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Isn't it all About Me?

6/29/2006 1:40:17 AM

By Cynthia M Piccolo

Interviews are strange events. Sometimes they're great, sometimes irritating, and sometimes surreal. Although some people may like interviews, most people find interviews to be nerve-wracking experiences.

Years ago, while I was still in university, I interviewed for a part-time administrative assistant job. I spoke with the boss for about a minute, then was whisked into another room to participate in the birthday party for a staff member that I hadn't been introduced to. I wasn't asked many questions, nor did I have a chance to ask many questions. I did have the opportunity to listen to the coworkers talk about matters unrelated to the job, so I learned something about them on a personal level, and about the type of workplace it was, including that they had decent taste in desserts. Of course, I learned almost nothing about the job itself. I started the next day, and worked there for years.

This situation was clearly unusual.

However, you may encounter people who are just inexperienced or poor interviewers, and who will spend all the time talking – whether about the employer, themselves, or something else altogether – not letting the interviewee get a word in. What's a person to do?

  • Stay cool. It may be frustrating, but don't start fidgeting, tapping your foot, playing with a pen, etc. Don't take things personally or become angry, because the situation is probably not a result of anything you've done wrong, rather it's about the interviewer.

  • Show interest in what the person is saying. Nod, give verbal cues (yes, I see, uh-huh), and if appropriate, ask questions – particularly if the person is talking about the employer. Listen for anything that will give you insight about the employer, whether good, bad, or neutral.

  • Be alert for opportunities to participate in the conversation. If the interviewer starts talking about a particular initiative, patient type, procedure, certification, etc., and you have experience with it, jump in. Or if an interview mentions a workplace problem, and you've had experience in a similar situation – particularly if you have an innovative solution – speak up. Use brief breaks in the interviewer's monologue to sell yourself.

  • Make a decision. You may, like me, actually be offered the job. Do you want it? After all, you won't necessarily be working with the person who interviewed you. If not – keep looking.

    Hopefully, you'll only encounter good interviewers. But even if you encounter a few who seem self-absorbed or uninterested in you (or have poor taste in desserts), don't let it affect your future interviews by destroying your confidence.

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