Aaron, my eldest has his first big job interview today. The ink is barely dry on his and Catherine’s college diplomas and they are in Austin, Texas, hoping to find jobs some where new and exciting! I’m chancing taking our “really should only drive it to the dealership to trade it in before it falls apart” car to go to Mass at noon and pray for them to find jobs they will enjoy, and I thought I’d devote this 7QT to job interviews.
Everyone has a story of their best and worst job interviews. Nursing jobs were so plentiful I walked out of a couple of interviews as a new grad (1988). One was when the hospital’s nurse recruiter told me that “Nursing caps were optional in the critical care units”. . . as if I’d ever owned or intended to own a nursing cap! The other was when a nurse manager showed me a typical schedule for her employees. In addition to three twelve-hour shifts per week and working every other weekend every nurse had an “M” once a week on their schedule. This was their “mandatory overtime” day. They were not scheduled to work, nor were they paid to be on-call, but they had to be available and close to their phone for twelve hours that day in case they were called in. No, thanks.
I’ve interviewed for jobs at 6am, when the practice manager came in early because I had to work 7a-7p that day. I took that job and worked with that company for twenty years. I’ve also interviewed at 5pm, because none of the doctors would be available until then. That interview took about two hours, because every doctor in the practice wanted to talk to me, and the final doc I talk to wanted to show me around the office, even though it was completely deserted by then. I agonized an entire weekend over that one, and ended up not taking it.
It’s much more fun being on the other side of the desk, though. My boss and I often tag-teamed interviews, and I learned a lot about interview dos and don’ts. Unless you’re at least fifty and have won a Nobel prize try to keep your resume on one page. If we’re talking CV this does not apply. CVs can go on forever and no one cares because no one really reads them – they skim them.
Show up a little early. Seems like common sense, but it’s never a good first impression when you have to say, “I couldn’t find your office.” Dress in nice, conservative, comfortable clothes. No jeans, no short skirts and high heels. Style your hair in a non-distracting manner. I’ll never forget someone my boss and I interviewed and the moment she left we turned to each other and said, “What’s with the Mall Bangs?” This woman’s hair had me listing my favorite songs and movies from the eighties instead of listening to what she said.
Be confident, but not arrogant. Show you don’t take yourself too seriously, but don’t make jokes. Have something interesting and memorable to say about yourself – something the other twenty applicant won’t have. It’s okay if it has absolutely nothing to do with your job qualifications – this is just something to make you stand out in the interviewer’s mind (i.e. the girl who drove tanks in the army)
Last but not least, be ready with some stories. When the interviewer asks how you would deal with difficult co-workers, tell him about how you dealt with the jerk you had to march beside for twelve-hour days during band camp. When they ask how flexible you are always answer that you enjoy the flexibility of working with a team, and can usually be available if you have enough notice. They are not allowed to ask you if you are married or if you have children, so don’t offer that information unless you want to. I was asked by the senior doc in a practice how old my children were and at what age I planned to retire. I thought his office manager was going to have a stroke, but I just laughed. I said, “You know you’re not allowed to ask me that, right?” and when he nodded I told him the truth, because I knew that was what he wanted to hear. Points in my favor. Share your best/ worst interview stories and any tips you want to add in the comments, pretty please! I’m sending a link to this post to Aaron at lunch time 🙂
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