With effort, I can get better at some things…

OK, enough job search for the week!

I had an extended phone interview with a recruiter this morning, then she arranged with another phone interview with the employer this afternoon. Both went very well; I actually asked a sticky question about a past project I knew about (the project team had moved on to a different company, but I still wanted the current take on the project.) Because I was careful in phrasing it, they actually appreciated that I tackled a difficult issue and stated where my “deal-breaker issues” are. Anyhow, we now have a fairly long interview and lunch scheduled for next Friday.

(Sorry for the cliché talk; it’s bound to creep in everything I write for a while. Whereas I usually strive to remove catch phrases, bromides and clichés from my writing, preparing resumes and going through job interviews is actually an exercise in stringing the right collection of buzz words together!)

I once again noticed an interesting phenomenon. I am firm about describing my experience in as positive a light as I can, but also very careful in not overstating my abilities — and that usually makes employers eager to assure me I have the right qualifications. I typically sound like this in an interview: “I have experience with X and Y, and have provided direction for such and such a project. On the other hand, it looks like you might be looking for someone who is also strong in Z. I know about Z and have used the information prepared by others in many projects, but I don’t typically do Z myself. Is that a background that would be of interest to you?” Most employers really warm up to this. And if they don’t then I know I didn’t fit the profile they seek.

I’m not surprised I can manage (after reading on the topic and learning what recruiters and employers are looking for) to write a good resume; I’ve always had an easy time writing. But I AM surprised that I can manage to be doing really well in interviews, and especially doing well over the phone. I grew up as a pretty shy kid; while my younger sister always made friends instantly wherever we went, I made very few friends as it took me a long time to know people enough to let my guard down. I’ve worked long and hard to get over this.

When I was in college, I actually observed and learned how other people did simple things that didn’t come naturally to me: talk about the weather, chit-chat with clerks in stores, etc. Later, I practised giving presentations and classes until I became quite good at it. Then when I moved to the U.S., I had to learn to do it all over again, in English! I actually think I gained a lot of assurance, glibness, and quick-thinking from role-playing games. But to this day, I detest making phone calls because I find it much more difficult than when I can rely on body language clues to gauge the other person’s interest. Yet I now manage to give good phone interviews. One recruiter said “I think you’ll do great — you’re a great listener.” She added: “I love the way you listen carefully to the questions and then provide great answers on the spot.”

And my first thought was: “Years of role-playing, now paying off!” ^_^

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