Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Greatest Weakness....

I have a job interview tomorrow morning. I can't remember the last time I had one, but I think it was more than three years ago. At that one, I reminded the woman interviewing me that she had received and ignored a cover letter and resume I'd sent her for a position at another organization several years earlier. I had noticed her name in an old Word document of cover letters as I was writing the one for this job. Startled, she said, "Honey, I'm sure I was just trying to protect you from that place." Then she hired me and we became great pals.

I hope I'm as lucky this time. I've scrutinized the company Web site and blog, and Googled a couple of the principals. I became a fan of their Facebook page. I've printed extra copies of my resume, pulled out my weighty portfolio of writing samples, re-familiarized myself with my own experience, and made sure my elegant brown riding boots aren't scuffed. I plan to be myself, so I haven't been wearing myself out with composing bogus answers about my greatest weakness (which, as we all know, is layer cake) or strength (which, as we all know, is finding four-leaf clovers).

The woman who is interviewing me confessed on the phone that she is hoping to clone herself. So I found her bio and photo online. In looks and experience, we couldn't be more different. She's smart, professional, crisp, and tailored, with cropped curly hair, and has loads of interesting work, life, and travel experience. I can probably fake the smart part, but not the crisp, cropped, curly, tailored, experienced stuff. I'm incorrigibly limp, rumpled, and long and stringy. Maybe she won't notice.

The posting said they are looking for a "grown-up," meaning someone over 25, I suppose. This is the first time I've ever seen the word "grown-up" in a job description, and I'm not sure it isn't discriminatory. But it's a welcome reversal of the usual "fresh, recent grad" kind of discriminatory language I find every time I look for work.

I'm not sure what experience they want most because they haven't been specific about what the the new person will be doing. There isn't a job description, in other words. So I expect our conversation will be more exploratory, to figure out how my experience and skills might fit in with their various needs.

But we all know that the most important aspect of a job interview is to see if we will hit it off as congenial colleagues. Do I seem normal and nice — or neurotic and weird? Skills and experience often don't matter as much as being generally bright, capable, and pleasant to be around. And everyone they've chosen to interview (out of more than 100 applications) clearly has some kind of desirable experience and skills, so I suspect we'll both really be hoping for "chemistry" tomorrow.

When she asks me what I've been up to lately, I wonder if I'll be inclined to say, "Oh, vacuuming up spores, stuffing syringes with food, and misting a deadly chemical on my entire apartment," or, "Finishing up a portion of a symptom assessor for a very rare disease for a major pharmaceutical company." If we're a good match, I'll probably tell her the latter plus a tamer version of former. Might as well go for full disclosure. It's a very small company and if, by some crazy stroke of fortune, they hire me, they're going to get to know me quickly.

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