So… Tell me about yourself.

I’ve been trying to get everything ready for our upcoming trip but sadly, my schedule does not allow me to take it easy, although my mind and my body definitely already are in happy-vacation-land, my calendar is not…

In the last few weeks I’ve found myself in a few tough career decision situations and it got me thinking, why on earth do we still have job interviews? I mean, yes I get the whole idea of officially meeting someone, sitting down with them and having a conversation, but honestly… Can we not come up with a better way of interviewing someone already?

Before you go bananas, consider this: you apply for a job, you obviously meet all the requirements and maybe even more than that, your possible future employer looks you up on linkedin and facebook and wherever else (I have absolutely no illusion over that I’ve been cyber stalked recently or maybe I just tell myself that, to feel better about my current job situation). Be this as it may, I find any interview situation is incredibly stressful. Your palms are sweaty, your throat dry and you are anticipating a million and one question and after that they are supposed to make a decision about whether or not you fit into the work environment and whether or not you were pleasant enough to be around…

Back in the day, I thought just reading up on a company and the position you are applying for, is enough. Well, turns out, that’s the least you have to do, especially if you are applying for a job in Academia. I, for instance, usually end up writing a 5-10 page proposal, a tailored CV and a tailored job application, on top of providing all information short of my blood type and my favorite animal (it’s whales, always: whales). After that, you wait for about 2-3 months to receive an email telling you that they’ve received your application and then another 1-2 months until they tell you 1. you are after all not considered qualified, 2. there were many qualified applicants, you were just not among the top 10 or 3. you are qualified and possibly among the top 10 but still have to prove that you are up to the task. And then after a few more grueling weeks, they tell you, that although it was nice to meet you, that someone else was offered the position, so you start again (or ideally, never stopped looking).

Here’s the thing though, I do actually love interview situations, technically, that is. I love the performing part of it, because that’s it: you are out-performing yourself and others in order to even be considered for a job-offer… but I don’t like the whole sitting down at a table and talk about all the documents I provided. Wouldn’t it be so much better, if you could meet for a pottery class? A yoga class? A run? Because, really, what are the chances of you ever having to sit like that, like in a job situation, when you actually do your job?

Future job-interviews?
Future job-interviews?

In the career path that I’ve chosen for myself, I actually have to be on stage and present data, let me do that for a job interview, I am good at that, and I’m good at talking with people but sitting down and discussing my strengths and weaknesses?! I am very personable and talkative and opinionated and so many other things, that in a one hour interview will never fully come out. I am also shy and I am confident, I am insecure and yet will never wobble once I made a decision, that’s who I am, but when I sit down in a room of highly acclaimed professionals, who all have achieved so many things that I see for my own future? Well, then I become a hot mess…

So, if you are in the market of applying for jobs or if you are offering jobs, or if you have a job and want to mix it up, how about, the next time you invite someone over for an interview, you go for a walk? Maybe show them around, maybe play pool or do whatever else it is, that is politically correct, non-invasive, non-ablist and not discriminating? Maybe even ask the prospective interviewee where they would like to have the interview and tell them, that mini-golfing is an option too… I am just saying, you can learn a lot from someone if you for instance play Monopoly with them or UNO or anything else…

But be this at it may, for you people out there, looking for a new job, don’t sweat it, even if the interview part isn’t going so great and you immediately regret what you just said (been there, done that), eventually something great will come your way. Stay persistent, stay positive and eventually, everything will turn out great. In the meantime, maybe let’s start a movement, where we move away from desk-in-a-room-interview-situations and let’s have some fun with it…

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