He Says/She Says: Job Interviews


26 Comments
He Says/She Says: Interviews

The job hunt. We’ve all been there and done that, probably several times. The best feeling in the world is getting that call to set up an interview after submitting an application. Woo! They like me enough on paper to meet me in real life! But then the pressure’s on. You have to make them like not just your credentials but also YOU as a person.

Since Johnny and I have been married, we’ve each gone through the interview process many times. I’ve been hired as a server, secretary, teacher’s assistant, and editor. He’s been a server, IT teacher, graphic designer, marketing director, and copywriter. In order to hold all those positions, we’ve both had to have success with in-person interviews. BUT the way we approach our interviews is 100% opposite.

Johnny’s Method

It’s quite obvious in our house when Johnny has a job interview coming up. Our coffee table becomes littered with papers about the prospective employer, as well as questions they might ask Johnny. Oh, and there’s always a list of questions Johnny wants to ask them. And Johnny himself? He can be found pacing and repacing the living room as he puts all this info to memory. It’s kind of Russell Crowe-esque in A Beautiful Mind. Which I guess makes me his imaginary friend who supports him along the way. When I’m around during these preparations, Johnny’s all for talking through the interview scenario out loud with me, over and over. No matter the magnitude of the job interview, this has always been how Johnny does it. It’s how he gets his interviewing mojo going on.

Joanna’s Method

I’m cut from a completely different cloth than Johnny in the interviewing department. Once I know I have an interview coming up, a bit of nervous excitement sets in. In order to quell the nervousness and just focus on the excitement, I try to think about the actual interview as little as possible. I write nothing down. I simply organize my thoughts and keep a few questions I have for the company in the back of my mind. And I don’t want to talk to anyone about it beforehand. I focus more on finding an outfit that makes me feel confident and not so much on what I’m going to have to say. As long as I know I’m qualified for the job, then I figure what I say will come naturally. If I overthink things, it tends to make me super nervous, and then I start rocking the whole deer-in-headlights look.

Of course, both of us think the other person is completely wacky in their preferred methods. I tell Johnny again and again before an interview, “You’re thinking too much.” or “Seriously, stop memorizing that… they’re not going to ask you to name every employee.” or “You realize you look crazy when you pace like that.” And don’t get me started on how he reacts to my lack of preparation… “Okay, Joanna, let’s talk about what they might ask you!” or “Are you even ready for the interview at all?!” or “Why aren’t you showing any emotions? Are you a robot?”

Despite not understanding each other’s methods at all, we each find that they work great for us. When it’s finally time for our interviews, we’re both calm, collected, and confident (and crazy for alliteration!). And usually (fingers crossed) that means a job offer! So even though we think each other’s preparations are crazy, it’s not crazy if it works, amiright?

What about you? How do you prepare for a job interview? What crazy method do you swear by? Are you like Johnny or me when it comes to interview prep?

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26 Comments

  • Reply Laurie February 4, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I’m with you, Joanna; must be a girl/guy thing maybe? It’s all about preparing the mind and the environment. :-). The facts are just, well, facts! (Ok, maybe a little preparing should occur :-) )

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Yup! As long as I’m dressed nice and arriving on time to an interview, I’m good to go! :) I think also how we handle stress may have something to do with it. I handle stress more internally, and Johnny more externally.

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 4, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I’m more like Johnny on this one, but with less pacing, I think =) I write a list of tons of possible questions in a notebook, and then one by one, I write out long form answers to them. (And it has to be handwritten!) For some reason doing that a few times commits all the relevant information into my head without it seeming weird or robotic. So far it’s worked pretty well!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Everything Johnny does to prepare has to be handwritten, too! And in that neat, tiny writing of his. He’ll be glad to hear he’s not the only one who prepares this way! Whatever works, right?

  • Reply debtperception February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I think it’s always good to know a bit about the company but I wouldn’t do any extensive research or practice answering questions…I get very nervous before interviews so I try not to focus on it too much, to take the stress away or I’d be like you said, Joanna, a deer in headlights!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      And that doesn’t tend to be a good look for anyone! And I agree… it’s good to know some general facts about the company… this is your potential livelihood, after all!

  • Reply DC @ Young Adult Money February 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Johnny and I prepare the same way. I research the company, write up questions to ask, and start spending a crapload of time writing out out and memorizing responses (or more so bulleted points) of how I plan on answering any given potential interview questions. I will then bust out my finance interview book I have and start poring over basic finance information (I would hate to forget some basic finance/accounting theory or method…). It’s a bit ridiculous how I prepare, but it works for me.

    This post reminds me that the best way to prepare for an interview is long before you get it (at least if you are using my method). I am an accountant but have only taken two accounting classes, so I always get paranoid about not knowing something basic and having it sink my interview, despite knowing that I am qualified and pick up on things quickly once I do have the job. I’d say interviews are by far my weakest point and they really do annoy me because it has more to do with how you click with the interviewer. On a second-round interview for an internship the interviewer said at one point “you sound like me when I was in college.” I knew that even though only 4 out of 12 were moving to the next round, I was in.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      So true! It’s super important to find that personal connection with the interviewer. It should mostly be about credentials, but truthfully, if they come away liking you, you’re good to go. I’m not typically super bubbly, but in interviews I *try* to lay it on really thick! I say “try” because I’m not sure how successful I am at it! 😀

  • Reply Michelle February 4, 2013 at 9:29 am

    When I was looking for a job, I prepared like crazy. I would research the company and position almost obsessively!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      You and Johnny are one and the same. So funny how different we all are!

  • Reply MomofTwoPreciousGirls February 4, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I’m a little bit of both…most of my interviews have been internally with the same company. So the researching and such is not usually too necessary. I do write down questions I want to ask (can’t leave them in my head, because I always forget when the interview comes!). Since I also have given interviews for this company I am very aware of the process and style of the question s and the types of answers they are looking for so that part flows really well for me. I believe in the old fashioned working for the same company all your life if possible! I have been in the finance industry for close to 18 years and those have been served with the same two companies.

    The way I’m like you, Joanna, is I do not want to discuss it beforehand. I want to get n the zone on my own and tend to not tell ANYONE…because what I despise most is the aftermath of every one constantly asking “did you hear anything?” Makes me want to shoot myself! Tat is almost as bad as when people start asking when the baby is coming, the moment you tie the knot, or when are you going for number 2 before you get one from the hospital!!!

    I have actually been displaced for a little over 6mos which is hell! I had a severance up until last week, and I have a meeting with my former employer about an opportunity that is about 10 minutes from my home and the girls’ daycare vs the 1.5 hour each way commute I was doing for them previously. Keeping the fingers crossed! Need to get PAID and get the heck out of this house!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Yup… discussing beforehand is a big NO for me. It just does something to my mental calm. How much I discuss it is directly correlated to how nervous I am at the interview!

      Good luck with your meeting! I hope it goes well. Since you’re a mom of two girls, I know you’re a hard worker (jut one is kicking my butt!), so they’d be lucky to have you!

  • Reply Renee S February 4, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Oh man, this post is so timely for me! I have a huge interview coming up on Friday. I am going the Joanna route, like I always do. I don’t wanna talk about it, I don’t wanna think about it, I just wanna pick out my clothes and feel pretty and confident. I also want it to be over already…they make me so nervous!

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Good luck, Renee! Good thing Johnny isn’t responding to this comment, or he might ask you the same questions he asks me before every interview 😉

      You’ve got a few days, so no reason to stress right now. You’ll do great!

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup February 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I research the company and then I just relax. If I can answer their questions then I am good to go. I try not to over analyze, but I just make sure I know about them.

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      It’s smart to learn about the company. That’s one thing I think I’d like to be better at. It always helps in answering the obligatory “Why do you want to work here?” question. Having a reason other than “Because I need a job!!!” is always a plus! :)

  • Reply Rob February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Over the years, before recently retiring from the employment rat race (lol), I’ve worked full time for a dozen employers so I’ve gone thru the “fun” of interviewing for all of these folks, as well as for many other employers who (for some crazy reason) decided not to hire me ! :-)

    In fact, at one large bank, I went through 5 interviews (moving up the chain of command in meeting managers) and still I was not hired. On hindsight, after working for some time longer and getting to know the IT market, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as this employer tended to hire a lot as well as lay off a lot, as market conditions fluctuated. Thanks but no thanks.

    But, to answer your question, to prepare for job interviews I tended to use a bit of both approaches – mostly that of Johnny’s but also that of Joanna’s in that I would keep everything inside of me and didn’t want to discuss things with anyone. Of course, after the interview and especially if it was successful (and I was offered the job), I would be a regular blabber mouth about it around the house ! :-)

    • Reply Joanna February 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      I can’t relate to the 5-interview scenario, but I know Johnny can. Talk about stressful!!

      And Johnny and I are both like you, Rob — total blabber mouths once the interview is a success! Nothing like giving a second-by-second play-by-play after a major adrenaline rush like that! Thank goodness for family who’s willing to listen (or at least pretend to!). :)

  • Reply Dustin Small February 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I have to say that I prepare more along the lines of Johnny. I tend to do lots of research and end up doing a lot of pacing as well. Actually I pace all the time, when I’m doing any heavy thinking in general! lol. It definitely has something to do with stress relief. I feel better when I’m “on the move” lol.

    • Reply Joanna February 5, 2013 at 12:53 am

      This comment just made you Johnny’s new BFF. The last thing he needs is validation that his methods are normal! I guess as long as the pacing remains within the confines of our home, I’m fine with him looking like a crazy person at times. 😉

  • Reply Ty February 5, 2013 at 1:35 am

    After reading this, man, I was lucky with mine. They brought in all of the interviewies (that a word??) at once and after giving us an orientation and tour, basically told us that the more we answer “yes” to their questions, the more likely they are to hire us. After I had my turn I was told right then and there, “I’m going to offer you a job.” I accepted, he said to come in next week to begin training, and that was that.

    Although when I initially signed up, one of the questions was why do you want to work here. I asked my mom her opinion (I was recently out of high school) and she gave me a line to use that included mentioning their reputation. I wish I remembered what it was so that I could share.

    • Reply Joanna February 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Ty, you lucked out with that interviewing process. All it took was one look and your company knew they wanted you! Why can’t all interviews be that way?? And whatever your mom told you must have worked since you got the job! :)

  • Reply KK @ Student Debt Survivor February 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I guess I’m a combo of both. I like to do a lot of research about the company, but I don’t really want to talk to anybody beforehand about the interview. I actually sort of like to interview (I know that sounds weird, as most people hate interviews and get really nervous). They obviously think I’m qualified for the job if they called me so I don’t stress the interview. Either the interviewer and I will click and I’ll impress them, or we won’t and I’ll interview somewhere else.

    • Reply Joanna February 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      That’s a great outlook to have! I definitely don’t like interviewing, but I think Johnny might be in the same boat as you… he sees it as an exciting challenge! :)

  • Reply Jeremy February 11, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I’ve got an interview next week. The last interview I had, they gave me a list of things to look over and they wanted me to answer questions and bring those with me. Beyond that, I didn’t fret too much. I just walked in and had a conversation about how I’m going to kick ass at the job. The first interview got me to the interview this week, and I’m really looking forward to this one! No worries here. I just make sure I shave and look fresh. I am in sales and have acted in plays/improv before though so I’m trained to keep my cool. I do know my industry and position very well, though as well.

    • Reply Joanna February 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Awesome, Jeremy. It sounds like you’ve got it all under control. You’ve got a great attitude about the interview process, and that combined with your expertise will go a long way. Good luck this week!!

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