Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I must not have a face for service-oriented careers

The interview went very well. I don't know how long it will be before I hear anything.

I certainly appreciate an employer that has good interview questions. Now, I'm still young in my career and haven't had more than a handful of "serious" job interviews, but I think you can probably tell a lot about a potential employer by the kinds of questions they ask you in your interview.

Ideally, in addition to general job qualifications and competence, an employer is looking for a good personality fit from a candidate. If I were managing a group of people, I'd want to hire somebody that wasn't going to make everyone's life miserable. I'd want to hire somebody the others could get along with, who would make coming to work a reasonably pleasant experience for the others. If possible. That's the kind of worker I try to be, so I guess that must be the way I think things should be done.

But that's pretty tough to determine from an interview alone, when everyone's got their game face on.

Anyway, this employer asked me some very good, technically-relevant questions. I felt like I was able to demonstrate that I am a competent clinical lab scientist, and that I do have good, unique qualities that would make me a good hire.

The easiest interview I ever had was at the hospital worked in back home. I think they were just thrilled to find an entry-level lab tech with my academic background.

The toughest interview was for the EID Fellowship Program. I prepared for that thing for weeks! Four PhD-level public health scientists, one Andrea. Nothin but net.

There are two interviews that tie for the title of "Worst. Interview. Ever."

1.) Barnes and Noble. Apparently shelving books and/or conjuring up a venti Frappucino is VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS, PEOPLE. They ran the gamut of "tell us about a time when you set goals and achieved them/dealt with a difficult co-worker/made the sun shine out of a bodily orifice of your choosing" type questions, but my absolute favorite was:

"Tell us about a time you failed."

I have no idea what I answered. All my job experience to that point had been retail (not that this interview was for a retail job or anything...) so I whipped up some obscure example of being unable to find a certain product for a customer and how that taught me the true meaning of Christmas or whatever. Because, you know, ALL my failures in life are things I'd readily discuss with a potential employer to show him what a gem I am.

At the end, the boss essentially told me that, because they were such hot stuff, they reserved the right to be as picky as they wanted. (i.e., BYE NOW)

The other real doozy of an interview was actually my very first "real" job interview:

2.) Etna Dairy Queen. I don't know HOW you fail an interview for DQ, but I guess I did it. But that's not really what made the interview noteworthy-- the clencher was that the DQ had not been completely built yet, so interviews for potential soft-serve slingers were being held in the back room of a garage in the gas station next door.


Me, sixteen years old, with a crusty middle-aged man in a dank, oil-slicked garage. Alone. With my Mom waiting in the car outside. HEAVENS YES, let's get this career STARTED!

Right, so... I never got a call back from that job. I went to that DQ a few times after it opened, and it was always manned by cutesy little teen queens.

Did I mention I wasn't much of a looker at sixteen? Cause I wasn't. Trust me, I was there. I'll always wonder if that's why I didn't get the job.

At any rate, here's hoping for the laboratory.

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