We'll be making a decision by Friday, so regardless of whether you've gotten the job or not, we'll notify you by then. Do you have any questions for us? All three of them look at me intently. With great expectations. Think! Think!

Answer: No.

What I Told Them: Um, I can't think of anything right now. You've been very thorough, which I really appreciate. Thank you so much for meeting with me! They all lean back, a little deflated. What do they expect! Employers always ask that question, but when they've already told me when they will make their choice, and if I know starting salary, is there anything left? No! So what should I say? I really have no idea, and leave with an enormous sense of failure.

Flash forward to Friday. I've spent the past few days eating ice cream and pizza, mourning the interview that went awry. I'm going to work at the Cannon Center forever. Within a year, I'll be one of those people whose only joy in life is bossing people around and lecturing her staff about the correct way to place silverware in the carts. I actually scolded someone for not refilling the trays immediately the other day! It's too late! I'm doomed!!!

And then the call came.
To that lady who saw me dancing in the hallway of the JKB, waving my arms over my head and shaking my hips like Shakira, I should apologize. But I'm not going to, because I can kiss food service goodbye! SO LONG SUCKERS.

1 comment:

Paige said...

Cat, you are brilliant. As I stated before, you are absolutely developing a very distinct voice, while still keeping your posts fresh. Bravo.