INTERVIEWS

Based upon the believability of your resume, you should get some interviews. If you are suddenly unemployed and on the far side of forty without a specific career skill, like engineering or orthopedic surgery, you won’t get too many. However, the interviews you do get should be treated with gravity if you think you have a shot at getting the position offered. On the bright side, it’s an opportunity to hone your skills and match wits with a person who thinks you just might fit into an organization. On the down side, you are probably competing with a number of younger people who are willing to work for less than you are.

The first few interviews, if it’s been a long time since you have gone through the process, can be exhausting and leave you with a feeling that you may have either said too much, waffled a bit on the job experience, or said too little about what the interviewer really wanted to hear. My wife, who has interviewed a lot of prospective employees, has a rule of thumb when responding to a job in the classifieds. “If they say that they are looking for someone with specific experience in a given area, don’t apply if you don’t have it.” She also told me, “If you don’t know what an acronym in the ad means don’t bother applying!”

I once responded to a classified ad which required familiarity with a spreadsheet program, and, since I had taken a company-sponsored, 8-hour training class in the subject two years previously, I said I was familiar with it. I was granted an interview and appeared for it wearing a nice suit and carrying my leather portfolio. The interview went swimmingly (well, I thought it did) until the interviewer requested that I take a proficiency test on the required program. Rather than retire from the field I bravely said, “Sure!” and spent the following half-hour sweating in front of a computer whose program grilled me on my knowledge of the subject. Searching my memory, I did battle with the computer’s and actually managed to get a score which proclaimed me “proficient” in the subject.

I never heard from them again.

Several phrases that have brought me closer to the interviewer and occasionally have resulted in agitated note-taking on the interview sheet are:

“I consider myself a team player, and really miss being a part of a team.”

“No, I don’t mind traveling.”

“It’s important that I am the right ‘fit’ for your organization.”

“I do have some commitments to honor, but yes, I can start next week.”

What has actually gone through my mind while using the above phrases during interviews that are going badly includes:

“Yes, I’m a team player, but hopefully not on a team where everyone is as stiff as you are!”

“I don’t mind traveling, as long as I stay at a nice hotel and I don’t have to do it more that four times a year.”

“I think that I would have to be a combination of Superman and Henry Kissinger to ‘fit’ in your organization, based upon the job description.”

“I currently have nothing going but I’m certainly not going to act as though I could start here this afternoon.”

Take any interview offered. And, even if, as a friend of mine from Georgia once said, “you have about as much chance of winning as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest,” you really have nothing to lose for the experience.

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