Tell me a little about yourself…

I just love job interviews.

AdobeStock_101524983Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for any length of time will sense the ‘tude there. I don’t love job interviews, in fact, like most people, I would prefer never to go through one again.

I’ve had some humdingers, too. The absolute worst was with a human resources intern, who apparently didn’t know the law. You can’t ask questions that will reveal age, and that includes the year you graduated from high school. At least, at that time and in that state, you couldn’t.

“Tell me everything you’ve been doing since you graduated from…what high school did you go to? Where the hell is that?” he asked.

“Are you kidding me?” I responded.

It didn’t get any better, and it lasted a whopping 45 minutes. I thought about putting an end to the misery early on, but given the number of inappropriate questions he was asking about my personal life, I held on. This was a phone interview, and I was betting it was being recorded. I took careful notes, and after our conversation was over, I wrote a brief and straightforward letter to the Human Resources Director letting her know I didn’t believe her intern reflected the best of their organization.

I never heard from that company again.

There are standard questions, and generally I know how to answer them, but sometimes I get tripped up. The one that always stumps me is, “what do you plan to be doing in five years?”

Kittens and popoversI’ve lived long enough to know two things: you can’t predict with any share of accuracy what you’ll be doing in five years, and employers are really asking, how long could we count on you sticking around? That brings up a host of questions you just can’t ask.

Then there are the “tell me about” questions. “Tell me about a time you had an innovative idea that saved lives and changed the world.”  “Tell me about a challenging situation with an outcome that included rescued kittens and popovers.”

The interview usually ends with, “do you have any questions for me?” and of course, you can’t ask for the information you’d really like to take home and ponder. “What are the best and worst things your employees say about your company?” or “Tell me about the unwritten policies.”

AdobeStock_92854227qI’m job hunting now, and I’m smart enough to know potential employers could read this post (as well as anything else I’ve written on this blog). To them I humbly say…rats, I can’t think of what to say. This blog reflects a part of me.

It’s not all of me, though, so I look forward to meeting you and learning more about the great opportunities at your renowned organization.


Image Credits: (Drawings) © Séa — Fotolia; (Cat) © Africa Studio — Fotolia; (Woman Running to Opportunity) © RetroStar — Fotolia.

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Make ’em Laugh

I have an offbeat sense of humor, and sometimes things I think are funny fall flat.

Cat had no idea
Even the best jokes draw a blank sometimes.

I guess that’s true of many, if not most, people at one time or the other, but it doesn’t feel terribly universal when you’re sitting with a group of your peers and realize either you weren’t as hysterical as you thought, you were totally off with your reference, or your peers are your peers because of job title, not age, and they’ve never heard of the (very famous, Oscar-winning) film you used as a punch line.

In my case, I was working at a major bookstore, and we were having some annual pre-holiday training. The staff was split into small groups, and the various managers led their groups in practical exercises.

Quentin, one of the assistant managers, was in charge of my team, all seven of us. I was in my 40s, Quentin was maybe 30, and the six others were no more than 25. I should have known better.

“You have a customer who’s going on vacation to Turkey with her husband in January, and she wants to put together a Christmas stocking with things he can use for their trip. What would you suggest?” Quentin asked his bored employees.

The suggestions were made half-heartedly. A map — a travel guide to Turkey — some games or crossword puzzles for the plane trip. My team members were missing the obvious.

adobestock_101089233-converted
Honestly, I swear to you, it’s funny.

“A DVD of Midnight Express,” I said.

No one got it. In fact, they’d never heard of the movie. As it turns out, none of them were even alive when it was released. Well, Quentin may have been in diapers, but he still wasn’t familiar with this iconic film. I was left with the option of either explaining my joke (usually a bad choice) or telling everyone to ask their parents.

For those of you not familiar with Midnight Express, it’s a fictionalized account of the true story of a man arrested for smuggling hashish out of Turkey.  It was a tortuous experience, and eventually he escaped, before certain death in the Turkish prison.

Okay, maybe not the film to watch before a vacation to that beautiful country. Still, I laugh at my own joke even today, more than ten years later.

The stereotypical requirements for a desirable spouse go like this, “attractive, intelligent, with a good sense of humor.” Translation? “Someone I’m attracted to, who is as smart, but not too much smarter, than I am, and who laughs at the same things I do.”  I know there are people out there, even other people on that same job (who sadly were on a different team), who would have laughed at my joke.

Cat holding his stomach in laughter
“Midnight Express”? Ohmigosh my tummy hurts I’m laughing so hard!!

My friend Laurie would laugh. That’s one of the reasons she’s been one of my best friends for more than 35 years. We may find humor in odd things, but we’re sharing the joke. Her husband has the same brand of humor, and it’s helped get them through some tough times. In fact, they can joke about the pitfalls of marriage, something some of my friends forget to do.

You have to laugh, or you’ll go crazy. Find the humor and share it.

And hang on to the friends who can’t help themselves and laugh with you.


Images © geosap — Fotolia