Thursday, February 21, 2013

Interviewing: Why I suck at it.

After viewing my last two posts, it might be obvious that I had a few glitches in trying to run my own business. It turns out that my research before quitting my job and doing "My own thing" was good. There was, in fact enough work to keep me busy. The work returned a profit almost always. I found the work fun, rewarding and enjoyable. But the one thing I didn't account for was how MUCH time it would take me. By the time I bought a phone, ordered parts, waited for parts to arrive, fixed the phone, listed the phone, shipped the phone and then dealt with any extra issues -- I had put an entire day's worth of work into one phone. When I started out, I was worried the work wouldn't be scalable. That I wouldn't have enough work. Never did I think I would have too much work. I had enough work to keep one person busy, full time buying phones. One person busy fixing phones. One person busy selling phones and one person busy dealing with all the documentation and fine details of business operation. But I couldn't afford to pay anyone other than myself. It took me a month to turn around product that I needed to process in a week. Financially it was the equivalent of bungee jumping without a bungee cord.

However, after saying all of that. I cannot refute the overwhelming feeling that doing what I did was the correct decision. Laying on my back in the chilly dark chasm staring at blue skies through a thin slit in the opening of the canyon walls from whence I just fell. I am filled with peace and a calmness that I sometimes find eerie. When I think about the financial mess we have landed in. I stand there anticipating the waves of panic and despair to wash over me. Nothing. Acceptance. Serenity. This emotional reaction to stress. I don't know what to make of it.

So I have sent my resume out to dozens of companies that are hiring for positions. Most of them I am well qualified for. However, none of them are calling me for interviews. This is when I panic. That tells me the job market is that competitive. That most of the applicants that are well qualified for a position are not even getting an interview. That means if I do get an interview, I am going to have to be a good interview. Folks -- I SUCK at interviews. Here's why:

Think of my brain as a giant housing complex. There is an entire gamut of characters residing there. Everything from an alcoholic bum to a hoity-toity, top hat and monocle wearing billionaire. All of these characters are equal shareholders in me. When I talk, there is a guy standing in front of a conveyor belt. He is wearing a denim apron, he has thin, gold rimmed spectacles that he wears on the end of his nose and he is wearing a visor. He is the editor, content manager and copywriter all at once. He doesn't do well under pressure. When panicked he starts sending the wrong words down the conveyor belt and those mistakes fluster him more until he just opens up his cabinets full of words and starts to heave anything and everything onto the conveyor belt. The conveyor belt feeds down into the back of my throat and empties onto my tongue. My tongue doesn't know any better and it just says whatever word lands on it.

In an interview situation, this guy... we will just call him The Word Operator. He assembles everyone together in a town hall meeting and he says "Listen up everyone. Tomorrow is a big day for us. We have an interview" A hush of eager whispers rustles through the crowd. "We all need to help out on this one. It is going to take effort from each one of us." The alcoholic bum screams out "Yeow!" and then belches. The word operator tilts his head up so that he can see the crowd through his glasses "Uh, except you alcoholic bum. We don't need any input from you on this one" The alcoholic bum groans in despair, turns to a neatly dressed woman sitting next to him who is in charge of all interior design and says to her "Well hello." She blinks repeatedly as if her eyelashes are able to fan away the foul stench of his breath. "You wanna come back to my place. Mmmmaybe bring some wine with you?" He smiles and sways as he stares at her through glazed eyes. After a moment of no response he staggers away "Ffffine. Have it your way. Your loss."

So the day of the interview arrives. Everyone assembles in the warehouse where all of the words and ideas are stored. The word operator is already flustered. He quiets the crowd. "Everyone, this is important. So no lies and crude comments. OK here is the first question. 'Why should we choose you for this position?' Scientist, Egotist, Philosopher and Storyteller. We are going to need your help on this one!" The redneck throws his hat on the ground and stomps on it "Sonuvabitch I hate that galdurn question!" The word operator turns and starts to throw down the words the redneck just said. Everyone roars "NO! Don't send that down!" The Egotist speaks first. (He's Russian. And has a thick Russian accent. I don't know why) "This  is eezy. We is the bee-est. Thet is why." The Scientist speaks up next "Actually, with 6 billion, 973 million, 738 thousand, 433 people on the planet. The likelihood that we are the best is highly unlikely. Without actually knowing how many people applied for the position, or their qualifications. We really can't say with certainty that another applicant isn't better than us" The Philosopher doesn't say anything. He's thinking about how we are connected to the universe simply because we breath. He's concentrating on his breathing. The Storyteller begins "It was a cool day in the spring of 1993..." The Word Operator snaps "We don't have time for your story! We gotta send something! Now! Anything! so he grabs a few strings of sentences and crams them down the conveyor belt. Everyone listens intently as the words being spoken echo off the chambers of the warehouse. "I think you should choose me because I is thee bee-est. But probably not. I mean, you probably have interviewed someone better. You should hire them. That is if  they are what you are looking for. Because we are all breathing and if you hire that person then we are all connected in the universe, so it is just like hiring me. So since I am connected to everyone on the planet. I am the best person ever. I guess I am the worst person too. I am your dream come true. I'm your worst nightmare. Hire me! Please!"

By the time the interview is over, the warehouse looks like the stock room floor on the day of the worst stock market crash ever. Most people have gone home to cry themselves to sleep. A few stray spectators remain slumped over in their seats. Head in their hands and gripping handfuls of hair. The Word Operator is smacking himself in the head with his fist repeating "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!..."

So, I ask for your prayers. Your job leads and your Word Operators. I would like to trade mine.