Do you ever feel like you are playing a role when you show up for an interview?
You know, there is a “song and dance” routine and you are expected to go through certain motions. You know the answers you are expected to give. You have been on the other side of the interview table, perhaps, on a selection committee a few times. And yet, you are unable to play the game in the way that you did before.
I think being 2 months shy of 45 has given me certain perspective on what I value. It has change the way I choose to show up these days. I no longer have a need to put on a “front” when I talk with people, at least beyond some social graces.
There’s a comfort level in my body, within being in my own skin, showing up as me, unapologetic and real. It is freeing. I have gained experience in many challenging situations in the past couple decades. I’ve made lots of mistakes. And I’ve learned valuable lessons along the way. I’ve had success in a lot of areas, and I can own that success, and not be sheepish about claiming those victories.
I give tremendous credit to years of yoga and the past year of dance classes. Trying new things, and risking appearing foolish as a beginner has given me more confidence in trying other new things. I know that new moves (whether they are dance routines or yoga poses) can be learned and practiced, and that skills are built over time and with regular commitment.
I found out on Wednesday (after my Tuesday interview) that I will be asked for the third (and presumably final) interview for a position that excites me. I am getting better at showing up as me, rather than some image of who I think I am supposed to be. Perhaps that is ultimately the work of our lives, knowing ourselves and honoring those calls to grow.
On Wednesday I had an interview for a technology company that I like, but in a retail environment that would be a different experiences for me. On paper, it seemed very exciting. I liked considering the advantages of this part-time opportunity. I believed it would allow me to ramp up my other efforts a little more mindfully and without rushing.
The interview went well, and I even advanced to the next round with a higher leader in the organization. But as I was considering the nature of the work environment, and my preference for adequate personal space and solitude in every day, my body felt a noticeable depletion of energy rather than excitement.
I’d been excited the day before about getting called so quickly for the in-person interview after the phone interview. I am eager to learn the technology, and to help people use it better, the original reason I pursued the position. Also, they were seeking bilingual Spanish speakers and it would be an opportunity to keep my skills sharp. But the thought of an 8-hour shift “out in the open” on a retail floor made me feel drained and tired.
That is okay. I would not necessarily have been able to visualize and imagine myself in the setting to consider whether it is a fit without actually being there and observing. My body is giving me signals to help me figure out the next steps for myself. Typically when I pay attention to my energy levels, and move in the direction where the energy lifts rather than falls, I am happier.
I thought that learning and practicing sales and marketing techniques would be good for my own business. But there are other ways to do this, and I will not give up on that idea.
Yesterday I got “stood up” by a company that set a phone interview with me for 10:20-10:40 in the morning. The company shall remain unnamed for now.
It was an interview for a part-time position that I was excited to do, a role where I would be teaching and coaching people on new technology, helping them get started. I was disappointed that nobody called at the appointed time. We had set it up 9 days before that, and I had received a reminder of the appointment 2 days before.
So here is the action I took after 15 minutes of waiting. I did not have the phone number of an actual person to call, so I emailed the contact that had “scheduled” the call. I explained that nobody had called me, and I would love to reschedule the call for another time if something else came up and they were unable to attend the appointment.
Then I went to my 10:45 Zumba dance class as scheduled rather than getting too frustrated or worrying about it. I had a blast, and I am glad I had driven there in advance instead of skipping it in favor of the no-show interview.
I heard no word back from them as of 5 hours later. I am disappointed, yet I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. Shit happens. Maybe they were unable to get to all the people they schedule or they were running behind (20 minutes is not a long time for a call). I sent a note to the original recruiter from LinkedIn who contacted me as well.
If they do not get back to me, I will move on. Unfortunately the gate-keeping function that a lot of companies set up is a mechanism to stop bombardment of people who randomly send out a lot of resumes. That is not me.
I do not take it personally. Sometimes things are meant to happen. Other things take more time.While I was disappointed, it does no good to dwell on that feeling. I continue to push forward on my other initiatives, realizing that not all “leads” come to fruition.
The right projects will emerge as I continue to make my “pitches” and hone my offer. I will sublimate my excitement for teaching and coaching for now and direct them elsewhere.
In the last couple of weeks, I have had the desire to cut my hair much shorter. This weekend it started to feel unbearable to have the burden of long hair. And yesterday I did it – I went to the salon and asked them to chop off 4-5 inches, so my hair is only about an inch below the ears. While it is not a super dramatic change, it makes me feel lighter and I think it looks a little sassy.
As it turns out, I was invited for an informational interview on Thursday (today) for one of the positions I recently applied for – it was the one that made me excited but also a little scared because it is a big challenge, and requires the creation of new process and pilots.
I guess my cover letter submission was a successful one, since the hiring manager opted to set something up right away. I realize in some ways it is a “stretch” job for me, but I know I can learn what I need in order to demonstrate I’m capable.
I am filled with excitement but also a little dread. Interviews are a little nerve-wracking for me. But I will focus on being myself and asking good questions. Having completed a hiring process in my department recently, I realize that what I look for are people who are open-minded, willing to learn and have positive energy. Experience is important, but attitude is more important. Knowledge is important, but contacts and networks are also important.
There is a sort of “meta” skill when it comes to interviewing for a job in which there will be a lot of latitude for creation. You must know yourself well, be comfortable with ambiguity, cope well with set-backs, and realize that you may try certain things and fail. You need to recover well when that happens, and not beat yourself up. All jobs that do not have a predetermined procedure, where something new will be created, or some big systems-thinking project will be designed, require flexibility. I have definitely learned that throughout my career.
My sassy new haircut feels like an asset going into this interview process. It takes a bit of courage to make such a leap, chop off a bunch of hair that’s been growing out for some time. But it lightened my mood and my spirit, and that’s how I plan to approach the interview.
Wish me luck!!
How do you show up every day?
I was in Mexico this week to interview candidates for an open position on my team. The first candidate showed up a few minutes early, presented well, and I liked him. My colleague was assisting me on the interviews. We conducted the first half of the hour in Spanish and then, as my colleague had to excuse herself for another meeting, we spoke mostly in English. The candidate kept up and was very engaged in the discussion. I liked him right away and could visualize him being successful in the role.
The second candidate did not show up. Fifteen minutes after the interview was scheduled to begin, I asked HR if they had confirmed she would attend. When they tried to call her to find out if there was an emergency or she was running late, she did not answer. I found myself annoyed, but since I had some extra time to work, I finished up a few pending items on my laptop.
The third candidate was not due until 3:30 p.m. and since lunches tend to be on the later side here, I walked outside to lunch with 2 colleagues and were away from the office from about 1:15-2:30. I had a chance to visit with my local CRS and the clinical quality person for a while and finished more work.
At 3:25 HR dropped by to tell me the candidate had called to say she was in a meeting that ran over, but she could be at the interview 30 minutes late if I was still open to receive her. I told her yes. I appreciated the courtesy of the call. True, she probably should have scheduled more time between meetings or scheduled a later interview. But I am human, and I sometimes over-schedule my calendar. I appreciated at least her call and the option to reschedule or to meet her same day.
The interview itself started at 4 p.m. I was pretty tired at that point, and since I had not slept so well the night before (early morning insomnia) I was a lot less focused and engaged overall. My colleague who was helping had skipped lunch and was pretty tired, so we did not present or ask questions in an organized way. I liked this candidate. She was conversational and friendly, but I really was much less focused and present at that hour of the day. So I was less attentive to her answers.
The next morning, reflecting on the day yesterday, I was disappointed in how I showed up for that second candidate. True, she was late. And I shifted my schedule for her and my colleague had to stay later than she had planned as well. But I wish I had been able to give her the energy I had for the first candidate of the day. In my own mind, when I compare the two he stood out. But I was fresh then, and I was engaged in carefully understanding his answers to questions (especially since the first half was in Spanish so I had to listen closely).
I started considering what it means to truly “show up” for the work we do every day. How do we show up at our best for what we do? I know for me, I am better when I have had adequate rest, some quiet time in the morning for reflection, meditation and perhaps writing in my journal. Sometimes I have had time for a quick 20-30 minute run. Other times sleep beckons more than my need for exercise.
By the the end of the day, typically after about 3 or 4 p.m. my attention wanes. On a typical day, I make my list of tasks I will tackle in the morning when I am fresh and full of energy. I know this about myself, that I have always been a morning person. From the time I was a baby my Mom told me that I was all smiles in the morning, happy to greet the day. This has carried over into my adulthood. My husband knows after about 8 or 9 p.m. I am “toast” in terms of brain power.
I am trying to make a decision on whether to extend an offer to one of the candidates that actually showed up for the interview yesterday. My own bias is toward the first one, but I am mistrustful of that bias. For one, I showed up fully for his interview in a way that I simply did not have the energy to do for the late-in-the-day appointment. Another: I am not sure he would be a great fit, he was just the best of the short-listed candidates HR had brought forward.
Clinical research is demanding and the medical device field requires a substantial amount of training before a CRS can be fully functioning in their role. It takes 12-18 months of focused training due to the contacts and networks you must develop to be effective. So every hiring decision is a serious one, and should not be taken casually.
I was first hired here as a contract employee. I worked for two years without benefits or paid vacation time. But there was value to figuring out whether I was a “fit” for this employer and for my department. It took me at least 3 months to figure that out as I was learning my role. I wish employers could more often have at least a 2-4 month period before making a longer term offer.
Once your employer sees you “showing up” day after day and getting the work done, actively learning and making contacts within the organization, it is easier to evaluate long term fit. Interviews are typically 1-2 hours when you can put your best foot forward. While they are an important first step, they are an incomplete view at best. I will make a decision after thinking through the needs of the office, and my other employee already in Mexico.
You might consider asking yourself now and then:
How do you show up (at your best) in your interactions with people? Are there ways you can be more fully present in what you do? What difference would that make?