Monday, September 25, 2006

A little introspection

I have been thinking about a certain interview I did a while back and of course there is always a little introspection involved in that. Certainly of the interview itself... Such as,"they said this, I responded this way, but this other thing is more accurate or is a better representation". You know the drill, we have all done it when looking back. Even more though, it made me realize that I hadn't spent enough time in introspection of my past. Sure, the cursory examination, but I haven't spent nearly enough time thinking about it to really grow from it as much as I can.

So in my interview, the four people I met with (back to back, not en mass) each had their own little sheets where they were to ask me pre-defined questions and then jot down whether my answer was good, bad, a little crazy, or John Travolta in Grease "hello I'm singing in a musical" whacky. Just kidding, it's a fun movie. Back to the story. So the third person I met with had their fair share of sheets and asked me: "What was a situation when you felt really out of control".

My response, though accurate, did not put me in a great position. See, I grew up in the Fiji Islands. Around the age of 14 my family and I were stuck on a boat during a hurricane. I'm not going into that more right now as I think it's going to be in my Dads next book. Hrmm, or was it the last one. Dad, if you're reading this, you still haven't sent me a copy yet. Don't worry, I'll call and nag you about it later today. Well, so of course I told the interviewer that being in a hurricane was pretty much at the top of the list.

However, that put me in a very difficult position for a follow up question. Which was of course,"What did you learn from this?" Ummm, well... After the first storm hit I quickly jotted down a 13.5 step guide to preparing for a vacation, and it included checking the marine channel for inclement weather warnings. I am still rather surprised by the question, though I should have anticipated it. What exactly SHOULD I have learned from it?

I didn't learn anything from the hurricane except that raw fish won't kill you (yes, I do love sashimi still)... but I learned a lot from his question. When walking into an interview, you need to have some certain things fully developed in your mind because somebody will probably ask you about them. Your job isn't to just answer the question, it is to give an answer that can be fleshed out and lead back to what you are interviewing about. Here are just a few:

1. How you would respond to a certain action.
2. What kind of past stressors you have had in your life.
3. Skill sets that you learned and applied at your last job.
4. If in management, you will undoubtedly get a lot of questions about how you handled people at your last job, what you felt was difficult about working with them, how you learned and applied those things.
5. Why do you want this job? (you do want it don't you?)
6. What are your 5 yr/10yr/20yr goals.
7. What mistakes you have made and how somebody (you?) dropped the ball.

There are a ton more, Google has a whole slew of them. So prepare yourself, and flesh out some of your answers before hand. When somebody asks you a question in an interview, don't just give them an impressive answer... give them an answer that you can do something with.

So, instead of saying "Umm, I was stuck on a boat in a hurricane", my best answer would have been "When I was in the military during 9/11 and had all the stresses that came with that and the demands that came after." Now that we could have worked with.

So off I go as there is a whole lot more in my life to contemplate. Not just for interviewers, but because in 27 years I've had so many experiences that it is easy to let them slip from memory. I had a girlfriend when I was younger that told me her life was boring... and to that I had to respond,"Nothing is boring if you pay attention to what is really going on."

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