Finding a Crayon in the Dryer

Went to work today and had several interviews. I am in HR, so this is really part of the job and I must say, I enjoy it. I try very hard to make people feel as comfortable as possible during an interview because everyone knows that interviewing for a job is just awful!

It always amazes me what people will say in an interview and the very important things they will leave out. Some people will start with very personal information (usually because they are nervous) and draw a blank when giving me specifics about their day. I never want to hear, nor am I entitled to hear, the personal. Interviews are similar to dating in that the applicant and often times the interviewer, as is the case with most supervisors, are uncomfortable and in the case of the interviewee they are vulnerable. It is this dance to try and discover enough about the person to see if they warrant a second interview, or a background check. It is truly an art.

Similar to dating there are good interviews and bad interviews. Often times it is the interviewers issue and I have had some interviews where I knew I just failed the applicant. You want to set a stage for them and allow them to show you their true qualities in an environment where they feel comfortable being honest and sometimes for whatever reason that just does not happen. It is those interviews where you walk away not really knowing anything more then you did when you walked in the conference room. I hate those interviews.

There are those applicants out there that are professional interviewers. For those of you that do not know what I mean they often use phrases like “I am a team player”, “I am a self starter”, “I work well with a group, or by myself. I do it all” The challenge with these people is getting them to stop playing the game long enough to give you a glimpse into their real work habits, strengths and weaknesses. Which leads me to my next point with interviewees…

If you are asked to talk about a weakness or short coming in an interview, Please…Please…Have One. Who on this planet does not have a weakness, or “can not really think of one right now” I can name 10 work related weaknesses without even trying:

1. I procrastinate.
2. I am easily distracted by e-mails.
3. I have a tendency to cut people off when they are speaking, or finish their sentences.
4. I need everything orderly and that often times leads to not getting things done. Things can not always be perfect.
5. I am usually late. Never if I am doing an interview, but pretty much for everything else.
6. I tend to ramble.
7. I am sometimes braver in an e-mail than I am in person. I hate that.
8. I am an awful speller.
9. When I get stressed I have a tendency to take it out on others. Not like a crazy lunatic, just grumpy.
10. I take on way too much at once.

So I say to everyone interviewing out there, Be Real. Admit that you are a human being and there are things you are still working on. Feel free to offer some things you are doing to work on the weakness, or goals for yourself. It does not mean an employer is going to look at you and say, “Well forget her, she takes on way too much at once.” If they do say that, chances are you do not want to work for them anyway. Allowing an interviewer into your professional life and your journey for improvement shows that you are humble ( a hugely underrated quality) and you are honest. Give it a try and while you are sharing some of the things you are working on remember to have a Real Strength (that is usually the other question), so in all fairness here I go:

1. I am Real. What you see is what you get.
2. I am Professional.
3. I am Funny.
4. I make people feel special and help them find their unique quality.
5. There is nothing that I will not try.
6. I recognize my issues and I actively work on them.
7. I am Interesting and Intelligent.
8. I do my research.
9. I am Creative.
10. I am Confident.

See, not so hard. Do not give some generic answer “Team Player” “Self Starter” and my new favorite one “Bridge Builder”…What the hell is that? These cute little sound bites tell me nothing about you.

Another thought that often runs through my head during an interview…Have pride in yourself and use this time to determine if you want to work for the company. Check them out, listen to the questions they are asking and see if they are really listening to your answers. I said it earlier and I will say it again, interviewing is very much like a first date (keeping in mind the obvious differences) and what you really want to say is “Are you a complete weirdo?” or “Are you going to make my life a living hell?”, but you can not. Take my advice (how this turned into an advice piece I will never know) Be Yourself, Dress Professionally (put your best foot forward), Be On Time, Have a Sense of Humor, Breathe and remember the person interviewing you is just that…a person, they may seem like your nightmare, but they have been in the chair you are sitting in now.

My thoughts are dedicated to the lovely men and women I interviewed today (some brave and others not so much). Thank you for your time.

That is just what came off the brain tonight and that is all From the Laundry Room.

Happy Dreams!

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