Looking for a NEW JOB?

… alternative interview tips

It’s been a while since I actually wrote something useful, that might feel like proper career advice. So here is me trying. While cleaning the house this weekend, I came across a piece of paper pinned to my fridge door, that inspired me to write this post. 

So here is my wisdom, on how to prepare for an interview.

Step 1: visit your local tobacco shop. I hear you thinking: “Oh, but I don’t smoke…”. Too bad. Do it anyhow. Buy some herbal Heets.

Step 2: arrive to your interview 30 minutes early.

Step 3: find the smoker’s corner.

Step 4: you know…. Eavesdrop. This would be weird without actually having some cigarettes on you, right?

I remember the last time, that I went to an interview. I was walking through this tech park, with fancy buildings and small cafes. Beautiful people, sitting around in their cute business casuals. Endless amounts of people, some busily walking amongst the buildings, some just out for a stroll in the sunshine. I remember thinking “I could do this all day…”

Then, I started closing up on the building where my interview was. And just like that, around the corner, I stumbled across the smoker’s area. There were some guys just walking out of the building, lighting their cigarettes. Not having any cigarettes on me (duh…), I started looking at my phone, like I was lost or something (ok, this can be an option too). Listening in to the way these guys were talking, and the problems they were discussing, the emotions they were showing, my stomach quickly shrank to the size of a walnut. 

Smoking before an interview / Interjú előtti cigi
© 2022 Albert Erika. All rights reserved.

As we almost always do in life, I ignored my first “gut” instinct, and moved on with a big smile. The HR manager greeted me, walked me to the interview room and told me to wait, because she is still busy with something else. Hmmm… Excuse me for being on time, for your appointment.

While it is debatable if this was on purpose or simply rude, a fact can be stated: it does not positively contribute to the employee experience. I don’t think stress interviews are effective for anyone born past the 70s. Long story short: this was not the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  🙂

So back to the random teabag tag quote that was stuck on my fridge door. It said:

“Never fold your wings just to fit through their door”

- random teabag tag quote

This is the second best tip I can give you. Write it on a piece of paper, put it in your pocket and read it one last time, before walking in the building.

When leaving, reflect on the following topics:

  1. What was my first gut feeling? Was it butterflyish or gutwrenching?
  2. Was I greeted properly? Are they happy to have me there? Or am I just another “task to be solved”?
  3. Was I treated with minimum dignity? Or was I expected to feel privileged just to be there?
  4. Were they interested in me as a person? Or were just scouting to see how I can fit their needs?

If the overall experience was not that great, but you are in a dire need of a new job, make sure to set a deadline. We humans, are able to adapt to pretty much everything in no time. Good or bad. This is very well described in one of my most favourite books of all times, Dan Ariely’s The upside of irrationality.

So set a deadline of 6 months or 1 year and do a sanity check after. If you still get that gutwrenching feeling, it might be time to start the process from the beginning. Remember, you can get used to a bad job, but is it worth it? Why not be the one, who gets used to the good one?

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