Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Interviewing is hard.

I woke up. Got dressed. Curled my hair and plucked my eyebrows. Put on make up. Went to the lobby for a bagel and juice. Took my taxi to the interview site.

And then began a day that went extremely quickly. I had 8 interviews, each lasting more than the allotted 45 minutes appointment time. Some of the questions and ideas were both novel and impressive. I never felt lost, though there were points where I could tell my answers were not what they wanted to hear. But I stuck with honesty since I believe I'll turn them down even if they offer me something.

I did, however, interview like I wanted it. I cringed at the seminar delivered too quickly and with all the wrong colors in the background since I had to use a stupid PC instead of my lovely Mac. I would have used the Mac, but we were running 10 minutes behind even for my morning presentation and people were waiting for us in this huge room. Without any time to prepare, I was nervous. Abruptly and intensely terrified that I had no idea what I was talking about. Yet 35 minutes later, I was finished speaking and the one-on-one questioning began again.

I liked some interviewers better than others, having a particular favorite with whom I could have spent hours discussing science and technology and trading stories. He was absolutely delightful. He was also the only one who asked if I was married, then immediately leaned back in his chair and said, "Hell. I'm not allowed to ask that. You don't have to answer." I laughed in response and shook my head at him. "It's fine. And no, I'm not." And he gave me a grin in return.

The younger the employee - and three of them graduated the same year I did - the harder the interview. There were copious notes and superior nods and in-depth questions to assess my background. The older men - for I saw only men today - were easier, gathering the necessary information but with a style that was much more refined.

There was one man who met me near the end of the day. His eyes were the exact same bright blue of his shirt. I found them beautiful and had to remind myself to act professional as I fluttered at him. He was informative and honest, which I found refreshing.

The feedback I received was positive. But there were some who gave few clues as to their opinions. They were all meeting in a conference room that overlooked the front area as I waited for the cab that would deliver me back to my hotel. I was briefly tense at the thought of them discussing me and the qualifications and knowledge I had trotted out for their possible rejection. That I was too tired to think about it anymore.

The cab driver was late, but I waited outside, breathing in the cool air and relishing not being inside and being asked to respond to questions anymore. He drove painfully slowly (in contrast to this morning's driver who was going 72 in a 40mph zone), listened to some conservative radio talk show and asked me to look up the address of the hotel since he didn't know where it was. Then I believe he tried to subtly berate me for my choice of tip (he got 20%). This bothered me more than it should have, but I now believe him to be a whore. And I'm taking a different car company to the airport tomorrow morning for my early flight.

I don't know that I'm particularly glad I came. I suppose the experience was good - it reminded me of how out of practice I am in the interviewing game, but my skills returned quickly. I talked and laughed and made a few notes as I spoke to people. I was honest about my skill set and preferences. And I made it through the day being attentive and engaged with the process - my biggest problem is hitting a wall of exhaustion, but I didn't yawn a single time.

It's over though. And that feeling I used to have after big exams or perhaps a big presentation is present. Relief that is covered with exhaustion and residual tension as it dissipates. And tomorrow I travel. Here to parents' to pick up my dog (who spent the day bonding with Mom - they apparently napped and talked and ate a bit), then continuing south to reunite with my stripey cat.

Any questions? I'm in answer mode today, so give it your best shot. Otherwise, I believe I'm going to sleep.


Jane said...

Glad to hear the interview went well! Safe travels to you.

zelda said...

wow, sounds exhausting! get a good sleep! :)

Anonymous said...

glad you're done and it sounds like you did great!! take care

Estrella said...

Glad it went well ... and ... also (regarding one of the other recent posts since I'm playing catch-up today), glad you're not planning to discontinue this blog anytime soon. :-)

Anonymous said...

I would like to learn more about this: are the interviews so fundamentally different that they have 8 of them? Does HR interview as well? What sort of technical depth do they cover? Is it like a PhD defense.
As you must have gathered, I am a totally newbie, so feel free to ignore if the questions are too specific.


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