"Blah, Blah, Blah"…On First Dates and Job Interviews

I know I’m not the first one to compare these two scenarios, but having recently been through both the interviewing process and dating, I’m starting to consider rewriting my “script,” clearing the slate like someone in the Witness Protection Program.

I’m very thankful that there will never be another first date for me, and the one I had with my now husband doesn’t fit into ANY of the typical first-date cliches. That’s probably how I knew that it would be my last, first date.

We all bring to the table scripts that fit different contexts. I’ve never been asked on a first date, for example, “What’s your management style” or “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge and turned it into a success.” During a job interview, I’ve never been asked, “So, how many siblings do you have?” or “How old were you when you first had sex?” (which would undoubtedly make job interviews much more interesting).

Maybe we should have a dating resume, a summary of all the questions we’ll probably be asked that we hand the person, give them 5 minutes to review it in order to cut out 99% of the inane conversation bound to follow. Summary at the top:

Youngest of (fill in the blank) siblings, grew up in (fill in the blank), my parents are (fill in the blank).

Graduated from (fill in the blank)and have lived in Boston for (fill in the blank).

I will/won’t kiss you after this and I probably will/won’t sleep with you.

In the past, I’ve been really lucky in a job search to find something very quickly. I don’t bother applying to jobs that I’m not qualified for or jobs that are out of my field of interest. In the same way, when I was doing the online dating thing, I wouldn’t e-mail a guy who was into NASCAR, heavy metal or slasher movies. I also knew that e-mailing a guy who wanted a “slender” or “athletic and toned” woman would be total bait and switch on my part.

This time around in my job search, I have an 80% response to the resumes I’ve sent out but the interviewing process has become endless. You generally start with a 1/2 hour phone screening with either a volunteer or low level staff member, who generally doesn’t get the specifics of the job you’re applying for. You still have to sound cheerful and ridiculously erudite but I can’t help but think that this is what we ALL sound like on the other end of the phone–a steady stream of over-eager, slightly desperate, faceless voices. Then, it’s up to this person to gather the information, sum you up, and decide if you are being “put through to the next round.” Your fate is in their hands.

This is generally how pre-screening of first dates happen, at least for people of my age, over the phone or through e-mail where the words create the chemistry or lack thereof, before you move on to the “next round.” (I have younger friends who do this all through text message which confounds me.) I once exchanged very brief e-mails with a guy who had no sense of humor and really had no interest in a pre-phone conversation. Even though I had a feeling that the date would be a bust, I went anyway. It was the most boring and awkward two hours of my life. With my husband, the communication was charged and honest, both of us very up-front about the life-experiences we were bringing to the table. We flirted. We laughed. By the time we met for the first time, we had already been through the pre-screen, and were pretty sure, as we sat at dinner, that we would make it way beyond even the second round.

In this job search, I’ve had 7 phone interviews that have resulted in 5 in-person interviews. Generally, I’ve met face-to-face with the person I’d be reporting to and another member of the staff, and spewed the same stuff I spewed over the phone, this time the exaggerated smile being witnessed in person. These have become sort of an out-of-body experience for me: Looking down on myself, I see a pathetic woman in a suit, all hand gestures and hair flips, using jargon and every industry buzzword there is. All I can hear is “blah, blah, blah.” You’d be sick of me too.

I’ve left some of these interviews feeling on top of the world calling my husband and saying “Now THAT was a good interview.” I haven’t been invited back by any of these places. Like dates that I’ve thought have gone okay, I automatically go to the superficial–“Should I not have worn a suit to a grass roots agency?”, “Was there lipstick on my teeth?” “Do these shoes look as cheap as they were?” I wonder how ANYONE could be better suited for the job than I.

I’m at the point where I just want to start making shit up: “I’ve raised over a BILLION dollars for our local hospital.” “I’ve raised the money, created the curriculum AND built, with my own two hands, FIVE schools in Rwanda.” I guess eventually, it would all turn into the same “blah, blah, blah” as have my real accomplishments to date but maybe I should give them a go and see if anyone notices. Just be on the alert for reference checks and be sure to tell the person in charge of hiring that you were the one who made the first multi-million dollar gift to both the hospital AND the schools in Rwanda.

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2 Comments

  1. Brilliant. Although I have a job, I'm also going through an endless pit of job applications and searches. In all our years of doing this, never never seen the interview process like it's become. Faceless for sure. Thanks for helping me remember I'm not alone. And, I clearly do not have the effervescent personality you have. As we all keep telling you, your writing ability and style really could afford you to quit your day job. XXOO

  2. Great post. I'm in the process of searching for a roommate, after years of living alone. I've realized that while I've got the first date and interview down pat, it is 10 times more nerve-wracking to meet up with a stranger I may have to share a bathroom with. Oy.

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