Job hunting can be challenging, entertaining and frustrating all at the same time.
I’ve had, what I think, are a few good interviews in the past week. I say that and remember interviewing at Children’s Hospital in DC back in 2000 – when I got to the interview it occurred to me that I had forgotten to wear my belt. I spent the entire interview obsessing about that so much that afterword I couldn’t tell if I had done a good job at the interview or not – I did get the job and it wasn’t until months later that I shared with them how nervous I was, simply because of the missing belt.
I’ve been told by interviewers that I interview quite well, I have good anecdotal stories, fast thought out answers to difficult questions and I try to engage them in conversations. They even tell me I’m quite friendly and don’t come off as nervous (underneath, let me assure you I’m a bit nervous). I spend time before interviews now reviewing potential questions an employer may ask – and I rehearse examples from my past that give them an idea of what I think they’re looking for. I come prepared with questions that I want to ask, and I have quite a few in case any of those questions are answered during the interview process – they almost always ask after the interview “Do you have any questions for us?” even if you’ve actively engaged in the interview and asked questions during it – so be prepared.
I’ve been bringing a nice folder along with me to each interview. It carries not only extra copies of my résumé and references but somewhere I can take notes, a sticky note or two and an extra pen. You never know what you might need, I don’t want to walk in with a backpack full of stuff, but I want to be sure they know I’m prepared for any thing. I also make sure I know the names of the people I interview with and afterwards I support the Post Office by sending them a nice Thank You card.
After a successful interview I was sent some assessments to gauge if I really can work with the software it lists on my résumé. It’s almost like this new relationship you’re about to embark on and they already are questioning what you’ve said you’re capable of. If I can’t work with the software I certainly wouldn’t put it on my résumé, but I imagine some folks do that kind of thing. The assessment gives you a version of software and asks you some pretty simple questions (I guess that’s my opinion) like how to copy, draw borders, insert a table, open a picture… Back in the late 90s or early 00s I became MOUS certified in MS Access and it looked really great on a résumé, but that test was more about simple Microsoft procedures than it was about actually creating databases (still I think it helped me land a job or two). I usually do these tests well, but usually the versions they are using are older than the software I’m using and unfamiliar to me now – this is why I score 93 and 95% and am disappointed.
Then comes the personality tests, this is something I’m not to sure about when it comes time to them sending these around. The one I received in my email recently advised me that I could use Internet Explorer or Netscape to take the exam. Netscape? really? Fortunately for me it worked fine in Safari on the iMac. There are several different versions of these tests that I’ve taken but they all basically want to gauge what type of person you are and if you’ll be a good fit in the company. Sometimes they will ask the same question in a different way a question or two down the exam. The one I recently filled out asked in three different ways if I enjoyed spending time at the bar, which makes me wonder what types of employees they’ve had before. 🙂 The questions can be hard to answer, they expect you to answer honestly but the questions are phrased to trick you into answering specific ways. “I have never told a lie” for example, never ever? or “I enjoy being alone” well sometimes that’s the case, but other times I enjoy the company of others. I’m not a fan of these assessments, I can see why they might be beneficial but they could also screen out a great candidate.
Then we have the waiting game. I’ve waited to hear back about an interview many different time periods – once I finally received an email six months after the interview, it was a “no” but at least it was an answer. The job market is full of other people, probably as qualified as you are, if not more so and it can take recruiters a while to go through all the prospects. I heard recently that a position I interviewed for had over 250 resumes, I was one of ten chosen for the interview process and there is a chance I could make it to the second interview process, we’ll see.
There are many opportunities out there. Some of them aren’t for me, but I have to be willing to work towards the one I want and that means studying, preparing, researching, testing and assessing until I land it.
Off I go, time to do more searching!