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What do you do with the elephant?**

June 23, 2021

Job interviews have been some of the most painful experiences of my life. Right up there with first dates, which, in reality, is really nothing more than a job interview.

I’m a lousy interviewer. During interviews it was always impossible for me to be myself. I wanted to be Mr. “Perfect Candidate” and I didn’t want to lie to make myself seem perfect, and the truth is that a perfect candidate doesn’t exist. I read interview books and practiced and I still stunk. And the worst mistake I made – at least for my personality – was to try and memorize answers to common interview questions so I could mold them to my experience. If I were to ever give anyone any advice based on my frightful interviewing experiences, it would be to not try and impress anyone and don’t have prepared answers to questions you think might be asked. Especially those outside the box questions that are supposed to throw you off your game. Just learn the art of ‘vagueness’. Or course I’m terrible at interviews – and first dates – so you might not want to pay attention to anything I say.

The worst interview I had was for a promotional opportunity where I was working. In the room with me was the supervisor of the position and the department manager. The manager had a broken right hand that was in a cast and she had her elbow on the table with the arm sticking straight up and she was wiggling her fingers. It was like something you might see at an abstract art museum with her little fingers wiggling on top of a white column. Or some kind of alien sea creature. I was more nervous than normal because I didn’t expect two people in the room and eye contact was difficult because I didn’t know who to look at. And they didn’t make it easy because they sat a good distance apart so I had to physically turn my head to look at one or the other. Out of nowhere, the manager finally said, “Yes, I broke it.” I said, “I’m sorry.” and she said, “No more than I am.”

Ever have that feeling that someone doesn’t like you? I’ve found that when I have that feeling it tends to be true. The interview got worse after that with more confrontational questions from the manager and I didn’t get the job. I had that ‘don’t like me‘ feeling all through the interview.

The best interview I had was for a job working for someone who used to work with my dad. “So you’re Charlie’s kid, huh?” he said. “Yeah,” I said. And for the next 20 minutes we sat there and talked about my dad until he finally started talking about the hours and the pay and when he asked me when I could start I relaxed.

I guess if you want to learn about a parent talk to someone who worked with them.

Now I’m in a position where I get to help make the hiring decisions and I’m part of the interviews. I’m one of the people in the room who make other people nervous. Oddly, rather than feeling kind of good about having that kind of influence, it makes me a little sad because I feel like I’m making someone else anxious and who wants to make someone else nervous and on edge? I don’t want to be that person and my impulse is to try and comfort them rather than help interview them.

The word for this ‘Word of the Day Challenge”, which comes from the mind of Kristian, is INTERVIEW.

**That’s one of those goofy interview questions. Someone gives you an elephant. You can’t sell it or give it away. What do you do with the elephant?

Feel free to answer the question in the comments if you’d like! Or not.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2021 5:22 pm

    I can so relate. My last job, from which I retired last year after 25 years, knew my husband. He had been their dedicated computer tech for years. They had his cellphone number on speed dial, so when the owner of the company wanted to meet me, I told my husband, “You had better have fixed those computers really well!” He had. I don’t remember a thing about the interview, only that the owner of the company wanted to talk to me, just because….. Luckily I really like my job because I could not imagine having to go through the entire interview process. Be gentle, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. June 25, 2021 1:07 am

    I was halfway through this when I realised that it’s not a Six Sentence Story!
    Oh, and you paint the elephant:


    Liked by 1 person

  3. June 25, 2021 8:39 am

    So now you know the true meaning of turning the tables on someone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 25, 2021 10:08 am

      Much to their relief I’m not much of a table turner. Which I guess is good. And which might make me as bad of an interviewer as I was an interviewee!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. June 25, 2021 5:31 pm

    Your piece called up memories! And that’s the mark of a good tale.
    Made me think of interviews I’ve had and realise that, traumatic as some of them were, I can now smile at the memory. And not least because it’s highly unlikely, being retired, that I’ll ever be interviewed again… Unless, of course, it’s by the police!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. June 29, 2021 2:26 pm

    Interviews are awful.

    Hire the elephant out to zoos that want babies, using stud fees to provide for the elephant.


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