I’ve been participating in a well-known tradition known as “the job search” these days. Websites upon websites welcome you with their “51 open career opportunities!!” and their bright blue “APPLY NOW” buttons. You send out your resume, you type up your cover letters, and then you wait. You wait, and wait, and wait to no avail. You wait only knowing that they received your application (if you’re that lucky).
“Thank you for your interest in our simply marvelous company, our HR department is currently walking across the continental USA backwards, but they will review your application as soon as they return! If your qualifications match what we are looking for, or if we happen to draw your resume in our monthly resume lottery, we will contact you for a phone interview. All the best, A Simply Marvelous Company that will Never Call You Back”.
I used to collect these emails. I had a folder in my Gmail Account called “Possible jobs” and it had 52 automated responses to submitted applications.
(Alternate titles for this folder include, “Kim, you’re a failure”, “Nobody wants you”, and “People to kill”)
Sometimes, you do get a call back. They decide that you might be just the right amount of overqualified for you to become their minion for the next 3 years, and they call you for an interview. In this ever long search for a job I love/like/can grow with/make money with/not hate, I have learned that there are a few main types of interviews you might experience in your career as a career seeker:
The Email Questionnaire: Some companies will reply to your application with a quick batch of questions via email. “How did you hear about this position?” “What are you hoping to accomplish with this position?” Etc. Etc. You know and they know that your answer will most likely be a bunch of spell checked BS, but they want to see if you’ll make the effort to sound like a motivated human being.
The Phone Interview: This interview usually acts as a pre-interview to an in-person interview. They want to feel you out as a person, see if you have a tone of professionalism about you. I personally love phone interviews. No eye contact, no concerns about fidgeting or farting. I think I’ve had 6 or 7 phone interviews and I’ve only worn pants for 3 of them. Phone interviews give you the chance to pace around your house and sit on your bathroom counter in your underwear and a bucket hat. They let you, be you without your for-people suit on.
For-people suit – An ensemble comprised of clothes, makeup, and above average hygiene that an individual assembles before leaving their house.
The In-Person Interview: This is the big one. If your voice in the phone interview didn’t give away that you’re a total psycho, the peeps might call you in to get a look at your face. They will judge what you wear, they will judge your hair, they will judge your hygiene, and they will do it all with a smile and a clipboard. Some interviews are one on one, some are in groups. Either way, you have to be armed with kick ass responses and the will power not to look at the weird mole, wherever it may be.
Maybe you’ll get one of these interviews, maybe you’ll get all three. Regardless, one of the first statements to be made by the opposing party is going to be the following:
“So, tell me about yourself.”
Suddenly everything you put in your resume/cover letter/hallmark card you sent to the executive with $50 in it seems meaningless.
Here’s what not to say:
Tell you about myself?
Like, from the beginning? Do you want to know that I was a gargantuan baby weighing in at 11 pounds 6 ounces and 22 ½ inches long and as a result I’m worried my womb will bear missile sized children.
I also wouldn’t say this:
Do you want to hear about some memorable college experiences? Like day 1 of Art 124B when I showed up with my drawing pad and pencils, ready to learn the basics, only to look up after unpacking my bag to find a naked man standing in front of me. Hands on his hips, chin pointed at an angle above his left shoulder, eyes looking off into the distance, junk very obviously out in the open. “Draw,” said my professor.
Maybe go with something more like this:
I hate spinach, lizards, and E-Trade commercials where babies talk like adults. I love sunflowers, photography and everything about this company, even that weird guy I met in the lobby. I’m a hard worker that loves to learn and I have never spent days lying around my house doing nothing but eating and singing to my dog. Hire me, you won’t regret it. Oh, and I collect postcards, wanna see?
…But then again probably not.
*Disclaimer: I’ve never said any of these things in an interview, but maybe that’s been my greatest mistake….what professional wouldn’t want to waste their time hearing the story about the naked guy I had to draw while he was doing the Heisman?! IT’S A CLASSIC.