Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A Ground-Rule Double

I love job interviews. I love talking about myself and things I do well. I like my grown-up outfits, and I haven't had much of a chance to wear them in the last two years. Job interviews do not make me nervous.

I have to say this was one of my worst interviews today. There were six -- SIX! -- people in the room with me, all interviewing me. It was difficult to establish any kind of connection or rapport with any of them. Who was I supposed to talk to, when answering questions?

There were questions that I've had before in other interviews -- questions that I answer well, and when I give my answers, I usually get nods, a smile, sometimes a wink, even a wry comment. Describe a challenge from your last job (I got stuck with a project that wasn't my idea, ran with it, and ended up winning a statewide award for it). Tell us what kind of manager you are (if the work isn't getting done, then there's a problem. Otherwise, I'm not going to mess with something that's working, and if that means you have stuff you need to do on work time, I'm not going to have a fit about it).

But when I gave my answers, there was nothing. It was like I was talking to the dog, but without the smile. I felt like the answers I usually knocked out of the park were instead ground-rule doubles.

There were a lot of Web questions. I have very, very little Web experience. There were a lot of database questions. I have no database experience. I felt like I was walking around in the dark, fumbling around.

I think it all stemmed from the second question I got, which was, "Why don't you just tell us your understanding of how a bill moves through the Legislature?"

When you're caught off-guard with a question like that, and your mind goes blank and you really didn't have much of a concrete concept of the answer anyway, the only direction your interview is going to go is down, really.


  1. If it makes you feel any better, my group interview at SuperU was three women taking turns asking me scripted questions and then assigning grades to my answers on these sheets they all carried. And that early on I caught a glance at one's sheet and she'd written '3' '4' and '4'. Out of what? Was she starting low and then warming up to my style? Was she handicapping me versus the other candidate?

    But I still got the job. So it might go very well for you, I have fingers crossed.

    And hey, if you have any pointers as to how to get comfy with wearing grown-up clothes, now'd be a great time. I'm more nervous about dressing up next week than I am about the job!

  2. Hee, Portia, about the grading thing. The only thing worse than having an uncomfortable interview is seeing the comments they're writing and wondering what they mean.

    I get most of my grown-up costumes from www.travelsmith.com. A lot of their stuff is made in the USA, it's very mix-and-match, and since the clothes are made for travel, they're super-easy to care for. I swear I am not getting paid to write this.