on interviews, and what I’ve learned

I started work at my current company on Thursday, July 21, 2011.

During that time, I applied for upwards of 48 other jobs.  (48 is actually a low estimate. That’s just the number of applications I can find saved on my laptop since April.)

I experienced the following results:
5/9/12 – in-person interview at UVA
5/14/12 – phone interview with Virginia Tech
5/23/12 – in-person interview at Company A here in Charlottesville
6/6/12 – in-person interview at Company B here in Charlottesville; they offered me the job.
6/12/12 – canceled interview #2 with Company A due to pending job offer with Company B; in response, they told me that the second interview was only a formality and that they had been planning to offer it to me. (Oh well; I had qualms about the position–I thought it might be too advanced for my skills, and too far removed from my interests.)
~6/15/12 – turned down the offer with Company B. The work would have been 99% solo; my would-be manager worked in NYC, and I would telecommute.
7/17/12 – phone interview with Company C.
7/26/12 – in-person interview with Company C.
8/10-12 – phone interview with Company D.
8/24/12 – in-person interview with Company D.
9/1/12 – writing sample for Company D.
9/13/12 – in-person interview #2 with Company D; they later followed up to let me know that they had chosen someone else for the position, but asked me to consider being added to the applicant pool for another position they had open. I politely declined.
10/31/12 – in-person interview with Company E; they offered me the job on 11/6
11/1/12 – phone interview with Company F

During my extensive interview experience, I learned a few things. I experienced what I had previously only heard–that during an interview, the candidate is interviewing the interviewers as much as they are interviewing her. I had several interviews for several positions that left me feeling as though the job, the company, or the coworkers weren’t quite the right fit. I had two interviews for jobs that I wanted badly, simply based on the position description, what I knew of the company, and the passion of the interviewer. I had one interview that left me undoubtedly sure that I wouldn’t be having another.

Questions I was asked repeatedly included the following:

  • “What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?”
  • “Can you describe the best and worst supervisors you’ve had?”
  • “What characteristics are most important to you in a workplace?”

I learned that it’s important to go into an interview ready to answer these and other interview go-to questions, but the interviews that I felt best showcased me and my true personality were those for which I didn’t overly prepare. The ones where I stepped back, relaxed, and paid attention to the dynamic between myself and the interviewer were the best. I was better able to represent myself, rather than the petrified, clammy-handed, stomach-in-knots version of me who tends to show up for interviews. It was much easier to go in knowing that I was a good match for the position, and to approach the interview as an opportunity to determine whether I was a good fit for the company’s culture. (These interviews were also the ones where we had more natural conversation, and discussed “real” topics in addition to the traditional interview drivel.)

During my year and four month tenure at my current job, I’ve been promoted through four different official positions. (Five, unofficially.) Those jobs gave me ample doses of stress and anxiety, lots of experience working overtime, and far too much up-close experience with corporate subterfuge, but they have also given me a knack for process improvement, a strong backbone, and a true sense of who exactly I am in the “real world” workplace. I’ve had the good fortune to work with droves of smart, passionate, dedicated people; most of whom were more than willing to teach me how to be better at my job. For the majority of my time there, I was part of an amazing team that was able to accomplish great things–all while understaffed, overworked, and underappreciated. The memories of the great people I worked with and the many things we were able to produce–against all odds–are the ones I want to take with me and remember fondly. I’ll keep the rest, too, but it’ll all be filed under “things to avoid like hell in the future.”


One thought on “on interviews, and what I’ve learned

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s